Giorgio For Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills)

It feels quite fitting to follow my review of Touch for Men with one of Giorgio. Before the "hygienic" shower gel fragrances of the nineties took over everything, the mysterious world of masculine perfumery dwelled mostly on olfactory impressions from nature and natural materials, with compositions using the combined smells of woods, spices, flowers, and resins. The seventies and eighties gave us compositions devoid of "fantasy accords." Earthbound scents like Givenchy Gentleman, Z-14, Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur, Grey Flannel, Quorum, Krizia Uomo, Derby, Caron's Third Man, Green Irish Tweed, Davidoff, Zino, Bowling Green, and Furyo were all the rage.

Giorgio for Men is of that ilk, a decadent, patchouli-centric woody chypre with strong oriental underpinnings, the kind of fragrance best used judiciously, and never to dinner. Its premise is theoretically simple: to smell unmistakably masculine. Yet at some point it got lost in a haze of sweet gourmands and "fresh" aquatics, until EA revived it in the aughts as a "classic" eighties frag with enough swagger to make Charles Bronson seem effete. Giorgio's reputation precedes it, but to me the fragrance is unaffected by any external noise; from top to bottom, this scent smells inspired, unique, and refined.

This isn't to say that I'm not reminded of other things when I smell it, because I am. Three fragrances in particular come up - Arden's Sandalwood, Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur, and Krizia Uomo. It shares Sandalwood's woodsy smoothness, Cardin's semi-sweet amber, and Krizia's moss/patchouli buzz, but I also get an overwhelmingly potent raw honey note in Giorgio's opening, similar to the viscous, urinous, and intense honey note that I encountered in vintage Lapidus Pour Homme (1987), and to a lesser (and more enjoyable) extent in Boss Number One. This note eventually relents, and segues into a milder blend of patchouli and coumarin. But the honey, oh the honey! Wow.

Now, this is important: if you read a review that neglects to mention honey, its author's nose and judgment can't be trusted. It should be the first thing anyone notices with this fragrance, aside from perhaps a transparent wisp of mandarin orange and aldehyde. Giorgio has the biggest, boldest honey note that I've ever smelled.

The drydown is very pleasant, its honest interplay of patchouli and soft precious wood notes given depth and duration by an herbal amber. There are even gentle touches of cinnamon, nutmeg, carnation, and jasmine in the blend. My bottle's code indicates that it was made in January of this year, yet nothing smells overtly synthetic or out of tune here. Oakmoss is even listed in the ingredients, and I can smell it quite clearly.

There's been some talk on fragrance boards of a change in Giorgio's color. Apparently older bottles are a deep yellow-green, while the current stuff is much lighter. I've noticed that my relatively new bottle of EA Grey Flannel has darkened in the last few years; the perfume was transparent and colorless when I bought it. Vintage Jacqueline Cochran and French Fragrances Grey Flannel is indeed quite dark in appearance. I can't help but wonder if Giorgio's color will also darken with time and use, as air mixes with the fluid. Is this something some EA masculines do? I guess we'll see.

If you like honey and patchouli, and share my affinity for old-school woody chypres, then Giorgio for Men is something you should go for. Even sticklers for natural wood essences should be able to appreciate Giorgio's salubrious sandalwood reconstruction, abstract as it is. I only paid eight dollars for a 1.6 oz bottle, a real steal. Thanks, Mr. Hayman!


  1. I was very curious to read this review, because I've seen Giorgio around and wondered how roughly it had been reformulated... Back in (cue the sound of a crypt door creaking) mid-1980's, I somehow got my hands on a fistful of samples that to me (at fifteen or so) were pure arcana... As I recall Bijan for men was one of them and Giorgio was another. I still have a pretty distinct recollection of sitting there after applying the latter, marvelling at the smell filling in the spaces around me and feeling like I mustn't move... I wanted to see where the scent went next, and had no idea what I'd done to myself or where I could go smelling so good, but also...so good. It seemed like trouble. This was in the days of really glorious samples (the Giorgio one came in a little bottle in its own yellow-striped box, I kid you not); the whole production seemed impossibly, exotically expensive, luxurious and masculine, in a Greek-statues-in-Versace-ads-meets-Miami-Vice-opening-credits kind of way (what can I say? Fifteen year old children of divorce have a pretty weird wilderness of male role models to choose from.) I think Giorgio, along with the first bottle of scent I ever bought myself, Grey Flannel, a short time after, really defined my whole perception of perfume forever after... Not something for ensnaring women (though that would have been fine with me, I think?) nor an extension of personality (authentic or prosthetic) but something to get lost in, a form of escape, an evocation of beauty as (in the words of a poet I know) 'taking away the pain of the world to replace it with another kind of pain.' But anyway, yeah, that honey note - it used to be very rich indeed. With the other notes (patchouli, nutmeg, etc.), I used to also pick up something almost like the rosin pocket of my violin case from it. Wow... Current reviews for the EA blend are a weird mix of chest thumping and reformulation betrayal (is there anything more confusing than the narcissistic injury of a masculines fan?) - some people say it smells like ballpoint pens (the grape juice thing), for instance. Anyway, I appreciate your lack of snobbery and attempt to provide a levelheaded reckoning of reformulated scents. These are uneasy times! I'll check it out.

    1. With only the current version to go by, I'm comfortable saying the reformulation is excellent, although normally I wouldn't be without a direct comparison to vintage. However, in this case it's clear that the volume has been toned down to a level that at least attempts to comport with contemporary fashions. That said, I fail to see how a honey note that is clearly more bombastic than the honey in vintage Lapidus PH (Eddie Money in a bottle) could exist in a poor reformulation, as Giorgio's is simply incredible. Plus the patchouli is very aggressive. There are no imbalances, obviously synthetic qualities, or "blobby" characteristics here, and longevity is an easy nine hours. I get the bow rosin comparison too, as I used to play the violin! Such a lovely smell. This is an excellent fragrance to spare yourself the vintage headache and buy new.

  2. That's interesting.
    My mom wore Giorgio BH for women ever since it came out in 1981. It was a tuberose & gardenia BOMB. Longevity for days & sillage for light years.
    When I was in Ft Lauderdale visiting my Aunt Dot in September we found an EA outlet while shopping & stepped in to peruse all & sundry. There was good old Giorgio BH for women on offer. I was feeling rather nostalgic after driving Aunt Dot's '89 Lincoln Towncar & a bit outre having just come from Aunt Dot's mansionette in West Palm Beach. So, I doused myself with the tester bottle of Giorgio BH for women for old time's sake.
    I guess it has been reformulated because it was ...tasteful, reserved, still a heady floral but so balanced & oakmossy you'd almost think it was a chypre. Definitely not the monster I recall. I'm actually kind of sad I didn't go back & buy a bottle.

    1. Sorry to hear it's been reformulated into something else. My memory of the feminine version matches yours.

  3. If my memory serves me well, I bought Giorgio shortly after having read your excellent review and while I wasn't totally convinced at first, it grew on me over time. It's been a few days now since I am wearing Giorgio again... what can I say? This is sweet sunshine in a bottle and perfect for the colder months. What's not to like? The box with it's simple yellow / white stripes and mock heraldic emblem and evidently the name Giorgio Beverly Hills all help to create a aura of luxury, after all this is a (and I quote the box) extraordinary eau de toilette. The bottle itself continues in that refined setting with a mock seal on the glass and "engraved" metallic cap. Perhaps the sprayer denotes a somewhat "cheaper" appearance (like Bryan always points out "the lack of budget always shows up at one point"), but it's functional and does the job.
    The juice inside is evidently what it's ultimately all about, but good presentation always help to set the mood and as I previously noted, Giorgio has done this right.
    The stars of the show are undoubtedly the honey and patchouli.

    To me the honey is the stroke of genius, I haven't really heard anybody mention it, but when I wear Giorgio now, I have this distinct feeling of wearing something that is, if not partly at least seriously hinting towards... gourmand! That exquisite sweetness seriously veers into edible territory. Sure, Giorgio is not a gourmand but imo shares some of it's dna.
    I don't care what trends dictate, I find Giorgio to be a timeless beauty.


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