Just as Comme des Garçons Black is an extension of the brand's Incense Series, Wonderwood is related to Sequoia and Palisander from the Red Series, only bigger, woodier, and with a lot more determination. Perfumer Antoine Lie layered a wide assortment of wood and wood-like notes to achieve what the people at Comme des Garçons described as
"A positive overdose of woods, woody notes and synthetic wood constructions (Wood gone mad).”And I guess that they're right.
|Wonderwood comes in the regular CdG bottle that is usually referred to as "the pebble bottle", but has always reminded me of a steak.|
Wonderwood takes many facets of wood and throws them together in a manner that seems a bit random. It starts with a very (old school) Tam Dao-like sandalwood, smooth and slightly sweet that has me wonder where and how exactly did the perfumer get his hands on real Mysore sandalwood. But the magic fades as other woods start to pile on, some are slightly smoky and smoldering, others are just-cut and piney, with just a bit of roots and dirt (hello, vetiver!) thrown in. That's where freshly grated black pepper and incense also come into the picture, providing their typical play of hot and cold. It's a lot to take in and quite fun.
From this description you may suspect that Wonderwood is very loud or dramatic, but it's quite the opposite, actually. The fragrance is smooth, goes down easily, and while its longevity is very impressive even when dabbing small amounts, it doesn't smack you in the face. I wouldn't call Wonderwood understated, because it's not; it goes all out there to dazzle you with woody tricks. But it's chic and easy to wear, with a masculine appeal yet very approachable for those of us who appreciate and enjoy a good pile of wood.
The thing is that Wonderwood feels bit too calculated, like an exercise in technical perfumery. It makes a point and does it well, but I'm missing the soul underneath the polished surface. Wonderwood amuses me more than it moves me, and it's a shame, because wood is such a wonderful building block that can reach into our hopes and memories to bring out something very real. That emotional core is missing here, and that's stopping Wonderwood from becoming the truly great perfume that it could have been.
Notes: Madagascan pepper, bergamot, Somalian incense, nutmeg, Cristalon, Cashmeran, guaiac wood, cedarwood, caraway seeds, Javanol, sandalwood, vetiver, oud.
Comme des Garçons- Wonderwood ($95, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent and Barneys.
Art: Still Life with Wood by Robert Smerdon, 2013.