Memory-lane Monday: Lean and green



We’ve had a good bit of rain around these parts (thankfully), and the happy, lush emerald lawns I pass each day remind me of one of my favorite colors and scent families. And fittingly, it just so happens that I’ve recently rediscovered a beloved fragrance from years past: Gucci Envy.

It stood out to me back then (1997) not only for its unusual treatment of lily of the valley, but also its dual personality: On one hand, it possessed an appealingly fresh, grassy vibe; on the other, an aura of near-bitter green aloofness, with almost a crisp white-shirt formality to it.

I had a small bottle then and used it up, meaning to get more, but you know how it is, life intervened, and I just sort of forgot about it. So when I began craving it again, I found it’s no longer at Sephora to test (at least none near me), having been replaced on the shelves by Envy Me and Envy Me 2. I’ve since heard it’s been discontinued but didn’t investigate further, although I do see it at several discounters.

Instead, I hightailed it over to Surrender to Chance and snagged a bit, and yes — it’s still the same great green stunner. The New York Times’ Chandler Burr called it “a masterpiece of olfactory art” and Luca Turin in the Guide gave it 5 stars, but hinted late in the review at something darker, perhaps even a bit of rage.

I don’t find it so much menacing in any way as being very strong-willed. No spineless green this; its metallic tinge lends it a steely backbone, like a a beautiful grande dame with an iron fist swathed in a velvet glove. But she’s so lovely that you wouldn’t dream of crossing her, so you really don’t mind at all.

Even the bottle is perfectly suited: It stands sleek and tall, proudly bearing its green juice.

Envy was the elegant yet firm mother to a whole crop of green/fresh florals that came after; and upon wearing her again on several occasions I think she has stood the test of time quite well. There are other, more friendly greens out there that I enjoy, but I’ll gladly clasp her velvet glove any day.

Are there any fragrances from your past that you find still hold up well, or that when you wear them now reveal new facets of themselves to you?

  • Farouche says:

    Loved Envy and still have my old bottle of it. I’ll have to revisit it to make sure it hasn’t turned. Envy was my first *green* experience.

    • Ann says:

      What a lovely first-time green! Keeping my fingers crossed that it’s still good and you can enjoy it …

  • mim says:

    I just re-wore the first Gucci (big heavy short clear bottle, square body, hockey-puck top, brown jus) which has orange blossom and a super synthetic musk and cumin and I still love it 8 or 10 years later… I don’t love CK Truth which had this sharp green synthetic bamboo smell and also a warmer vanilla. Was in love at the time, but it was puppy love…

    • Ann says:

      Mim, isn’t it funny how we can still love some things even after years and years? And we seem to outgrow others, almost like high-school crushes. You’ve got me intrigued about which Gucci you love; will have to go back and look around. Thanks!

  • DinaC says:

    *I love Gucci Envy. Greens are my favorites, so this one is a natural to me. A dear perfume friend gave me a biggish decant, but it’s almost gone. I need to hunt this down and buy a FB someday. To me it’s got that great narcissus, galbanum, hyacinth combo. 🙂

  • Poodle says:

    *I’ve never smelled Envy.  If I did I don’t recall it.  The only green scent I have is Cristalle, oh, and Peace, Love and Juicy Couture which reminds me of a watered down Cristalle.  It was a gift.  It doesn’t get much love it seems but I don’t find it that bad.  It’s not a syrupy floral at least.  I like green scents and now I realize I don’t have many but I’m on a self imposed perfume buying ban for a bit because I have spent too much lately so no green scents or any scents for a while.  

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Poodle. I love Cristalle (old and new) as well, and I think the Juicy Couture you mentioned is the only one I ever liked. I hear you on the buying ban — hope it won’t have to last too long! 

  • Flora says:

    I love Envy, used to wear it a lot. I expect that it’s been cheapened if it’s still being made. The last  time I saw it was at Costco, being sold in a big clear plastic security cube. Kind of sad.

    I still adore Anais Anais and I wore it almost exclusively when it was first launched -I had every product in the line. Too bad all you can get now is the EDT – the parfum and the bath oil were To Die For. Yes really!

    • Jillie says:

      Hi, Flora! I was a huge Anais fan and like you used to wear it in any format – do you remember the spray-on body oil? Just to say that I think they do still produce the eau de parfum strength,although it’s hard to track down, and I recently bought a bottle from an online company. It’s pretty much the same as it used to be, but like most of my favourites, seems to have been diluted a little. But still lovely.

      • Ann says:

        Ladies, thanks for the reminder of Anais Anais — it really was nice, wasn’t it? And that lovely bottle with the silver top, too. So glad it hasn’t been ruined …

  • nozknoz says:

    This is weird – suddenly there are fonts and so on in the comment box.  I wonder if they really work.  Anyway, in retrospect, I think the real problem with the 80s and 90s powerhouses is that they came in spray bottles.  If they’d been issued in splash bottles with itty bitty openings and stopper, less harm would have been done.

    One that I’m enjoying is Joop! Rococo (2000).  I put some on this morning and was thinking that I really need to decant some of it into a sample vial so that I can apply more judiciously. 

    • Ann says:

      Yes, that is weird — just noticed it myself, but thanks for stopping by and commenting anyway. I agree completely: Sprays on those big scents were downright dangerous, especially with folks spritzing multiple times — once would have been a gracious plenty. Glad you’re enjoying that Joop; I’m not familiar with that one, but I did like one or two of their offerings back in the day.

  • Eldarwen 22 says:

    Gucci is one house that hasn’t been on my radar. But yesterday, I did revisit Clinique Happy. There was only two or three squirts left of my 4 year old bottle and I was PO’ed. Even though I did keep that bottle in my little fridge, it went bad on me. After poking around the internet, I did find out that many have complained that it does have the tendency to go bad quickly. Today, I am wearing a little bit of Happy Heart and I’ve had it for almost 5 years and still smells the same. A couple days ago, I got a huge craving for Obsession.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, no, so sorry that that happened to you. But it does have that reputation, unfortunately. Glad the Happy Heart was still OK. I remember liking Obsession as well, but before it came out, there was the original Must de Cartier, which worked better on my skin and it was somewhat similar, so I just stuck with that. But they’re both great sexy scents. Did you end up wearing it in this heat (or are you somewhere in which heat is not an issue)? It’d be interesting to sniff in high temps …

  • Lisa D says:

    Never tried Envy (at least it’s not in my memory, which is not saying exactly the same thing, but it’s all I’ve got to work with). As for other old timers – well, I’d have to go back quite a ways to recall a really old favorite – Opium. I haven’t smelled it in years, so I don’t know if it’s aged gracefully, or at all. I recall it being a stunner (in more ways than one), sort of the “Angel” of the 80s. I still like Orientals, and I still like spices, so I’d probably love it if I came across it today for the first time. As it is, it’s so closely tied to a certain time for me, I don’t think I could wear it now.

    • Ann says:

      Yes, Lisa, that Opium was indeed a powerhouse.Maybe just try a bit sometime, just for old time’s sakes. I remember liking the body cream very much and the fragrance itself only in tiny amounts. The Angel of the ’80s — I love it!!

  • Musette says:

    Oooh! I haven’t thought about Envy in a long time! I remember being stunned by it’s mean, lean, GREEN-ness! – I agree with LT, I think there is more than a hint of rage in Envy :The-Incredible-Hulk: (okay, he’s not lean but he sure is green!) – at the time I don’t think there was anything like it on the market, sort of an amped-up, synthetic Vent Vert (the ‘synthetic’ seemed deliberate on Gucci’s part and was part of the fascination). I wore it for quite awhile – even had a FB – but it was one of those casual perfumes for me. Much later, it was supplanted by Calyx.

    Now you’ve got me wondering…

    xoxo :Devil:

    • Ann says:

      Hi, sweetie, you’re so right — it was kind of like Vent Vert on steroids or something. And I, too, loved Calyx (still do), Cristalle and several other greenies. P.S. Thanks for the bottle assistance! 😉

      • FragrantWitch says:

        Okay, now I NEED to try Vent Vert. I have loved Calyx long time, had lust but no commitment with Envy and just recently was seduced by Cristalle (thanks to all that suggested it to me in the comments of my inaugural post here). That is my green trifecta, so if you two are connecting the dots to Vent Vert..well, I am powerless to resist the call of a decant!
        Kind of makes me think of a Perfumista’s ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’: instead of getting from say Molly Ringwald to Kevin Bacon you need to get from Sand&Sable to Chanel 22. :I-got-an-idea: Hey, that’d be a good post!

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Oh, Envy! Years ago, I used to work at The Perfume Shop here in the UK and was forever spraying myself with Envy but never pulled the trigger on a bottle. I also quite liked CK Truth at the time. Must have been my green phase! On the flight from Boston to move to London, I bought a bottle of Emporio Armani for her (in the taupe metallic bottle) and wore it for quite a while. Recently, I sniffed it again and, after the trip in the way-back machine, found I still liked it on its own merits. Not complicated or unique certainly but still nice and still something I would wear on a ‘no-thinking’ day.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady! How cool that you worked at a perfume shop — that would be one of my dream jobs! Glad the Armani still pleased you after all this time; I think it would be kind of sad to try on an old favorite and hate it. Are you guys enjoying all the Olympic hoopla over there?

      • FragrantWitch says:

        It was pretty good, as I got to spend my time sniffing and spraying, reading perfume guide (can’t remember which one) and raiding the samples. It wasbt a high end place, rather a slightly more upscale Perfumania. Still, I fell in love with Nu and Anteaus and Cinema and Eau de Givenchy and 24 Faubourg there so not bad. The bad bit is I loved Angel at the time so I sold it to lots of people! :Worry: