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.