After a short break from perfumes, I’m back to my original olfactory obsession.   After the Japan trip, I started dipping into my shoeboxes of samples again.  This time, I’m on a quest for something that reminds me of Japanese incense, so my Top 4 reflects that.  No particular order.

  1. Comme des Garçons   Series 3: Incense Kyoto – The Comme des Garçons Incense series is supposed to reflect the incense traditions of five major “religious capitals” around the world.   That said, as in most perfumes, there’s quite a bit of poetic license at play.  Kyoto does not, as you might expect in a traditional Japanese incense, display the usual blend of sandalwood/aloeswood, cassia, camphor, etc.  Instead, the notes are incense (probably meaning frankincense), cypress oil, coffee, teak wood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, everlasting flower, Virginian cedar.  The overall effect is one of slightly smoky hinoki and earthy cedar incense at first, drying down to a somewhat musky smoked cedar smell that reminds me of a dry sauna.  (Note: It does not smell like Baieido’s Imagine Hinoki, Nippon Kodo’s Ka-Fuh Hinoki, or Mermade Magickal Arts Sacred Grove).  Note: This is the fragrance series that I mentioned in an earlier postMore reviews of Kyoto.
  2. Comme des Garçons Series 3: Incense Avignon – From the same series.  My appreciation for this went up 100% after having smelled Mermade Magickal Arts’ Golden Bough.  (Side note: I highly recommend smelling good examples of individual raw materials in order to pick out notes in perfumes–whether they be burnable or sprayable perfumes.)  I swear that the top notes smell just like Golden Bough.  Avignon then dries down to a very similar base to the Kyoto, somewhat muted earth and smoke but close to the skin. (Not surprising, since both are creations by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.)  Notes: Roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds.  More reviews of Avignon.
  3. Shiseido/Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois – Blends cedar with plum and violet notes to create a more wood-dominant that goes beyond the usual masculine accords involving wood, without falling back on the usual “add a bunch of vanilla or candy” that’s used nowadays to make woods “more feminine.”  I don’t detect any vanilla at all, just a silky, slightly powdery, slightly fruity cedar.  The fruitiness recedes on me as time passes, but the cedar stays prominent throughout its progression.
    I mainly mention the masculine/feminine dichotomy because it’s in the name–I’m all for finding perfumes based on how they suit me, rather than on who the target audience is supposed to be.  Notes: Ginger, cinnamon, clove, plum, peach, orange blossom, violet, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, benzoin.   More reviews of Féminité du Bois.
  4. Diptyque Tam Dao – A sandalwood-dominant fragrance.  I wasn’t terribly impressed by this, and only wore it once.  At the outset, it smells like decent Australian sandalwood oil.  As it progresses, however, I find the drydown rather on the cloying side, or perhaps a little too close to the Sandalwood body spray I’m able to buy for a song locally.  Notes: Goa sandalwood, rosewood, cypress, ambergris.   More reviews of Tam Dao.

Overview:  I think you can detect my fandom for Japanese perfume houses coming out in this list.

I’ve got more samples coming in the mail, so next month should be interesting.

All lists of notes are taken from LuckyScent.