Close your eyes and imagine a garden in the future. A place where modern technology and nature meet in a strange harmony of plants, metal, plastic and rubber. A place of strange flowers , vivid colours, flashing motherboards and glittering microchips; where steel-framed structures reach like skyscrapers into the night sky, covered in climbing vines and neon light. A place engineered by both god and man where modern fairy-tales are set. Now take a deep breath and imagine what that place would smell like…
This was the inspiration for the innovative Italian fashion house, CoSTUME NATIONAL, when they were creating their second masculine scent, Cyber Garden. Ennio Campasa and Antoine Lie were the perfumers responsible for bringing this ambitious vision to life, and ambitious it certainly was. Creating a scent that needed to smell both like a garden (think wet earth, sweet water, lush green leaves and intoxicating floral notes) and man-made technology (think metal, melted plastic and rubber) was never going to be easy. Another challenge for the creators would be to attempt to destigmatize the notion of a futuristic “synthetic” fragrance. This is because in the world of perfumery the word “synthetic” often has negative connotations and has come to describe scents that are overbearing, cheap and low in quality. So how well would a fragrance do if half of its very soul were synthetic?
Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay
The bergamot, grapefruit and green notes in the scent’s opening create something that is instantly fresh and uplifting. It is this, along with the addition of moss and geranium which, in my opinion, gives it all the hallmarks of a traditional, “ferny” fougere, but one with a little added extra… The “cyber” elements of the fragrance were cleverly achieved with the help of violet leaf and vinyl. The vinyl adds a sweet plastic note, which instantly reminded me of the smell of many of the plastic toys I had as a child. This is perfectly accentuated and supported by the resinous notes of opoponax and labdanum which form part of the fragrance’s base. The violet leaf adds an aqueous, metallic note which helps to even out and balance the whole structure. However, even with the addition of these two elements, the fragrance is still more “garden” than it is “cyber”, and not nearly as avant-garde or polarising as its concept or ingredients would suggest. In my opinion, it’s actually a very easy scent to like; it’s versatile and can be worn day or night by almost anyone (although some may find the vinyl heart of the scent slightly too sweet). With regard to sillage and longevity, the scent is a good performer. It is long lasting and manages to have a moderate to heavy sillage without ever being too overbearing.
Concept wise I thought this fragrance was genius and something any modern city dweller could resonate with. In a world that is hurtling faster than ever into the future, is it not inevitable for nature and technology to merge into a strange, new hybrid? However, with a concept as interesting and adventurous as a futuristic garden, I expected something a little bit more unconventional and unique than Cyber Garden. This is not to say that I dislike the scent, I just think that CoSTUME NATIONAL had an opportunity to create something truly groundbreaking and missed it. The overall result is a subtle and conservative, melange of green, metallic and plastic notes; it’s good, but not great. However, if you enjoy, fresh fragrances with a bit of a twist, then my suggestion is to definitely give Cyber Garden a try.
Bergamot, Grapefruit, Pink Pepper, Green Notes
Vinyl, Geranium, Saffron, Violet Leaf
Vetiver, Patchouli, Opoponax, Labdanum, Moss