Blinking in the hungover sunshine in Shinjuku on Sunday afternoon, we passed, on our way to the dehydrated station, the head Gucci boutique
and I espied these in the window. An entire new Gucci haute couture perfume collection that had come out that morning in Tokyo (we always get things late, here, most annoyingly – films often take a whole YEAR after general release elsewhere to reach these hallowed shores…..)
A need for nourishment notwithstanding,
I asked if he wouldn’t mind just having a quick sniff, as I thought this collection looked quite intriguing, up my street design-wise ( we are strictly non-minimalist, lavishly goth baroque botanical den decorators; don’t get me started on Marie Kondo ), and I had actually been wondering when Gucci were going to start riding the les exclusifs type bandwagon – it’s almost as if they are the very last to do so, out of everyone – and yes I do realise that I am very late in even hearing about these new perfumes, but for a while, I have to admit that I went for about six months not even smelling a single new scent after the cyclone that was the book, I just couldn’t even enter a shop, pick up a bottle, nor spray it onto a card, as previously that had meant panic and mental ordering in the taxonomic framework – for a while I just switched off completely from it all – presumably, quite understandably.
I have been fascinated for a while now by the Midas touch of the current, world dominating designer of Gucci – Alessandro Michele, who has transformed what was once a slightly out of touch 90’s aesthetic into the world fashion brand for fashion victims – sorry, fashion fans
and like many other people who read this blog, I have been doused in perfume and deeply interested in all its variations for several decades – those that are in a similar position will also remember the house of Gucci in all its different manifestations.
For me, there was always something slightly listless and conservative; dowdy, even, about Gucci in the eighties – at least in terms of the visual presentation. The double G and the brown and beige pattern with the blue, red and green, was, to my personal taste, really quite ugly, and it always just reminded me of rich Italian people with nothing better to do than dress like their parents without a hint of originality or imagination.
The perfumes weren’t too bad though; I posted fairly recently on Gucci Nobile, which is a fine, herbal masculine; I also loved the Eau de Gucci Concentree, which smelled of green lilies (I have a bottle somewhere but just failed to find it). Someone also gave me, a year or two ago, an extrait of the original Gucci No 1, which is really quite beautiful, from 1974, by Guy Robert, that reminded me of a peachier, more poetry induced L’Air Du Temps meets Anais Anais (or something).
The 90’s, of course, brought Tom Ford and his Hong Kong hotel transformations; sleek and moneyed and sexy, along with perfumes like Envy and Envy for Men (both brilliant -we wear both in tandem); Gucci Rush, which my brother was rocking fantastically last time I saw him, and then later, at the turn of the millennium, the much feted (by perfumistas) Eau De Parfum, which was a gorgeously rich, orange blossom violet iris that lulled you into a terrifically easeful stupor, even though it lacked a certain perspicacity (this was never the most intelligent of perfumes – it was more like a valium)…
Sans Ford, things went into a kind of vacuum for a while, with perfumes that nobody remembers as different designers were at the helm and sales were not like they are now; until the move last year to a brand new store and location opposite Shinjuku station……………. I would pass the cramped old Gucci store and have a quick glimpse but never go in – not that I could ever afford anything in any case – but since the Michele phenomenon, where he has simply
(cleverly?) and intuitively taken any reference from cinema, music, folklore, art, history, textbooks, and dumped it all simultaneously on the catwalk
often to quite exciting, brilliant, and bizarre effect
(how many men can carry this off, though? I know I can’t)
Gucci has entered an entire new stage in its aesthetic.
While the Guilty range, which according to Fragrantica, has about twenty flankers and continues to do very well (and I know people who do like this) the look of the bottle is somewhere from the older Gucci days of standard hotel rooms and ironing board city apartments; though Flora bored me to death (I was given a bottle in hospital, which I passed on to a friend’s daughter who liked it, but even on her young skin, to which that scent was ideally suited, it was dull as dish water), it did usher in this new idealised homage to 70’s Italian cinema and the countryside with Bloom, a fresh, tender tuberose I quite like, the images from flower books and maidens in Abruzzo;………. it was only natural, then, that The Alchemist’s Garden should follow on from this inspiration, as though you were returning to your grandmama in the hills outside of Milan, and all of these just happened to be in her spacious as, marble gilt sala di bagno:
( I won’t say no……I will stay in there for hours.…..)
I think they have done quite a good job. Although, in my humble opinion, anyone who buys an entire look, be it clothes or home decor, from one designer, is a fool, as it has a cancelling and deadening effect on the senses and shows that you have very little sense of self, but are happy to walk along mindlessly as a billboard just giving free advertising space to a behemoth, there is no doubt that were I to be given a credit card with no limits and allowed to buy whatever I wanted in the Gucci store in Shinjuku, there would be quite a few bags I would be taking home with me like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman chastising the mean and belittling sales cows on Beverly Hills boulevard ; I have coveted snake hoodies for me or for duncan before in the windows of Hankyu in Ginza; I love anything tiger; tropical birds; I love Pasolini movies, and I would happily buy and own quite a few of the perfumes in this collection along with the beautifully designed candles (I am actually considering going and wasting some money on a bee-encrusted porcelain incense holder, just for the hell of it (no actually, it would look perfect in our house…it’s just, do you really want to plonk down the cash on the glass table for such overpriced items of luxury when you know that you can’t really afford to….?)
……This was an issue as we entered the cool and rarified confines of the shop. We were weighed down with nimotsu; bags and our suitcases rifled with costumes and artefacts from the performances we had done at various venues across Tokyo; we looked ragged and ravaged and un-Gucci; and yet the staff had obviously been prepared very well and knew how to take care of the customers without being too snooty, or at least just attaining the right level of snoot not to deter, but not, necessarily, to encourage; rich Chinese were there scooping up the merchandise without turning a hair; our suitcase was whisked off, and as I stood next to the shelf with the Alchemist’s Garden – ooh, let me try the violet (very nice; sweet, dense, classical, with a Louve-like undertone, I could definitely have used it), I realised that I wanted to smell them all, which is not what you do when you are in Japan; you smell one, if they will let you, and puzzle over it, before, being guided by your master or mistress of behooven politesse, going on to the next: naturally there are no samples, so you have to do all of your business under the hawkful eye of the be-Gucci’ed assistants and their immaculate hair and makeup, although ours was an American returnee who had a delicate air of refinement about her, and was pleased to guide us through the maze of sheening alchemy; I told her that I was in Japan Vogue, we had just gone to buy it at Kinokuniya bookstore, an amusing and probably never to be repeated experience), but it was a shame that, as I rummaged around in my white pancake stained rucksack for said magazine, I retrieved it with some wet boxer shorts stuck to the cover, everything shoved in at the last minute as we tried to clean up the ‘rock-star’ like carnage of our hotel room ( “ this is probably the worst ever”, said Duncan as he surveyed the room at 5:30am before we crashed); Madame Gucci, looking down at this slovenly mess may have cocked an eye or she may have not, but in any case, would you like some tea, she said, and sat us down as the assistants sprayed the majority of the collection onto gild edged little cards placed in envelopes, which, in our scum-luggage, somehow all got bled together, and rendered me unable to be sure if what I was smelling was what actually the perfume in its undoctored entirety.
(you’d better get it right, proclaim the rubberised, self-head-wielding Gucci models)
Okay then, I will try – – – – – as I did wear a couple on skin and was still compos mentis enough to just about take in the collection, which surveying each one pleasedly, I thought had a certain delicacy to it (Winter’s Spring, which reminded me a little of Kenzo Summer with its aerated of mimosa, was the clue that these perfumes were composed by Alberto Morillas, whose work I usually enjoy). Like all instant libraries by one house, they are attempting to satisfy everyone at once with a full range of note-oriented fragrances, be it lavender, rose, oudh, iris, but though far too expensive – The Virgin Violet, after tax, would have set me back about 40,000 yen, or four hundred dollars, and that isn’t even the most expensive set of smells – I thought that these, with their overall consummation of packaging and scent, were quite good. The Voice Of The Snake was a leathery oud saffron patchouli that imbued itself into all of the other scent cards; the balance was just right though I thought;
A Song For The Rose has got Tokyo written all over it; a rose in the style of Le Labos’ Baie Rose – peppery, woody and an upper layer of not too sweet clear fashionable roses (and there is something, don’t you think, about that blue and gold embossed box?), this one will undoubtedly be the store’s biggest hit, easy to wear for either sex with money to burn.
The Eyes Of The Tiger has nothing to do with Sylvester Stallone
but is a pleasing amber, labdanum and vanilla perfume, soft and wearable, that I wouldn’t mind trying agin on the skin
I also really liked the
Moonlight Serenade, which is a lavender, sage and tonka bean toilet water
which would be very pleasant to dab on before midnight in your
Gucci silk snake pyjamas ( I will leave those hideous rainbow platforms though)
but I am getting tired, now, and can’t remember much more about the collection in detail (sorry for the vagueness; perhaps we can all fill each other in a bit more on what the other perfumes in the range are actually like; I know I was cheerful enough with the overall impression to go and have another look):: : : :let’s Gucci!
In the meantime, I think my tiger’s eyes might be focused more intently on this bee from the Herbarium collection
though D, it has to be said, was more generated towards the slightly grotesque, and cumbersome,
17 responses to “THE ALCHEMIST’S GARDEN by GUCCI (2019)”
Love the picture in my mind’s eye of you and Duncan entering the Gucci sanctum in all your disheveled and olfactorily erudite glory. And unearthing that Vogue . . . !
I’m a little surprised you didn’t mention Gucci No 3. My vintage Parfum — an ugly, clumsy bottle dressed in that dreary colour scheme — is my favourite of the historic lot, edging out No 1 by virtue of its dense, symphonic aldehydic chypre chops. The level of narcissus in it is nearly toxic. In a good way.
I’d given up on Gucci after Rush. Your post makes me think I should try them again.
I have never smelled 3!
Should I have unveiled my shameful underpants story in here? I don’t know. It just made us both laugh as it is somehow so very typical
I love how very human you are, despite your mega success. It’s a perfect story, actually.
‘Mega success?’ (!)
If Vogue isn’t mega I’d like to know what is.
Love this answer.
Please share your underpants story !!!!! X
I have : it’s already in this story !
Sorry… I did read that bit, but I thought you had another underpants story to tell us XX
Great pics of the perfumes, I love those pretty apothecary bottles. The « fashion » on the other hand is ghastly. Love the underwear + Vogue moment! That’s so you. 🙂
Obviously I just stole the pictures from the internet of the bottles : they are clearly too ‘perfect ‘!
Yes, of course – what I meant was the bottles are perfectly lovely, compared to the ghastly clothing!
I love Gucci No. 1. I feel like one of those perfectly put together flight attendants rolling a perfectly packed suitcase through Charles de Gaulle airport when I wear it.
Damn right they better serve you tea while you sample the wares. I hope you get to NYC soon to get the royal treatment. I’d love to get your take on perfume sampling and buying there. I love when women of a certain age are the clerks at, say, the Van Cleef and Arpels counter at Bergdorf Goodman’s. Get ready for Chatty Kathy, but in the best of ways. Oh, you do get your snooty clerks, like the queen at the YSL area who attituded me up and down when I requested to smell Vinyl from that fabric as perfume collection. But I kill with kindness. “My God you smell so good. What are you wearing?” Then you leave with a sample and a phone number.
I love the underwear story! I want more details of the night that proceeded it, too. I’m living vicariously these days.
Surely not ?!
Don’t worry: you’re not that late this time. I think they’ve been in the UK only for a few months. I’ve yet to try any of them. I keep passing them in Harrods, but I’m never inclined to stop and sniff. I think I seem to have decided that shops are the very worst places in which to smell perfumes. That’s why I like the Salon on the top floor: genuine peace in a retail space, for once.