Acqua di Giò (Giorgio Armani)

Just to summarize things, the prior posts are about Millésime Impérial by Creed and Unbound for Men by Halston, both of which lead up to Acqua di Giò, and all to illustrate one point: AdG is to Millésime Impérial what Cool Water is to Green Irish Tweed. Each are sets of popular designer clones and their niche originals. The difference between them is in spirit; Cool Water was the fresh fougère that defined the late 1980s, while Acqua di Giò was the fresh aquatic that defined the 1990s. Neither scent should have eclipsed their predecessors in the minds of perfume critics, but they have. Both scents are very good and likable on their own terms.

Of the four fragrances, AdG is my least favorite. I do like Alberto Morillas, whose portfolio includes Mugler Cologne and Tommy by Hilfiger, two superlative scents. Puzzlingly enough, when pressed in casual situations with strangers to name one of his perfumes, Morillas thinks first of Ck One, which he cites as the ultimate expression of his "dream." His own description of it here seems more concerned with its widespread fame, and not much interested in the scent itself, except to mention that "when you smell, [it's] still very fresh, very modern." Odd, considering that Ck One would come in second place for most Americans, behind Acqua di Giò. After all, it was his greatest commercial hit, and he's had a prolific career.

I'm not particularly fond of either scent, but if I were limited to them, I'd choose AdG over Ck One without hesitation. I actually like the smell of Ck One better than AdG, but find its poor longevity totally unacceptable. At least with the Armani I get about five hours. The use of synthetics in AdG is laudable, particularly because he was commissioned to create a more marketable and affordable version of Millésime Impérial. Morillas has said that it takes at least 2 years to create a perfume from start to finish, and some might quibble with the plausibility of his copying MI, given they're only a year apart. I think Morillas had an inside scoop on Creed, smelled a fledgling sample of MI during the briefing phase of AdG in 1993 or '94, and decided it was a worthy act to follow.

Smelling AdG is like smelling the fragrance arc of perfumery from 1990 to 1996, a period defined by this quintessential aquatic. But the '90s were stylistically divisible, with everything from 1996 to 1999 defined by Chanel's Allure Homme, which is oddly a variant of none other than Cool Water. Allure's tonka-rich pegging point in the decade was 1995's super-sweet Le Male by Gaultier, a scent with formidable resonance among its contemporaries. But sniffing AdG, one is hard-pressed to find another match. Sniffing MI next to AdG yields an equally-bracing eau de cologne citrus effect, with one flushing the sweetness of ambergris against a salty iris, and the other tempering cruder citruses and sweet jasmine against a base of cedar and musk. The use of lemon, lime, bergamot, rosemary, jasmine, and white musk in AdG is brilliant in its own right, and something that perfectly captures the feeling of Mediterranean sunshine. But if I'm looking to project a tropical aura, I'd be better served to go with the original - its pairing of citrus with iris is far superior and much smoother than AdG's citrus/jasmine combo.

One can credit Armani with not intentionally over-exposing the AdG brand by strictly limiting its number of flankers. But really, how much more can one do with this theme? Successful aquatics inevitably spawn artless combinations of sweet fruits and flowers against salty and musky bases, with gallons of calone and Iso E Super carelessly employed to repeatedly deliver the same olfactory message. They wind up smelling generic, like soap and shampoo, and jade fans of the original into buying something else instead. Sometimes they even lead fans to blame the original for so many countless sub-par releases. It's a bad cycle to get into. I'm looking at you, Ck One.

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