Gucci Envy : Fragrance Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Gucci Envy proves the Easter fantasies in pastels that many spring flowers can inspire are not the only route for a modern floral. This composition released in 1997 has the quality that marks the most interesting of the large house releases—it does not try to be cerebral and unapproachable, yet it maintains the suspense. If Diorissimo creates an impression of capturing the smell of forest glens on a misty May morning, Envy is a gust of wind that brings spring into the city. …

The perfumer, Maurice Roucel, creates Envy in a manner that echoes the characteristics of modern architecture: rejection of florid ornamentation and simplification of form. The airy constructions of glass and steel give an artificial sense of fragility, and upon the first glance, Envy is liable to create the same impression. However, while its green floral accord dominated by lily of the valley and hyacinth has a metallic quality that endows a fragile effect to the floral overture, it simultaneously renders the composition edgy and assertive. In other words, these are not flowers of a debutante’s posy.

Roucel’s composition opens on a high pitched green note, which is accented by the saltiness of metal. Unlike the metallic notes in Paco Rabanne Calandre that create a warm effect, the metallic flowers of Envy freeze on the skin. Yet, like a piece of gold jewelry warms up on its wearer’s skin, over time Envy begins to display its more radiant side. The softness of the musky base layered with woody iris is an unexpected counterpoint to the sharp translucence of the green florals, and the finished result has the elegance and the exquisite fit of a perfectly tailored jacket.

The downside of success is fatigue that results from overexposure. The fresh florals like Envy have grown increasingly more fashionable, dominating the floral category ever since the 1990s. Nevertheless, despite the popularity of its genre, Envy remains one of the best compositions in the group. This modern floral beautifully demonstrates what the perfumer’s skill and imagination can do with as classical of a theme as lily of the valley. And that in itself is reason enough to try it.

Gucci Envy notes include hyacinth, magnolia, green notes, jasmine, lily of the valley, violet, iris, woods, musk. It has been discontinued.

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25 Comments

  • Cheezwiz: Thanks for posting this review! It was nice to read about the other notes in Envy. I agree that it is sort of a sleek modernist rendition of LotV. I like the original version of Envy much better than the later incarnations such as Envy Me. May 4, 2006 at 1:30am Reply

  • Kathy: Your review makes me definitely want to try Envy, but do you know if there is a lot of difference between the EDP and the EDT?

    Thanks! May 4, 2006 at 6:21am Reply

  • Marina: What can I say…Maurice Roucel rocks 🙂
    Wonderful review, makes me want to revisit Envy immediately. must locate a sample. I remember several years ago it was one of my biggest lemmings. I can figure out why I have never acquired a bottle. May 4, 2006 at 9:33am Reply

  • Emotenote: Envy (pour homme) was one of the first fragrances I was able to get my husband to wear and I still love the smell. It’s a bit different than the woman’s but it really does develop over time which my husband thinks is facinating. After that and monalle’s vetiver Sable he won’t go back to linear compositions. (Ack! I’ve created a monster!) May 4, 2006 at 10:50am Reply

  • Liz: Great review, V! I have a sample of this, which I have avoided testing for some reason. I’m not sure the cool, stylized aesthetic appeals to me, and I’ve always found LOTV to be a problematic flower – it tends to dominate all other notes on my skin (maybe because I was born in May?). Your review has inspired me to give it a whirl sometime soon, however. May 4, 2006 at 11:16am Reply

  • Tania: You know I’ve never tried this one? I should. That ad, though, is kind of gross. May 4, 2006 at 11:56am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cheezwiz, I completely agree that the flankers (Envy Me, Envy Me 2) are completely lacking in character. Envy and 24, Faubourg (both by Roucel) display such an interesting manner of interpreting the floral themes, and with very different result. I love the clarity of the floral notes in Envy. May 4, 2006 at 12:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kathy, I have a sample of the EDP. My guess is that the EDT would be less floral and crisper. I also have a mini of parfum and it is gorgeous. Of course, it is the most floral out of the three, but the best part is its nice smooth base. May 4, 2006 at 12:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, I do love his work: 24, Faubourg, Envy, Tocade, Musc Ravageur, and many others. I remember wearing Envy often when it came out and then I gave a bottle to my best friend. When I visited her in Kiev, I kept complimenting her on the perfume she wore until she said, “But it is the one you gave me!” May 4, 2006 at 12:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Emotenote, great choice! Your husband definitely has an excellent taste, and you are helping him along the way. 🙂 I also love Envy pour homme, and even though I would not wear it, it is one of the most interesting masculines I have come across. May 4, 2006 at 12:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, given the popularity of the fresh floral genre, I find that experiencing Envy now may not produce the same sense of discovery as it did almost 10 years ago. However, it still remains an interesting composition, and I go back to it from time to time to remind myself what is the gold standard for this recent wave of fresh florals. May 4, 2006 at 12:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, yes, you definitely should. For a cold, unromantic lily of the valley, I cannot think of a better contender. As for the ad, it is definitely in style of Gucci fashions of the late 90s and the kind of raw sensual and yet stylized aesthetic that prevailed in the house then. In that context, I do not find it at all bothersome. May 4, 2006 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Tania: To clarify, what I find loathsome about the ad isn’t the raw sensuality—it’s that the model in the forefront is looking at the viewer. So the whole thing loses sensuality, because it is plainly a show for a voyeur. In other words, this is a photograph of sex for show and without humor. If it had an edge of camp or self-awareness, I might enjoy it, but it has a sort of “look at me, how transgressive we are” which strikes me as depressing. May 4, 2006 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Robin: Must smell it again, V, I hardly remember it!

    And must agree with T — that ad is the most unsexy thing imaginable. May 4, 2006 at 1:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, so, you are not envious? 🙂 Well, that’s Tom Ford for you. I find the whole ad to be so overstylized that it acquires humour through its artificiality. This is definitely not a conventional sexy ad, nor would I list it among my favourites, but I find it a good representation of “Gucci sex factor” aesthetic that Tom Ford tried to develop in the 1990s. One can decide for themselves whether Envy fits it or not. My own thoughts on that point is that the aura of Envy does not fit with this ad for me. I would imagine it as better illustrated by one of Donna Karan ads, which have the urban chic and understated elegance air about them, rather than the obvious sex appeal. Such obvious messages strike me now as tiresome, but I cannot recall what I first thought about this ad when I saw it in the late 1990s. May 4, 2006 at 1:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, it is a very well-done fragrance, and if you should definitely try it. As for the ad, yes, I would not say that it is sexy (at least, not in my own understanding of the term, which is calls for something less obvious). I think that it captures the spirit of Gucci in the late 1990s better than it captures the fragrance itself. May 4, 2006 at 1:55pm Reply

  • violetnoir: Envy is a great fragrance! I wore it back in the nineties and received many compliments.

    Hugs! May 4, 2006 at 2:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I am wearing the parfum right now and enjoying it very much. It was such a nice discovery, because I thought the entire time that the bottle contained the EDP. Only last night did I bother checking the label. 🙂 May 4, 2006 at 3:55pm Reply

  • marchlion: As usual, you give me an interesting new way to look at a fragrance I haven’t paid much attention to. Can you tell me what (if anything) you think of Gucci Rush? Thanks. May 4, 2006 at 9:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, thank you. I really like Gucci fragrances, in general, although after Tom Ford’s departure, they have been less and less interesting. From what I recall, Rush always struck me as an interesting chypre, but I have to revisit it. I have not tried it in a while. May 4, 2006 at 9:19pm Reply

  • paradise: I came upon Envy in the U.S. and really liked it but then, a few weeks later, while travelling in China, I came upon Envy Me. At the time I thought I was smelling Envy and was a bit surprised at the change in notes! I didn’t know that there were derivative versions and kept wondering to myself “why did I like this before? did it really smell like this?” It took me a while to realize my mistake, much to my relief! May 4, 2006 at 11:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Paradise, yes, they are quite different. I smelled it recently again and wondered why they bothered bringing it out. Then, of course, Gucci Eau de Parfum II is such a disappointing flanker to excellent Gucci Eau de Parfum that I do not even know what to say. May 5, 2006 at 1:42am Reply

  • Elaine: I bought Gucci II by mistake (don’t ask) – It depresses me so much I think it would be cruel to pass it on to a friend. What should I do with it, I wonder? :S September 14, 2007 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Theresa: Mmmm, I absolutely adore Envy.
    Envy has been my favorite and signature scent since 2000.
    Even though there have been times where I would try and find another signature scent, I just cant seem to find one that suits me the way this one does. It’s sleek, modern, feminine, gutsy, sexy and sensual. December 24, 2007 at 6:14pm Reply

  • AC: I am not very good at identifying notes in fragrance — I was kind of surprised at the LOTV reference. On me, the fragrance is metallic and sharp veggie. And I guess flowery. But maybe the flowers that you don’t plan on for the smell — like maybe weeds with a sickly sweet smell, maybe mountain ash (sorbus).
    I wear Gucci Envy when I plan on being a little more sophisticated and think I will be a little bit short and cranky with the event/people. We can’t be nice all of the time.

    AC January 11, 2008 at 6:42pm Reply

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