It becomes apparent that Comme Des Garçons fragrances aren’t your ordinary smelly the second you try and stand them on your chest of drawers. Though the bottles could double as modernist sculpture – all bulges and angles and abstract shapes – it’s an aesthetic that extends to their centres of gravity. So when you plonk them down post-spritz, they immediately topple over.
Which is fitting, since the Comme Des Garçons approach to fragrance pays little heed to rules like, ‘The customer shouldn’t need a special display case to store it in’. Or, even, on occasion, ‘It should smell nice’ – two of its more abstract scents, Odeurs 53 and 71, sought to bottle a bevy of smells that would introduce an alien visitor to Earth’s grand tapestry. Meaning notes like oud and vetiver lost out to dust on a hot light bulb and desert sand. A remarkable example of the perfumer’s art, no doubt, but not something you’d default to on date night.
Depending on where your sympathies lie, its latest scent either proves that Comme Des Garçons is a fragrance house that’s lost its taste for risk, or a welcome attempt to take the brand’s DNA and engineer it in a way that won’t wrinkle noses at work. So, it’s not based on the smell of a garage or vinyl (both previous touchstones) but – at Rei Kawakubo’s request – the osmanthus flower, which springs up throughout Japan every autumn. The result is a fragrance heavy on floral notes, but cut with a fresh, citrusy punch that makes Dot ideal for everyday wear.
It opens with an almost rubbery blast of green leaves – not unlike Issey Miyake’s Pour Homme – but quickly sweetens as notes of bitter orange and pepper mellow out the party. The floral notes that arrive later are even more chill; Dot isn’t a scent that evolves so much as relaxes, its early sharpness rounding out until the fragrance grows as laid-back as its bottle.
To celebrate the release, Comme Des Garçons commissioned artist Katerina Jebb to create an ‘anti-perfume’ video, entitled We Can Find Beautiful Things Without Consciousness, cut together in dream-(or nightmare, depending on your point of view)-like sequences of footage from Jebb’s archive. Not quite a Chanel No. 5 commercial, but then would you expect anything else from a brand that once created a perfume that smelled like a dry cleaners?
Available from Dover Street Market, priced £85 for 100ml of eau de parfum.
Bottle: The iconic, melty CDG bottle, with its lumps and bulges as though someone left the glass out in the sun too long, done up with white-on-black polka dots.
Head notes: Green leaf, bitter orange, pepper;
Heart notes: Osmanthus absolute, olibanum;
Base notes: White amber woods.
Best for: An office-ready fragrance that no one else in your office will recognise.