Cyber Garden by CoSTUME NATIONAL is co-founder, Ennio Capasa’s latest men’s fragrance. The idea is inspired by a tapestry of curated plants known as the CNAC Wall, one of three spaces in Tokyo’s Aoyama Complex, which houses the brand’s Japanese flagship boutique. CoSTUME NATIONAL commissioned botanist and artist Patrick Blanc to create a vertical garden, the largest of its kind in Japan, which hosts over one hundred species of plant life across a 12 x 3 metre vertical plane. Visitors are able to admire the wall whilst enjoying a drink at the long bar overlooking Blanc’s living installation. Ennio Capasa sees the Aoyama boutique as more than just a retail space, it is “a place of lifestyle and experience where aesthetic, art and nature find the perfect balance.” It is this utopian ideal, which seeds the idea for Cyber Garden. Capasa describes the scent as “the garden of the future.” The olfactory architect behind the concept is perfumer Antoine Lie, a name that is well established in both the niche and mainstream arenas of perfumery. Cyber Garden amalgamates these two worlds, pairing some easy-to-wear commercial notes and accords with some more experimental, avant-garde ones. Artistic perfumes are often marketed with the tagline, ‘only the finest natural ingredients are used.’ Capasa and Lie deliberately avoid this notion and although Cyber Garden contains natural raw materials, it is Lie’s clever layering of synthetic notes that defines this futuristic garden. The result is pure olfactory science fiction.
Antoine Lie’s garden is a rich olfactory vista of dark green shrubbery accented with bracing spices. Classic perfumery notes of cut green grass are reconfigured with pink peppercorns along with notes of grapefruit and bergamot. As the perfume warms, notes of violet leaf, geranium and saffron emerge. It’s like Dior’s Fahrenheit without all the birchy-leather and 1980’s chest beating. Fahrenheit’s violet-laced petrol fumes are replaced with an eco-friendly 21st century green-violet accord that is vibrant and almost ozonic. The idea of vinyl or plastic plants is horrific in the realm of interior design but somehow it makes sense in fragrance terms. Described by CoSTUME NATIONAL as notes of “green ether” and “vinyl accord,” one could easily be forgiven for thinking the illusion is real, like the slightly embarrassing moment that comes with putting your nose in a bouquet of flowers only to realise they are made from silk and plastic (I recently did this at IKEA). Progressing from heart to base, the green notes that began as fresh cut grass transition into darker basil shades of green. Hybrid mosses are flanked with patchouli, vetiver and resins, bringing a classic dry-down to what is otherwise an entirely modern fragrance.
Fragrances that are based too far from the norm tend to miss the mark with me. I find the ones that reinterpret or extend a perfume idea already in use to be more interesting, which is why I like Cyber Garden. It has a sense of familiarity, whilst still managing to surprise. The familiar is the woody green dry-down of vetiver and patchouli with its nuances of amber and spice. The new is the perfume’s diffusive top notes that pulsate neon green and do not rely on traditional citrus notes to bring freshness. While Cyber Garden may not stray so far to the left that it has the same polarizing effect as Secretions Magnifiques, a perfume Lie created for perfume anarchist Etat Libre d’Orange, in my mind it is better suited to right-wing conservatives who are keen to dip their feet in a fragrance that is a little more unusual to what they are accustomed. If you want to help a friend or partner looking for a new alternative to Dior’s Fahrenheit or he needs to replace his empty bottle of the now discontinued Lancome Miracle Pour Homme, buy him a bottle of Cyber Garden and present it with a note of encouragement – ‘welcome to the 22nd century.’
Alternatives: Diptyque Eau de Lierre, Martin Margiela Untitled, Comme de Garcons Series 1: Leaves
Perfumer: Antoine Lie
Release Date: 2013
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods
Cyber Garden by CoSTUME NATIONAL is available in Australia and New Zealand via Agence de Parfum