Tuberose Series Bonus: Giorgio by Giorgio Beverly Hills

I should NOT have tested this.  This is not going to be a serious, formal review because I just can’t stand to do it.  Also, with this review, you’re going to get pointless digressions and some disturbing emotional reactions.  You have been warned.

Perfume Review: Giorgio Beverly Hills
Date Released: 1981
Perfumer: Bob Aliano
Sample provenance: miniature bottle bought retail 2010

Subcategory: Loud dressed-up party tuberose composition

I wasn’t going to bother with this.  I blame Luca Turin yet again, for reviewing it in the downloadable updates to the original Perfumes: The Guide.  I should have known better from that stupid Insolence experience, but nooooooooo.  Also I was blinded by nostalgia and a fuzzy memory of what Giorgio actually smells like (which is, actually, not Turin’s fault).  He does make the excellent point that “many people harbor a sneaking fondness for the bad old days” of the excessive eighties, pointing out that outrageous and surprising perfumes like Angel are still succeeding, in these times of post-post-decadence.  Here are portions of his review (go read it in its entirety if you can, it’s an interesting and informed take):
**** Giorgio.  Fruity tuberose…  The secret of Giorgio was the discovery of an accord that could stand up to a monstrously powerful tuberose while extending it in interesting directions. Two heroically strong aromachemicals were drafted: one being… reminiscent of pineapple, and the second a… base made between… a fresh-almondy-marine material and… the Concord grape smell… The result was a cute, twelve-foot-tall singing canary, at first impossible to ignore, and at length too big to love.  But if any composition embodies what makes… classical perfumery great, it is Giorgio.

Okay, first off I’m going to say yet again that it is definitely not fair to give four stars to something that doesn’t smell good.  I do not give a flying flip whether it “advances the art of perfumery,” got me?  I only want to wear scents that smell good.  Secretions Magnifiques four stars, anyone?  Didn’t think so.  Now, I’ll wade through some difficult opening notes to get to something beautiful, or at least to something interesting.  And granted, people’s opinions on What Smells Good tend to, duh, differ.  I love tuberose and hate balsamic resins.  I think vetiver is boring.  I like rose and aldehydes.  You may think I’m nuts.  But for a reviewer that keeps dissing tuberose he calls “synthetic,” it was downright immoral of LT to praise this *&#^%^@(*@ mess.

Disclaimer:  I went to high school in the 80’s, all right?  And while I was wearing polite applications of Chloe from my dabber bottle, big spray bottles of Giorgio were all the rage.  Black rubber bracelets, banana hairclips, leggings and big tunics, Swatches and enormous abstract-art earrings in pink and aqua… and Giorgio.  Which I kind of liked then – I had a friend who seemed to have all the disposable income a girl could want as well as serious social cachet (she was the only really nice cheerleader at my high school, and my Bio lab partner), and she wore it in discreet quantities.  I thought she smelled nice.

There comes a time in your sober years when you appreciate your parents’ chintzy refusal to buy your teenage self trendy stuff.  I never had a yellow-and-aqua paint-splatter swimsuit to wear to the pool.  I never had a pair of Candies sandals, or even those fat-soled flipflops everybody wore.  And sure, I suffered when the cheerleaders went down the hall in a gang, snickering about my not-even-close-to-designer jeans and reeking of Giorgio, but now I feel better about the whole thing.  I recently showed my high school yearbook to my children, and they laughed at my hair but admitted that my clothes were “not as weird as what those girls are wearing, eww.”  Take that, Two Christies!  Take that, Charlene and Amanda!  Your trendy clothes were weird!

I freely admit I couldn’t afford it back then anyway.  And never mind all the science-chat about anthrancilates and whatnot, descriptions of Big Bird and grape popsicles, what Giorgio smells like to me now is money and humiliation.

If I was going to attempt to wear Giorgio, this was the day to do it: The CEO just left on a trip to the Farm Bureau National Convention, Bookworm’s gone for the day to an indoor track meet, and the boys are supposedly cleaning up their rooms but they keep sneaking down to the laundry room to visit Sara the ailing calf.  Here’s a transcript of our conversations about Giorgio:

Me: I’m trying this out.  What do you think?
Taz: Eww.  It makes my throat hurt.
Gaze (trying to be diplomatic, but failing): I don’t like that one.  It smells like… really bad Halloween candy. The hard kind in weird flavors, like you get from the people who don’t like kids but they don’t want people to think they don’t like kids.  So they give you stuff, but it’s nasty.
Me (secretly pleased):  Really?
Gaze:  And the pool.  It smells like the pool. You know, on really crowded days, when they put too much chlorine in there?
Me:  Ha ha ha ha ha!
Taz: Mom, I think Sara’s better, she’s eating that hay now.
Me:  Ha ha ha ha ha!
Taz:  Hey, Mom… Mom, why are you laughing?
Gaze:  I don’t know.  She’s acting weird.  Maybe that perfume is making her sick.
Me: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… (maniacal giggling)
Taz: Mom, will you stop laughing and make us dinner now?  Mom?  Mom! Stop laughing.  This is important.  Please go wash your hands, I don’t want my hot dogs to smell like that.

It would probably be pretentious of me to repeat that old saying about the mills of God grinding slowly, so I won’t.  But I will say that the taste of vindication is sweet.

I have a nasty headache now that I didn’t have when I put on this dab of Giorgio edt.  Thank the Lord, I can go take a shower now.  Maybe now I can cease the maniacal laughter.  Sample of Giorgio Beverly ILLS is going out with the trash as soon as possible.

And I’m sorry, I really am.  I should have known better.  But, see, this is why I love perfume.  Two drops of yellow gunk (which have consequently contaminated the air around me for seven hours) suddenly returned me to the horrors of being fifteen.  What else could do that so quickly?  What else could go straight for the jugular like that?  Nothing else taps so elegantly, so directly, so brutally, into the emotional center as perfume.

Top image from fragrantica.  Lower image from paper_antiquary on ebay.


16 thoughts on “Tuberose Series Bonus: Giorgio by Giorgio Beverly Hills”

  1. Why, oh, why does your review make me _want_ to smell this? What is wrong with me? I also went to high school in the (early) eighties; I certainly have no desire to relive any of it. If I put it on and played "Dirty Laundry" I'd probably need to… OK, I don't know. Drink?But I'm tempted all the same.In any case, great review. 🙂

  2. I think I suffered from even worse fashion sense by going to high school in the 70s – well, it is a close run thing, perhaps! : – ) So I associate Giorgio with one of my first work colleagues, a ballsy woman with blowsy hair. I may have tentatively tried the scent myself on paper once in the last year, but I held the strip very far away from my body, so my recollection of it is too dim to be useful.

  3. CF, if you want this thing I'll wrap it up in yellow Do Not Cross tape and send it to you! (Have you smelled Secretions Magnifiques?)Flitter – blowsy hair probably goes great with Giorgio. You know, it's certainly possible that it used to smell better. There's a harsh quality to it that I didn't remember it having when it was new.All the time I had it on my wrist I was miserable, and at the same time I kept breaking out in nervous giggles. The boys actually thought I was losing it.

  4. See, I used to wear Giorgio Red and keep thinking that I need to sniff both it and Giorgio again. The only thing that's been stopping me is the sinking feeling that they've been cheapened and reformulated beyond all recognition. After all, I may be wrong, but I don't remember a big bottle being sold in Walgreen's for $20 back-in-the-day. I've already had my memories of Emeraude destroyed by the horrible reformulation, so I'm not sure that I want to try this one.

  5. This is just a really funny post!! Somehow I missed Giorgio altogether, so I'm a bit in the dark about the actual smell, but having your kids vindicate your inner fifteen year old girl IS pretty sweet…

  6. Cynthia, I'm pretty sure you could only get Giorgio at a department store back then, which is why I didn't own any. Maybe that was just in my area, but it was certainly more exclusive than the drugstore frags.I didn't remember it being so chemical-ly, so you're probably right about reformulation.What's been done to Emeraude makes me SICK – I loved it ages ago. (Luckily, good vintage is still available on ebay. I have several bottles of parfum and pdt now, and they seem to have survived well. Orientals seem to take aging in stride better than some other types.)

  7. Well, Taz and Gaze are the most wonderful young men ever! I went to an all girls school and then finished up in a regular high school in a small town. At the girls school there was little to no emphasis placed on perfume or makeup —funny how no boys around curtails a lot of unpleasant behavior in general. When I moved to the public school I was about the only senior female who didn't slather on make up and cheap perfume (my Chanel no5 went largely unnoticed…probably because it had no defense against all the cheap and loud molecules clogging the air). I graduated right after my 17th birthday in 1980–egad, that makes me pretty darn old. So I didn't meet Giorgio until college….It was BIG and made me feel a little ill , and girls who wore it were very concerned about making sure everyone knew they were wearing Giorgio….I could care less…by now I had learned to fight back by wearing YSL Rive Gauche….ha! take that ! hmmm…now I"m longing for a bit of a sniff of Rive Gauche, I haven't sniffed it in at least 25 years. By Junior year I had moved on to Ralph by Ralph Lauren–which by the way was apparently quite appealing to college age guys.

    1. Wow, Daise… don’t know how I missed this comment. Oops. True, everybody at my HS who was wearing Giorgio wanted to make sure you KNEW they were wearing Giorgio. (Snobs!)

  8. You know, I don't think that I ever wore the original Giorgio, just the Giorgio Red. I saw GR at Marshall's the other day, but it would have to be $10 and not $20 before I'd risk it – especially since I'm sure that it's been ruined. I was mostly an Obsession girl back then, at least until everyone started wearing it. Then it was GR and then, I think EL's Spellbound – but there may have been something else in the middle.

  9. I was out of college before the 80s rolled in, so I associate Giorgio with Dynasty-style big shoulders, and Judith Krantz sex-and-shopping novels. (Giorgio was that expensive boutique in Beverly Hills, remember? Maybe that last sentence has some redundancies…). Although I'm sure I must have smelled it on someone, I don't think I could identify it today. But I too have a perverse desire to test it.And I *love* Gaze's take on the people who give kids nasty Halloween candies!

    1. Sorry I missed your comment, Patty! I did read somewhere that certain restaurants banned Giorgio wearers from the premises in the 80s because it ruined everyone else’s appetites.

      Oh, go ahead, test it… it’s, well, interesting at least.

  10. Sorry to hear about your horrible associations! 🙁

    I came to Giorgio pretty late (in the ’90s, when I was about 20) and have continued to wear it, on and off, ever since.

    I think you need the right (or, maybe, the wrong?!) body chemistry for Giorgio Beverly Hills.

    It’s the fragrance that suits people who can’t wear any other (half decent) fragrance well!

    Almost all perfumes smell bad on me, pretty quickly – they go really sour…

    …well, I say that but, to be fair, something hideously, synthetically, sweet like Angel doesn’t; but I find it so horrible, that it really isn’t an option, sweet or not.

    Whereas, going a bit sour is probably not such a bad thing if you smell like Giorgio to begin with! 😀

    I admit I’m in no way a perfume expert (the constant disappointments and being accused of smelling like a Tomcat has sprayed me, in other fragrances, has put me off, a bit!), but think I have a pretty sensitive sense of smell and I, honestly, wouldn’t wear something if it made me smell like bad Halloween candy, or chlorine.

    To be fair, I can also wear Chloe (both the old and the new) without gassing people too much and Estee Lauder’s Beautiful isn’t too bad on me, either; but Giorgio is the only perfume I have ever received compliments about.

    The thought of it having been reformulated is pretty depressing, but at least I still have the vast majority of the 90ml bottle I bought a few years ago and considering I rarely wear perfume and one spray of Giorgio is more than enough, I should be able to make it last for the rest of my life, with any luck! LOL!

    1. Glad you like it, Chloeh – it probably needs some friends at this stage… it really was a big status symbol at a certain point, but everyone who wore it for that reason has moved on. (Moved on to what, I don’t know. Angel? Bleargh.)

      And yes, your bottle of Giorgio probably will last you a lifetime.

  11. @malsnano: No, not everyone has “moved on.” If they had, Giorgio BH (and oldies from other eras like Emeraude) would disappear off shelves as many of our favorite fragrances have done. Giorgio BH is still sold in nearly every drug & dept store; a distribution that wide is only possible when high volume sales exist to support it. Giorgio’s status is gone, but it has enough friends.

    Folks, you don’t have to like Giorgio BH or agree with Turin’s opinions. But he does make a point: one person’s signature perfume is sewage to someone else. Perfume is a very subjective experience. What Luca has done is identify those fragrances that have persisted on the market, and explicate them to determine if they remain popular because they are truly well-crafted or some other reason.

    I am a collector of fragrances, some rare and discontinued. I always have around 130 in rotation. I own Giorgio and wear it occasionally. High sillage perfumes shouldn’t cause social problems if worn sparingly. I’ve actually gotten compliments on it and White Diamonds, another controversial perfume.

    I became an adult in the 1980s, so I didn’t suffer any fashion or social trauma as many of you did. It was just another era to me. Some of you sound as though you need a therapist..

    1. Hi, Hat Lady.

      Just to clarify, I said “everyone who wore Giorgio for that reason [its status-symbol cachet] has moved on.” If you wore it then and still wear it now because you like it, and not because it gave you the opportunity to make other people’s lives miserable, then please go on enjoying it. I like White Diamonds and reviewed it within the last six months, if you’d care to read that review.

      I am quite sure that I wouldn’t go to your website and suggest that you or your readers need a therapist.

  12. I do remember Giorgio well, mostly because it became my Mom’s favorite perfume. For some reason, I receive a bottle of it for Christmas one year too. It was my Mom’s scent, though, so I didn’t wear it. She would wear it when she came to visit, and whenever I smelled it, she came into my mind.

    My Mom died in October, and now I have her bottle of Giorgio too. But I still haven’t been brave enough to wear it. I will though, and I know I will have many tears.

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