Slumming in Beverly Hills…… That is what we used to call it in my 1984 when I would take a friends from San Francisco down to see my old stomping grounds in and around Los Angeles. When I came of age in Southern California I knew just how lucky I was to be born there, right smack in the center of the universe. It had the four Ms, Music, Movies, Mountains, and Men at the beach that all looked like Jack LaLanne but only better. So going back I loved to show of the hidden treasures of Los Angeles to my friends from up North.
One of the stops was my special tour of Beverly Hills.
(Rodeo Drive in the 1980’s)
“On the left on Bedford Drive is the notorious Lana Turner house, up Schuyler Road is the pink house Elizabeth Taylor ran from screaming into the street when Mike Todd was killed in that plane crash in 58. OH and up ahead on the right side of Rodeo Drive, see the white and yellow awnings? THAT is Giorgio of Beverly Hills.”
(Giorgio! What is going on?)
It all seemed wonderfully tacky and camp to my friends and I, this store founded by Fred Hayman that changed retail forever. Giorgio’s is where we saw Annette Funicello shopping with her mother. Out front I was nearly run over in the crosswalk by a very old Ray Milland driving his own Rolls Royce. He looked pinched and mean and incredibly small behind the wheel. My friend Allie stopped dead in the crosswalk upon seeing his first live movie star. I gabbed Allie’s arm, fashed a dazzling smile and waved to Ray then hustled a star struck Allie to the corner. “Don’t be a rube!” I admonished him as if I were Lucy and he was Ethel and we had just walked into Don Lopper’s salon. “It’s just Ray Milland. Save the slack jaw for someone big like…Farah Fawcett-Majors. Hey is that Burt Reynolds going into Bijan?”
Back in side Giorgio they had shelves heaped with Giorgio perfume in yellow boxes that looked like the awnings on the outside of the boutique. Other shelves groaned under the weight of Giorgio for Men. Oh and they sold clothes too. They served cappuccinos from behind a white bar and everyone in the store milled around drinking coffee just window shopping and hobknobing. Or so it seemed. You never saw anyone fash cash.
(Richard Gere on Rodeo Drive, NOT shopping at Giorgio in “American Gigolo 1980)
When I came across Red for Men by Giorgio of Beverly Hills the other day I thought the bottle was beautiful but oh lord. Who would be caught dead wearing something so campy and probably overtly and down right tacky today? Back in the 80’s sure! Big shoulders, Bigger Hair and BIG SMELLS!! But then I began to read what other reviewers were saying. I narrowed my eyes to slits of doubt and read on. Then I checked out how much a blind buy would put me back. Next to nothing as it turned out. Oh well what the hell it might be fun.
Red is a really wonderful surprise. Not loud, not pushy, not stinky. But rather a really lovely leather class fragrance that arrested my senses and delighted me and all who came close enough to get a whiff! It wasn’t “Dynasty”, or “Hotel” or “Knott’s Landing” in a bottle. It was rather elegant and refined.
It opens with artemisia, basil, bergamot and caraway that some how convey the smell of redwood bark in a wet temperate Northern California rainforest. It is so far away from Beverly Hills that you might as well be on another planet. The heart of the fragrance is carnation, jasmine, geranium, juniper berries, rose and thyme and this combination is soft and embracing but is soon met with the rising notes of the dry down. A smooth polished leather like polo boots warming in the sun at the old Will Rogers polo fields where Sunset Drive meets the sea. The cedar, patchouli Oakmoss and Amber warm the leather even further an mix in the feeling of late afternoon in the wooded hills around the old polo grounds. That wonderful smell you get on hot afternoons in southern California when the heat carries the smell of the semi-tropical plants what grow there.
(Polo field at Will Rogers State Park)
It wears so well and projects just right. The silage is noticeable and garners some comments, always on the positive side. So I leaned a lesion from my trip to Giorgio. Even when you go slumming in Beverly Hills don’t be a snob, take a chance once in a while and try something you never dreamed you would like. You might find that Beverly Hills in a certain light looks a little like Paris!
FOUR GOLD STARS ****