Feeling dirty? COMME des GARÇONS' new fragrance will clean you right up (or at least leave you smelling fresh).
"Marseille," the house's latest olfactory creation, takes cues from Savon de Marseille, the class of high-quality bar soap produced in Southern France. Considered the gold standard of suds, Marseille soap is beloved for its pared-down ingredients list (no hard-to-pronounce components here — just vegetable oil, water, salt, and soda), making it gentle enough for both delicate garments and sensitive skin.
Available online at Dover Street Market, the perfume boasts top notes of the European soap — which smells largely of olive oil — and neroli. A heart of petalia (a floral-y, lychee-tinged scent) and orange crystals is grounded with a base of ambrofix (a tobacco-amber fixative), giving the smell a smoky longevity.
Soap may seem like an odd scent of choice, but "clean" fragrances aren't exactly a novel phenomenon. Byredo's "Blanche" and Maison Margiela's "Lazy Sunday Morning" both evoke the smell of freshly laundered sheets and clean skin, and Demeter — the "fragrance library" that bottles off-beat odors including glue and Play Doh — offers "Pure Soap," a take on a good old bar of Ivory.
Soapy fragrances are extra relevant these days — set against our heightened awareness of hygiene, clean smells subconsciously evoke an odd form of comfort. When sitting down at a restaurant or descending into the subway, the chemically tang of disinfectant signals safety, at least from surface-level germs and bacteria.
Amid the uncertainty of COVID, COMME des GARÇONS' "Marseille" aptly sums up the world we're living in. A spritz of freshly sanitized skin, anyone?