Floral meadows, orange trees, sex … the habitual smells of the perfume counter, right? How about concrete? That’s the guide behind Comme des Garçons’ latest perfume, released this week. With a non-glossy bottle that looks like an off-cut of the Southbank Meet, it’s the kind of dressing-table addition that will appeal to lay out geeks fond of brutalism, who likely have a Marie Kondo draw to interior decor. On the Selfridges website, it’s described as “an exploration of ruination, construction and creation”.
Along with carry oning the tradition of hyperbole in the fragrance world, Concrete is part of a veer for scents that ostensibly ditch the usual palate and go for something, frankly, other-worldlier. There’s Russian designer Gosha Rubskinskiy’s signature trail, designed to have the smell of skateboarding on a summer day, with “the effluvia of rubber and tar colliding”. Or Christopher Shannon’s, which he says is roused by his “upbringing in working-class Liverpool; sulphur and copper scents interbred with the smell of food from the bustling streets and unconventional citrus notes from a newly cleaned house.” Serge Lutens, the cult perfumer and makeup artist, mightiness win the prize for most esoteric: Dent de Lait is designed to stench like the feeling of losing your first tooth. It temperate comes with a film with images of gap-toothed sons, and artfully employed dental floss.
If the 90s pioneering fragrances shifted smell to unisex with CKOne, and singular smells with Comme des Garcons’ Odeur 53, which had the whiff of petrol, this experimentation is now increasingly cheap, as brands bid to appeal to the tastes and interests of millennials. None of these fragrancies are gender-specific, and they are all designed to turn heads – or indeed rush at noses twitch – through their individuality. It’s this, nose buyers say, that appeal to a generation where creating a familiar brand – right down to the scent – is far more important than get a whiff of a) clean or b) like they got some last night.
These aromas all play with the idea of the mundane that is so fashionable at the second – after Vetements put DHL on the catwalk, aspiration and glamour seem a bit passe. Making a fragrancy based on concrete, a substance that surrounds us but is hardly in the foreground of most people’s combustibles, fits. But then there’s the actual smell – concepts are all truly well but with the fragrance industry predicted to be worth £33.5bn by 2021, this is big charge. What you spray on your wrist still needs to pong nice.
I am no qualified nose but, to me, all of these fragrances smelt attractive rather than weird, and they were somewhat alike resemble. Dent de Lait is lateral thinking on childhood – it smells disposed to baby powder. Concrete supposedly has metallic threads underneath the impassion start, but it’s buried too deep for me – it’s certainly the sweetest concrete I have in any case smelt. Rubchinskiy’s fragrance will appeal to the teenagers that situated in skateparks but it’s clean and out-of-the-shower, rather than gritty – the rubber and tar appearance of absent.
Shannon’s perfume is the one that does cestus true, it has something of the pine or citrus smell that drop with the satisfying sparkle of a freshly clean home post-housework. And hey, get a whiff of like cleaning products is certainly one way to denote your in the flesh brand – or Shannon’s anyway. Actual personalised fragrance for all can’t be far away. I’ll impose upon a cocktail of lit matches, chlorine and nutmeg please.