Comme des Garcons Play Red, Green and Black : Fragrance Review


I love when a perfume makes me smile. Sure, I love fragrances that challenge me and make me want to dress up for them, but on most days I want something that’s playful and easy to love. For this reason, sparkling orange blossoms are my perfume staples. The Comme des Garçons fragrance collection has plenty of playful perfumes, even if  some like Comme des Garçons Original and Odeur 71 straddle the line of unwearable for me. But the new trio of Red Play, Black Play and Green Play launched under Comme des Garçons’s casual Play label is squarely in the fun “t-shirt and jeans” perfume category.

Red Play

Does the combination of cherries and leather sound intriguing to you? It certainly caught my attention, and Red Play became my favorite out of the trio. The sweet orange and pepper is piquant and zesty, but the initial sparkle belies the complexity of Red Play. It’s like biting into a luscious red cherry and discovering that it’s actually made of red hots, the spicy cinnamon candies. The tartness–think rhubarb, red currants or green raspberries!–contrasted with the spice makes for an exciting fragrance. Playful is the best description for it. It makes me feel chic, like someone who knows instinctively how to accessorize a dress from H&M with a vintage belt or how to wear a fedora and not look ridiculous.

Red Play features red mandarin, pink peppercorn, saffron, red cherry accord, geranium, cinnamon, osmanthus, myrrh and balsam of Tolu.

Green Play

I would love a perfume that smells like crushed leaves and cut grass–intense, vivid and exhilarating.  Green Play comes close at first, when the mint and basil feel so cool on my skin that I also get goosebumps. But this sensation lasts for but a few minutes. The green effervescence subsides quickly enough, with the earthy and musky notes softening the sharpness of the opening accord. The richness of vetiver is a pleasant counterpoint to the mint tea impression, while the peppery spice of juniper adds a gin & tonic like twist. Green Play is charming and uncomplicated, but I imagine that on a hot summer day it would be as perfect as an iced drink.

The fragrance includes mint, lime, juniper berry, basil, jasmine, mastic tree, ambrette seed, vetiver and cedarwood.

Black Play

I imagined Black Play to be a dark incense like Avignon or perhaps a smoky tea à la Bulgari Black, but it surprised me by turning out to be a sheer woody scent liberally garnished with pepper. The frankincense oil smells peppery and bright on its own, but here I notice a dollop of spice that heightens the impression. The fresh herbal notes in combination with transparent mossy drydown make Black Play more conventionally masculine than the other perfumes in the trio. Denyse also finds it salty and reminiscent of seaweed. It’s a memorable fragrance, with enough twists and turns to be more than just another incense. A bit too masculine for me personally, but easily the most original from the collection.

Black Play’s notes are black pepper, pepperwood, red pepper, violet, thyme, black tea, birch tar, incense and tree moss.

Overall, the trio is very interesting, with each fragrance offering a different interpretation of fruity, green and smoky notes. My main qualm with the Play fragrances is their lack of tenacity. Black Play has the best longevity on my skin, Green is the most ethereal, and Red is somewhere in between.  You certainly don’t want a sillage like that of Dior Poison from a casual, daytime perfume, but the poor lasting power can be frustrating.

Comme des Garçons Red Play, Black Play and Green Play (Eau de Toilette) are available from Barney’s, Aedes, Luckyscent and Comme des Garçons boutiques carrying the line in 100 ml spray bottles/$100.

Sample: my own acquisition



  • rosarita: I think these sound intriguing, but CdG is missing an opportunity in marketing. Wouldn’t these be cute as a coffret of all three bottles? Say, 30ml each.

    I am always excited to try anything from CdG as I love so many of their fragrances. They do teas & incense very well. Thanks for the reviews! June 27, 2012 at 7:45am Reply

    • Victoria: When I was at the CdG boutique, the display of these bottles was so attractive, I was also wondering why they wouldn’t do a coffret. The only thing about these bottles (they are much more attractive in person than in these photos) is that they are a bit awkward to spray. Even the SA had trouble spraying the blotters. June 27, 2012 at 8:07am Reply

  • iodine: What a coincidence! I’ve just came back from a sniffing session that included the CDG Play trio! I didn’t spray them on, just on paper, and find all of them very interesting, especially Red and Black. I was totally put off, though, by the size- 100 ml is too much for everything, for me! I agree with rosarita about the coffret idea. June 27, 2012 at 8:01am Reply

    • Victoria: As Rosarita suggested below, 30 ml would be ideal! I would then get all three. 100ml of any perfume is far too much. June 27, 2012 at 8:08am Reply

      • rosarita: In my ideal perfume world, everything would be available in a 15ml size and priced accordingly! I could never finish 100ml of anything at this point. June 27, 2012 at 8:21am Reply

        • Victoria: I cannot agree more, Rosarita! Especially since yesterday I had to throw away a half full bottle of Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver which has turned. It was only 4 years old and was stored in a cool spot. The funny thing is that my vintage perfumes withstand the time much better than some of the more recent fragrances. I have some Guerlains that are 60 years old and that are still wearable and beautiful. Which is why I never stock up on anything new anymore. Just not worth it. June 27, 2012 at 8:31am Reply

        • Lucas: Agreed!
          I find 20-25ml to be the perfect amount! I would have much more fragrances then. Big bottles – yes, I buy them, but only when I love the scent. I’ve got just a few in this category June 27, 2012 at 8:57am Reply

          • Victoria: I think that the only big bottle I bought was Chanel 28 La Pausa, and only because back then they didn’t offer smaller sizes. Plus, the perfume is light enough to be used as cologne and I actually used up quite a bit.

            Sephora carries their special 15ml size of certain perfumes, and I always get tempted. That’s how I ended up with a mini bottle of Robert Piguet Fracas that I now carry time to time in my purse. June 27, 2012 at 9:07am Reply

  • Lucas: Those hearts with eyes make me feel a little creepy when I look at them, but fragrances themselves sound interesting. Never tried anything from Comme de Garcons. Red or Green might suit my taste June 27, 2012 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: One of my cousins said the same thing about these hearts, but I find them funny, even if a bit surreal. 🙂

      I thought that I would like Red the least, because it started out so bright and citrusy (a bit predictable), but then it took a turn into the spicy and leathery direction and I was hooked. June 27, 2012 at 8:20am Reply

      • Lucas: I wonder if they’ll make it to our market. So many releases (both mainstream & niche) never reach our market. It frustrates me, because there were some I wanted to try, for example Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolue June 27, 2012 at 8:28am Reply

        • Victoria: I see that CdG have a store in Warsaw:
          ul. Koszykowa 1
          00-564 Warszawa/Poland
          T: +4822 621 1046

          Maybe, worth calling them up and asking? June 27, 2012 at 8:33am Reply

          • Lucas: Ah I know that one. It’s a niche perfume boutique that carries CdG. Unfortunately they don’t do samples and I live far from Warsaw June 27, 2012 at 8:41am Reply

            • Barbara: Lucas, I’m in a small town in Europe and I’m going to commiserate with you. CdG isn’t sold in my town either. I end up buying samples from Luckyscent. Thankfully they ship to Europe and the shipping fee isn’t too bad. June 27, 2012 at 9:33am Reply

    • Morgen: I love the hearts, they make me smile every time I see them. I haven’t had great success with CdG perfumes, sadly, but I covet those boxes and bottles so that I can set them up on my dresser and have those happy hearts greet me every morning 🙂 June 27, 2012 at 10:15am Reply

      • Victoria: Morgen, if all three lasted better on me, my wallet would be in serious trouble. My experience with CdG has also been hit and miss. Some perfumes are so concept driven that they end up gimmicky, but overall, it’s an edgy and interesting line. I like also that it fits perfectly with the aesthetic of the fashion house. June 27, 2012 at 10:23am Reply

  • Suzanna: I am curious about Red Play (here and there I love a cherry note and red mandarin is a fave citrus note) and wonder if there is anything in common with Piment Brulant. But as has been the case with my gigantic bottle of that fiery L’Artisan, I do not need 100 ML of anything. June 27, 2012 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Red Play has a very distinctive almond note and it’s thicker and creamier too, whereas Piment Brulant is fiery, but transparent. Red Play is still a good summer fragrance, because it’s so zesty and peppery, especially right on top.

      On a related note, it inspired me to make a chocolate mousse and fold simmered cherries and cinnamon into it. 🙂 June 27, 2012 at 11:28am Reply

  • gio: Red Play sounds right up my alley! But I agree that 100ml is too much. I would never be able to finish it. Now, if they did a coffret like rosarita suggested, I’d definitely get it. June 27, 2012 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Or at least make them available in smaller bottles.

      And how cute would they look in small bottles as part of a coffret! June 27, 2012 at 1:29pm Reply

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