Lately, probably due to acquiring Banana Republic's Grassland (I needed a lot of grassy land for growing my bananas), I've been thinking a lot about Green Valley by Creed. I'm going to make a bold statement here: I think GV is my favorite Creed.
I have only ever owned two bottles, back in 2010 and 2011. I bought one directly from Creed. They had briefly "un-vaulted" GV, and I was lucky enough to score a still-fresh four-ouncer. I'm convinced the company refrigerated GV in storage, because I've seen several people say their bottles changed for the worse with age, with a couple even mentioning full blown spoilage. I bought my other bottle at a mall kiosk, and man, oh man, was it spoiled.
Rumors abound as to why Creed discontinued this one. Some people figure that it wasn't really the right fragrance at the right time. The late nineties were moving away from "green-earthy" and veering toward "fruity-transparent." Others have suggested that it was a mash-up of other Creeds, and was superfluous in a range that already offered Green Irish Tweed, Sélection Verte, Silver Mountain Water, and Royal Water (GV containing elements of all of them). The implication is that Olivier axed it for being the one extra "green" perfume that was leeching sales off of the older and more established products.
Others postulate that Creed deleted Green Valley because its formula wasn't reliably stable in "mass-produced" batches. I put that in quotation marks because Creed wasn't really mass-producing their frags in the late nineties. But to put it up as a Millésime meant the general public was buying it, which also meant the company would have to keep churning it out. I recall one basenotes member, someone who seemed qualified to make the statement, saying that a Creed insider admitted that Green Valley could not survive IFRA restrictions. But built into that tidbit was an admission that (a) Creed couldn't reformulate, and (b) surviving bottles wouldn't keep long enough for reference.
I find the IFRA restrictions of the 2000s to be the most convincing reason for the discontinuation, along with the slightly more embarrassing (but less compelling) spoilage aspect. Digging into memory, I recall someone discussing that the use of oakmoss in the formula was offset by something else, something more volatile that didn't keep as well as it should have, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly what these materials supposedly were, or where that discussion ended up. It's possible Green Valley had a stability issue, but it's also possible that Creed could have reformulated it, and just chose not to, for reasons that will forever remain unknown.
I think it was the wrong choice. Green Valley was a great fragrance, because it did something nothing else has ever done: it smelled like a living place. When people discuss perfume, they speak of notes and accords, and how they begin and end. The assumption is that a perfume is something that moves through resolute stages, each being relatively static, until it fades away. This places perfume on a different hemisphere from daily life and the smells of the world around us. We carry a perfume with us, whereas the smells of nature are moving essences through which we pass. These two streams of motion create a sense of awareness that is reliant on a fluid interpretation of olfactory stimuli. When walking through a meadow at eight in the morning, we smell the dewey grasses, and when a breeze blows through the green blades, it lifts the wildflower essences, only for as long as its momentum allows. That breeze, along with our stride, creates a brief sense of an increase in these smells, which then diminishes a bit with the deadening air.
Green Valley captured more than just the smell of green grass and wildflowers - it also captured the breeze rippling through. I recall over-spraying it one day. I really doused myself in it. Then I sat on my front stoop and focused on what I was smelling. I closed my eyes. The air around me was still. Yet it wasn't: it was in motion, as if a crisp wind had whipped through a field. Wave after wave of this luscious bitter green beauty wafted through my senses, lending little snatches of notes that separated like the wings of butterflies before collapsing again into congruent accords. A touch of basil here. A hint of ginger there. And over there, some blackcurrant and honeysuckle. This hallucinogenic experience stayed with me, and I think I wore the entire bottle in two months. I just couldn't get enough of it. I wanted an endless supply.
And then Creed "vaulted" it again, only letting it out once or twice after that. Oddly, it never appeared on any of the discount sites. I had purchased it at the start of a very demanding and ultimately unsuccessful relationship, and was distracted by that (I wore Chevrefeuille through the rest of 2011). It didn't occur to me to pull my head out of my ass and invest in another bottle, and by the time it did, it was too late. But I can only blame myself so much for that. Creed should shoulder most of the blame here. After all, if the IFRA regs were the reason for killing Green Valley, then that means the other supposed reasons for its extinction were bunk. Was it the wrong frag at the wrong time? No, not at all. Original Vetiver, the only other Creed to give me a full-blown hallucinogenic "green" experience, was released several years later, and was just as earthy and "nineties" in style. I think 1999 was the perfect time to issue GV.
I also never bought the whole "Creed mash-up" reason. People compared GV to GIT. GV doesn't smell anything like GIT. In fact, if I were to blind smell them for the first time, I might guess they were made by two completely different brands! There may be some credence to the suggestion that there are elements of GIT and SMW thrown into GV. There's certainly a degree of shared grassiness, and also that same blackcurrant note. But the only fragrance I could kinda-sorta see a comparison to is Dior's Fahrenheit. If someone took Fahrenheit and just improved it, made it smell like the softest, freshest meadow on the planet, and got rid of the petrol effect, I guess you'd have Green Valley.
But the reason BlackRock should resurrect this lost Creed has nothing to do with where it falls on the cloning spectrum. They should bring it back because it's a direct representation of verdant nature. It isn't a refined composition. The overwhelming bitter greenness of its opening salvo lasts a while, and is followed by lashings of twinkling ginger, bergamot, blackcurrant, vetiver, and ambergris. It all smells very much like the greenest, soapiest iteration of Creed's Millésime base, without any premeditated dawdling on a central accord, i.e., the heavy-handed pineapple of Aventus, or the eucalyptus and rose of Windsor. Green Valley smells flawless, yet effortless, like the perfumer just threw together a bunch of herbal and fruity and floral notes, tossed in doses of ginger and vanilla, and brushed them with a dry-hay accent to keep things from getting too juvenile or sweet.
It's the sort of fragrance that works in a t-shirt or a tux. It embodies the classical twentieth century male, all talc and crisp aftershave, and yet it also feels timelessly modern and unisex. Where GIT sometimes feels a bit too stodgy, Green Valley is always relaxed. Where Silver Mountain Water can get a bit cerebral and strange, GV is instinctive and familiar. It's something that could revive an interest in nineties fashion, all while reinvigorating the market for green fragrances. At this point, could it really steal the thunder of other Creeds? Well, maybe. When you withdraw something from the market for fifteen years and then throw it back in, one might expect a bit of unbalanced enthusiasm from deprived customers. But Green Valley was a beautiful perfume, a true work of art, if perfumery ever was an art form. Bring it back!