This Gucci Scent Will Transport You to a 17th-Century Florentine Boudoir

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Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden, The Virgin Violet eau de parfumPhotography by Daisy Walker, Set Design by Phoebe Shakespeare

Alessandro Michele’s fragrance collection The Alchemist’s Garden is Gucci’s first premium perfume range – it is, of course, dreamy

From the niche new beauty brands doing something different, to the industry’s evergreen icons, Sophie Bew opens up AnOther’s dream vanity in a new series...

  1. Who should use it? Grandmothers, monks, bank robbers, debutantes – the whole Gucci gamut, really.
  2. How long until I love it? You’ll know right away whether you do or don’t.
  3. How planet-/people-friendly is it? Short answer please! The decanter is porcelain, the box recyclable. Gucci take various lengths to champion sustainable and cruelty-free fashion. Coty do not yet have a statement regarding the environmental impace of its production processes, but are coming back to me. 
  4. How do I use it? Guess.

For the creation of Gucci’s first haute perfumery line, the label’s creative director Alessandro Michele worked with master perfumer Alberto Morillas (of Calvin Klein CK One, Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò and Marc Jacobs Daisy fame). Dipping into Michele’s most whimsical fantasies – his sources are recognisably diverse – he contrived The Alchemist’s Garden, a collection of seven eaux de parfum, four perfumed oils, three acque profumate (“scented waters”) and one scented candle. Rewriting the heroes of the fragrance world – oud, amber, violet, iris, mimosa, rose and woods – Michele once again plunders the past for treasures. In heavy porcelain decanters, each with its own coat of arms, the bottles arrive in embroidered silk jacquard pouches – if you listen carefully, a Gregorian chant can be heard softly playing as you lift the lid.

Together, they belong in a Francesco Noletti still life – there should be blousy, powdery dog roses, a broken pomegranate, a jewel-toned tapestry, a volterra marble chalice. As a matter of fact, this is rather what the advertising campaign looks like – with a few more pastel tones for Marie Antoinette measure. They are, in short, a feast for the eyes.  

It seems a shame then, to single one out at all. But The Virgin Violet eau de parfum was too prim and powdery to resist. The violet, says Michele, is considered the flower of modesty because it hides its flowers in heart-shaped leaves. In order to achieve its rounded romance, Michele summoned the image of a swan, whose soft white feathers inspired a composition of musk, violet leaves and iris petals. Its purity, he says, is nuanced with a deep character, shown when the swan spreads its wings, to reveal a bold vanilla. It’s a Baroque scent I’d never usually go for, but the mise en scène of it all drew me in. In a mere spritz I’m roaming the cloisters of the Basilica Santa Maria Novella in a velvet cloak, feeling pure, no – saintly.