This might be the tail end of winter, but with temperatures and windchill in scary single digits, incense scents are just the thing. After going through several samples of Cardinal and still not getting it (though it layers nicely with almost every scent you'd try. I've been committing more fragrance sins than I'd ever confess here), I turned to Comme des Garcons Series 3: Incense.
I tried the most popular ones: Kyoto and Avignon, and gathered all my courage to revisit my old nemesis: Zagorsk.
Avignon: This is what I wanted Cardinal to be. The incense here is darker, deeper and more interesting then the soapy pine of Heeley. I lack the Catholic background and memories to make it a really evocative experience (being Jewish would do that to you), so there are no hooded priests when I'm wearing it, just more proof that good patchouli can make everything smell a little better.
Kyoto: I've never been to Japan, but if that's how it smells I will most likely love it. The incense here is more elaborate than in Avignon, and to my nose and skin is sweeter and less predictable. The different woodsy notes blended well on my skin into one cohesive image of dark green brunches against wintery sky. Pretty and Chilly.
Zagorsk: Are you scared yet? I know I was. My previous encounters with this one didn't end well. The first time I tried it all I could smell was pungent, rubbery smoke, band aid and pencil shaving. I tried it several times, working hard to find the promised beauty, but my only discovery was that I should never Zagorsk and drink. There was cookie tossing involved, and it wasn't pretty.
Still, I ordered a new sample and braced myself.
I have no idea if it's the fact that all my previous attempts at Zagorsking were at the height of summer, or it's my aging skin that has changed. It could also be my nose that has learned a lesson or two in the past seven months. The fact is that the bad industrial smoke was nowhere to be found (it now resides safely in Profumum's horrid Fumidus). Instead, I got all the cedery goodness and the floral notes, both violet and iris that softened it and made it (dare I say it?) pretty.
Out of all the three Comme des Garcons that I played with, Zagorsk is by far my favorite. Kyoto and Avignon, as pleasant as they are, lack a certain sexiness and flirtatious quality that I'm after at this moment. I'm going to have The Blond test them both. I have a feeling that their straightforwardness would work better on a male skin. Zagorsk isn't an "eat me" fragrance, but it has just enough pretty and intriguing elements to make me want to wear it again. Not that I'm getting a full bottle. I'm scared that at any given moment it might turn and once again become Bois de Turnpike. It's not a chance that I'm taking ever again.