Black, inky and goth, L'Arte di Gucci is an Edward Gorey-esque animalic-rose chypre. In my fevered imagination, its rose comes from the rose bushes surrounding the dilapidated and haunted Victorian home of Merricat, the witchy protagonist from Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. (On a less literary romantic note, it first brought to mind Calvin Klein's 2005 perfume Euphoria, a spicy, woody floral that also has "exotic" flowers and notes: rose hips, Japanese apple, green leaves, Lotus, black orchid, red woods, black violet and amber.) L'Arte is definitely the darker — and more beautiful — of the two.
Its fruit note (black currant?) is prominent in the beginning, flanked by herby coriander and bright and green notes, but it's of the Magie Noire dark-woods character rather than the frou-frou fruit variety. The patchouli rises up almost immediately, cloaking the bright top notes and taking them down to the underworld with its other beautiful poisonous-smelling flowers (like tuberose) and woody, masculine smells.
Top notes: Fruit note, bergamot, aldehyde, coriander, green note
Heart notes: Rose, jasmine, geranium, tuberose, orris, lily of the valley
Base notes: Patchouli, vetiver, leather, amber, musk, oakmoss
This purple-prosed review (when did I turn into a teenage goth?) is a long time coming, because I actually encountered L'Arte di Gucci for the first time in New Orleans months ago. I got a mini perfume and stuck it in my purse, only to have the purse stolen at a dive bar along with my favorite lipstick. (Ugh.) I've been pining for it ever since, and I'm glad I finally found another cheap-ish mini. (The full bottles of L'Arte on eBay aren't too outrageous, but I just wanted a whiff.)
For some strange reason, L'Arte di Gucci was discontinued, and I wonder if a stake was driven through its dark-rosed heart around the time CKOne (the reference scent for all clean scents to come) came around in 1994.