Designer brands often look towards their homeland for inspiration. Especially when it concerns a fragrance. For Versace, the hyper-masculine excess of Milan. For Chanel, the subtle elegance of Parisian café society. But when Most Hyped Name In Menswear™ Gosha Rubchinskiy announced his first fragrance, questions abounded. What does ‘subversive’ smell like, exactly? Concrete tenements can inspire clothing. But a fragrance? Do people really want to spritz on post-Soviet decline?
But that’s the refreshing part. Rubchinskiy’s self-titled scent is a world away from the heady fragrances of couturiers (or, at least, 5,000 miles east). Instead of rose and musk, its notes are designed to mirror burning skateboard rubber on hot concrete. Which means angelica root, mandarin seeds and essence of styrax – all unusual, but bold ingredients.
But that left-field composition doesn’t make for a science experiment. True, it doesn’t possess the event-ready notes of Prada or even Commes des Garçons, but it possesses enough lightness to be wearable everyday – even if you’ve never hit a halfpipe in your life.
And the bottle follows the same vein, unassuming as it is industrial. It looks like you’d find it on the shelves in Wickes, not Dover Street Market (although, since Comme Des Garçons bankrolls Gosha’s brand, that is precisely where it will be). The wooden cap, long associated with organic natural fragrances, takes on the darker hue of skateboards. No woodland glades or natural beauty here. At least not in the traditional sense of the word.
But therein lies the charm. Gosha’s skill lies in repositioning the undesirable. Nobody foresaw the rise of Soviet-flecked streetwear, and even fewer predicted the revival of grunge threads. On paper, plastic-infused burning rubber does not a fine fragrance make. But, by using the same process he applies to menswear, Gosha draws allure from the unlikeliest of places. And he does it well.
Old school luxury holds prestige, but prestige doesn’t necessarily speak to the younger generation. Gosha Rubchinskiy taps the same market as Supreme – a streetwear brand that commands the holiest of devotees. Even Gucci doesn’t have acolytes queuing overnight for its latest drops. Rubchinskiy has achieved this by subverting the norm. Sounds (or smells) like he might be onto another winner.
Bottle: An industrial understatement with a dark wooden cap
Head notes: angelica root, essence of buchu;
Heart notes: mandarin seeds, blue chamomile;
Base notes: styrax, vetiver, patchouli oil.
Best for: an everyday spritz if you’re tired of musk.