Smells like old empty tins of gloss paint, that was my first impression. Later I found that the fragrance is essentially that of Palo Santo, a south American aromatic wood with a distinctive sweet fresh character and a medicinal aspect, almost like wintergreen. Palo Santo sounds a bit like palisander, but I guess this must be coincidence since Palisander is apparently a variety of rosewood. However this Palisander fragrance has none of the linalool character of rosewood oil so I remain somewhat confused.
When I approach a Comme des Garçons fragrance I expect something a little bit whacky - if not outright shocking - but also very blunt and honest. Palisander is blunt and honest, but also rather plain: a well put-together, yet conventional woody fragrance with a congenial heart and a rich, soft drydown. It's nice enough, it doesn't distinguish itself from any number of other good woody scents. I find it disappointing, especially coming from perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, who has done more exciting scents (Avignon, Harissa, Calamus) for this house. Do try this if you want a smother alternative to Diptyque's Tam Dao, but I'm going to pass.
It's been a long time since I smelled this stuff, but I must say it was a real treat to revisit. The first thing I smell is a piercingly bright wood, cinnamony sweet but masculine, almost like Red Hots that were made with something that's very close to, but not quite, cinnamon. Soon, some florals wander in, and it transforms rather quickly into a more soapy, potpourri-like fragrance, a bit more feminine though still with the strong spiced (not spicy) wood component. It shares just a trace of the shampooey-ness that I find in things like Grabazzi, and is now what I would call legitimately unisex. It's as if Gendarme made a spicy soap fragrance to go with their line of green and floral soap fragrances. As it progresses further, I find it very hard to sense what's in the mix because it's so smooth and so well-blended; this is the point where other spice-centered fragrances might get tiringly sharp and insistent. It gets a bit weak unfortunately, and still maintains a slightly strident quality from the sharpness of the last remaining faux-cinnamon, but is at the same time somehow relaxing from the soapy quality. It's very good...a warm, sweet, happy, comforting smell, a lot like Egoiste in the base but less strained or on-edge. I'm especially impressed how much you smell the spices without feeling them burn your nose; maybe that's because they're from chemicals in the wood itself, and not the usual added spices. Truly unique and well-composed.
You're in an upscale shopping mall on your way to the food court. You pass a Christmas display that brings a woodsy scent to mind, though for legal reasons the display itself is not actually scented. You know you're almost at your destination because you can smell the Cinnabon station around the next corner. This is Palisander. Palisander differs from the (seemingly endless) collection of CdG fragrances with prominent wood notes in that after the first 15 minutes, the wood is more of a supporting player than the star. The saffron transforms it into something of a patisserie note, and in fact, I would categorize this as a gourmand fragrance.It smells good. I like the saffron note quite a bit more here than I did in CdG's 8 88. However, the overall effect is a bit banal. I feel like I'm buttering myself up for a dinner date with Hannibal Lecter.
A slightly sweet, powdery wood note; that's all there is to this. Nothing much to like. Nothing much to dislike. Totally linear. Lies close to the skin. Good longevity. Nothing here to really recommend it's purchase. Come on CdG, enough with the wood "perfumes". This is a smell, and not a perfume. Grade:Incomplete