Tag Archives: Costume National

Fragrant Night Out 2010

The scene at DKNY’s Madison Avenue store

For the second year in a row, I turned the much-hyped Fashion’s Night Out into my own Fragrant Night out. My night was a mix of hitting up some of the crowded boutiques, Bergdorf, Henri Bendel, Gucci and DKNY and sampling some of the fragrances retailing at the better men’s department stores. I must say, as opposed to last year, the staff at the fragrance counters I visited was very helpful. I was even surprised by the offering of samples. At Bergdorf, I was given a sample of Duc De Vervins and at Barney’s I was given samples of YSL’s La Nuit De L’Homme and Costume National’s Scent.

Last year I sampled quite a few of scents, this year however, not so many. There really wasn’t that much out there that I hadn’t seen or smelled already.

My first stop of the night was Bergdorf and it was bananas. Thank God for the men’s store which was a bit calmer but just about shoulder to shoulder. Upon entering, I was greeted by guys playing air hockey and ping-pong. I ran into one of Esquire Magazine’s style arbiters Josh Peskowitz who made me want to own some clay-colored pants. Tom Ford was scheduled to make an appearance and sign the bottles from his collection but I dipped before that scene ensued. I did sample Champaca from his private collection and it left a lasting impression all night. The wine and cognac top notes don’t open boozy at all. In fact, I never felt I was sniffing alcohol. It does, however, have a floral sweetness reminiscent of Le Labo’s Rose 31. As the night wore on, the similarities grew but Champaca didn’t contain that B.O. undertone I detect in Rose 31. I shall own this one-day but for now, the similarities make it feel like a redundant purchase. That being said, it was one of the best of the night.

After stopping in at Gucci, which had a line that wrapped around the corner, I shuffled my way into Henri Bendel, as I wanted to smell Histoires de Parfum’s Défilé New York. Apparently only 150 bottles were created and the scent pays homage to Fashion’s Night Out. As exciting as that maybe, what peaked my interest were its base notes ingredients, which included chocolate and coffee. An added and unexpected treat was the appearance of the brand’s founder Gerald Ghislain. He was super sweet and explained the scent’s influences which he said included the early morning smells of Bryant Park (where Fashion Week was previously held) and editors showing up with their coffee as they waited for the shows to begin. As someone who’s experienced Fashion Week firsthand, I found that story very intriguing.

Overall my fragrant night out was a lot of fun. Défilé was the most original scent I sampled all night. The way fresh-cut grass, bergamont, Rhubarb, chocolate and coffee all play together makes this an incredible scent. I fought the immediate urge to purchase it as I thought I could double back, but I should have known better. After making my way over to DKNY (they know how to throw a party) and having a few cocktails, my plan took a detour down to Soho where I ended the night. As Jesse Jackson would say, “Keep hope alive.” I’ll be calling Henri Bendel to see if Défilé is still available.


Rose Layering

The layering of fragrances is quite a daring act. I admire anyone that is willing to differentiate themselves in this manner. Harry Sheff, a fellow fragrance enthusiast and new contributing writer for Fragrant Moments, had a chance encounter with layering fragrances recently. He talks about it here in his debut post:


After wearing a succession of my own colognes and spraying an array of samples on my wrist, my watchband has acquired a bewitchingly complicated fragrance.

I’d heard people talk about layering fragrances before, but I’d never tried it myself—at least not intentionally. So when I realized how great my watchband smelled, I tried to decipher the scent. I don’t quite have it yet, but I tried wearing Costume National’s new men’s scent (reviewed by Barney here recently) over Le Labo’s Rose 31 (which was recommended to me by Barney and reviewed by him.

It’s brilliant. The softness of the Rose 31 (which for those who aren’t familiar with it is deepened by woods, musk and cumin) is deepened even more by Costume National Homme’s sandalwood, cinnamon and cloves. And, conversely, CN Homme’s harsher spiciness is soothed by Rose 31’s floral qualities. This experiment was a great success, I’m guessing, because of Rose 31; I plan on layering this with other fragrances.

Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet, a rich evergreen scent, would be a great candidate for layering with Rose 31. This comes to mind because of another pairing my girlfriend discovered with the help of a very smart salesman at CB I Hate Perfume in Brooklyn.

CB sells what seems like hundreds of individual accords, single note scents broken down into 14 categories like spice, flower, sweet, and clean. When the salesman came out from the store’s back room wearing an amazing smelling amber that he got in the mail as a sample from a competitor, he was unwilling (naturally) to tell us what it was.

Instead, he scrambled around the room smelling vials, eventually layering Rose Bulgare and Fir Douglas with an amber. The result was an excellent approximation of the fragrance he was wearing. But even more interesting was the combination of the rose and fir notes. My girlfriend bought them both and wears them together.

As a relative newcomer to the world of fragrances, it’s exciting to reach the level of sophistication (however modest) of mixing existing fragrances together to create new ones. It allows a whole new way to enjoy one’s collection of scents: simultaneously.

-Harry Sheff


Costume National Homme


About a week ago, I had the fortune of attending the press event for the launch of Costume National’s first scent for men, Costume National Homme. Let me say from jump, I think this is a winner and I feel that way for a few reasons.

Scent – You ever pick up your favorite men’s magazine and open a few of the scent strips and are left asking yourself, what’s the difference? Not here. This is not one of your run-of-the-mill safe scents. It’s bold, spicy, fresh, seductive, warm and well balanced. Its opening is quite powerful with a very fresh head made of grapefruit, cardamom and bergamot. Middle notes include cinnamon, thyme and cloves. Its base notes include patchouli, sandalwood and labdanum. After a fresh lively burst, the spices quickly come punching to the surface. It is for that reason a slight hand is suggested when applying. Its quite potent. With time, the spices cool and the leather and woods settle in nicely.

Creators – Costume National Homme was creatively directed by CN’s co-founder Ennio Capasa and the scent was developed by Dominique Ropion. For me, learning of Mr. Ropion’s involvement was the icing on the cake. I became intimately familiar with his work through Editions de Parfum where he created two of my favs Une Fleur de Cassie and Vetiver Extraordinaire to name a few. He’s considered a genius by many and I take their word for it. The two aforementioned scents are wonderful and he didn’t disappoint here.

Packaging – Every now and then when you pick something up, you notice how good it feels in your hand. It doesn’t happen often but when it does you remember it. The bottle, which was personally sculpted by Ennio, is fluid and clean. I showed it to my wife and her very first reaction – “it’s very masculine.” Other nice details include the tubing inside the bottle is invisible (if you look for it hard enough you’ll see it but I think you’ll get the point once you see it) and the box’s soft texture and color scheme oozes class.

When you put all of these factors together, you produce a well thought out creation befitting of an entree into the world of men’s fragrances. CN’s creative legacy which is firmly planted in the fashion world is not lost here at all. Homme not only enhances it but just could make fans out of those who have never experienced the world of Costume National.

Costume National Homme will be available at Barney’s later this month

50ml – $80, 100ml – $110