This is very relaxing and outdoorsy. Hinoki smells very much like cedar to me, except with a slight tinge of lemon or bergamot somewhere in the mix, and a huge dollop of camphor. The camphoraceous aspects of the Hinoki wood add this fresh, green, almost wet feel to the perfume and sometimes smells even a little bit industrial at times, like glue or paint – although, let’s be honest, glue and wet paint also smell bloody fantastic, so no complaints here.
In general, the slight smoky-incense feel to Hinoki makes this a true sister scent to Kyoto, also by Comme des Garcons, and who knows, it may have been the basic template for Kyoto. Either way, both these scents share a green, slightly camphoric, woody incense character and are both equally diffuse and translucent in texture. Elegant to the bone, minimalist, stylish, and grounding – these are two of my favorites for when you need to carry the great redwoods of Oregon around in your personal headspace (ok, wrong wood type but you know what I mean!).
weak sillage and duration, fireworks in the opening then a rather monolithic dull drydown
A brief phrase held for ever – that’s how some of the Comme des Garcon’s range (particularly those involving incense) come across to me. Hinoki has a promising start of camphoraceous pine and incense, the camphor providing a twist to the outdoorsy green woods and incense theme. However within a short space of time, the elements gel and we are left with a flatlining scent, a sweet, somewhat monochromatic incense with the pine and fir notes soaked into it like food colouring. In many ways the scent is reminiscent of the later Memoir Man, but whereas the much richer Amouage breathes and has a great tonal range, Hinoki is even and unvarying to the point of tedium.
The bottle says “Hinoki” but I smell a lemming.
Hinoki goes on smelling like very dry cedar shavings, and not all that much else. Tremendous sillage and projection make this a hard scent to ignore, and this astounding volume, in concert with the dominant cedar-like accord, suggests to me that Hinoki’s formula contains boatloads of Iso E Super. After an hour a relatively hard-edged frankincense note separates itself from the monolithic dry woody accord, but the structure remains exceptionally stark and simple. The course is linear from there on, and Hinoki doesn’t seem to develop so much as very slowly fade away.
If you’re a fan of spare, ascetic incense fragrances, you’ll probably like Hinoki. Note however that Comme des Garçons’ very own Avignon and (especially) Kyoto offer a similar olfactory experience at a fraction of the price. It’s not that Hinoki is a bad scent, but there just isn’t that much to it, and I can’t for the life of me understand why people are getting so excited by it.
Frankly, having witnessed the phenomenon in music and visual arts, I feel scents like Hinoki illustrate the dead end nature of minimalism as an artistic style. Strip enough “extraneous” matter from any artwork, and the penultimate result is boring. The ultimate result is – well - nothing, and when some clever niche company markets a bottle of distilled water (labeled “Eau”) for $250 we’ll know that’s where we’ve arrived.
Inspired by Sommerville Metro Man’s experience, I decided to re-evaluate the much-lauded Monocle Scent One: Hinoki. For this wearing, I applied the scent quite generously, hoping that a good basting job would reveal depths I’d missed in my earlier trial.
Guess what? It’s still a thin, hollow pseudo-cedar (Iso E Super) with a touch of camphoraceous juniper, some frankincense, and not much else, and it still smells like high-end hamster bedding. What’s worse, for an expensive, super-premium niche release, it smells cheap. Very, very cheap. I remain firmly unconvinced. Demoted to a thumbs-down for Comme des Garçons' audacity in charging so much for so little.
Monocle Scent One - Hinoki
This scent smells very compressed and reticent - it never gets really abundant. It got lots of terpenic and slight camphorous notes, creating a ink and freshly 'pressed' paper-tone that settle down in a balsamic-woody way. I like its dryout - a mix of cedarwood, cypress, fir-balsam and frankincense, which altogether has a soft greenish feel, and a slight raw, black-tarry edge to it. Hinoki starts out like the smell of sake, with pepper, cumin, and a strange lemon/lime-peels sort of note, together with a projection of fresh hay. After that it smells like washing powder - very linalool-like, which could be rosemary, that smells close to lavender here with a floral undertone of a 'canned'-like ylang/rose-combo. Then it grows greener - fern/pine-like, and also gets a sour urinal-note for a short while. From that moment it gets darker, slight tar-woody, with sharp terpenic notes.
What I think Hinoki tries to express is a meditative state of pure concentration and the sense of being totally focused on one thing with a clear mind. I guess you need this state of mind when you are devoted to the art of Japanese calligraphy. In this perfume you can smell both the ink and the paper, as well as the calmness and clarity of the person who practices this artform.
I have respect for its form and expression as a scent, but don’t appreciate it enough as a wearable perfume. But I’m sure it finds an audience of people that love this scent to death - an could commit kamikaze over it...