Get a whiff of this:
If Giorgio were a woman, she’d always arrive before you do. She’s loud, proud, and confident, and she’s mustered up the courage to play corporate for the first time with the big boys. She’s got over-processed big hair, massive shoulder pads, candied lip gloss, and colourful plastic earings. She might cry in order to get her way, and she’s just as likely to slap you in the face for stepping out of line.
Giorgio was my first love when I was a feisty young thing in the 80s, and in retrospect that’s not only due to the fabulousness of this scent but also in part due to the clever marketing that accompanied it. Giorgio Beverly Hills fully embraced the concept of mail marketing. I remember seeing scent strip ads for it in women’s magazines and getting just the strip itself in the mail. This is obviously decades before social media marketing. The fragrance first came out in 1981, and my mom and I fell for it all – hook, line and sinker. I think we had all the merch – an umbrella, the gym bag, and definitely the towel.
Giorgio is a bombshell of heady white florals created by Bob Aliano, and though I’m not particularly a floral type of gal when it comes to perfume, the incredible projection and sillage of this groundbreaking fragrance is part its appeal. Although it’s a bright and happy scent, it somehow manages to come across as mysterious, lush, and sexy, too. One pump is enough – this potent juice can indeed induce physical pain if not restrained. At least it’s not like the overly sweet stuff you get in today’s mass market perfumes. No, this one is more grown up, but Giorgio certainly does not give a rat’s bottom what you think. Still, she did get kicked out of many a restaurant in her day. Indeed, she’d even been banned from them for a time for what some called lurid behaviour.
- orange blossom, peach, apricot, bergamot
- ylang-ylang, tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, rose, orchid
- sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, amber, cedar, oakmoss, musk
On first sniff, I get nail polish remover and some sort of very sharp kitchen cleaner, but that soon dissipates. The fruit basket at the top loses its edge and melds into the florals, which are loud, and that is because they’re ALL there. Especially verbose are the gardenia and tuberose. Tuberose often hides little bubbles of sweet, pink bubble gum in perfume, and this fragrance does reveals that yummy chewy stuff to me on occasion. It’s a very strong fragrance. It’s got a nice woody, musky base that really ties everything in the scent together well. It’s beautiful and I don’t think it would be as good as it is without the ambery stickiness that pulls everything together into a rich, thick powdery ball.
Sadly, what happened to this fantastic frag is much like what happened to other uniquely fabulous, five-star fragrances that succeeded it – here I mean the likes of Angel, Poison, Baccarat Rouge 540, etc. They’re so wonderful and unique that everyone wants to wear them. And then everyone does wear them. And then they lose a bit of their souls to popularity.
Apparently Giorgio has been reformulated over the years, but the bottle I have does smell as I remember it. Now that this is scent is more or less officially dated, maybe I can bring it out once and again and have people say, “what is that wonderful smell?” rather than “Who’s wearing Giorgio again?” But mostly, no, I don’t think I’ll be wearing this much in the future. For me personally, it’s had its day and now I just want to piece of it to sniff and reminisce. This perfume is so nostalgic. It reminds me of simpler, more positive times.
Let’s move onto Red. Honestly, I’d never smelled this one before, but I vaguely remember it hitting the market years ago. This one came out in 1989 – same nose, and an even more complex blend.
Here are the notes:
- bergamot, osmanthus, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, peach, black currant, hyacinth, aldehydes, cherry
- carnation, rose, jasmine, rosemary, gardenia, tuberose, iris, lily-of-the-valley, litchi
- patchouli, oakmoss, amber, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, tonka bean, vanilla, myrrh, olibanum
This floriental has also gone through reformulation, and I have no idea if the bottle I have is the vintage version or not. I did buy both of these fragrances from the second-hand market, so it’s hard to be sure. Vintage is usually the way to go. You’ll get real oakmoss in it. But on the flipside, that might cause someone’s allergies to spark up. Or maybe oakmoss was already banned at that time (it seems too early – do let me know if you know). Also, the price of this is too low for it to have ever contained that ingredient, I think.
Red starts off with a really sharp with a soapy quality, and I get cinnamon in here, although it’s not listed in the notes, but it’s definitely got a spicy kick. This scent is rich and balmy and I love the cherry note that comes through. Like its cousin, the dry down is much better than the opening. It’s a warm, heavy, and smooth fragrance of indistinguishable flowers with amber and incense once it settles down. It’s sweet with the vanilla, but mature thanks to the dank patchouli and oakmoss combo. I actually get coca cola in this. Not cherry coke though – the cherry is sweeter in cherry coke, but there’s definitely a fireball jawbreaker in the soda pop somewhere.
I would not wear this in the summer. I don’t like aldehydes, generally speaking, and overall I feel this well-blended sultry scent is rather dated. Giorgio is dated, too, but you could get away with it more easily. At least for me, this one is simply too much of too much.
I have heard that this fragrance compares well to Tom Ford’s Fleur de Chine, so if you like your Tom Ford frags but don’t have a fat wallet, this might be a great alternative. But please don’t take my word for it, because I personally have not sniffed out Fleur de Chine.
The performance with this fragrance is also well above average, but I don’t think Red here is as obnoxious as cousin Giorgio. If you think you would like either of these fragrances, I would definitely buy them. Super bang for your bucks, and you won’t need many bucks to begin with. Get them here.
There are at least two dozen fragrances from the Giorgio Beverly Hills brand, and unsurprisingly, a great many of them are flankers for this classic. I admit I’m not keen on flankers, so haven’t put my nose to anything else in the line, and that includes the fragrances targeting the male market.
So, do you lovely folk have any memories associated with this fragrance, or this one? If you’ve smelled Red, do you get the coca cola note like I do?