It is fair to say that Comme des Garçons perfumes are atypical. Past creations have cited as influences the smell of concrete, gasoline, and the velvet seats of a 19th-century theatre. So intrigue abounds when the ultimate brand for experimental perfumes decides to create something as typical as a ‘summer fragrance’. Will its idea of summer perfume smell like a burning flip-flop? A snow cone abandoned in the sand? Flat soda? 

Sunscreen, the summer perfume

Sunscreen perfume by ERL and Comme des Garcons in plastic bag

In actuality, the new fragrance smells, as its name suggests, like sunscreen. It also smells like vanilla ice cream, the ocean, and coconut water all mixed together in one.

That might sound like a sensory overload, but there is a cohesion to these various elements that makes Sunscreen work. Like most Comme des Garçons creations, it is captivating because of its strangeness, not in spite of it. 

ERL x Comme des Garçons

Sunscreen has been made in collaboration with Californian fashion label ERL and marks the brand’s first foray into fragrance. ERL is the brainchild of Eli Russell Linnetz who, before he was invited to start a clothing line by Comme des Garçons president Adrian Joffe, was best known as a photographer, music video director, and set designer for some of Los Angeles’ most recognisable residents.

ERL is in many ways an homage to Linnetz’s native city, and Venice Beach in particular, with an emphasis on 1990s skatewear silhouettes rendered in a technicolour palette. 

Sunscreen perfume by ERL and Comme des Garcons in plastic bag

Venice Beach is the main inspiration behind Sunscreen too, making it an addition to a growing range of perfumes inspired by the Californian coast (Louis Vuitton’s On the Beach is the most notable of this genre, along with Byredo’s Sundazed). It is not even the first California beach perfume for Comme des Garçons, following the launch of the brand’s Laguna Beach-themed collaboration with Stüssy earlier this year.  

Yet Stüssy’s Laguna Beach fragrance, with its notes of moss, Atlas cedar, and white solar flowers, is a much more aquatic, floral scent in relation to ERL’s. 

Sunscreen perfume by ERL and Comme des Garcons in plastic bag

Sunscreen, rather, is a gourmand fragrance, a sweet, potent blend of lily of the valley, heliotrope (which smells like a mix of vanilla, almond and cinnamon) and peach, along with richer notes of musk and coconut accord. To put it another way, Laguna Beach is the smell of tranquil days spent by the ocean, while Sunscreen is the beach party. 

It is a welcome addition to the Comme des Garçons Parfums catalogue in our opinion, a unique type of summer fragrance that successfully walks the line between wearable and experimental. §