Review: Comme Des Garcons Luxe Patchouli and 888

I’m not feeling brilliant but I need to write a review – I’ve been dithering with other stuff here for way too long. But, given my febrile state, there’ll be no preamble (other than this, erm, meta-preamble), no discussion of CDG’s quirks and funny spots, no anecdotal asides. Well, that’s what I’m saying now. We’ll see.

These two scents are are very different points on my perfume continuum. One I think I love, the other I almost hate. Let’s start with hate first.

Patty and March have already written about 888. They both quite liked it, though neither flipped their lids when they sniffed it. My lid closed down with a clank when I did and I pulled my ugly wrinkle nose face. There’s a category of scents that I. JUST. CAN’T. DO. and this, for some reason, falls in there, with those two Soir Sisleys that I conflate in my brain.

Here’s what marvellous March said: ‘Here´s what I got: 888 opens with a huge blast of pepper and coriander, but there´s also a strong, old-fashioned classic cologne note. The effect together is effervescent and really, really appealing. Right away the tone is set: okay, we´re going to have fun here. If anything, I´d have named this one Play. I don´t get much metal, for those of you avoiding 888 because of the m-word. “Curcuma” suggests either ginger or turmeric, and I´m going with the latter – along with the amber and saffron that begins to dominate as the cologne fades, there´s a mustard-like note.’

And here’s what perfectly perspicacious Patty said: ‘I´m not sure I´ve ever smelled gold. but this is why I think it should smell like in an ideal world — slightly fresh, a little metallic, with the geranium giving it that weird, funky, almost rubbery {!?!} vibe. I´ll be anxious for you Daddy Warbucks readers who have smelled gold to sniff it and tell me how close it is. As a scent, it works for me beautifully — it is fresh and appealing on the surface, but has some strange things going on underneath that surface. I think of it like one of those beautiful lakes from Lord of the Rings. All pretty and mirror-like on the top, and some funky fanged fish swimming around underneath that beauty.’

Well, that filled up some space, and I do feel rough.

The end.

Just kidding! Here’s what lunatic Lee said: ‘Yeuch , I need to remove it! Horrible horrible top notes. Yes, it is effervescent, but in that nasty old Baghari way and I’m a total lame-ass (still) with most aldehydes. It probably doesn’t even have aldehydes but I don’t care (aside – I can’t check my one and only wearing of this scent – sniffed thanks to Patty’s unstinting generosity – cos I’ve shipped it on to its next victim); it’s a super-perfumey perfume number that’s doing a ‘Oh I’m here, take notice’ dance up my nostrils. Blech. So it’s almost bad chypre to begin with (good chypre – Mitsy parfum; bad chypre – aforementioned Sisley stink) rather than cologne. And it’s big – a demon of diffusion. It’s wearing shoulder pads, it’s gold lamé and shoulder pads. Did I say shoulder pads? It’s synthetics gone serious. I see why they had that one called Play now – cos all the fun is done. Goodbye Tar and Garage and all you daft little scents. Hello brash new world of glitz and high-pitched noise.’

That’s hyperbole really. I know I’ve offended lots of lovely folks there, but I guess I like my perfume to smell odd rather than perfumey. And this is, well, perfumey. With a sprinkling of agent orange.

Luxe Patchouli seduced me in autumn when I first sniffed it in London’s Liberty. I didn’t pay much heed to it that day, other than declaring it ‘mmm… tasty!’, but thanks to Louise sorting out a split, I now have a lovely decant of it (and generous bonus stuff- L, you rock!). I don’t often go along with the top middle basenotes blather you get in perfume copy, because for one, it’s never normally clear where each begins and ends as a great perfume merges its notes rather than jumps from one stage to the next. But, at the risk of being contradictory, Patchouli has three distinct phases. The first is Borneo light. March is right – it is Borneo without the cobwebs. A refined patchouli dominates beautifully. The second stage took me into an East Asian grocery – star anise perhaps, but also that whole weird juxtaposition of smells that marks it out as ‘different’ to the western nose. I can’t quite pin it down, but that’s what it was for me – the smell of Chinatown (Bond, take note. You have a/n usurper). The final stage is the best of all. A beautiful, truly dreamy immortelle kick that lingers and lingers, never becoming too spicy or too syruppy, but hovering, like a spirit, somewhere between courses, between worlds. It makes my skin feel better, and feeling better is exactly what I want.

Now, commenters – your job. Pick a house, any house. Which two fragrances are opposite end of the spectrum for you in all their scents? And tell me which way round they are of course!

The photo of helichrysum is from – lots of interesting reading there; Dynasty divas (March ‘n’ Patty? ;-P) care of the Times online; spandex hell from American Apparel.

  • Gina says:

    I can’t think of any houses that have scents that are opposite on the spectrum for me, Lee. Likely I will think of this a week from now and come up with them, my addled old brain is like that sometimes. But I am with you – I love Luxe Patchouli, I just adore it. Haven’t tried 888 yet, but I agree with you on the odd front – I like my perfumes odd, not perfumey. So perhaps I’ll sniff the 888 next time I’m in Scent Bar, just to see. Chances are I’ll not like it.

    • Lee says:

      It won’t be there til March, G, but I predict it’s not for you, given what you’ve just said…

  • Maria says:

    Lee, maybe we can hang out in the hospital wing of the perfumista mansion together, drinking hot soup and, even better, hot toddies. What stories one can share after a couple of the latter! My doctor prescribed Tamiflu yesterday. I’m eager to see if it does work. At least I’m not worse today. Here’s to our quick recovery. ~o)

  • tmp00 says:

    Those gold lame trousers remind me why I have a bad early 80’s flashback every time I go into an American Apparel store. I feel like I should have roller-skated in with Crissy and Janet…

    • Lee says:

      You manage to get thru the door? The SAs spot me coming and hustle me away with the ‘You’re too old’ face on their tight skin.

      • tmp00 says:

        Well I was in the original store in Downtown Los Angeles in Little Tokyo on Christmas Eve. They were playing jacks or smoking crack or something in a corner, but cheerfully bounced out for me to purchase the gift certificate for my teen godchild.

        No matter how desperately toned my a$$ remains, the Sateen Years are long gone. I’m happily in the tweeds now.

  • Judith says:

    Hmmmm. . .I haven’t even been moved to try 888; I just don’t think it would work for me. And I LOOOOVe the Patch.

    My first impulse for your challenge was the same as Donanicola’s–Shalimar and Mitsouko–for the same reasons.

    I could also go for Dior–Diorling and Miss Dior Cherie (or, for that matter, Miss Dior–preferably vintage parfum– and Miss Dior Cherie.

    • Lee says:

      Judith, you’re a woman after my own heart. Or before. Never really understood that turn of phrase. Prepositions are funny like that. Anyway…:x

  • Patty says:

    Hahahaahah! I couldn’t imagine what weird phase your nose would have to go through for you to like 888, I was pretty sure you’d hate it. I still like it, but hated Play, which was so…. ordinary!

    Flashy, definitely for 888. 🙂

  • Mikeperez23 says:

    I swear just last night, a Basenoter offered to send me half of his 888 decant to sniff – and I was thinking I needed to smell it, review it and the new Luxe Champaca. What a kwinky-dink?

    I am looking forward to the 888 – but I kinda hate the Sisley’s and I kinda hate aldehydes (except for the original Lauder’s White Linen – weird, huh?) and I kinda hate nostril burning notes. Oh yeah and I sometimes hate saffron (Safran Troublant is just this shy of making me nauseous and yet Paprika Brasil by Hermes I luv!). So. Now – I’ve managed to lose all the excitement I had about the 888 sample. Thanks leopoldo. 🙂

    Seriously – great review(s).

    I also think the Patchouli was Borneo-esque – however my drydown was not immoretelle-ish (like that Bengale you and I love) but rather linear patch. Not, IMO, worth the big bucks. Can I also say that I hate the bottle.

    Oh and I almost forgot. IHOP = International House of Pancakes. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      It’s not very saffrony, Mike. It’s not really a spicy scent per se. It’s not feminine, but brassy womanly, if you get my drift. In fact, it’s the conceptualised smell of polished brass I reckon. The went for the wrong shiny stuff.

      You should resniff the patch. It’s all about the immortelle, I’m telling you! And different immortelle style to FB – softer, more skin nibbly…

      Thanks for the IHOP. Is this international in the sense that it only exists in the States, like the World Series?

      *sneaks away from the site, whistling… *

  • Dusan says:

    I’ve been ill myself twice in the past month or so, the bloody bug crept up and bit me hard while I was reconvalescing… so take good care of yourself, boyo, don’t go running full throttle unless you really need to 😉
    As for today’s topic, I’ve always felt Higher has no business calling itself a Dior even though it has some redeeming qualities (lovely pearwood musk). OTOH, Dior Homme, well you already know how I feel about it… Can’t think of anything else, I’m afraid the brain is dead.
    Um, I’ll be sending out (at long last) a FB of something or other or a book, I’ve not decided yet. Mind you, you won’t actually be able to read the book. Except for the margins 😀

    • Lee says:

      Poor Dusan. I think Dior wins it really. I hoe you are well now – am much better this end. And no worries about sending stuff! Please!:)

  • BitterGrace says:

    I’ll join Kim in giving the prize to Serge Lutens. It’s always exciting to try a new SL, because I never know whether it’s going to kiss or bite. Plus, Lutens scents make me love things I usually hate, e.g. the syrupy amber in Ambre Sultan. They also make me hate things I love. Roses are a favorite of mine, but Sa Majeste la Rose seems to be made from that flower’s evil twin

    • Lee says:

      I wish I could join you in the rose love – I enjoy growing them and sniffing them, and I like smelling them on others, but they never sing to me like I wish they would…

  • MarkDavid says:

    Im just gonna say it – Im kind of in love with those gold lame leggings. They inspire me.

    I think Frederick Malle is one house that I have a love/hate relationship with. I will say, outright – that I haven’t tried them all. But of the ones I have tried – I LOVE Iris Poudre and Carnal Flower – but the rest I wouldn’t even wear if you gave them to me. (Hiver, lipstick rose, biggarade concentree, noir epices, french orgy or whatever its called now, and a few more)

    I feel that of the ones I haven’t tried, there may be one or 2 more I’m meant to fall in love with. But I’m not in the middle on the ones I know.

    Feel better soon, you’ve been ill far too long now. See, this is why Britain needs more sunshine – clouds are depressing.

    • Lee says:

      Well, enjoy the inspiration! They make me think of Studio 54 at best. Or Boogie Nights. I love Bigarade Concentree so can’t agree with you there – someone on mua (I think) said it smells like a taxi driver. Let’s just say I’m hot for eau de cabbie. And I’ve got a soft spot for the heliotrope cloud that is hiver. Lipstick Rose, Noir Epices – I’m with you. And French lover does the orgy with his stormwood is, aside from the angelica topnotes, much like many other masculines to me at least – CDG2 Man, Vet 46 etc, but not quite as good.

      I’ve only been ill for a week. I did have four days in bed though. I’m working this week, just managing to do so from home today (lucky ole me).

      • MarkDavid says:

        I think its interesting to note that French Lover and Iris Poudre are by the same perfumer – Pierre Bourdon. Who has created some of my absolute most favorite scents (Iris Poudre, Paul and Joe Bleu, Dolce Vita) and some of my absolute least favorite scents (Anything by Davidoff, Kouros, French Lover) so this is yet another opposite end of the spectrum situation with nothing in the middle.

        • Lee says:

          Like a lot of perfumers, I guess it depends on all sorts of things – the strictures of the brief, the amount allowed for materials, the creative director and their input…

  • Kim says:

    I can’t decide how Comme des Garcons are playing with me here – 8 is considered a lucky number by the Chinese and so is gold. So are they aiming for a ‘gold’ scent or an Asian scent or the smell of luck – what? Guess I will have to smell it for myself.

    Total opposites in one line – I think the masters are at Lutens.
    And one can’t even say there is a common base that ties the line together like with Ormande Jayne or Guerlain. A La Nuit (jasmine horror on my skin) vs Un Lys (soft, beautiful lily and vanilla); Rahat Lakhoum (almond ick on me) vs Douce Amere (amazing on my skin – softness and spice with a spot of almond in there); Fleurs de Oranger (soft tuberose and oranges) vs Tubereuse Criminelle (nothing but camphor on me!).
    How do they do it?

    • Kim says:

      P.S. I hear shoulder pads are coming back in again, deary 😮

    • Lee says:

      That’s the Sheldrake genius and the Serge craziness, I guess. There are people about who rag on the SL line for sweetness or whatever; I just think they’re stunningly inventive and riskiy in ways no other line has been.

      And I’ve been hearing about pads coming back in for the past couple of years. You know what? Time I stepped outside of fashion… :d

  • Lee says:

    I am well wrapped up, but need to fix myself that hot toddy. I’m actually smelling of Un Crime Exotique and various other daubings – including those Portland private scents Patty sent my way. One of em smells of Yatagan, I swear.

    Like you, I can’t do Shalimar – though the light is quite lovely. Funny how lemon does actually work with the Guerlainade.

    Angel and the cologne are diametrically opposed. That cologne is queen or king of soapy clean, isn’t it?

    Thanks for your kind wishes…:x

  • donanicola says:

    888 failed to move me at all. If I try hard I can sort of remember what it smelled like but I have no interest in trying it again. Compare and contrast with the Patch which I would very much like to try again. As for a house, any house well I second Elle’s nomination of Dior for exactly the same reasons she gives. I thought also of T Mugler as in Angel (icky) and the cologne one in the green bottle. I was given a sample of that once and was as much impressed by how little it resembled Angel as in the juice itself. I will also mention Guerlain because although in theory I can see Shalimar is a masterpiece it is at the opposite end of my spectrum from the divine Mitsouko. Hope you feel better soon Lee! I hope you are wrapped up in lovely woollies smelling of Bois d’Armenie and maybe a hot toddy in hand.

  • Alexis Colby Carrington etc. says:

    You say gold lame and shoulder pads like it’s a BAD thing.


    — Alexis (aka March)

  • Elle says:

    Can’t wait to try the 888 to see how it work out on my skin.
    I’m just going to go for the first thing that came to my mind when thinking of opposites w/in a single house – the wonderfully uncivilized MKK and then the extremely civilized, even church visit acceptable Un Lys from Serge and Chris. In the same vein, I suppose I could also go w/ CB’s wonderful Tea/Rose or Cradle of Light (although this has a slightly raw edge) versus the heavenly rawness of his Musk. I am also tempted, out of extreme bitterness and annoyance, to mention the insipid, Paris Hilton worthy dept. store releases in recent years by Dior versus their sublime Diorling.

    • Lee says:

      I wondered who’d be the first to mention Dior – they’re the most variable, imho, and either at the love or hate end, hardly ever in between…

      Serge and Chris of course.

  • Louise says:

    Lee-you make 888 sounds so…inviting /:), though now I feel challenged to at least try it, given the range of opinions among your posse.

    So glad you like the Patch Tres Cher-I do love it, of course, but it goes so quickly from patch to immortelle/fenugreek that I almost miss the spice market. I tried it on my son, and he immediately suggested we go to IHOP (you may need some decoding on that one, Lee).

    CdG does get an award (the Zinggy) from me for Trying it All. Even when it flops.

    Opposing scents from a single house-the prize goes to Chanel for me (gasp). I also fear aldehydes, so just can’t stand 5, 19, 22 and others on my skin. But-I adore Rue Cambon, and appreciate many of the Exclusifs.

    You rock my world, too.:x

    • Lee says:

      IHOP – is that some kind of alternative dance studio?:-?

      Chanel – I’m with you on that one.

      Come ‘ere, you.>:d<

  • chayaruchama says:

    You beez ill ?
    I’ll fly over and cook…poor boychik. Take care of you…

    That’s why I pay you the BIG bucks- so I don’t need to smell 888-

    But I’m all over it with you and the gamine-naughty L with the Patch decant..YUM.

    I don’t know if anyone but the pooches and I like for me to wear it, yet [poor DH- I have to be gentle !].

    • Lee says:

      I’m a lot better today. Just a run-of-the-mill chest infection. She tempted us, didn’t she?

  • Flora says:

    I love all your different comments about 888 – just goes to show how everyone’s perception is so different. (I just wish I DID know what pure gold smells like!) Plus I love the Sisleys too, so you never know.:-?

    The opposite ends of the spectrum from a fragrance house? Gotta be Caron – Rough-trade Yatagan versus the unearthly Muguet de Bonheur, and I love them both – I have no idea why some people say all Carons smell the same (for me it’s Guerlains that do). I hope it’s not cheating that these are not both “feminines” or masculines” but if it is I would select Parfum Sacre to go up against the Muguet. It is just as profane as it is sacred, and Our Lady Muguet de Bonheur will have none of that. :”>

    • Lee says:

      Rough trade Yatagan indeed. Lots of people like the Sisleys –
      i know the problem’s mine. And I’m sure gold can hardly smell, seeing as it’s the ultimate non-reactive metal. It just stays the same, right? So I can’t think it gives off molecules that get up your nose. Maybe I’m wrong. I think they were going more with gold associations…