By  on June 24, 1994

NEW YORK -- Rei Kawakubo, whose approach to fashion for Comme des Garcons has often been unconventional, is adopting the same stance for her first fragrance, which is slated for a global launch this fall.

The fragrance packaging, like her apparel, is stark and simple. A white box bears the name of the scent -- Comme des Garcons. An enlarged bar code symbol acts as a design statement.

To make the point that the scent is worn for one's own enjoyment -- and not necessarily to attract the attention of others -- the glass bottle is sandwiched inside a 12 1/2-inch by 15 1/2-inch sheet of recycled plastic functioning as a chrysalis.

"It's the world's first vacuum-packed perfume; you know nobody's touched it," said Adrian Joffe, the husband of the designer and the managing director of the Paris-based Comme des Garcons Parfums SA, a subsidiary of the Japanese fashion firm.

He said Kawakubo is working on a display fixture for store counters that will show the bottle hanging in its plastic wrapper. The bottle is modeled after a whisky flask and the top is positioned asymmetrically.

The fragrance comes in one size, a 3.4-oz. eau de parfum that will cost $85 for the pour and $95 for the spray. That usually is the large size in a typical fragrance line. Joffe said it was picked because Kawakubo liked the look of it.

He added that the company plans to introduce the more popular 1.7-oz. size three months after the October launch.

The fragrance formula, created by perfumer Mark Buxton of Haarmann & Reimer, is as unorthodox as the packaging. It is a spicy chypre with no top note. The first whiff comes from the heart of the fragrance.

"The first thing you smell is what you smell throughout the perfume," Joffe said.

Although the fragrance will be marketed as a women's scent, two of the launch stores -- Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Barneys New York in the U.S. -- will stock merchandise in women's and men's areas.

Comme des Garcons will be launched in Paris in mid-October, following Kawakubo's ready-to-wear show. It will make its debut in the U.S. the first week in November.

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