Susie Rushton: Beauty queen

Saturday 19 April 2008 00:00 BST

I once met a smell artist (rarer than the simple smelly ones) who had invented an experimental fragrance based on what she claimed was the scent of money. She gave me a tiny vial of the stuff to try out. Metallic, addictive and smelling more than a little unclean, this perfume beguiled me, and was soon spent, never to be replenished. She was on to something, though – money and perfume are intimately connected.

We tend to dismiss bad fragrances as "cheap" without any notion of the actual cost of the juice itself. In fact, the raw ingredients of almost all fragrances cost only a few pounds per kilo. The real value of a perfume is in the emotion or reaction it evokes, not in its price. Clever, then, of Comme des Garçons to launch a new perfume, called 888 and apparently intended for wear by both men and women, inspired by the archetypal signifier of riches, gold.

As the western world slips into recession, the business pages tell us that good old-fashioned gold is now emerging as one of the safer investments. But can the same be said of 888? Comme des Garçons has, over its decade-plus in the fragrance business, put out some 24-carat bullion (2, Incense series, Luxe) and some total baloney (the smell of dry-cleaning fluid, anyone?). Their latest offering has a tactile golden bottle and a name laden with Far Eastern symbolism (in Chinese, the number means infinity, happiness and exclusivity). A sexy, powdery and smoky fragrance, pendulous with amber, spices including saffron, coriander and sweet pepper, it also recalls the metallic, moneyed character of the hit perfume 2, while adding a feminine spin. Heavyweight rather than precious, this is the perfect scent for those with a rich imagination.

Comme des Garçons 888, 100ml eau de parfum, £61. Stockist enquiries 020-7494 6220

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