digging (into) vintage: Giorgio Beverly Hills Giorgio, 1981

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Perfumer Bob  Aliano.

I don’t quite understand the big perfumes of the 1980s. At heart, they carried a mixed message. They are unavoidable: large, loud, instantly recognizable, distressingly unmistakable. They are written in bold print and are meant  to stand out. The problem is that they were also used as identifiers to signal inclusion in a group, or rather, to announce the wearer’s identification as a type. They are tribal. So while their use of olfactory dynamics makes them all about standing out, the intention of their use is all about signaling affiliation, not distinction.

As with Dior Poison (1985) and YSL Opium (1977), even 30 years after the fact, we refer not so much to the perfume Giorgio (1981) as to the type of woman who wore it. The perfume was part of the package: big hair, shoulder pads, geometric make up. Aspiration. Grandiosity. Remember, this was the era of a television show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

The Perfume itself is remarkable for its superlative qualities: volume, radioactive sillage, endurance, unwarranted certitude. It could more aptly have been called No Exit.  It captured the quality of bigger-is-better that defined the 1980s. It is legendary: it was the first scent-strip ever used in a magazine. It is mythical: Giorgio was banned from restaurants. It surpassed even its high wattage rivals. Where Cacharel Loulou (1987) was boisterous, YSL Opium was smothering, and Dior Poison was simply too loud, Giorgio was crass.

Vintage bottles are easy to find. It was mass-produced for decades and made from aromachemicals with industrial half-lives. It is the plastic of perfumery. It can’t be recycled, and it will never degrade.

Absolutely worth sniffing, even if just for the history lesson.

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