Red for Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills)
Love. Passion. Hunger. War.
Some colors are singular treasures, but red is four: it's why we associate Valentine's day with hearts, equate lust with high heat, stop at McDonald's for lunch, and forget our fear of blood in a fight. Red is about desire, anger, the sacred and profane. Without it we'd only have orange and yellow, two clearly-inferior shades. It's a fitting name for a perfume, and I'm glad Giorgio Beverly Hills thought of it. This fragrance used to command a very high premium off ebay and other vendors, presumably due to its discontinuation. Red is now back in production, and costs less than a pastrami sandwich at a New York deli.
This fragrance seems to polarize its audience. You either love it or hate it, with most loving it. It's classified as a leather, but the scent defies labels. Those who are hellbent on categorizing it call it a hybrid aromatic fougère and woody oriental, but I think it's an aromatic fougere with hints of orientalism. edit: having refreshed my nose on this scent, I realize that the fougere-like aspects of it are more prominent than I thought. There's an odd minty-fresh element paired with woody spices that gives it a more fern-like appeal. If it is a hybrid aromatic/woody oriental, it's a very subtle one. I'm not getting any fougère-like traits, and as I read the back of the box, I see that lavender is at the end of a long list of synthetics, although real oakmoss is used — wonder if I have a bottle of the original formula?
Red opens with a very sweet burst of rose and artemisia. This accord is darkened by a subdued cumin, and blended seamlessly into a heart of juniper, dewy jasmine, peppery carnation, and oakmoss. Sometimes I catch a whiff of mint, but it's fleeting if it's there at all. I read on forums about how synthetic Red smells, but I'm inclined to disagree — I can pick apart the juniper, jasmine, and carnation pretty easily. The jasmine lends sweetness to an otherwise-spicy moss scent. The blending here is impeccable, and makes it tricky to identify everything, but that's obviously intentional. Red conveys a smoothness that few other masculine orientals of the '90s ever employed. This EDT is a definite "smell". A man wearing this emits a complex dryness that transcends your average cologney vibe, and moves into a higher atmosphere of mature masculinity. It's obviously designed for cigarette smokers, and more sophisticated than some give it credit for.
Nowadays Red is more curiosity than perfume — the smoky, jazzy-cool aura of America in 1991 is long gone. Part '80s leftover, part '90s haruspex, Red occupies a rare no-man's land of masculine perfumery, the great divide between Reagan-era powerhouses and Clintonian air-kisses. To wear it is to defy both eras, and approach life from today alone.