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 their core, 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. The oddly shaped bottle (a squared-off impression of a pinched-waist feminine figure that ended up looking more like a cello than a woman) contained the ideals of the era. Grandiosity. Aspiration. Self-delusion. It was Pandora’s box produced on an industrial scale

As for the perfume itself it is remarkable for its superlative qualities: volume, radioactive sillage, endurance, unwarranted certitude. It combined the ‘bigger-is-better’ style of the day with sheer ubiquity (it was the first scent-strip ever used in a magazine) to make a imprint on an era. It surpassed even its high wattage rivals. Where Ysatis, Paris and Loulou were loud but fun, Giorgio was simply crass.

Vintage bottles Of Giorgio 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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