I'm still amused when I remember how much I loathed Zagorsk for the first three or four samples (yes, I went through at least 5mls of this Comme des Garcons perfume until I managed to wrap my head around it). I can't justify the dislike any more than I can explain why I kept trying it until I saw the light, but it's been years ago and I've been wearing Zagorsk happily and regularly, so I thought it's time to revisit it here.
When I wear Zagorsk nowadays I get a sense of comfort and tranquility, just as I do with some other incense perfumes. The contrasts keep it interesting: a slow burn, cool and open skies, the inside of old stone buildings, pine forests. It's all there and it's blended together in a way that sometimes feels very condensed while on other days the various notes soar up and create a sense of openness.
I remember that one of the first things I noticed in Zagorsk once my revulsion was gone was the clear and defined iris note. It felt like a bell chiming from afar and reaching you, helping you to orient yourself and find your way back into town after wondering for a while. It felt like a light in the smoky and foggy air of an early morning after a night spent by a campfire, which I think brought back some old memories from my youth. In any case, it's this iris notes that makes Zagorsk stand apart from the other perfumes in the Comme des Garcons Incense Series. It's not "just" about incense and ancient rituals; there's also a landscape here, a journey, a sense of another time and place.
The dry-down of Zagorsk is all wood: burnt as well as alive. There's a lot of cedar there in its best pencil-shavy form, freshly chopped pine, young tree bark. It's invigorating and warm at the same time, with a sense of well-being and warmth. I can't imagine not loving it nowadays. What were I thinking?
Notes: white incense, pine, pimento berries, violet, cedar, iris, hinoki wood, birch wood
Comme des Garcons Zagorsk ($95, 50ml EDT) is available from Luckyscent and Barneys.
Art: Zagorsk by Deb Hill.