Costume National (stylized "CoSTUME NATIONAL") is an Italian fashion house established in 1986, and one you don't hear much about, but is typically priced above most other fashion houses of similar ilk. This makes it feel like one of those old-school "if you don't know it, you can't afford it" sort of millionaires in-crowd brands in the same token as Louis Vuitton formerly was despite Costume National by comparison being such a young house. Rappers put Louis Vuitton in the mainstream spotlight, but Costume National has had no such celebrity or pop culture publicity as of yet, relying mostly on the in-the-know types spreading news word of mouth about the brand. As for the perfumes, they launched in earnest in the 2000's, and Costume National Homme (2009) came about just before the decade's end, offering a bit of a stylistic chimera with incredible performance. The capless clear bottle doesn't say much about the scent, in a true avant-garde minimalist stereotype sort of way, but you're dealing with semi-oriental/semi-chypre musk fragrance that mixes some heady dried fruit notes with sandalwood and labdanum in a way that touches upon vibes of the 90's and 2000's, but still feels intemporal in the end. Domonique Ropion composed this, with his smooth blending of synthetic and natural ingredients (when given the budget to do so) a hallmark of the fragrance. Like Tom Ford or Comme des Garçons, Costume National sits in a murky nowhereland between designer and niche both in price point and style, so I didn't expect this to be the usual cup of Joe.
Costume National Homme opens with a pretty clear and present fig, sweetened and built out with grapefruit and bergamot, spiced and rounded with cardamom. Nobody really lists this online as being in the scent, but anyone who's smelled Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme (1999) or Marc Jacobs for Men (2002) knows this note here. A bit more rounding brings this opening closer to a male version of Tom Ford Black Orchid (2006), but minus the truffle and immense density of that scent, even if Costume National Homme is quite opaque. The heart claims notes of cinnamon, cloves, and thyme, most of which I believe are there, but there is a touch of dark rose a la Chanel Égoïste (1990)crossed with Cartier Déclaration d'Un Soir (2012) that bears mentioning here, with something like a tea note too which combined also brings Le Labo Thé Noir 29 (2015) into frame. It's all pretty complex stuff even when the base emerges, adding a sandalwood tone also reminiscent of Salvatore Ferragamo pour Homme, which is a very dry un-creamy "woody" sandalwood (like red sandalwood) which acts like a waypoint to guide all the sweet fruits and spice home. Patchouli and labdanum with some white musk and a speck of vetiver finish off the fragrance, which then hums on skin for a day or more if you don't wash it, projecting loudly for the first six hours and reducing to a noticeable wake into the wee hours of the wear. Costume National Homme fits the part of feeling appropriately "niche" for it's upscale price tag, but really that's an abstract construct of anything being creative anymore assumed to be expensive beyond reason, which is a not a good standard to keep. Best use here is in fall through spring, but avoiding summer heat, as unique signature or all-around grab.
Costume National Homme plays at being both formal and romantic, but the never really dips into the casual mode. Feeling like a fig fragrance dosed with tea, spices, musk, and sweet citruses laid down on dry woods, Costume National Homme is a veritable hall of mirrors when it comes to moods and tones. Some moments this feels approachable, and others it doesn't, making it read sophisticated, intimidating, but not enough to eschew all approach, just with the warning that if you have something to say to its wearer, it had better be worth his time. This fits the theme of the house, which is another one of those "everything is either black or white, buttons in funny places, and only fits a pale waif with droopy shoulders", so if you want to feel emotionally aloof and beautifully fragile but only on the surface like some vampire from an Anne Rice novel, this scent is for you. Then there's the price, which takes some explaining. Nobody knew what this was when launched and it flopped, being discontinued and entering discounters where all the fragrance nuts snapped it up then fell in love. Someone must have went back and told Costume National, who put the thing back into production but more-closely guarded the distribution, meaning you'll pay retail of about $125 for 50ml of this EdP or $165 for 100ml, the latter of which is likely a lifetime supply at this strength. I like Costume National Homme even though I have a love/hate relationship with fig, but I recommend sampling first because the kitchen sink construction can tire you out if you don't absolutely love it. Thumbs up.
Reading the reviews I'm surprised nobody mentions the grapefruit. To me this is the predominant note. This in totality is a dry citrus herbal fragrance. Its a spicy and herbal frag. Lasts quite a long time. Projection average.
very nice pleasant citrusy opening...gets spiced up with cinnamon and cloves...then, it's all about wood...like being back in woodshop...to me, perfectly spiced and kind of laid back...sort of reminds me of Jubilation XXV without the incense...pretty strong projection and lasts for a long time...just a wee little touch of sweetness...not a bad sandalwood note in this one...nicely blended...love wearing this...
To me this smells like dried fruit and candied peppermint & lavender with a fringe edge of fig playing on the periphery. There is a very small amount of clove playing in there and perhaps that is what is giving this the sweet backdrop that doesn't cloy too much. This scent does threaten to overwhelm but doesn't somehow. I highly advise not overspraying due to this nature of having an already strong base.
I'm surprised no one mentions the candied peppermint note that, for me, is quite clearly there. Also there is a touch of lavender in there IMO. This is a 5-star out of 5-star fragrance for me. The only weakness is that it seems to be a bit too strong in some senses. It could use a bit more of a reserved touch and it would be without any fault.
A lovely mixture of fresh & spicy. The nutmeg, clove and cinnamon can be overwhelming for some but for a big fan of spice they are heavenly to this nose. They do settle down after the first hour or so. What you are left with on the dry down is a nice spicy sandalwood. The dry down kind of reminds me of Tam Dao EDP with some added spice.
A real attention grabber and undeniably masculine.