Giorgio Beverly Hills was a boutique on Rodeo Drive - in fact, it was the boutique on Rodeo Drive. The rich and famous either shopped there or drank there while someone else shopped. Other prestigious stores moved in after, evolving Rodeo Drive into the extra-luxe California glamor destination it is today. The GBH store itself is dead, though. Its perfume wing became Fred Hayman Giorgio Beverly Hills under Avon, and was later sold to Proctor & Gamble. The flagship scent, Giorgio, cost $150 in 1981 when it was released. That's $477 in 2022 money. You can now buy it at your favorite discounter for about $15, which is $15 in 2022 money. Now that's what I call brand dilution!
But this review is not about Giorgio, which I don't have any of right now. It's about Red, which I have two bottles of: a large spray and a mini splash of the EDT which were packaged together in a gift set. I did buy the set at my favorite discounter for about $15, though.
Red came out in 1989 and it smells like it. It's very loud and it's trying to pull off three genres at once. Principally, Red is an incense amber, but with a hyacinth opening and a cherry-forward fruit cocktail throughout. Until it's dried down a lot, it's also a big fucking mess. The incense smells like a tire fire, the flowers could be used to join furniture, and the cherry is... pretty good, actually, but it comes across as an attempt to cover up the tire fire and glue. It's like when you paint over graffiti and can still see the word FUCK through the paint, and the paint doesn't even match the wall.
When does Red get good? That depends, and I don't know what it depends on. Sometimes it's enjoyable in as little as fifteen minutes. Other times, I'm waiting through the intro with clenched teeth for an hour and a half. But whenever it happens, it's pretty neat. The cherry integrates properly and the incense smells less crispy-burnt and more smoothly burnt. It's still kind of a mess, but it's a deliberate one. Like Ambrelia, Red tells an entertaining story about a walking disaster who chain smokes and picks fights. Unlike Ambrelia, the entertaining story is being told to you by the walking disaster, and part of the story is about how they picked a fight with you.
Red is not inexpensive, it's cheap. Red-at-its-best might be a 'cheap thrill', as long as you remember that drive-by shootings are pretty thrilling. Remember that brand dilution I mentioned? I'm pretty sure Red wasn't always like this. I'd like to try a vintage bottle sometime, one from closer to when Giorgio Beverly Hills fragrances were still given counter space at nice department stores. But that's a project for another time, and I'll probably look into the original Giorgio first.