RUSH: GUCCI (1999)


Yesterday we looked at gardenias; those gorgeous, perturbing flowers I am somewhat obsessed with (though I don’t know quite why I am writing about them at the moment when their blooming is so far off…outside the snow is still melting from the huge snowfall of Monday….)

While the Chanel Gardenia template is one direction that perfumers can go in; nipping it in the bud and giving it propriety, taming a flower which is something of an animal when all is said and done as it stands there, immobile, feverish and lurid under cold moonlight, other perfumers embrace this disconcerting angle of gardenias and fill their scents with it ( the carnal flower by Santa Maria Novella comes to mind in particular). A certain Madonna/whore dichotomy exists then with this flower: few perfumers take the gardenia out of these traditional moulds and inject it with modern verve.

Whether or not I can convincingly talk of Rush by Gucci as a gardenia I am not sure, but the flower is certainly there in the fore and back ground of this scent, sucked out violently from its clandestine lunar hedgerows and thrust, almost uncomfortably, into the twenty first century sass of the urban mall where teenagers strut, chew gum, and toss back their hair, to the easy, friendly bitchiness of this fragrance’s jeans-and-t-shirt vibe. I am not sure if Rush is still popular, as 1999 is quite a long time ago in modern perfumery terms, though my guess is that it still would be. Although the majority of recent mainstream releases lack a hook, a chorus you can sing along to and remember, certain perfumes do succeed in locking into their DNA a refrain, a simple accord that rings true. Perfumes like Beautiful, which I am fond of, still sell by the bucketload for this very reason……you can remember them.

So once in a while a product arrives in the vastly overcrowded fragrance market that is new yet somehow familiar, striking a nerve like a characterful person you’ve not met before, yet immediately take to: Gucci’s Rush, in its iconoclastic plastic red oblong bottle, was one such perfume. It was the Obsession of the early 2000’s – a legible perfume with a message – a sexy,  unpretentious, direct hit. As soon as Tom Ford was given the scent strip by his perfumer he apparently said yes, immediately, without second thought, not even bothering to sample the other applications for the brief. He knew a money-winner when he smelled one.

The perfume is simple and streamlined with four main features: a fresh, leaf-green note with hints of coriander; a lactonic apricot with the touch of white chocolate; a lingering skin-musk patchouli that lasts all day: and draped over this, with its holographic petals, a sexy modern gardenia (a concept of the flower rather than a botanical reconstruction), with Bulgarian rose and a hint of vanilla.

This accord in Rush is both immediate and effective; odd, with its mix of cream and green, and it certainly doesn’t smell expensive. Yet it is very memorable, and smelling it again recently brought back vivid memories of a trip to Taiwan, where my friend, a Ms Katherine Ng, used to drench herself in the stuff. Fourteen years later it is still very appealing.


Filed under Flowers, Gardenia, Patchouli

18 responses to “RUSH: GUCCI (1999)

  1. I have smelled this on a scent strip many times and just can’t bring myself to try it on my skin. Partly because there is something in the fragrance that I just don’t like. Mostly because I have heard of its insane skin-sticking power and I developed a fear that the one time I do commit to trying it, the sprayer will malfunction and cover me with Gucci Rush!

    I do have to admire it though. Cheap and trashy as it might smell, at least it’s not boring.

  2. brie

    I bought Rush last Christmas after I found out that it was once a staple in Barbara H’s fragrance wardrobe. Actually, I had a hard time finding the back shelves of a local Sephora and had to beg the SA to open a box so I could try it. Did not purchase it immediately but where I sprayed it (on the sleeve of my coat) it remained for two weeks and I would make frequent trips to the closet to sniff that scent (hubby all the while looking at me as though I were insane).
    After I bought the full bottle I wore it to work with no complaints from co-worker. But that damn cheap plastic container malfunctioned and leaked Rush all over my desk (co-worker blew a gasket). I had to remove the outside red plastic housing with a plier (only to reveal a cheap plastic atomizer underneath) in order to spray without leakage. However the damage was already done and it became a ‘verboten’ scent at work. (“I’m eating that perfume!!!” she would scream at me) So what was left I gifted away. However, I really do love the scent (there is something so addictive about it to my nose) so I decanted a small 1ml vial which I sniff from time to time (hubby says I look like a drug addict when I do this in the dark corners of my basement!)

    • ginzaintherain

      I missed this fantastic anecdote, sorry, and like Emma I love the intensity it evokes. Hilarious! A desk full of Rush might well indeed be a bit much, even for the committed fan…

  3. emmawoolf

    wow, what an anecdote, I love the idea of secret trips to a closet/basement to sniff a scent! (I don’t do that, but I do have a quick sniff of several perfume bottles before I decide what I’m going to wear for the day, and some of them are deeply comforting). Can’t go anywhere near that, but Neil, your review has reminded me that I owned this perfume a while back – one of those forgotten scents I never would have purchased for myself but it was a christmas present from one of my sisters-in-law. I confess it remained at the back of my bathroom cabinet for many years, until you saw it during your only visit to my current house in what must have been 2006, I think – you liked it, and I might have given you the half-used bottle (cassette box, whatever you call it) t’s interesting, but just not “me” – (and I don’t like the packaging, give me a Guerlain bottle any time) there’s something about its very nature that is way too overwhelming – I think it’s the hint of white chocolate you mention, combined with coriander, that reminds me somewhat of the combination of wearing Angel with a hangover – not good. But I’m sure it must smell amazing on people who can carry it off. Thanks for yet another olfactory reminiscence! x

    • ginzaintherain

      And thanks for your olfactory comments, which are spot on! It really is like Angel in a way, but disguised…as you say that oddness of coriander and white chocolate..

      ps. I think the Chanel Gardenia would work well on you. Or did we try it and decide otherwise, I can’t remember….

    • brie

      Emma- Unfortunately I am relegated to the basement at times with my perfumes when hubby’s allergies act up…funny but on me Angel is so much more potent than Rush. And I rather like to think that I was one of those people who, in wearing Rush, could “carry it off”!

  4. emmawoolf

    we did indeed! I remember it, and I think we came to that conclusion – I liked it, but funnily enough didn’t adore it. L’Hiris by Hermes on the other hand, which was another “scent of the day” of that Japa visit was gorgeous – are you planning an iris post soon? Please say yes, it includes some of my absolute favourites. (And as for wearing Angel with a hangover, you and Duncan witnessed that too – it must have been 1993 or 4, we went to a party, you persuaded me to wear Angel, (a free sample from Harvey Nicks I believe) we drank mandarin liqueur, danced to Kylie’s confide in me…and I had the worst hangover of my entire life – but that’s another story!) x

    • emmawoolf

      I apologise – have just found your mention of L’Hiris and more – I also quite like Aqua Allegoria Figue/Iris (bit transcient and watery though). Will immerse myself in some more reading soon! (it’s snowing here again, and we are all on yet another impromptu holiday, as everything is shut. Snow is making me think of cool, watery scents! x)

  5. I’m new to your blog so apologies if you’ve covered this before, but have you ever sniffed Casmir by Chopard? It’s an oldie and was recommended to me as a vanilla perfume, but after a strange open what I smell is tuberose and gardenia, a little wood and spice in the far background, quite pleasant actually although no match for the big classic gardenias and tuberoses. I wondered if, with your gardenia interest, you had ever encountered it.

    • ginzaintherain

      I have it upstairs and had always thought of it as a musky vanilla. I need to go and smell it again for the flowers. Thanks for alerting me to it!

    • brie

      Leave it to all of you perfumaniacs to remind me of all these scents from my past! A good friend from graduate school (who was as insane about about perfume as me…we were a terrible couple heading to Saks Fifth Avenue on a semi-weekly basis spending money we did not have!) wore this so often I considered it her signature scent (even though she had 50 bottle of other juice in her fridge including three more bottle of Casmir). It is very rich and vanilla-eque and can be bought for a song now on some of the online discount perfume stores.

      • ginzaintherain

        I was also spending all my university funds on perfume: the amount I spent on Obsession For Men and all the products, talc, fluid body talc, soap and deodorant meant that not only did I set up Calvin Klein for life, you could apparently smell me from the bottom of your flights of stairs. And that was when I was in my room with the door closed. I was a financial disaster, and that is why I can’t allow myself a credit card

    • jennyredhen

      I discovered Casmir through this blog and I love love love it!!! Its so luxurious and extravagant. Someone somewhere on here said they didnt like a plastic smell that it has .. its like you are getting the perfume as well as the gorgeous gold plastic packaging all wrapped up in the fragrance.. .that plastic smell fades away pretty quickly then Casmir is a seamless perfume… a wall of fragrance.without a jarring note A musical equivalent to Julie London Singing Fly me to the moon ….. that classy smooth delivery.. Goodbye Samsara, Mitsouko and Shalimar.. I’vemoved onto Casmir! Plus Casmir is heaps cheaper than those three.

      • This is intensely gratifying to me. I only have my nose and my instincts, but if a description appeals to someone and then it really rocks their boat, it feels like total success. Casmir really is a succulent, opulent, lavish little number, and as you say, these days it comes piss cheap. What more can you ask for! I hope you get compliments on it. If you do, please tell me.

  6. Gucci Rush was my first scrubber. After that I learned my lesson: never put on my skin an unknown perfume if there isn’t water and soap readily available.

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