The Life Of π


13th March, 2015

March 14th is International Pi Day! So, a perfect opportunity to a look at the history of one of Givenchy’s most popular men’s fragrances in recent history: Pi.

Pi, or if we want to be accurate ‘π’, was launched on October 6th 1998 in Europe. It made it to the USA in 1999.

Dubbed by Givenchy execs as “The thinking man’s fragrance”, what made this fragrance unusual  (apart from its use of a symbol as a name) was that as well as the Eau de Toilette – which was the standard strength of (mainstream) men’s fragrances at the time, and arguably still is – π was also available as an Eau de Parfum.

It was not the first men’s Eau de Parfum. YSL has also launched its men’s Opium in EDP strength, and Boucheron would also launch Jaipur pour Homme as Eau de Parfum in the same year.

Juliette Rapinat-Freudiger, director of marketing for Parfums Givenchy, told WWD at the time “[The Eau de Parfum is] a higher concentration, but also a bit different. “It’s more woody, more vetiver and very sensual. We strongly believe it could be loved by women as well as men.”

The juice was created by Alberto Morillas at Firmenich - notes included Mandarin, Rosemary, Galbanum, Pine in the top; Orange blossom, Basil, Tarragon, Capucine, Guaiacwood and Iron wood in the heart and a dry down of Benzoin and vanilla. The fragrance also contained something Givenchy was calling Infinium. We can find out nothing about this apart from a Givenchy claim that “Infinium, an original essential oil that runs throughout the fragrance, emphasizes π’s cutting edge image and adds a harmonious balance and freshness to the fragrance”

The distinct, three-sided, glass bottle was designed by Givenchy alongside renowned bottle designer, Serge Mansau. Givenchy had previously collaborated with Mansau for Amarige, and Organza, which was launched a few years earlier.

To infinity and beyond

The fragrance was launched with a promotional campaign, shot by fashion photographer, Michelangelo Di Battista and features model, Gelati, as an astronaut – “the ultimate hero.” – according to Rapinat-Freudiger.

The space-theme continued with a product line-up extension the next year. Inspired by the food industry, and developed for Givenchy by packaging company, Soplaril, the company launched a “Space Age” Body and Hair Shampoo* to its range.

The product was a freeze-dried powder, which could be mixed with warm water to create a body wash gel, scented with π. It was housed in an aluminium sachet.

The fragrance was a big success making it to the top ten in men’s fragrances in several markets. How better to celebrate, than to launch a flanker…

Pi Fraîche

π Fraîche was launched in 2001. By this point, Basenotes existed so we can find out what the Forums (as they existed at the time) thought of it. The earliest post I could find on Fraiche was one of my own in June 2001, where I stated:

Hi shipmates,

managed to get hold of a sample of Pi Fraiche today. I think I prefer this to the original version. It’s a bit fresher, but has the same underlying scent. Lasts ages too!

My poor ability to review fragrances hasn’t improved much since then. Luckily other members were able to...

Basenotes member Scentimus proclaimed :

I’m in love with this blue juice! Fresher and much sweeter than it big brother.

Summer comes to mind on a day with a cool breeze the fresh scent of wild grass flowers in the air. Trying consume a vanilla ice cream cone melting slowly in the heat of the warm sun in a ice blue sky, as you wipe your mouth with a napkin you can smell the scent of vanilla when the napkin touches your nose.

This is the vision that come to mind with this scent to me. A good-thing.

The fragrance, again created by Morillas, was described by Givenchy as “intentionally not as citrusy and light as π and more intense”. Like the original, notes included basil, tarragon, pine, ironwood and benzoin, but with additions of tangerine and jasmine.

Designed to be a summer fragrance, the scent was housed in the same Mansau bottle, but with time with an aqua-coloured juice.

The fragrance is now discontinued, but you can still pick it up on eBay at not too ridiculous prices.

 

You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland

Ten years on from the launch of π, Givenchy introduced π Neo. Alain Lorenzo, president of Parfums Givenchy, told WWD “The initial story of Pi was about a pioneer who happened to be an astronaut. We thought this story is still very current, except that today the unknown world is not space, but the virtual world.”

The scent, this time created by perfumer Antoine Lie, contained notes of bergamot, mandarin, myrtle, cedar wood and patchouli - and also space-age sounding notes of Toscanol - a metallic anise note, Safralene – a spicy, leathery tobacco note; and Cosmone – a musky-ambergis type note.

The fragrance has been joined by a flankers – π Neo Tropical Paradise (2011) – and several versions in different packaging.


Leather Edition

Leather

In 2012, Givenchy launched a limited edition set of fragrances under the banner of “Les Parfums Couture”.

Exquisite variations of five iconic House fragrances, all reinterpreted by their creator, the “Les Parfums Couture” collection embodies the quintessence of Givenchy luxury. Exclusive for one season, their compositions are inspired by textural effects and “textile” sensations

Pi was available as a new Leather Edition version in 60ml Eau de Parfum.

 

Pi for the collector

For those of you that like their fragrance in a different bottle to normal, Givenchy has launched the original π in a variety of different packaging over the years.

 

π Metallic Collector (2004)

Housed in “a flask combining a magnetic alliance of glass and copper-hued metal”

 

π Original Code (2005)

This time, the packaging “featured an engraved bronze veneer”

 

π Leather Jacket (2006)

Features the original bottle in an attractive leather jacket. Perhaps like The Fonz.

And lastly, bringing the story right up to date:

π Oversize

Givenchy has just launched ‘Oversized’ 150ml versions of its more popular fragrances. As well as π, you can also pick up Oversize versions of Xeryus Rouge and Play Intense.

 

  • Share this

About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.

Website: http://www.grantosborne.com

Categories

    Advertisement — comments are below

    Comments

      • Wandering | 14th March 2015 01:24

        I really enjoy Givenchy Pi and will wear it on Pi Day to celebrate it. I think it's a fun scent with good lngevity!

      • Wandering | 14th March 2015 01:24

        I really enjoy Givenchy Pi and will wear it on Pi Day to celebrate it. I think it's a fun scent with good lngevity!

      • Wandering | 14th March 2015 01:24

        I really enjoy Givenchy Pi and will wear it on Pi Day to celebrate it. I think it's a fun scent with good lngevity!

      • scentimus | 14th March 2015 20:25

        To this day Pi Fraiche is the best just don't know why it was discontinued :0(

      • scentimus | 14th March 2015 20:25

        To this day Pi Fraiche is the best just don't know why it was discontinued :0(

      • scentimus | 14th March 2015 20:25

        To this day Pi Fraiche is the best just don't know why it was discontinued :0(

      • andym72 | 16th March 2015 14:18

        I tried Pi Fraiche just as I was getting into this hobby, and really liked it. However, once I realised I wasn't just going to buy four or five bottles and that would be it, I started hunting down everything I'd tested and liked, and by then Pi Fraiche was gone.

        And now I can't remember what it smells like, so I'm loathed to buy something that looks like it off eBay (which is counterfeiters paradise AFAIAC)

      • andym72 | 16th March 2015 14:18

        I tried Pi Fraiche just as I was getting into this hobby, and really liked it. However, once I realised I wasn't just going to buy four or five bottles and that would be it, I started hunting down everything I'd tested and liked, and by then Pi Fraiche was gone.

        And now I can't remember what it smells like, so I'm loathed to buy something that looks like it off eBay (which is counterfeiters paradise AFAIAC)

      • andym72 | 16th March 2015 14:18

        I tried Pi Fraiche just as I was getting into this hobby, and really liked it. However, once I realised I wasn't just going to buy four or five bottles and that would be it, I started hunting down everything I'd tested and liked, and by then Pi Fraiche was gone.

        And now I can't remember what it smells like, so I'm loathed to buy something that looks like it off eBay (which is counterfeiters paradise AFAIAC)