To my mind, anything that bares the signature of French fashion/fragrance house Comme des Garcons is something to be explored. For the past forty years CdG's owner Rei Kawakubo has continually shocked and amazed with cutting-edge fashion, boutique installations and advertising that are all extremely avant garde in nature. Their approach to perfume has also always been unconventional and innovatory - from their world's first "anti-perfume" release in 1998 titled Odeur 53, to their more recent Synthetic series.
It hence comes as no surprise to me that Comme des Garcons teamed up with British milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones, winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award in Fashion for his flamboyant and progressive headwear; to create the perfume Stephen Jones Millinery.
As one might expect from such an alliance of pioneering minds, Stephen Jones Millinery is both remarkable and unique... it bears the nonconformist olfactory fingerprint of CdG, and the outlandish aesthetic of Stephen Jones. Beautifully packaged in a jet-black miniature hat box and wrapped in a milliner's veil, the obsidian-coloured flacon is semi-organic in appearance - reminding me perhaps of a galactic seed-pod waiting to eject perfumed spores into the air. As I turn it in my hands, deep inside the bottle one can see flashes of violet as the light picks out its facets. There is something cold, alien, or otherworldly about it.
The juice itself sparkles with aldehydes as it is first applied, like some shiny, twinkling nebula. It is a bracing introduction to a perfume which is very Comme des Garcons: unruly, bold and commanding. Violets feature heavily in the opening of this scent, but it is not a mainstream interpretation of violets: they are cold and metallic, as if plucked from the gardens of a dark moon found in some distant starscape. CdG list meteorite and magma as starring accords, and one would agree that they have succeeded in introducing a cold mineralic quality to the composition. The scent does however, retain some earthbound accords as well - a dewy rose, peppery carnation and slightly muddy vetiver feature, though, I get the impression that they too may have been cryogenically frozen and then defrosted again in some intergalactic ark. There is a distinct sensation of breathing refrigerated air here which is not at all unpleasant... just interesting. If Stephen Jones and Comme des Garcons set out to compel and inspire, then they have succeeded.
Few scents these days make me literally step back and say "Wow!" because sometimes I just feel as if I've "seen it all". Fortunately, Millinery exceeded my expectations and has given me much to ponder. As my wife and I share our 50ml bottle, (and in doing so garner peculiar stares at the sushi bar or ATM); I reflect upon the future of perfumery and what could be regarded as the final frontier.
Stephen Jones Millinery is exclusively available in 50ml bottles, and lasts up to 7 hours on my skin and 9 hours on hers. Its sillage is above average. One definitely worth experiencing.