PARFUM 1 by GUCCI (1975)

I once had the pleasure of attending an event at Les Senteurs in London hosted by Francois Robert, creator of the Roses De Rosines originally reincarnated fragrances and there to promote his latest work for Londoner BEX : a range of perfumes aiming to capturing the essence of various districts of the capital. He was witty, passionate and approachable, and it was great fun talking to him in person (we both share an appreciation of Paco Rabanne’s legendary La Nuit).

I was also somewhat in awe (to put it mildly), to think of this perfumer’s lineage, to imagine that through just a few degrees of separation, I was standing next to the son and the great nephew two of the greatest perfumers of all time – Mr Robert’s father was Guy Robert, creator of Doblis, Calèche, and Equipage for Hermès, as well as Madame Rochas, Dioressence, and Amouage Gold; Francois Robert’s great uncle was of course none other than Henri Robert, the nose behind three adored Chanels: Pour Monsieur, Cristalle, and Nº 19, as well as the cold and diaphanous primaverile beauty that is Coty Muguet Des Bois. Aside from Jacques and Jean Paul Guerlain, in honesty it is difficult for me to imagine two more highly esteemed perfume creators, and I felt almost faint with excitement, standing there (almost) in their presence.

It is interesting, sometimes, to delve, if you get the chance, into the back catalogues of great perfumers and sample the perfumes they have created that are no longer with us; the more obscure and less famed productions from their oeuvres that yet must contain a fingerprint of their basic modus operandi (looking at the perfumes of Henri and Guy Robert, for example, we see that the former had an exquisite predilection for the cold, the elegant, and the green, while the latter, while equally prepossessing and chic, tended towards a slightly fuller and a fondness for rose jasmine and sandalwood).

Henri Robert – an absolute genius of elegance – first made Ramage (‘tree branches’) for Bourjois in 1950 – a green chypre I have not smelled personally (has anyone else on here?), but would love to.

In Guy Robert’s formidable osmography there are also some outliers (not every album you release can be a Greatest Hit): Mérefame by Menard, neither the perfume house nor the name of which I have ever heard of before until just this moment,

– and also on his curriculum vitae, a lesser known perfume by Jean Patou: Lasso from 1950 (which has also never crossed my path – and please do let us know if you know anything this one: Gabrielle I imagine you have them both! ).

Lasso is apparently a musky chypre floral from 1956, long disappeared.

One of Guy Robert’s less famous perfumes that I happen to be familiar with and do know well though is the lovely No. 1, atypical for the house, and in a globe of its own.

As a brand, for me Gucci has a less consistent image than other perfume houses (if you consider Chanel, for example); there is little consistency in terms of packaging, bottles, scent: now it is all Guilty and Flora; a great commercial behemoth; in the late nineties/early 2000s it was all the sleek, plastic Tom Ford Rushes et al, while the 80’s saw the hirsute hypervirile perfumes such as Gucci Nobile when Gucci was still all about those old fashioned Italian clasped bags, before the then still family owned business had regained its worldwide cool.

In terms of the Gucci perfumed ancestry, I have always rather liked Eau Parfumée Concentrée

– an Anaïs Anaïs on steroids from 1982 that I wear blithely on occasions when I feel like an easy eighties breeze reminding me of spoiled French or Italian exchange students in straw boaters and white blouses rowing on rivers in England in the summertime; one of those ‘private perfumes’, just for you, if you know what I mean, that you wear for the heck of it once in a while for the sensation that it gives you (but only at home).

I also like Gucci N⁰ 3 : more my thing, more chypric and taloned,

– more generic mid eighties megalith (but still quite fresh and understated in some ways – great for an evening sat knowingly at the bar in sophisticated expectation of your prey.)

Guy Robert’s N⁰1 for Gucci, on the other hand, is quite different.

A tender beauty; demure yet (somewhat( self assured.

Fresh, floral green and aldehydic, with notable carnation floral tones and the familiar woody musk undertones typical of this classic kind of perfume, to me No 1 smells like the lovechild of Guy Laroche Fidji and Ricci L’Air Du Temps, with some DNA from Paco Rabanne’s celebration-of- a-bubblebath masterpiece, Métal. Delicately peached, leafed and garlanded with florals, this perfume is far too ‘untouchably feminine’ for me to wear on my skin personally. It simply wouldn’t work. And while lovely, N⁰1 doesn’t, I would say, have quite the uniquely recognisable heft of perfumes in Mr Robert’s revered gallery such as Calèche, Doblis, or Madame Rochas. And yet it is its own creature. Nothing else is quite the same. And I sometimes take the small parfum that I own and smell it from the box. I like having it there.

18 Comments

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18 responses to “PARFUM 1 by GUCCI (1975)

  1. Wendy

    Have green perfumes ever been sexy? They are my favorite type of perfume and I find them extremely compelling but somewhat austere. I also don’t believe I have ever smelled a green on a person in real life before. Have they ever been a thing in advertising that promised, say, that if you smell like tree branches that you will for sure capture the man or lady of your dreams?

  2. Amy

    Memories! I had small sample bottles of both the Eau de Gucci and Gucci No 3 – that slightly shiny box and that stopper! I need to get back to my parents’ house and retrieve all my old samples…

  3. Robin

    This was another good read, dear N., and a wonderful way to escape some of the crazy things out there in the world right now. And crazy is an understatement. When I read this last night I was too exhausted from the barrage of scary news to really focus, but this afternoon I had the energy to absorb all these spot-on observations. I’m with you all the way on these — at least the ones I know — and am intrigued by the others. Gorgeous descriptions and really satisfying biography. I wish wish wish I could experience Ramage! If Henri could whip up No 19 for us, I can imagine what he’d do with a “tree branches” dossier.

    • I know !

      And actually, I was going to go on a hysterical rant myself – corona wise things are getting quite hairy in my immediate environment – very stressful – but I wanted a bit of polite escape instead so wrote about the Gucci that was next to my desk.

      • Robin

        Ah, yes, the elephant in the room. I’ve been following developments there and trying not to freak out, thinking about you and Duncan, your nice elderly landlords . . . NO MORE BLIPS FOR YOU UNTIL THIS SETTLES DOWN, YOUNG MAN.

      • Two cases in one of my schools among teachers ( who have been extremely negligent about opening windows).

        Took a corona test yesterday. Waiting for results.

      • I am actually working in extremely dangerous conditions.

      • The situation in the UK is horrific, as you know ; the Trump dread overwhelming …. these are not lighthearted times!

        Still, as death swirls all around us, I insist on the right to wax gently on a lovely old aldehyde :

      • Also : definitely no more eating out : none at all. From March to June last year I prepared meals every day or D did : we are strictly going back to that way of doing things until it gets better. The vaccine should be started here in May…

        How are things up in ol’ Canada ?

      • Robin

        TWO TEACHERS IN ONE OF YOUR SCHOOLS???????? That’s just a little too close to home for my liking (and yours, I’d reckon). Still, even though Japan is in a bit of trouble, it’s still nothing like most of the rest of the world. You should be fine if you do all the right things now, at least until the dust settles again.

        Yes, I’m watching the UK and thinking of your family and friends there. The Trump insanity: I’m drawn to it and repelled at the same time. It is oddly . . . fascinating. It’s also bloody oppressive, even to be neighbours. I can feel the ugliness and insanity from here. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an American right now. Between Trump and their situation with COVID-19, it would just be too much for me. But where do you escape to? I’d feel suicidally claustrophobic. At the same time, there’s all sorts of room for hope, with vaccines, and more Republicans waking up to reality, and a new president waiting in the wings. Nowhere to go but up (unless all hell breaks loose with the inauguration, in every state as intel suggests might be a possibility, and I’m definitely holding my breath on that one). There will, at least, not be the same asleep-at-the-wheel disaster of January 6. I hope.

        I love this: Still, as death swirls all around us, I insist on the right to wax gently on a lovely old aldehyde. I’m glad that you did. I needed something to read exactly that gentle and benign.

        Some parts of Canada are in a bad way. Ontario right now, in and around Toronto, especially, and in Montreal and environs. Roberts Creek is in a little bubble of its own a few thousand miles away, COVID-less and peaceful. I really believe that we all feel so grateful for the way things are here that we embrace our masks and social distancing and hand-washing with extra zest.

        I hope you can go to work and not feel scared.

  4. Wonderfully written piece about a lesser known, yet amazing scent. I own a miniature and a nice bottle of the No 1, it is such a delicate, yet highly moving fragrance. I also own Eau de Gucci and No 3, both of which are fabulous.
    You are correct that I own Lasso by Patou; fully fleshed out leather note in it is stupendous. The Merefame sadly eludes me. The only ones I have ever seen on eBay are sold from Japan, for a small fortune. Maybe one day you will get lucky and find it in one of your shops.
    I read the comments above. Two teachers in your school have caught Covid!! Please be safe, please. You and D, need to take precautions.

  5. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    One of my personal perfume passions was Arte di Gucci. I remember a review in Fragrantica wherein a musical connection was made with Where the wild roses grow by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue: love that ends in death. Up my vampyrie street. Maybe kitch and commercial all of it …
    I loved the way the perfume and the song faded away but still lingered

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