A cherished nightmare...
I don't know about you, but for me the most mysterious and enthralling place in the house I grew up, was always my mother's chiffonier. Everything on it looked like it came straight from a fairy tale, or from the far-flung palaces of the Far East. Especially the small collection of her perfumes. I was totally convinced there was a genie living in one of the bottles, waiting to grant my wish and make me a grown-up in no time. All I had to do was finding out in which one it dwelled. So one of my most daredevil antics was to secretly infiltrate my parents' bedroom and dab myself with whatever was lying within my reach. My "commando" tacticts were of course immediately exposed upon exiting the room, cause the monsters my mother was keeping in there were traitorous enough to give me away every single time.
My mother was always giving me funny looks after each accomplished mission, but I fancied they were about my glasses being dirty or my hair being uncombed.
Until one accursed Saturday evening, a huge 240ml splash bottle of Givenchy III decided it had enough of abuse, and tried to kill itself by falling from my hands. It failed. I dont know if you've ever handled such a bottle, but rest assured its glass is thick enough to stop a bullet. My mother came flying upon hearing the thud and found me aghast, with the golden stopper still in my hand, watching half of the golden soul of Givenchy III escaping its body and speading on the floor. The other half was already spilled on my clothes. Although I was sure a legendary chiding was seconds away from being yelled at poor me, she didn't say a word. What she did however, was leaving me with the perfume reeking clothes on for the rest of the weekend. Till Sunday night I was 1000% sure that I would prefer having my 8 years old butt kicked and be spared the olfactory torture. It felt like I was tied for ages with mossy ropes to an oak, while green devils wearing gardenia leis were frenziedly dancing all around me, poking me with pointy sandalwood sticks and throwing orris roots (with all the dirt still attached) on my face. I was seriously pondering over begging my mother for a beating in exchange of a bath. But not being stoical enough, I just asked for the bath. She replied "Why? I love the way you smell!".
Amnesty was finally granted at late Sunday night. I felt like a sinner been cleansed from all his wrongdoing. After she scrubbed me redder than a beetroot, my mother left me standing ecstatic in the bathtub and went to bring a towel. When she came back and approached me I threw my hands happily around her neck in order to kiss her and show her my gratitude. Imagine my horror upon realising that she was the one reeking with Givenchy III now...
Many years later I found a very old 60ml splash bottle of Givenchy III in a tiny backstreet shop. I guess the nice lady behind the desk is still wondering what my huge smile while buying it was all about...
Born at the very beginning of the 1970s, Givenchy III epitomizes that era, a time when chic, green fragrances were king. Norell, Coriandre, Private Collection, Halston--and Givenchy III--were leaders along with the many wonderful green men's scents from that time. A friend of mine was an exchange student in the 70s in Tunisia and while there, she got very sick with an extremely high fever. The women in her host family all nursed her back to health and at one point her fever was so high that she passed out--when she came to, they were bathing her forehead and arms in cooling Givenchy III, the way one might use rubbing alcohol. She said that her first thought was that if she had died and gone to heaven, it sure smelled wonderful! They went through a whole bottle of cologne nursing her back to health and it is still a favorite of hers. The peach and the moss in this evoke classic Chypres like Mitsouko and Femme, but the brisk green notes of galbanum put this squarely in the 70s where it proudly stands alongside the masterpieces listed above. Masculine? Perhaps. I think of it as being so representative of the feminine ideal of that certain time that it is hard to rethink it in today's terms. That said, it probably would work well on a man.
Along with Beene's Grey Flannel, I find Givenchy III one of the two best green scents for men ever created. I know this one was created for and marketed to women, but it is so unisex and so superbly, confidently, quietly masculine, that I can't imagine a woman even liking it, let alone wearing it.
A green floral chypre that is round, deep and complex. Intriguing suave, assured, sophisticated.
Green citrus and fruity florals blend harmoniously and lay over a woody, powdery, slightly spicy base. The slightly mentholated dry down is light and pleasant.
Top notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Galbanum, Peach, Gardenia
Heart notes: Muguet, Hyacinth, Rose, Jasmine, Orris
Base notes: Patchouli, Oakmoss, Amber, Sandalwood
Turin gave it 5 stars and dubbed it a "great masculine." I agree.
*** This review is of the original vintage ***
Greener than the earlier reviewed Jolie Madame, Givenchy III opens with bergamot and galbanum. The central floral accord gets more noticeable with time but its sweet floralcy and intensity is held firmly in check by the deeply earthy-mossy base. The balance is immaculate, the structure holding its form remarkably well. I must agree with earlier suggestions that this is one helluva chypre that could be easily worn by either gender.
After an intensely aromatic opening the newly revived Givenchy III drifts into an unusually dry, herbaceous, yet indolic white flower accord supported by a firm woody-mossy base. The enduring aromatic notes color the bold chypre structure a dusty green that’s not too far removed from the great Mitsouko – that is if you could imagine Guerlain’s classic without a trace of its trademark peach. In fact, I’d happily recommend Givenchy III for men who love chypre scents but are afraid that Mitsouko will leave them smelling somehow “feminine.” (Not a problem for me, but I know it is for some.) Regardless of gender, Givenchy III is a great chypre fragrance, and I welcome its reissue as reassurance that the fragrance industry is not yet irredeemably degenerate. My only complaint is that it's oddly short lived on my skin.
15th June, 2014 (last edited: 14th June, 2014)