8 88 by Comme des Garçons draws upon the Chinese numerological tradition in its name. Sichuan Airlines in China purchased the telephone number 888-888-8888 for $260,000. Seems like a lot to spend on a phone number, but in China they take the significance of numbers quite seriously. When spoken, the number 8 also sounds like the word for abundance and prosperity, and so the Chinese like to surround themselves with combinations of that number whenever and where ever they can, whether it be a telephone number, street address, or a license plate number.
Housed in gold bottle shaped like others in the CdG perfume line, 8 88 is marketed as a liquid form of gold, where geranium and coriander are employed to add a metallic note to the fragrance. My nose doesn’t detect metal at all, but I do get a huge rush of saffron, amber and patchouli. Saffron, a spice that has been cultivated for thousands of years in the hot, breezy locales of ancient Western civilizations, is also one of the most expensive commodities on Earth–more expensive than gold itself. It comes in the form of thin threads and is used in the cooking of rice to add a lovely reddish yellow color and a delicate floral aroma that is unlike any other smell experience out there. The patchouli adds a medicinal sharpness to it, which is then softened by warm, powdery amber. 8 88 was created by Antoine Lie, the perfumer behind several of my favorite scents (Sécrétions Magnifiques, Eau de Protection Rossy de Palma, to name a few, both from État Libre d’Orange) who is well known for his provocative and out of the ordinary scent experiences.
Perfume is information embedded in smell, and everything from the name of the fragrance to the bottle is information to be deciphered. I am an enormous fan of Comme des Garçons perfumes, as any regular follower of my writing knows, but in the case of 8 88 I feel that its marketing as a metallic fragrance failed to represent the marvel that is inside the bottle. It’s a voluptuous scent that is decidedly French in its intense sensuality despite the allusions to Asian culture, and it is very different from the postmodern, deconstructive fragrances for which Comme des Garçons is famous. Its ingredients symbolize wealth and the mystical, harnessing the cosmic power of the number 8 to bring good fortune to all who wear it.