Concrete by Comme des Garçons: Architecture + Perfume


Kate Apted


Welcome to APJ!

In researching the link between architecture and perfume, a lot is made of linking a smell with a place, or trying to recreate the scent of the inside of a building. I think it is too far a literal understanding of the two. I believe there is a more subtle joining that allows each their artistic and symbolic existence aside from the other, yet in mutual complimentarity.

Architecture + Perfume

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Series 3 Incense: Avignon by Bertrand Duchaufour for Comme des Garcons 2002




Avignon by Comme des Garcons 2002

Hello Everyone, Do we need to have a strong memory association or reference for a perfume to really move us? This is the question that popped into my head as soon as I tested Avignon by Comme des Garcons. Why? Because it moved me in such a way and yet, I couldn’t really fathom why. It’s an incense-based perfume and meant to be a fragranced homage to Catholicism. Many reviews, including the lovely Portia’s a few months ago, have emphasised the evocation of childhood memories of Catholic rites: days spent at mass surrounded by swinging censers and altar boys.

Avignon Mass Incense PoliticsDailyPhoto Stolen PoliticsDaily

But I’m not Catholic and I’ve always disliked incense. In fact, I avoided Avignon for many years, despite the glowing reviews for these very reasons. My scent impression of incense before trying the scent was of those cheap joss sticks they sell in two-dollar shops. And the closest I have come to being Catholic was having a serious girl crush on Josephine Byrnes in the mini-series Brides of Christ. For about a week or two, I thought how cool it would be to become a nun. (Ed: Josephine Burns and I were at the same drama school, lived in the same area and used to catch the train to and sometimes from school together. She was always the most beautiful young woman)

My fragrance loves tend to be white florals because I have spent my life surrounded by them. My grandmothers and mother wore white floral perfumes, Mum often had vases of lilies in the house and gardenias were a constant of my childhood summers. My first perfumes: Revlon’s Jontue and Cacharel’s Anais Anais built on that trajectory of association.

However, I also realise that we people who love perfumes can learn to appreciate and love new and different notes. But this, for me, is something different. As we sniff more and more, we can see beauty in the things that we once found ugly or appreciate a note that once we would have been happy to overlook. Perfume is an art form and as our noses become well trained, we can fall in love with something that we didn’t understand before. For a perfume to really well and truly move me though, to really feel like I am applying a second skin, I’d always thought it would need a strong evocation of something important or a strong memory.

And yet, that first drop of Avignon on flesh felt completely right. It was another lightbulb moment where I had the “wow” factor and I knew I’d end up buying a bottle.

Avignon FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

The perfume features notes of roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds.

For me, Avignon is all about the central theme of frankincense that undulates between smokiness, earthiness and brightness. It segues seamlessly on the skin between these different facets: the palisander bringing out the woody character, the patchouli amplifying the dark earthiness and the ambrette and chamomile giving the sense of brightness and joy. It’s quite a linear fragrance that moves softly and slowly on the skin. Its an introspective fragrance best suited to moments of quiet contemplation, evoking that sense of serenity you would need at times of prayer.

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And that’s why Avignon spoke to me so profoundly at a time in my life when everything felt discombobulated and stressful, Avignon took me to a place I needed to be. A place of tranquillity and reflection, a place where I could shut the door on the chaos that has been my life over the past month and I could just simply “be”. That is the magic of perfume.

For other more complete reviews, please see OlfactoryObsessed and Olfactoria’s review on PerfumeSmellin’Things
Luckyscent has Avignon for $US80/50ml.
SurrenderToChance has samples starting at $US4.59/ml.

Have you tried Avignon and what did you think of it? Have you ever tried a perfume that has completely floored you with it beauty and you can’t work out why?

With much love till next time!

M x