Perfume Reviews

Reviews of parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Avignon by Comme des Garçons

Notes: roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds.

Avignon opens almost as grandiose in stature as the Palasi des Papes of Avignon itself; weaving a whimsical and evocative tapestry of dark smoldering warmth of Gothic-cathedral proportions, attributed to a vividly accurate star accord of smokey ash laden frankincense and myrrh.

With the image of warm sunlight shining through the colorful mosaic glass and those childhood memories of Sunday mass conjured and in full swing, comes the scents swirling and unraveling progressive stage of the opening; akin to the smoke emanating from a swaying thurible of the priest making his way from the vestry. This phase is by far my favorite, as it’s when Avignon’s wonderfully challenging burning and glowing resin is presented in its full glory.

Bertrand Duchaufour cleverly avoids pushing the boundaries to levels of burning and jagged austerity and realism, by taming and softening the edges with a bone dry vanilla and an enchanting and comforting Roman chamomile, which plays its role in setting forth a peaceful and meditative state; leaving a trail of dusty sweetness soothing out the bitter in a manner in which only lavender or chamomile can do.

This crucial step in the blending never creates a dichotomy of contradicting and conflicting elements, but rather strikes that meticulously inventive contrasting (yet harmonious) state, where the stark dry boldness of the heated ash is tempered and complemented with it’s polar opposite of light and warmth (a zesty elemi/vanilla/chamomile) which is key for the scents wearability in my opinion. Avignon remains very linear on my skin for the most part, with iso-e-super playing its role in imparting a rich velvety prominent texture and volume giving the incense accords a much needed lift in carrying the concept through to the very end.

After spending a portion of my childhood in a quaint little Catholic town in Southern Italy called Martina Franca, I became quite accustomed early on to the rich and enigmatic aroma of freshly burnt incense, which naturally was common place in the charming town. Although I’m not Catholic myself and have no religious affinities to the scent, I’m definitely partial to the smell of incense and Avignon is immensely enjoyable and evokes those fond childhood memories in spades.


In closing, I must confess. I really do love this one a lot, highly recommended! Finally I’ll add that after sampling the entire Incense series 3 line up, I can unequivocally attest that this one is the stand out and definitely up there with Zagorsk as having the best longevity and silage in the series.

Rating: 8.5/10
Longevity: 8/10
Projection: 8/10
Occasion: Casual
22nd December, 2014
I had picked the perfect day to review this scent...clod front moving in, chilly winds and grey skies. The fragrance itself is wonderful! With my limited experience in patchoulis, I found Avignon to be exactly as I expected. Not the nag champa smell from college, but a refined church-like accord. The sad disappointment came with the short longevity and minimal sillage. For me, it is a skin scent, and one I have to reapply after 3-4 hours. For these reasons, I cannot give it a thumbs up.
03rd October, 2014
I haven't been in a church before so I don't know how they smell like but if church truly smell like this, I believe I've found my new goal in life. becoming a father! :D
This is a great classic with adding a little bit more dark flavor comparing to the usual classic fragrances.
The opening is a semi fresh, clean and kind of soft soapy aldehydic scent with great support of smoky incense, some resins and a little bit of sweetness in the background. very good balance between light and dark side.
While the opening is really good, the mid is even better and actually I love the mid.
In the mid the semi fresh and aldehydic scent settled down and incense and resinous myrrh notes became stronger. I can feel a soft powdery feeling in the background as well that gives the scent a very elegant and classy feel.
The mid is smoky, resinous and oily, slightly powdery with kick of mellow aldehydic smell in a smooth way that all together creating a beautiful and so elegant classic scent.
The base is a simple semi sweet smell with some smokiness in the background.
Projection is above average and longevity is around 4-5 hours on my skin.
15th June, 2014
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Genre: Woody Oriental

This locus classicus of incense-based perfumery deserves every compliment it's gotten in the earlier reviews. Avignon doesn't bother much with the traditional top notes. Instead, it launches right into deep, smoky, incense that's infused with dried fruit, bitter citrus zest, and spices - perhaps nutmeg, mace, or cinnamon. Over the course of an hour the fruit, citrus, and spices gradually retreat, leaving in their wake a very dry frankincense-rich incense accord. At this stage, Avignon is rarified, transparent, and somehow distant, yet also very profound. The heart has a spiritual quality that vividly evokes the silent, cool interior of an ancient cathedral. Avignon remains in this groove for a long time before it starts to dry down into a faintly vanilla seasoned myrrh and cedar accord.

This scent is potent and long lasting, with plenty of sillage, and mercifully avoids the harsh synthetic tone that marks some of Comme des Garçon's more outré fragrances. It's not my favorite incense scent - that would be Dia for Men or Dzongkha - but it's certainly a great one.
08th June, 2014
The pine scent I always looked for. The comparisons to religious things really bore me as I don't get that (yes I've been to church and mass before). Very strong out the gate..also on the expensive side and hard to find in the US (just Lucky Scent). Morrissey wears/wore this so good enough for me!
30th March, 2014
Oh, yes, yes. Yes, I want to smell like this. Avignon has become my new favorite.

It vaguely (just for a moment) reminds me of Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria: Winter Delice, which has been my previous favorite. (I think it's the myrrh/resins I'm fixating on and loving.) And I still love Winter Delice with all my heart. But mmmmm, the incense in this -- and the fact that Avignon is in production! -- means that Avignon wins out.

And it really does remind me of Easter mass...

Maybe not "wearable" for all people, since not everyone would care to smell like a church, but I do.
05th March, 2014
Cold Gothic Perfection

Overall rating: * * * * * (masterpiece)

Few fragrances manage to capture a mood and a place as well as Avignon, the Roman Catholic entry in CDG's incense series. Close your eyes after applying it, and you could be standing on the cold stone floors of a gothic cathedral in northern Europe in the 15th century.

But it is more than just a photo-realistic impression of a cathedral. As it dries down, it continues to evolve . The frankincense becomes quieter, more meditative. Woodsy notes dance in the shadows and mineralic gloom. Sheer perfection.

This is my Sunday scent, and my preferred fragrance for holidays, funerals, weddings, and spiritual encounters. Wearing this is a bit like reading (and entering) the Cloud of Unknowing.

12th October, 2013
A lovely skin scent...

A wonderful fragrance. Starts off a bit harsh, but them moves into a dry incense. Over time, it travels down a sweeter path, always staying close to the skin. Very little projection, but this might not be a bad thing for this kind of scent. A winner.

Pros: A lovely skin scent...
Cons:

06th October, 2013
Mysterious dirty and comforting wow

I have really fallen for Avignon, the incense is intense with myrrh and woods in it and just a bit of sweetness, not much at all but also dirtied and made deeper by the animalic notes. Just how I would imagine the Catholic church with its history but then not really, I cannot quite see this as a church scent, it is not tame at all but more like dark, mysterious and dirty but yet very comforting and warming. I have worn this out of a generous sample from Darkdreams for five days in a row and cannot get enough. The lasting power and sillage are wonderful on me, not really feminine but not masculine either, complex and unique. I love incense and this may be my favorite incense fragrance to date, definitely one I will be looking forward to own. Really surprised me as it far surpassed my expectations. The only thing is that maybe I would like a tadbit less woods on a woman but the woods can be comforting too. So nothing negative, just drawn to this fume.

Pros: all I was looking for as an incense lover and more
Cons: none"

05th October, 2013
AlHamr Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Not the church I was looking for.

I'm sure I reviewed this before. It may have got lost in the website move.

Anyway, Avignon has not been the end of my quest for an incense that actually captures the vertical, etherial qualities of burning frankinsence (which I don't actually associate with the Catholic mass as it's not in my personal history). I'm afraid I may be looking for the impossible.

Yes, it is churchy, but for me it's less of a cathedral and more of a modern church with cheap carpets and a dwindling congregation. The incense is certainly there, together with a certain mustiness, but the feeling of height, space and the soaring trajectories of stone arches are wholly absent; rather the walls are finished in plaster board and painted in magnolia. The beeswax on the pews has been recently applied by a pleasant but somewhat pedestrian verger. And the sweetness is overpowering.

This is less the Avignon of the Western Schism, more the Basingstoke of the protestant one, and reminds me of Eddie Izzard's take on the improbability of Church of England fundamentalism: "You must have tea and cake with the vicar or you DIE!"; "CAKE OR DEATH?!"

19th September, 2013
Ethereal liturgical mind trip

The first spray yanked me back like a fish caught on a hook to my Catholic upbringing. The sharp liturgical incense note is certainly true to the brief. Don't think I've ever had such a strong scent/memory response.
Although a liturgical bombast at the head, Avignon at the same time is hollow and ethereal, the hand of Duchaufour can be felt keenly (in the spirit of Timbuktu). During the heart the chamomile/floral accord gives some softness and and stops things becoming too astringent. I also found the Iso E Super to be quite prominent after a few hours.
Where Norma Kamili Insence is dense saturated and slightly macabre, Avignon to me has a airy spiritual quality and gossamer lightness, it's very good.

Pros: Liturgical Perfection
Cons:

15th August, 2013
First up, let me preface this by saying I've never smelled catholic church incense in my life, so I'm not approaching this stuff as the scent of a known object. It starts out rather warm and resinously sweet, though I don't feel like the underlying wood note is that sweet on its own. Even though I don't visualize any particular thing, I feel like the scent is among the more realistic of the series. It's more ambery, however, and maybe even vanillic, which for me means that it has more potential to get tiringly sweet as it moves along. The spices have a hard time cutting through that kind of sweetness. Still, it's good, maybe just a bit richer and higher-pitched than I'd like. It's just a tad christmasy-smelling and doesn't captivate me like some of the others. Because it's a bit closer than the others to being a typical ambery masculine oriental, it seems more wearable. I'd wear it in place of Heritage (very similar!) or maybe PdN New York. Interesting how it kind of pulled me back from the realm of thematic fragrances into the mainstream, just as I'm done reviewing this series.
14th May, 2013
After having tried "Kyoto" and "Avignon", "Avignon" is my favourite. There is certainly a good whiff of incense, with a citrusy yet warm sweetness to it, which I like. Perhaps because I'm a girl. it stays relatively constant like this for a good few hours, nice, not overpowering, and although I am drawn to Catholic Churches and wouldn't dream of attending a mass with NO incense, the incense isn't overpowering. My friends thought it was pleasant, too, and they didn't think "churchy" at all.
25th April, 2013
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wow.fantastic. unisex? i don't see how but hey go for it ladies!! very deep,rich and complex. gourmands were my fave but do to this and gucci pour homme i am an incense lover!! just got my 95% full 1.7 oz bottle today in the mail for 68 bucks!! i need the 3.4 oz if they make it. anyway in the same realm as gph powered by at least 5 times. more incense, more cedar and more woods. very lovable scent especially for cool/cold weather. blind bought do to all the rave!!
07th April, 2013
Marais Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Everyone goes on about churchiness...speaking as an ex-altar boy, used to swinging the thurible with the best of 'em (oh, forgive me!), I think this comparison is overstated. Or maybe parish parsimony (it was the 1970s) meant we got a bad batch of incense from the discounters.
There is more to Avignon (both the town and the perfume) than religion. I smell as much salt and garrigue herb notes here as I do incense; fancifully one may imagine the warm, salt mediterranean sea air blowing across dry, sun-baked scrubland, dotted with wild rosemary, sage and thyme. Overwrought gloomy associations and self-flagellation are not compulsory.
Longevity is quite good; 6 hours from 4 sprays.
03rd April, 2013
Avignon definitely lives up to the hype; I just can’t get enough of this fragrance! Several fantastic reviews have already described Avignon, so I really do not have much to add except that Avignon=man trap. Yes, that’s right; I’ve been wearing it every day for about a week now and I have received more compliments per (arbitrary) unit of time than with Hypnotic Poison and Angel. I’ve already given away two decants. This stuff is a drug!!!

5/5!!! Weeeeeeeee!
12th February, 2013
Opens with some kind of freshness(is that possible?) that remains for a while. Then it does become a warm incense scent that smells slightly sweet, much probably by the vanilla. It's hard to use because its very dense and smoky. Sillage, lasting power and projection are great. Very unique. Thumbs up.
12th December, 2012
Quartz Show all reviews
United States
My first exposure to incense fragrances. A bit of a cold, sharp smell. Lasts long on my skin and is just flat out terrific. I don't see how anyone could not like it.
EDIT- Now that I'm more knowledgeable about fragrances, I can absolutely see how someone would not like it.
29th November, 2012 (last edited: 30th June, 2014)
Church incense, yes I like that. But I don't care for the soapy scent that is part of this fragrance. I would much rather wear Kyoto.

12th November, 2012
Nefret Show all reviews
United States
Church. Churchy church.

Not to be glib, but that's precisely what this will call to mind. Incense that leads to wood, then the faintest amber-y note. It's not a strong or long-lasting scent, but it's one to put on and contemplate for a couple of hours.

CDG's Kyoto would be, I think, more of a wearable out-and-about alternative. It's more outdoorsy and serene. But I wear my incense-based fragrances to please myself, since I think most people around me find them a little odd.
02nd October, 2012
Catholic high mass. Not for me thanks.
05th September, 2012
It is not "like" church incense - it IS a precise facsimile of church incense. nothing added or taken away, amplified or suppressed.
Therefore if you want to smell like a priest on a sabbatical it is ideal, if not...well, who knows.
The very belligerence of this approach makes me like it and it does smell great.
The longeviety of all of the CDG incense series is (I think) a little light - esp. for a very heavy fragrance like Avignon which you would expect to dwell?
I do wear this quite often - not sure others will often like it, but it is exactly the interesting/peculiar aspect of the fragrance hobby that we all seek from time to time?
They can't all just be 'nice'?
26th August, 2012
Wow, what a knock out this is! This was a blind buy and the previous reviews describe it exactly. It is the perfect evocation of a high mass.

For some Catholics and High Church Episcopalians, the association may be too exact for comfort. It is so exactly the smell of a old paneled vestry or a well-aged sanctuary a hour after a service. But for someone like me, who has a love of the medieval Church and has spent many hours tramping through the ancient churches and cathedrals of Europe, it is an absolute delight. It is also well named: for me, this is not the gloom of a Gothic revival pile in a horror film but the charm of a warm, sunny, brick-built medieval town in the south of France.

As some have mentioned, versatility just might be an issue. I keep thinking people will think I am a priest out of uniform, especially as I tend to wear black. As with Black Orchid and M7, you have to think a bit before putting this one on. But it is very rich, linear, powerful, and all-encompassing, already, I assume, one of the classics.
04th April, 2012
Avignon is well made but in my view, the overall result -and taking into account the genre to wich it belongs- is too politically correct and linear.
At the same time, it seems to be possible identify a certain intent to create a parfum that resembles to.., that emulates to, instead of create a true perfume that evokes directly the image they want suggest.
In the same way, there is some note in there that reminds me of the lead of pencils.
I prefer much more the exoticism of Jaisalmer.
22nd March, 2012
Ok. Church incense. I get it. Oddly to me it starts out with a scent I can only describe as rum. Strange I know. But it gets to the incense quick enough. I too grew up in the Catholic Church and I remember the incense burning on special occasions. This is a pale version of what I remember. I too get a wee bit of vanilla in this. This is far from what I would like as an incense scent. For that try Ambra Aurea. It's beginning is dead on to what I remember. This is too weak and perfumey.
02nd March, 2012
Comme des Garçons AVIGNON is an incredibly beautiful incense perfume. I am very pleasantly surprised, having been somewhat disappointed by a couple of the other members of this series I've tried. Why is this one so much better to my nose? I suppose because it's a full-fledged, complex perfumic composition, as opposed to a solution of finely ground incense...

Here are the notes I found at another site:
several kinds of incense, chamomile, vanilla, patchouli, rosewood and ambrette.

Small wonder I'm smitten! Ambrette probably puts this over the top from like to love for me. Who knew that a relatively linear incense perfume could be a serious wrist sniffer? For the record, this does not smell like a musty old Catholic church to me. No, on the contrary, AVIGNON smells like something which clearly belongs on my wish list: a gorgeous oriental woody perfume!
20th October, 2011
I've changed my review to a thumbs up.
I tried numerous incense fragrances and kept getting drawn back to this one.
I loved Heeley's Cardinal, but it was too bright and subtle, althought utterly meditative and wonderful, I will own it one day.
Anyway, after previously giving this a neutral review as I found it sharp and non-churchy... I ended up getting a bottle after months of craving it once my sample ran out.
When sprayed it's so much better, beautiful, rich, comforting and well, everything has already been explained by everyone else. It's a fantastic incense and a perfect reference. I'm very happy to own it.
28th September, 2011 (last edited: 11th January, 2012)
drseid Show all reviews
United States
A major success from Duchaufour. Avignon is exactly what I envision what a perfect pleasant smelling incense should smell like in real life. It has a very natural cedar and frankincense combo that is incredible smelling. The scent is quite linear, getting right down to business and staying there throughout. I can see some versatility issues with Avignon due to the nature of the scent, but the composition and smell are near-flawless. The only minor gripe I have is contrary to many of the other reviews, longevity on my skin is below average at about 5-6 hours. That said, Avignon is completely deserving of the high praise it has received here and elsewhere. Simply sublime. 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5.
09th September, 2011 (last edited: 02nd June, 2012)
This fragrance to me is a masterpiece. Beautifully done! But it have a problem attached to it.

The problem is that this fragrance to me is a church in a bottle. Smells exactly the same as the myrrh used in masses. A very well done fragrance that lacks versatility.

In conclusion, it is very hard to pull this off, but it is a marvelous fragrance that must take part in the closet of every collector.
21st August, 2011
I don't know about the similarity to a catholic church, since I've never been in one.
One of CDG's best in my opinion; high quality, realistic, and ultra-rich.
Beautiful murkiness, and a great way to set a mood.
I am amazed at just how wearable this is (gothic garb is not requisite).
20th July, 2011