New Perfume Review Gucci Memoire d’une Odeur- A Commercial Risk

5

Ever since creative director at Gucci, Alessandro Michele, has taken a hand in the fragrance side of the brand it has been, mostly, a good thing. Outside of a couple of missteps I have believed Gucci perfumes have been on an upward trajectory because of Sig. Michele’s involvement. For the most part that success has come through giving typical fragrance styles clever twists through ingredient choice. What I have been hoping for is for Sig. Michele to make a fragrance which is different than those typical mass-market styles. It was what set Gucci apart when Tom Ford was the last overall creative director to get involved with the perfume side. It seems like Gucci Memoire d’une Odeur is an attempt to do that.

Alessandro Michele

Sig. Michele has been working almost exclusively with perfumer Alberto Morillas since he got to Gucci. That partnership remains for Memoire d’une Odeur. I have to comment that the press release is a touch irritating because it claims that this is the first perfume to feature chamomile as a keynote. Any quick search of any perfume database will show that is a bit of exaggeration. They are making a point, though. Chamomile has a different scent profile than most things featured in mass-market perfumes. It carries a strong green herbal-like foundation which also carries a fruity component. For Memoire d’une Odeur they are using Roman chamomile which has a granny smith apple to match with the green herbal-ness. This is a challenging ingredient to put on top of a new commercial release.

Alberto Morillas

Yet when you spray on Memoire d’une Odeur that is what you first notice. M. Morillas adds a bit of soft lift with a white musk, or two, but it doesn’t blunt the sharper edges of the chamomile. This is a vegetal green given some texture though the apple quality within. This is the kind of opening which is often seen in a niche perfume. not so often at the mall. With all of that in play for the top accord the remainder of the development spools out in a more recognizable fashion. Jasmine holds the heart with a more traditional floral scent. The base is even more recognizable as a series of white musks wrap around a clean cedar.

Memoire d’une Odeur has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am really looking to my next field trip to the local mall to observe how consumers are reacting to Memoire d’une Odeur. I think it is going to be a tiny step too far as the top accord provides a prickly character that will be difficult to embrace. Although if you are a more experienced perfume fan that prickliness is what might get you to take a second sniff. I am happy that Sig. Michele is willing to take some commercial risks as he continues to breathe life back into Gucci perfumes.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Flora Emerald Gardenia- Back on Track?

1

When I feel like a brand has taken a wrong turn, I find it difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt. After being so impressed with the fragrance side of Gucci since creative director Alessandro Michele had played a hand; the last six months gave the opposite reaction. Gucci went from a brand of new vision to a brand of cynical marketing with the 13-release The Alchemist’s Garden which I think was meant to draw you in with a pretty bottle so you’d forget the banal juice inside. Then this spring’s release of Gucci Bloom Gocce di Fiore which still ranks as one of the worst perfumes of 2019 for me. It felt like Gucci had not only made a wrong turn but driven off a cliff. You can bet there wasn’t a lot of anticipation when I received my sample of Gucci Flora Emerald Gardenia. I had every reason to expect little.

Alessandro Michele

The Gucci Flora line is the latest to have Sig. Michele re-examine it. The Gucci Flora line has been around since 2009 when the brand released a yearly version most of the time. This was emblematic of the drift at Gucci prior to Sig. Michele becoming involved. All the Gucci Flora releases were nice and safe seemingly meant to put seasonal product on the shelf. What had me excited about the tenure of Sig. Michele is he has been giving each of the older collections new life. If it hadn’t been for the last six months, I would have been very excited. Instead I worried the days of playing it nice and safe had returned.

Alberto Morillas

For Emerald Gardenia Sig. Michele continues to work exclusively with perfumer Alberto Morillas. It seems like there is good understanding between the two at what they want to achieve. The most recent Gucci Flora annual releases had been versions of Gorgeous Gardenia in 2017 and 2018. Done by the previous creative team they were not stand-outs in any way. Thankfully Emerald Gardnia does seem to signify a change for the better.

My first memory of gardenia is at my grandmother’s home in South Florida. The house was filled with bowls of water with a gardenia floating on top. Those were the Glade Plug-Ins of the day. What Emerald Gardenia does is to bring back that scent of gardenia on water.

Emerald Gardenia opens with a beautiful lemon bracketed by two other fruits; watermelon and pear. The watermelon sets up this watery undercurrent that will carry into the heart while the pear finds a crispness which explodes the lemon into a sparkling firework. This leads to the heart where gardenia is balanced with lotus and frangipani. The lotus again provides a unique wateriness while the frangipani adds fullness to the gardenia. It finishes on a woody accord of sandalwood and cedar.

Emerald Gardenia has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Emerald Gardenia is what was happening at Gucci prior to the previous six months. Smart mainstream perfume making with clever twists. I can only hope that the rest of 2019, and beyond, has more like Emerald Gardenia on the way.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Bloom Gocce di Fiore- Pothole Season

1

If you live anyplace which gets significant snow, then you are familiar with pothole season. This happens as winter wanes and spring is coming in. The alternating freezing and thawing open up cracks in the pavement which become bigger and bigger potholes. They can crop up incredibly quickly. One day a smooth ride, the next giant axle-breaking craters you can’t avoid. I’ve never thought about a perfume brand having pothole season but the last six months from Gucci finishing with the recent release Gucci Bloom Gocce di Fiore sure feels like the axles have taken a beating.

Alessandro Michele

Ever since the creative director at Gucci, Alessandro Michele, took a hand in the fragrance side of the brand it felt like Gucci was getting its groove back. Gucci Bloom in the spring of 2017 laid down the first marker that Gucci was serious about perfume again. For the next year that impression was reinforced as a new aesthetic was seemingly being forged. Sig. Michele was working exclusively with perfumer Alberto Morillas; this seemed like a dream team in the making. The road ahead was smooth. Then the cracks began showing up.

Alberto Morillas

It started when I received a package heading into the Holidays containing the thirteen (!) perfumes in the Gucci: The Alchemist’s Garden. The press material mentioned this was meant to be a collection of accords which you could layer to grow your own garden. This is as much of a cynical kind of release as I can imagine. When I received a follow-up package with the fourteenth addition. I just looked at the entire mess as a speed bump. A giant fourteen bottle speed bump. Instead it was a warning shot because the pothole was coming.

The Present

I thought if there was anything which was going to get Gucci back on track it was a return to the Gucci Bloom Collection. The previous two flankers were part of what I saw as this creative resurgence. When I sprayed Gocce di Fiore I knew the pothole had opened wide beneath me.

The two previous flankers had taken the core ingredients of Bloom; honeysuckle, tuberose, jasmine, and iris and enhanced them with new ingredients added in. Gocce di Fiore doesn’t do that it instead tries to recalibrate the concentrations of the core four ingredients. What ends up in the bottle seems like a discarded version on the way to the original. It is a screeching white floral which overwhelms anything approaching subtlety. It made me want to go get the iris Alchemist’s Garden sample and see if I could make it better. When I thought things couldn’t have reached a lower level than The Alchemist’s Garden, Gocce di Fiore turns the cracks into a pothole.

Bloom Gocce di Fiore has at least two hours longevity. I don’t know how much more because I scrubbed it off. Sillage seemed average.

The Future?

Pothole season eventually gives way to paving season when the potholes are filled in and smoothed over as if they were never there. I hope Sig. Michele and M. Morillas do some roadwork and put Gucci back on the path it was on before the last six months because that was seeming like something worth looking forward to.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori- Better and Better

2

If Gucci is going to regain a prominence in designer fragrances it is going to require first and foremost, consistency. Ever since Tom Ford left the brand the fragrance aspect drifted in search of a new aesthetic. For a decade Gucci became an afterthought when it came to perfume. The naming of Alessandro Michele as creative director has, once again, provided someone who believes fragrance is an important piece of the Gucci aesthetic.

Alessandro Michele

A year ago, with the release of Gucci Bloom the first perfume overseen by Sig. Michele showed a change. Even though Bloom was an extremely simple construct it found a way of combining jasmine and tuberose while providing a transparency with the substance of Kevlar. Over the past year the Gucci fragrance releases have made me look forward to each one as the consistency I was looking for was being built release by release. I was particularly impressed with the spring flanker Bloom Acqua di Fiori which took the simplicity of Bloom and covered it in green. By starting simple it meant that the flanker could be drastically changed with an overt choice to supply something different than the white flowers. This was why when receiving Bloom Nettare di Fiori, which is the fall flanker, I was curious to see what was next.

Alberto Morillas

So far in this mini revival of the Gucci perfume fortunes Sig. Michele has been working exclusively with perfumer Alberto Morillas. There are few who are as good as M. Morillas at creating pillars and flankers which are not cynical replays. If Bloom Acqua di Fiori was the greening of Bloom then Bloom Nettare di Fiori is the spicing up of Bloom. It is accomplished by adding in three key ingredients; ginger, osmanthus, and patchouli.

Just as the Bloom Acqua di Fiori opened with the green; Bloom Nettare di Fiore opens with the ginger. M. Morillas leads with a healthy dose of it. It is laid out to provide a spicy entry way to the floral Bloom DNA of jasmine and tuberose. Rose comes and provides an introduction before allowing the ginger, tuberose, and jasmine to mingle. M. Morillas finds a balance where the zing of ginger meshes with the lightly indolic white flowers. I am impressed anew with how M. Morilas manages to make a transparency which also projects strength. The base comes with a leathery osmanthus paired with an earthy patchouli. It provides a bit more heft than the previous two editions of Bloom but that’s what makes it a fall-style perfume.

Bloom Nettare di Fiore has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I don’t know what’s next for Gucci but through the six releases since Bloom, last year, they have become a designer brand which has returned to relevance. They are doing it by getting better and better with each release. Bloom Nettare di Fiore is another along that line.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Guilty Oud- Absolute pour Homme Take Two

1

When I really started expanding my perfume horizons one of the brands which thrilled me was Gucci. This was during the time Tom Ford was in charge of Gucci as creative director for everything. Mr. Ford showed the power of cohesive creative control. When he left Gucci to form his own eponymous brand those principles have created one of the great success stories in fashion retail. What he left behind at Gucci descended into soulless corporate fragrance with few exceptions. There is a new creative director for all things Gucci again, Alessandro Michele, and he actually cares about the fragrances which carry the Gucci imprint. The proof of that has been the releases over the last eighteen months. The latest addition to the new era at the brand is Gucci Guilty Oud.

Alessandro Michele

Sig. Michele has again turned the brand into a forward-thinking fragrance one. An aspect of the early phase is he has chosen to work almost exclusively with perfumer Alberto Morillas. As I remark upon frequently this kind of creative director-perfumer partnership has a positive effect; especially when trying to design a brand aesthetic. Just a few perfumes into this collaboration there are the outlines of what that might be for Gucci 2018 and beyond.

Alberto Morillas

One thing I have been enjoying is Sig. Michele is not signing on to the “lighter and transparent is better” bandwagon. He is defining something which has much more presence than the other masstige brands he is competing with. It is too early to see if consumers share his vision. I am hoping that there is room for something beyond lighter and transparent in the current landscape. Guilty Oud will be one which helps let us know if there is.

Guilty Oud is really a flanker of Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme.  I was not a fan of that perfume. Guilty Oud is almost take two on that perfume. It uses some of what I really liked about the earlier release this year of Guilty Absolute pour Femme; the blackberry. That perfume was an effusive fruity floral. Guilty Oud is not that but the blackberry along with some other similar ingredients improves greatly on Guilty Absolute pour Homme.

It is that blackberry which opens Guilty Oud. In this perfume it is a quick fleeting bit of fruit. I like it for that kind of effect; here then gone. It moves into a patchouli and rose heart which has been the Guilty DNA. Here it is made to stand out without too much support. The oud comes from using a small amount of natural oud within a larger oud accord. One thing which I found to be a nice touch was using a cypress extract called Goldenwood to provide a blonde wood counterweight to the oud accord. It smooths out the entire fragrance providing an overall sophistication.

Guilty Oud has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

These are exciting times at Gucci perfume. Guilty Oud gives me more reason to believe we are at the beginning of something great again.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori- Smell Your Greens!

When I was child I heard one phrase a lot at dinner, “Eat your greens!” I found a way to nibble around the edges of what ever was on my plate while eating the other things. It is far from an uncommon experience. Green in perfume is also a difficult sell to most consumers. If there is one significant difference between niche and mainstream it that niche is happy to go green. There are plenty of examples of well executed green mainstream releases which failed. It’s like at the mall the sales associates are trying to get people to “smell your greens!”. Which makes me interested when a brand takes another attempt at trying to break through. Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori is the latest to step up.

Alessandro Michele

If there were “glory days” for the Gucci fragrance line it was probably between 1997-2004. Tom Ford was hands-on with creative direction in all aspects of the brand during that time. Once he left the creative direction was mostly left up to the corporate team at P&G. That resulted in what you would expect, safe crowd-pleasing releases. What has me excited about Gucci again is the new creative director Alessandro Michele also seems to share Mr. Ford’s ethic of being involved in the fragrance as well as the fashion. In Sig. Michele’s early days both Gucci Bloom and Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Femme show a new intriguing creative direction in fragrance. When I received the press materials for Bloom Acqua di Fiori I noticed that two of the more prominent green ingredients, galbanum and blackcurrant buds, were top of the ingredient list. Perfumer Alberto Morillas was going to have his hands full adding those into a transparent white flower original.

Alberto Morillas

The green is right there from the beginning. Sr. Morillas pushes them to a moderate level. The overall effect is a slightly bitter sap accord. There is more strength to it overall which makes Bloom Acqua di Fiori a slightly less transparent perfume than the original. Sr. Morillas then reprises the tuberose and jasmine from the original which are similarly opaque. The new addition is lily of the valley to provide a floral with a significant green quality to connect to the top accord. It ends with a lightly woody base accord of sandalwood and white musks.

Bloom Acqua di Fiori has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am looking forward to my next visit to my local mall so I can watch first reactions to this perfume. Sig. Michele is trying to see if a new perfume generation will “smell their greens!”. The verdict will take a year to find out. In the meantime, Sig. Michele has again signaled the corporate thought process has been removed from Gucci fragrance. He has a hold of the wheel and is going off-road; Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori continues that journey.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme- Dreamy Blackberry

The designer perfume brands naturally go through up and downs. It usually depends on how important the Creative Director thinks fragrance is to the overall brand identity they want. When that Creative Director is invested in fragrance that is when some of the greatest designer perfumes arrive along with an overall collection coherence. At Gucci it seems like Creative Director Alessandro Michele is one of those.

Gucci Spring/Summer 2018

Sig. Michele has revived the fashion side of Gucci in just over two years. It has been impressive to see as he uses vintage inspirations to add detailing to modern silhouettes. Last year’s Gucci Bloom was the first fragrance release under his oversight. That it was one of the best designer releases of 2017 showed the interest in fragrance was back. Now it is time to see where Gucci is headed on the fragrance side with the second release under Sig. Michele’s creative direction Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme.

Alessandro Michele

As he did with Gucci Bloom he collaborates with perfumer Alberto Morillas who also did last year’s Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme prior to Sig. Michele taking over the fragrance creative direction. It allows for a real indication of where Sig. Michele is adding to the overall design. The Guilty Absolute Pour Homme rested upon a patchouli, leather, and cypress base. I wasn’t crazy about that combination. When I received the press materials and noticed that same base present I was worried. Here is where Sig. Michele’s vision comes to the fore. Also, in the press materials he says, “I wanted a blackberry note that would make you dream upon smelling it.” Right there is what makes Guilty Absolute Pour Femme excel as Sr. Morillas finds that. That dreamy blackberry is the exact counterweight needed for that base accord.

Alberto Morillas

That blackberry is where we start. This is so good I think it is going to sell a lot of perfume because those who like fruity florals are going to go crazy for this blackberry. I’ve spent a lot of time examining it. I think its dreaminess comes from a judicious use of blackcurrant to keep the sweetness of the blackberry leaner. It’s not listed as an ingredient but there is something keeping the blackberry from going all jammy. What does bring that aspect out is the rose and patchouli which come next. The rose does what it usually does with berries it encounters it deepens them. The patchouli adds an earthy aspect which then adds in the leather accord and cypress from Guilty Absolute Pour Homme.

Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I can’t overstate how much better Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme is compared to Guilty Absolute Pour Homme. It all comes down to the choice of Sig. Michele to insist upon a dreamy blackberry over the same base. It is clear what the influence of active creative direction can have. A simple dreamy blackberry has me dreaming for even better days ahead for Gucci fragrance.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Bloom- White Flower Emotions

2

The Gucci fashion empire is amid change. Two years ago, the creative brain trust at the brand was overturned with young designer Alessandro Michele becoming the Creative Director. Of course, first on his list was to oversee the fashion aspect. Now he finally turns to the fragrance business with the first release under his creative direction; Gucci Bloom.

Alessandro Michele (Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth)

When it comes to fragrance Gucci has really never had a consistent brand identity. It doesn’t mean there haven’t been some great perfumes with Gucci on the label just nothing approaching cohesion from release to release. In many of the interviews Sig. Michele gave after being named to his post he would talk about how fashion is an emotional experience when it is at its best. I would also say that kind of attitude would be paramount in designing a perfume.

Alberto Morillas

For his first fragrance Sig. Michele couldn’t have chosen a better collaborator than perfumer Alberto Morillas. When I saw the photo of the bottle which accompanied my sample I didn’t even need the prompting from the PR to think it was in #Millennial pink. Which lead me to expect a transparent floral gourmand inside that container. Imagine my surprise to find a full-throated white flower fragrance instead.

The construction of Bloom is kept very simple with it being most easily described as a tuberose and jasmine perfume. Except where nearly everyone else is going for opaque Sig. Michele and Sr. Morillas go to the opposite. There is meant to be a fragrance with presence here.

Describing this is facile. It opens with tuberose and it is the creamy, buttery version of tuberose. The indoles are here but are the only part of the white flowers which are dialed back a little bit. Not gone but not enough to provide the full-on skank you find elsewhere. The jasmine is kept just a notch below the volume of the tuberose making it a supporting note but one which has an important role to play. The final note I experience is iris which provides a powdery finishing effect. There is supposed to be a proprietary note used here for the first time called Rangoon creeper, a version of Chinese honeysuckle. If it is here it is being used so subtly I was unable to experience it as a distinct presence. Maybe when I smell it in something where it is most prominent I’ll be able to re-visit Bloom and go, “Oh, yeah now I see it.”

Bloom has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Sig. Michele is definitely willing to allow a perfume lover’s emotion to carry the weight of how they will feel about this. It is an excellently executed white flower mainstream release. How you feel about that will probably decide your emotion when it comes to Bloom.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke