Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
White ashes falling off a burning incense stick is the main association that links the color white with the name of the Comme des Garçons fragrance. White roughness of a pomegranate’s inner skin, white powder falling gently from a chalk scraped against the blackboard, and ice covered pine branches are the images conjured by the composition. Yet, the main reason the fragrance evokes whiteness is not for any of these specific associations, but for its tranquil and quiet character. Donning its luminous veil instills the same serenity one feels when staring at the snow falling softly until the entire vista is shrouded in white.
White was created in 1996 by Mark Buxton, the nose behind the original Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons 2, Comme des Garçons 2 Man, Comme des Garçons 3, and Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again (with Jean-Claude Ellena), among others. The top notes spill into a sheer powdery mélange, made weightless and sheer by spices. The effervescent warmth of pepper and the camphorous sweetness of cardamom swirl like the white smoke of burning incense against the tart powderiness of pomegranate. …
The composition is mainly structured around woody and balsamic notes, which would have been heavy and dense were it not for a floral accord. Like the lily in L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer, a dewy floral touch dissolves the overly resinous quality and makes the wood notes more transparent, without conjuring any specific flower.
The composition does not seem to develop sequentially in the classical manner, yet occasionally a spicy note bursts out like a tiny firework against the smooth woods. One moment, it is a hot sparkle of cinnamon and the next it is a floral breath of clove. Spicy, woody and floral facets are blended harmoniously, with the dance of spices maintaining the intensity of the composition and the sweet amber softening the resinous accord of its base.
Notes include pomegranate, tagete absolute, pepper, coriander, cardamom, lily of the valley, white may rose, cinnamon leaf, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, styrax, amber, cedarwood, vetiver. Available from Comme des Garçons boutiques, Barneys New York, Jeffrey New York, Luckyscent, and Sephora.
Painting: Malevich, Kasimir, Morning in the Country after Snowstorm, 1912. Oil on canvas. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.