Gucci Pour Homme (Gucci, 2003)

I could see how someone might say that Gucci PH is relatively boring, yet one of the better choices (among designer scents) if you want to impress others, or be noticed for your fragrance, but I feel this assessment is actually the very definition of "cognitive dissonance," because if a fragrance takes pride of place in impressing people, it can't possibly be boring. Gucci PH is a marvel of modern design, a terrific example of how literalistic notes in a staid composition can come together as something beautiful and unique. It is the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright in a bottle.

In Gucci PH, incense, pink pepper, geranium, and ginger precede incense, labdanum, and cedar. At first I smell a clean, semi-sweet, and slightly fruity pink pepper note, paired with a silvery incense. Five minutes later the ginger whispers in, and the incense gets woodier, its silvery facet separating into lemony geranium leaf. I'm reminded of Jubilation XXV, except Gucci PH smells simpler and better. Amouage went a little nuts with the sheer number of competing notes in their scent, but Gucci got it right by scaling back on the notes and allowing the composition to breathe. The pert brightness of the top notes gets translated into a rounder incense and cedar accord in the heart and base. Even though the cedar smells fairly literal and linear, the memory of fruity pink pepper lingers, playing up the subtle complexities of cedar.

I like this scent. Gucci should have kept it in production. I've read that this fragrance contains Iso E Super in a dosage that might or might not be irritating, depending on your sensitivities. A quick note on Iso E Super: perfumer Jim Gehr recently mentioned to me that it is actually very, very mild, probably hypo-allergenic, "more texture than aroma," and would not lend excessive scratchiness and/or chemical blare to contemporary perfumes. So I stand corrected on this material. Those of us who complain about excessive Iso E Super (or mishandled Iso E Super) are likely suffering from a sensitivity to Ambrocenide, an extremely potent woody amber used in many woody scents, at up to an astounding 24% of concentration.

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