Friday, January 18, 2008

Comme des Garçons Series 3: Ouarzazate

Incense is of supreme importance in Middle Eastern culture. For millennia incense made with oud, sandalwood, frankincense, myrrh and other of the important commodities of spice route trade, has been traded in souqs throughout the Arab world. The practice of burning incense, known as bahkour, transcends religious differences entirely. At its heart is a palpable symbol of hospitality, either to various gods, the God of monotheism or to visitors in one’s home. Incense is burned in a type of brazier, known as a mabkhara, which to my eye looks like a cross between a pedestal vase and arms raised in thanksgiving. Some are quite ornately decorated, and one can find them in a full range of sizes, from those that sit atop a table to those that mark intersections in large Arab cities during religious observances.

Commes des Garçons Series 3: Ouarzazate was created by incense-perfume master, Mark Buxton, in 2002. Three years previous Buxton had created the well-received Comme des Garçons 2, and two years after he would go on to complete the trifecta with Comme des Garçons 2 Man. Most recently, he has created another incense-spiked scent, Vetiver 46 for Le Labo, which one of these days when I get off the fence I will review in detail.

Ouarzazate is released in both eau de toilette and scented candle formats. It combines resinous glowing labdanum with the warm, comforting aroma of Clary sage, pepper, nutmeg and just the slightest touch of vanilla –– all in a white, billowing cloud of beautifully blended traditional incense. While it is the tamest of the Incense series, I find it refreshing and profound at the same time. It is a scent which I do not have think about. It whispers to me in some unknown language: Come in, you’re welcome.


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