No stranger to boundary pushing, Comme des Garçons has launched an olfactory creation centred on a material close to our heart: concrete.
Rather than focus on its cold, austere and brutalist qualities, Comme des Garçons’ vision of a concrete fragrance is unexpectedly rooted in the soft sensuality of sandalwood. Blended with cedarwood, balsam and musk, and a mélange of spices such as cumin, cardamom, ginger and pepper, this avant-garde riff on sandalwood is a deftly executed disruption of the brand’s own perfume legacy.
Comme des Garçons Parfums creative director Christian Astuguevieille explains, ‘Concrete is really part of the DNA of Comme des Garçons. I was very interested in the contrast between the rawness of concrete and something as refined and luxurious as sandalwood. They are very different, but harmonious as the same time.’
Concrete, by Comme des Garçons
Created by perfumer Nicolas Beaulieu, Comme des Garçons Concrete opens with a rich and opulent burst of sandalwood that is interrupted by the presence of a metallic accord, an artificial rose oxide. ‘I knew from the beginning that I needed something disruptive, but to do that in a manner that’s wearable, surprising but fitting the concept is a bit more difficult,’ he says. ‘[Rose oxide] is a molecule that you find naturally in rose oil, but it’s not floral at all. It’s very metallic, green and sharp, and so for Concrete, I really overused it to create this disruption.’
Rich, woody and yet a little unsettling, the enticing perfume is bottled in a concrete version of Comme des Garçons Parfums’ signature flacon. Each glass bottle is dipped in concrete by hand and exudes a porous, natural quality – quite the contrary of what the material is typically known for. The collision of all the juxtapositions; between the bottle and its material, the concept and the actual fragrance, represents Comme des Garçons’ spirit to a tee.
Beaulieu sums it up perfectly, ‘To me there’s always something surprising or almost disturbing in CDG fragrances, that’s what I find interesting. There’s something catchy, which you’re not sure whether you like or don’t like at first, but you always come back to it.’