Alkemia Perfumes, ambrette seeds, Avignon, Bertrand Duchaufour, Christmas, cistus oil, Comme des Garçons, elemi, Full Bottle Wishlist, Guerlain, incense, Les Mysteres, Men's Fragrances, Midnight Mass, Morrissey, Niche, Occasion, palisander, Patchouli, Regina Harris Frankincense Rose Maroc, Roman chamomile, Shalimar, Smiths, Vanilla, Wishlist
“Good times for a change
See the luck I’ve had
Can make a good man turn bad
So please please please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want this time…”
It’s pretty quiet on the Olfactory Obsessed home front this Christmas Eve. I have The Smiths Hatful of Hollow album playing quietly in the background. In the meantime, my husband is hiding the razor blades. I know The Smiths are not exactly a holiday chart topper but I’m playing it for a reason! And if you’re a Morrissey fan, I don’t have to explain why! And if you’re a loyal and true Morrissey fan you probably already own a bottle of Comme des Garçons Incense Avignon.
For those who aren’t in the know or don’t care, CdG Incense Avignon is Morrissey’s signature scent.(Morrissey was the frontman for the 80’s band, The Smiths btw) As a matter of fact, Morrissey was so bewitched by this scent that sometimes he would order his road managers to spray his practice space with “a fragrance of the day”. One obsessed fan validates that it is in fact his signature scent, “I got a piece of Morrisey’s shirt after his Dublin show and yes it reeked of [Comme des Garçons Incense Avignon]. Clearly, I had to get a bottle for myself. It is amazing. The best!.”
In 2000, Comme des Garçons launched their Project Parfum series. Each series in Project Parfum revolves around a common theme. Avignon was released in 2002 and belongs to the Series 3 collection inspired by Incense and the five main spiritual teachings of humanity: Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Shintoism. (What happened to Judaism?) The fragrances were named after cities significant for those teachings. Avignon represents Catholicism:
“…the city of Avignon in the south of France, the Provence region. It was a very influential Catholic centre in the 14th century. This is a smell of gothic cathedrals, their vast and high halls, gobelins and tapestries that were absorbing the sacred frankincense smell for centuries.” (via fragrantica.com)
I’ve read many reviews who were astounded at how true-to-life this fragrance was, how it reminded them of Catholic midnight mass, and that Bertrand Duchaufour, the nose behind CdG Incense Avignon, is a perfume mastermind. Being a recovering Catholic myself, I was very curious. (Twelve years in an all-girls parochial school and practically raised by a pack of strict Irish nuns…I consider myself an experienced Catholic.) I, of course, had to order myself a sample and smell whether these claims were actually true. Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I still love to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I love the colorful pageantry and the atmosphere of sacred majesty. Midnight Mass is the only extremely rare moment I’m proud of being Catholic, when I’m not bored out of my mind and start scraping the varnish off the back of old pews…
Description: Powerful and intense, Avignon evokes the medieval city in the south of France which surpassed Rome as the Catholic Church’s power center in the 14th century. It’s the scent of gothic cathedrals and Papal palaces, of tapestries imbued with centuries of incense. Of cold marble steps, holy relics and dark confessions. The recognizable smells of frankincense and myrrh open the high mass of Avignon, giving way to the almost eye-smarting, gloriously smoky and resinous heart. A dry vanilla and soft Roman chamomile dull the edges of this reverent fragrance. Beautiful, dark and mysterious, Avignon takes its place among the most talked about (and admired) of CdG’s entire line. (via luckyscent.com)
Notes: Roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds
Scent: CdG Incense Avignon is a literal high-hat interpretation of midnignt mass. All throughout its development, you smell dry smoke with a sticky dark solemn resin. It conjures memories of all my years attending Christmas Eve mass. You can see the swirls of smoke disperse up to the heavens. A holy cloud eventually enveloping the entire cathedral. It’s so smokey that it makes you want to cough and your eyes water. You can also smell antiquated wood and the cold damp stone pillars. There’s an intimacy, quietude, and reverence I feel when I smell this scent. Transparent as a stained glass rose window. It makes me want to whisper. To do so otherwise, would be sacreligious.
Sillage: For me, this is an intimate fragrance. It stays close to the skin.
Longevity: CdG Incense Avignon performs incredible for an EDT. I’ve been wearing this since 11 a.m. It’s 9:36 p.m. and still going strong.
Would I buy a full bottle? Yes, definitely. It’s a beautiful scent and should be in every perfumista’s/o’s collection.
Season and Occasion: Winter evenings. Austere religious rituals.
Layering: It’s beautiful worn alone but amazing layered over other scents. Katie Puckrik layered her Avignon over a vanilla fragrance on her wedding day. One perfume vlogger layered it over Shalimar and said it smelled beautiful under Shalimar’s woody vanilla. I like to layer it with Flourish Pomegranate Rose to create a dark Gothic fruity floral. Another great layering combo is with Regina Harris Frankincense Myrrh Rose Maroc, it adds a touch of sweetness.
Final Verdict: This is such a beautiful fragrance it almost brings me to tears. This is one of those instances where you smell a fragrance and discover the art of perfumery. Bertrand Duchaufour is a genius in my opinion. He deserves a thousand genuflects! How he managed to stuff centuries of Catholic piety and repression in a bottle is beyond me. This further demonstrates his masterful craftsmanship. CdG Incense Avignon smells so real to me that I am overwhelmed with guilt. My penitant knees are sore from reciting too many Hail Marys, Our Fathers, and Glory Be’s. I can understand why Morrissey chose this as his signature scent and I wouldn’t be surprised if Avignon was his muse. It would explain why his lyrics were so gloomy and maudlin. (FYI..Morrissey also belongs to the Catholic Club.)
For devout incense lovers, Morrissey fans, and recovering Catholics…
Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense Avignon: Avaliable at luckyscent.com
Well, I have a midnight mass to catch. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope your Christmas will be filled with love and laughter. (And that you get what you want this time..)
Looking for more sacred scents? Read my review on Alkemia Perfumes Les Mysteres.
[Image 1] via parfumo.de