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Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense: Avignon – It’s divine! (November 8, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

Palais des papes, Avignon, France, Sept. 2008 by Jean-Marc Rosiers -

I'm attending an out-of-town industry event this week. It’s great fun to meet new people, put faces to voices and catch up with colleagues you don’t see often enough. After we update each other on kids, family and holiday plans we start to talk about what we’ve been up to and it’s not too long before the conversation turns to perfume.  “Wow, a perfume web site, sounds great I’ll definitely check it out. But niche perfumes  – like what JLo’s perfume and stuff?” Oh dear! This is when I break out the Incense: Avignon by Comme des Garçons.

Incense: Avignon is part of the Comme des Garçons Series 3 series that was launched in 2000. Avignon is one of five frags in the line and each one represents a spiritual teaching. Incense: Avignon represents Catholicism.  “Why Avignon?” you ask. Let me explain. Avignon is a city in the Provençal region of southeastern France and is home to the The Palais des Papes. One of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, the Palais was the residence of the Popes from 1309 to 1377 when Avignon replaced Rome as the seat of the Papacy. Despite divisions within the church, the intrigue of families jockeying for Papal dominance, the drama of Popes and antipopes, the Palais remained in the hands of the Papacy until 1791. Wow! If those walls could only talk. In 1995 the Palais was designated a World Heritage Site and today parts of it are open to the public.

This is all fine and good, but I’m not a Catholic, nor am I looking for a religious experience, so what is it about Incense: Avignon that makes it such the perfect poster frag for niche scent?

Well, first it smells great. It opens with gorgeous notes of frankincense and myrrh – bitter, unique, cool. As it moves to the heart it gets smoky and woody. At the dry down vanilla adds a little sweetness and patchouli adds an earthiness. It's not a complex scent. It is the smell of an ancient stone church – cool stone walls, censers, smoke, wooden pews and kneelers -  earthy and musty.

But it's also a scent people recognize. One sniff and their eyes open wide “I know what this is! This smells like a church….” And they go on to talk about a childhood memory of Sundays at church or a reminder of a trip to Europe.

One spritz and they get it - it’s not about smelling like a flower. It’s about the experience – being transported, being moved. They also can’t stop smelling their wrists. Incense: Avignon blooms beautifully on skin and gently wafts and swirls around the wearer for hours.

Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense: Avignon is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.


What other incense frags are out there?

I'm fascinated by incense and smoky notes. What other fragrances should I sniff to get a well-rounded view on these notes?