Giorgio Beverley Hills: The Alexis Carrington of 80s Fragrance.

 Image

Alexis Carrington, despite her deadly wiles, was actually  quite the femme at heart. She may have had the biggest balls in Colorado but she could still pull off a maribou peignoir and a dry Martini. She was unapologetically glamorous, and an icon of 1980s excesses.

Which brings us to Giorgio Beverly Hills. Created in 1981, this had a kind of “damn you to Imagehell” sillage that would floor anyone in its wake. I can’t help chuckling at Luca Turin’s spot on description , “ a cute,twelve-foot-tall-singing-canary. At first impossible to ignore, and at length, too big to love“.

It must have been great PR for the brand when Giorgio was banned from several restaurants in LA. After all, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. And the sillage?  If this were a noise, it would be on a par with being in the front row of an Aerosmith concert.

So what is this twelve foot canary like? To me, it smells one dimensional. It’s almost like a very loud air freshener, packed with faker than fake Jasmine, Peaches and Tuberose. Like its Los Angeles origins, this doesn’t even try for a dose of reality. It is shameless in its fakery, making synthetic a proud trademark, rather than something to hide.

Back in 1990, I often had a lift home from a female colleague. She wore Giorgio every day, spraying it in the morning and again at lunchtime. By the time I got in her Giorgio capsule, sorry, car, at 5.30pm, it was like a futuristic torture chamber made of scent. High pitched, synthetic and for some reason, smelling as alarmingly yellow as it looked, this smelled loud, long and cheap. There was a kind of hollowness to it, as if there were no base to anchor it, just a high pitched screech of a scent.

I can’t tell you what the drydown smelled like since it never seemed to drydown. It smelled linear to me. Five hours later, it would smell the same as of it had just been applied.

Having said that, I find it hard to dislike Giorgio and have a sneaking affection for it, in the same way that I loved Prince, Duran Duran, Dallas and Dynasty. I’ve seen it going cheap in discount shops lately, and it made me feel sad for it, like its best years were behind it, and its facelift was starting to sag.  But in it’s heyday, Wow, knock ’em dead Giorgio. There she goes.

9 thoughts on “Giorgio Beverley Hills: The Alexis Carrington of 80s Fragrance.”

  1. It’s funny, isn’t it, when you revisit and things have changed? When you return to that little town you went on holiday to as a kid that you remember fondly as all market stalls and sunny beach and you discover that it’s full of tower blocks and car parks. Or when you watch a film that made you cry with laughter as a teenager and realise the sets are made of cardboard, the props are rubbish and the acting is so bad you cringe? Sometimes perfumes are like that, I think. The memory is one thing and the reality quite something else.

    I suspect this may be one factor in the online yearning for vintage fragrances – even for very precise wishes such as ‘I am looking for the 1965 version of Miss Dior’. I know things are reformulated over the years, to reduce costs, eliminate potential allergens (I am looking at you IFRA and scowling) or because ingredients are no longer available (genuine Mysore sandalwood from India is currently as rare as hens’ teeth, due to over-harvesting in the 20th century). Sometimes things are reformulated to ‘address changing tastes’ as in the new versions of Balmain’s Ivoire and Molinard’s Habanita, even YSL’s Opium (my precioussssss – I stockpiled my adored vintage juice when I smelled the new version). But I think that even if it’s the very same bottle, often our memory of the scent isn’t quite realistic. A lot like ex-boyfriends, now I come to think of it.

    1. Beautifully put. I totally agree. In the same way, I remember watching Dynasty in the early 80s and admiring Alexis’s penthouse with its peach walls and thick peach carpet. You can imagine what I think of the decor whilst watching the reruns, but back in the day, I thought living in some sort of peach coloured womb was the height of glamour.

      Funnily enough though, I am developing a sideline penchant for 70s style chypres. I’ll never get back that simple and naive happiness of being a child, but I can buy the background smell off ebay!

  2. I first met Girogio on a high school classmate of mine (who just happened to be a model). She wore it so sparingly that you had to be quite close to her to get a whiff of it. She was so beautiful and chic and it smelled fantastic on her so I just had to have it.It was the first real expensive perfume I purchased on my own (usually I was either stealing my mother’s stash or asking for expensive bottles for Christmas, birthdays, etc). It was sold exclusively at Bloomingdales at the time and I forced my best friend to accompany me to get it. She looked at me in disbelief when I made the purchase (50 dollars for that???she said). I wore it and felt special because no one had it or knew what it was…and then it became so ubiquitous and overwhelming I ended up gifting my bottle away…the smell was overwhelming (ever been stuck in an elevator with Gorgio or Poison?) I think I would be probable be filled with nostalgia if I got a whiff of it now ….

    1. I love it when a scent inspires a story or a memory and I love to hear stories like the one you have shared here. It’s weird how many scents we avoid because it has been someone else’s signature isn’t it? I actually think Giorgio is due a revival. It can’t be worse than a lot of the fruity-chouli-cupcake efforts out there at the moment!

  3. Sorry..typo on the Gorgio….the first few words are always covered by “enter your comment here…:

  4. I’m sort of embarrassed to say this but I tried a sample recently and quite liked it – well didn’t find it as offensive as everyone else seems to. I dabbed it though maybe that made a difference. And this may be sacrilege but it reminded me of Fracas a lot (which I also have in a dab sample) so I’m sure they’re probably both very different when sprayed.

    1. I know what you mean, I’ve been rethinking another eighties greatie- Dior’s Poison. I gave it a scathing review but frankly after living in a miasma of vanilla and cupcakes on every High Street, it’s time we brought back the giant nuclear Jasmines and Tuberoses!

  5. PS – I love the picture of Joan (Alexis). I saw her last year at the markets in St Tropez and she looked absolutely fantastic – just as I imagined she would, totally glam but in a casual outfit. How does she do it!

    1. Oh wow! I am a big fan of hers. She is one of the last bastions of old Hollywood glamour and I love how she is always so ladylike and elegant and proper. Very jealous of you catching a real life glimpse!

Leave a Reply