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  1. #1
    manicboy's Avatar
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    Default Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Whenever I hit CG Bigelow, I come across Comme des Garçons 2 Man. It seems to me only available at Bigelow as I've not seen it anywhere else. Knowing that Comme des Garçons is a big fashion powerhouse in Europe, I know they don't exclusively make fragrance. It seems to me that given the limited availability, high prices and very "niche-like" scents, they are acting like a niche house like L'Artisan or Creed. Anybody think so?

  2. #2
    baald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    are they really a big fashion powerhouse? i always thought that they were fairly "niche" fashion-wise as well. Kind of a small house with a big (ie, influential and respected) impact.

    re their frags - I think they are niche by virtue of the uniqueness of the frags themselves. They are usually unique, sometimes extremely so. Odeur 53 turned my world upside down, from the concept, to the frag itself, to the packaging. It was my signature scent during my whole motorcycle phase (....which ended when my bike and i ended up under a car on the san mateo bridge...). I still like it, but now am discovering other olfactory worlds thanks to this forum as well as my recent interest in wetshaving (those boards all promote the classic scents).

    Anyway, I think Rei will always be a pioneer, and pioneers tend to dwell in niches i think.

    baald

  3. #3

    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    True, baald (and welcome to the board!). They're not really a very common brand, more like 'indie'. But whether they're really niche.. I don't know.
    "Perfume is the dream that carries me."

    There is always the sky to look at

  4. #4
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by baald
    I think they are niche by virtue of the uniqueness of the frags themselves.
    Niche/artisanal fragrance companies are defined by their production and distribution methods, not the actual content of the fragrances. This shows a common bias on this board of niche fragrances automatically equating to superior creativity and quality. Comme des Garçons is even working in conjunction with Spanish beauty giant Puig on the Comme des Garçons 2/2 Man line. Moreover, Comme des Garçons' fragrances were, for a time, sold at Nordstrom (which had the exclusive relaunch of Comme des Garçons 2) and Sephora (two are still available on the sephora.com), and Sephora generally does not sell artisanal fragrances. The fragrances apparently did not do very well in either location, leading to their being pulled in many locations. True, the Parfums Parfums series are made in small quantities independently and are largely distributed to select sellers - this is basis for declaring a house "niche" or not. But these are only a segment of the business.

    The Parfums Parfums series is marketed on an artisanal model; the mainline scents are not. (2 Man even came out with a Father's Day gift set last year. Tell me the artisanal company that makes gift sets.) They're just too odd for the mainstream market, which is why they only appear in a few more modern-leaning stores. (Barney's carries the full range.) Nevertheless, the scent's composition does not determine its classification. Moreover, Hermès' Hermessence and Giorgio Armani's Armani Privé scents are marketed in a similar high-priced, exclusive fashion; no one is considering Hermès or Armani niche. Why should Comme des Garçons be considered so?

  5. #5
    baald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpent
    Niche/artisanal fragrance companies are defined by their production and distribution methods, not the actual content of the fragrances.
    well if that's the case, i guess i'm just talkin' outta my ass

    why not just stick with artisinal, if that's what's meant? or boutique? or hi-end? (the latter two are the equivalent to "niche" in some of my other interests...). as far as it goes, niche definitely has more of a "market" connotation to me than a "produicer" connotation...

    baald

  6. #6
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by baald
    why not just stick with artisinal, if that's what's meant?
    "Artisanal" is a better term, but, with Comme des Garçons, there's still the issue of their working with Puig. Of course, many consider Acqua di Parma to be artisanal, despite its being owned by LVMH. If one must lump it into a group, it's generally just easier to call a duck a duck and mark them as designer scents. Etro, another fashion house, actually fits more closely to the artisanal marketing and manufacturing style, too. And again, other designers are trying to "go niche," like Norma Kamali and such.

    or boutique?
    But Commes des Garçons - and Creed and L'Artisan and Etro and lots of these companies - are sold in department stores, too. And online. This isn't a very accurate way to label.

    or hi-end?
    This label seems to be passing judgment. "High end" generally equates to "better" in many people's minds, when what it would more correctly designate is price and exclusivity. And again, aren't Hermès' and Cartier's scents "high end"? It's still problematic.

    Of course, the ultimate question is: Why does it matter? Yes, Comme des Garçons follows many of the marketing and distribution aspects of a small artisanal perfumer, but they are tied to a renowned fashion house, produced in part by a giant beauty concern, and sold in some mainstream outlets. So it's just easier to call them what they are: designer fragrances. This is why, though, it's easiest just to ignore the labels and enjoy the scents for what they are - not just with Comme des Garçons but with any company.

  7. #7
    zztopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpent
    This is why, though, it's easiest just to ignore the labels and enjoy the scents for what they are - not just with Comme des Garçons but with any company.
    Yes, thats why credit should be given to the "noses". Many perfumers create fragrances for both designer and niche houses, and I dont think that they would (consciously) work harder when creating a fragrance for a "niche" house. For example, both Terre D'Hermes(hermes) and Angelique SP (malle) were formulated by Ellena and both have that "earthy" accord...
    -

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    46 fragrances in 12 years and only one male perfume found in regular stores over here, their fashion label next to unknown except in European capitals -- how can they exist? There are also designed perfumes on order, like Elternhaus for London and Berlin last year (what happened to it?)

    Fortunately reality is always a little ahead of time and our mental pictures of it. Classifications do not always help to sort things out. Comme des Garcons, I think, do not care how they fit into the fashion and perfume world. I thought their intent is (at least was) to mix things up a little, and to cross borders and limitations. Innovation, revolution, purity, and counter-culture come to my mind looking at the various facets of this CDG, besides their new aesthetics! I love a few of their scents, but have not worn one yet!

    While I have no doubt that most of the etsablished designers and some of the deluxe fragrance brands are also bankers' pets, I am less certain about banker's appreciation of CDG as buisiness partners.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  9. #9
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus
    46 fragrances in 12 years and only one male perfume found in regular stores over here, their fashion label next to unknown except in European capitals -- how can they exist?
    Well, they're not that obscure, no more so than Alexander McQueen or Viktor & Rolf, and they have had big mass launches. A few weeks ago, three of the six big windows at Barney's in Beverly Hills were devoted to Comme des Garçons' fall line.

    There are also designed perfumes on order, like Elternhaus for London and Berlin last year (what happened to it?)
    It's nothing to write home about. Another light incense scent, fitting into the same pile with Costes, 10 Corso Como, and so on. It smells a little lighter and cooler, but it's not groundbreaking or even particularly interesting, my least favorite of the woody incense bunch so far.

    While I have no doubt that most of the etsablished designers and some of the deluxe fragrance brands are also bankers' pets, I am less certain about banker's appreciation of CDG as buisiness partners.
    This is becoming more and more evident in their scents. Comme des Garçons pretty much sold out with Comme des Garçons 2 Man, and the two series that followed - Series 7 Sweet and the Guerrillas - continue in that more mainstream mode. I fear the wonderfully weird, inventive Comme des Garçons fragrances like Comme des Garçons 2 and 3, White, the Synthetic Series, and such are forever a thing of the past.
    Last edited by Serpent; 7th September 2006 at 12:34 AM.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Sounds like I must say good bye to another pet illusion. Where is a towel to hold my tears?
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  11. #11
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus
    Sounds like I must say good bye to another pet illusion. Where is a towel to hold my tears?
    Maybe we can find a nice asymmetrically cut black-on-black houndstooth flannel with unfinished hems from Comme des Garçons for those tears. Only $4000! What a steal!

    A really disturbing trend: Comme des Garçons-affiliated designer Junya Watanabe is apparently becoming quite popular with the more dandyish rapper types. I wonder if we'll have a Comme des Garçons take on Unforgivable or Phat Farm Premium in the next series...

  12. #12

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    The Puig collaboration is limited to the #2 and #2Man only, Serpent. At least by now.

    Comme has many collaborations in their fashion activities, probably nobody has as many. Count from Westwood, Paul Smith to Nike, Speedo and Keds.

    Now, the main line includes EdP, White, #2, #3 and the Odeurs as well, how can you say it is not "artisanal" just because the #2Man and #2 are sold in too many shops.

    The #2 MAN is not that bad. It is diff., quirky but friendly to a lot of ppl I know. They might not very interested in perfumes but they create interesting things indeed:-P

    I think narcus got the point whe he said Comme is doing what ever they like regardless of what is expected from them, or if ppl will like it or not.

    I'd not call the Gs "mainstream". They neither smell like hi end/boutique/niches. Btw, anyone notice the indole note in G1?
    http://blogsorbeta.blox.pl: CdG Series 8 Energy
    (Oct. 3rd).

  13. #13
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by nqt
    The Puig collaboration is limited to the #2 and #2Man only, Serpent. At least by now.
    Yes, I stated that in my first post. Nonetheless, they are teamed with a large manufacturer to sell wide.

    The #2 MAN is not that bad.
    It's not that Commes des Garçons 2 Man is bad. It's that it's unoriginal and by-the-numbers in comparison to the previous Comme des Garçons product and that it's a little too much like a big launch that came not too long before it, Gucci pour Homme. The similarity is undeniable.

  14. #14

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Comme sells their clothes in more than hundreds points in Japan alone. They design the clothes and some producers are producing them. And the clothes are still the most avangard in the world. I can't see why they cannot make perfumes like that. It is the smell that matters, isn't it?

    What I like is that they don't make 200 euro scents, so that you can't buy them. And with 200 euro you can do it with the most expensive ingredients, using the rarest notes and the original perfumes are ready. Instead, they take a couple of ordinary notes and make unsual scents (well, most of the time:-P) and sell them at 50-60 euro. It's nicer.

    Do you think #2Man is a Gucci PH's copy? I'd rather think some great minds think alike:-) They are not so similar imo. Gucci PH opens like Ouarzazate and ends like Avignon. #2Man opens like #2Man and ends like Ouarzazate on me.
    http://blogsorbeta.blox.pl: CdG Series 8 Energy
    (Oct. 3rd).

  15. #15
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by nqt
    Instead, they take a couple of ordinary notes and make unsual scents (well, most of the time:-P) and sell them at 50-60 euro. It's nicer.
    Ah, but this is changing, too! Starting with Series 7 Sweet, the prices have gone up. For 25 mL less than the Synthetics Series, the price went up about $20. The Guerrilla scents are nearly $100. Each new series gets more and more expensive while the first six lines stayed at almost the same affordable price.

    Do you think #2Man is a Gucci PH's copy? I'd rather think some great minds think alike:-) They are not so similar imo. Gucci PH opens like Ouarzazate and ends like Avignon. #2Man opens like #2Man and ends like Ouarzazate on me.
    Overall, yes, the two are very similar. But 2 Man has that "modernity accord," that dry, synthetic smell - like a splash of Odeur 53 - common to most Comme des Garçons scents. They are essentially the same leather-wood-incense scent, but while Gucci pour Homme attempts to recall a more traditional notion of gentlemanly elegance, 2 Man aims to place this combination in a contemporary urban milieu.

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    ^yes I agree on the non gentlement 2Man:-)

    The Gs are 85 ml Serpent, but I am also surprised the Sweets are more expensive than Incenses. Maybe bc of the cute botles:-))

    I have Burnt Sugar, super sweet and addicting scent. I get a lot of orange flowers which I like, as well as the ginger + milk base. Can't have enough of them. I can't understand why I didn't like ginger before. It's so comfortable and exoticating.

    It is a surprised that ppl here buy a lot of Soda (ginger, too) and Dryclean. And Palisander, Sequioa and Harrisa is popular here, too.
    http://blogsorbeta.blox.pl: CdG Series 8 Energy
    (Oct. 3rd).

  17. #17
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Soda is a great scent; I'm not at all surprised it's so popular. It has the fun feeling of Happy for Men, but the citrus is more creative, and the mineral water drydrown is far superior to any of the common fresh citrus colognes that are comparable.

    The Synthetics were so brilliant. On the top were these shocking, out-there accords, but beneath them were fairly conventional bases that actually resemble Acqua di Giò, Escape, Happy for Men, Hugo, and other big-selling fragrances that actually purport to be clean and light. The contrast of the conventional "fresh" portion with the unconventional notes of asphalt, cleaning solution, vinyl, tar, or lemon-lime flavoring highlights the artificiality of the more common department store fragrances. It's a brilliant statement about what has become of mainstream perfumery, and the scents are great to wear, too. This was easily the conceptual pinnacle of the Parfums Parfums line.

  18. #18

    tigrushka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by nqt
    I think narcus got the point whe he said Comme is doing what ever they like regardless of what is expected from them, or if ppl will like it or not.
    That's certainly true. With Comme you can always expect the unexpectable!
    "Wovon man nicht lesen kann, darüber muss man schreiben."

  19. #19

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    The guerillas go for 120 $ here - EXTREMELY overpriced imo. Especially since G#2 is just a composite of their earlier stuff, mainly from the green series...

    I really, really dislike their fashion aesthetic, always felt it´s very "constipated", but this is of course my own very subjective opinion. But I think Serpent made a great example. Just seems like the premier brand of pretentious, cynical art director types with way too much money. I find it funny that most of these people in their drive to be original and elitist always look the same, all black clothes, preferably with some assymetrical details, and chuncky black 50´s glasses. Really laughable at times. It´s just so "the emperors new clothes" at times. People seem to read in so much more than really is there, and trust me I too love less is more many times, but what I´ve seen so far from this house has always left me underwhelmed and with a bad aftertaste.

    I know that Watanabe is highly regarded within the fashion community and has this supposed avantgarde legacy, but I really feel people like Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin (and more recently Issey Miyake, Helmut Lang, New York Industries) etc did that "thing" better and decades before her.

    Curiously I feel this aesthetic works very well within their pefrume branch.
    Always liked the design of their bottles, especially the austere consistency of the red, green etc series. However recent years do indeed indicate serious sell out tendencies IMO, more hype than content characterizes their latest launches, and I resampled Man 2 the other day alongside the Gucci and man are they hard to tell apart....

    MMM

  20. #20

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Very funny, just saw a video by The Who, Substitute, where Roger Daltrey was wearing something ridiculously CdG-looking. The video was black and white, the song from 1966 - obviously I don´t know the designer - but I´m guessing not Watanabe. Just want a preemptive momentum before I get attacked by Tigs et. al.


    MMM
    Last edited by MonkeyManMatt; 8th September 2006 at 08:52 AM.

  21. #21

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Another example - their Fred Perry collaboration. I mean seriously, adding a CdG monogram under the laurel wreath and charging the double???!! Come on, try harder.

    MMM

  22. #22

    tigrushka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Quote Originally Posted by MonkeyManMatt
    Just want a preemptive momentum before I get attacked by Tigs et. al.


    Chacun son goût, Mr. Viking...
    "Wovon man nicht lesen kann, darüber muss man schreiben."

  23. #23

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    The Comme fashion big moments started in the 80s, MMM. They showed black, unfinished and destroyed materials in Paris, with Yamamoto, Issey Miyake. Nobody did that before. I mean, ppl wear blk and destroyed clothes, but no one made that kind of clothes, show them to the public and sell them in the shops, risking reputation, money and such.

    In fashion, it was sth really new, against the luxury and "hi end" Paris fashion. Since then Rei Kawakubo has contributed a lot to fashion, with experiments with materials, manipulating forms and body shapes, colours, sex, making bussiness, designing shops...

    Miyake is not doing fashion at the moment - he is working with his APOC projects, and his IM collections are made by his former assistant. They are not experimental as they used to be.

    Rei Kawakubo is a woman behind Comme. Watanabe is a man and her protege. He makes his own lines. He is a genious:-) Nobody actually does menswear like he does - like making suits from military uniform, workwear clothes or print stripes on Goretex. Sometimes the fine design is not obvious, but if you can read into it, you might apreciate it, even if you don't like it.

    Calling ppl "pretentious, cynical art directors types" doesn't make a point. Ppl wear what they like. At least a few of them. And the old money still go with Hermes and YSL, if you compare the prices, you will know who has too much money.

    The FP collaboration was concentrated in using few colour strips and not changing the shirts. It was not about making new things, or reinventing the classic polo shirts, but just playing around. And it is streetwear MMM, logo is a streetwear thing. the CdG logo is shown for one or two collections, not all, as I remember.

    The main line is Homme plus.
    Last edited by nqt; 8th September 2006 at 11:34 AM.
    http://blogsorbeta.blox.pl: CdG Series 8 Energy
    (Oct. 3rd).

  24. #24

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    Kawakubo, sorry, not Watanabe.
    Yepp you´re entitled to your opinion as well as I am, I don´t want to offend anyone, but I withhold all above - this is my opinion and no TRUTH. The same way I think Dolce & Gabbana, D-Squared and others are tacky in a completely different fashion.

    I´d never accuse CdG of what we generally refer to as kitsch, but in one way it actually is. Just a "good" taste form of it, they do some avantgarde, wacked out stuff but always within the urban, elitist intellectually accepted norms. You´d never see them go all Versace on your ass - would you? I´m very sceptical about their outlook on the human being, obviously I haven´t met them, maybe they´re great people with normal, humanist values (not that this should in any way be an important factor in fashion design!) but the people wearing their stuff here are generally assholes. I´ve been to countless parties with that type of crowd and my preconceptions seldomly let me down, it happens though - of course. This might very well be a consequence of our particular society (the swedish one), that is still miles behind genuine metropols like Paris, Tokyo or New York. I guess it´s just become the typical symbol here for people and opinions I don´t agree with. Much like Lyle & Scott and a few other brands are mainly worn by the brats in Stockholms financial district.

    Btw I don´t think you should see streetfashion in such a negative light, personally I think most of the interesting stuff comes from cheaper places nowadays, like A.P.C, Stone Island (the undisputed emperors of cool material use IMO), Duffer of St.George, April 77, Umbro by Kim Jones or even Penguin.

    I wouldn´t say I´m extremely interested in fashion, I much prefer a mix between classic british and italian tailored clothes compared to whats "in". I do however spend a lot of time thinking and discussing topics like this with my friends. And I still argue that a circle made by Picasso is "better" than one made by a kid, you can´t separate or neglect an artists past or history when viewing their current work. Much like a song with extremely simple lyrics written by Morrissey would automatically become more important or interesting than if the same song was written by Phil Collins. What I want to say here is that, maybe, I would view CdG´s output somewhat differently if I knew as much of their history as you obviously do. But in the end it´s all about aesthetics, and theirs simply doesn´t appeal to me. =)

    Best regards,
    m
    Last edited by MonkeyManMatt; 8th September 2006 at 12:43 PM.

  25. #25

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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    I didn't say streetwear is bad, I think streetwear is v. interesting in fashion right now. It's the kids out there that make thing happens.

    But one might expect a good design level from a designer, when she/he is doing her/his main lines, esp. quality, the use of materials, details, cuts and colours.

    FP carries quite a lot of music subcultures' heritage and I think the few colours Comme adds to the polos are cool, not over design, so it is still a streetwear FP. Watanabe has moved further and made a polo shirt from few Lacoste ones, it's "fun" and made the clothes "his". But it costs three-four time the original Lacoste.

    I agree that the point is the authenticity of the design. Sometimes one has to ask "why":-) One migh think Comme's stuffs are wacky but if you know the ideas behinds them, or the way they work on clothes, the look is much more "natural":-) In fact I would say their designs are not forced to be for the sake of being wierd. Rather the concepts are unusual so that the clothes are like this or that in the result. And the point also is that the "unfinished" clothes are well made. And you can wear a Comme stuffs from few years back but they still look contemporary and interesting.

    Cheers:-)
    Last edited by nqt; 8th September 2006 at 01:25 PM.
    http://blogsorbeta.blox.pl: CdG Series 8 Energy
    (Oct. 3rd).

  26. #26
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Comme des Garçons - a Designer that acts like a Niche

    I dig a lot of Comme des Garçons' clothes. It's not what I would wear were I buying expensive designer clothes - Alexander McQueen, Costume National, and Etro would be getting my money - but I can respect the aesthetic. I also don't dig everything they do, but who like the entire output of every clothing company?

    However, I can also get what MMM is saying about the people who wear Comme des Garçons. It is largely the uniform of rich urbanites wanting to make a statement about their artistic pretensions. They wear the clothes like a sandwich board that says, "I'm rich and artsy." Lawyers have Giorgio Armani, wannabe rock stars have Dior Homme, and gigolos have Versace. And the hardcore, in-your-face, I-live-for-gallery-openings types have Comme des Garçons.

    Had Rei Kawakubo not come along, though, it is doubtful Miuccia Prada, Ennio Capasa, Hedi Slimane, or Ann Demeulemeester would be able to do what they do. Her pared-down, iconoclastic aesthetic was groundbreaking. Whether one wants to take it full-strength is another question.

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