Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò is 17 years old. And as I wore the fragrance for this week’s review, I came to feel 17 is the perfect age for the Acqua di Giò wearer, too, because Acqua di Giò smells “immature” and a bit “simple” (I won’t/can’t say “innocent” because I don’t believe many innocent 17-year-old guys exist anymore!) Though I happily (and confidently) wear all manner of fresh, citrus/floral colognes, Acqua di Giò is so adolescent, so connected to a specific time and perfume “Age,” I don’t feel comfortable wearing it.
Acqua di Giò was released in 1996*; the perfume starts with sharp citrus aromas blending with neroli. The opening has a warm vibe; this is not a cool/cold perfume. Next up is a “water” note: a bit floral, a bit calone-ish. Some old ingredients lists say cyclamen is in Acqua di Giò, and certainly clean/clear cyclamen is more apt a description for what I smell than fleshy and dense “persimmon” (which Armani lists as a note; is this a translation or botanical error?) Acqua di Giò’s base is so well blended no note stands out…there’s just a pleasant accumulation of fresh aromas: vaguely woody, vaguely floral. I would categorize this as a perfect teen cologne — for either sex.
When it’s first applied to skin, Acqua di Giò has strong sillage, but the perfume quiets down quickly (it has reasonable lasting power). Acqua di Giò reminds me of Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme (1994) and any number of calone-rich men’s perfumes of the 1990s (and, yes, the 2000s, too). Acqua di Giò is a department store fragrance Supreme, instantly familiar and genial.
No doubt hoping to capitalize on Acqua di Giò’s amazing commercial success (a, or THE, top seller for men year after year after year), Giorgio Armani released a new version, Acqua di Giò Essenza, in 2012.
When first applied, Acqua di Giò Essenza smells more complex than its predecessor, though no “smarter” (if you know what I mean). Acqua di Giò Essenza goes on smelling a bit like citrus-scented turpentine (which I like); it smells gusty compared to Acqua di Giò. As Acqua di Giò Essenza dries on skin, I detect sage and a sweet floral aroma I’m betting is paradisone (the aroma is very artificial). The marine element is saltier in Acqua di Giò Essenza than in regular Acqua di Giò and when the marine note arrives, it stays put, and I start to look, and sniff, longingly back in Acqua di Giò Senior’s direction. For, sad to say, though more expensive than Acqua di Giò, Acqua di Giò Essenza smells more ordinary after its opening fades (and it fades fast, leaving us with marine notes/ambrox and just a smidgen of smoky cedar and vetiver — you have to put nose to skin to smell them). Acqua di Giò Essenza lasts much longer on skin than Acqua di Giò — all day (I notice it leaves an oily/glossy shine on my skin).
Overall, Acqua di Giò Essenza is a predictable, business-as-usual men’s fragrance; must all mainstream men’s scents smell so dull and similar? Apparently so!
Final verdict, a lesson learned, and a suggestion:
I think most perfumistas will find both Acqua di Giò formulas a tad dated and dull; they cater to “young” and/or easy-to-please noses. When I smelled Acqua di Giò Essenza on scent strips in magazines, I was excited and SURE I’d love the new scent; never trust a scent strip! Finally, if another Acqua di Giò flanker is created, I hope Acqua di Giò Essenza’s citrus-turpentine takes center-stage.
Acqua Di Giò Eau de Toilette is $62-$102; Acqua Di Giò Essenza Eau de Parfum is $79-$168.
*Acqua di Giò lists notes of: green tangerine, bergamot, jasmine, neroli, rosemary, marine notes, persimmon, white musk, cedar, patchouli, rock rose.
** Acqua di Giò Essenza (perfumer Alberto Morillas) lists notes of: bergamot, grapefruit, cascalone, paradisone, jasmine, sage, basil, cedar, vetiver, pepper, patchouli, ambergris/ambrox.