Romeo Gigli Sud Est (1995) is a fairly misunderstood fragrance that lives in the shadow of its older brother Romeo Gigli per Uomo (1991). The latter is something of a unicorn to vintage purists because of its complex arrangement of dandy-like notes that were evocative of the last gasps of powerhouse masculine style before the ocean of beige freshness that was the 90's washed away all traces of the intense aromatics and risque virility that was the 80's. My guess is that despite what vintage collectors say, the sales figures that came back to Romeo Gigli suggested that the eponymous masculine had missed the bus and they needed something to better capitalize on trend. The old adage of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" best describes a part of the style found in Sud Est, but not its entirety, as it also exhibits many common aromatic traits found in men's chypres from other Italian houses from the 70's and 80's. I don't think Sud Est made Romeo Gigli the buckets of moolah it had probably hoped for due to that odd mashup of values (or else the stuff might still be in production), but it sure does get beat up a lot by the few vintage purists who even talk about it, because of how unexciting it must seem based on what they tend to look for in a scent. Modern-leaning noses looking for something more niche in style might like Sud Est better than the vintage dudes, if only they knew the stuff actually existed, hence Sud Est exists in a kind of hobbyist limbo, without anyone to really care about it even years after cancellation.
The basic premise of Sud Est is to be an aromatic citrus chypre, loaded down with culinary herbs and dry white florals like many of this category, finishing on a bed of woody basalmic oakmoss and musk. The key difference between Sud Est and something like Armani Eau Pour Homme (1984) is the fact that Sud Est forfeits the usual sharp lemon opening in favor of one powered by the calone 1951 molecule which was being abused by mainstream perfumery at the time. This was 1995, so anything at all zesty which wasn't an aquatic had to have this melon-derived note in it to be relevant, and so it goes with Sud Est. The calone introduction is sort of brief thankfully, and quickly segues into bergamot, basil, hyacinth and jasmine. The herbal and spice aspects really begin to cook up by the heart as rosemary, thyme, bay laurel, coriander, and cinnamon all swirl together in a melange of green goodness, crowed with bitter artemisia. That brief introduction reminiscent of Aramis New West (1988) or Calvin Klein Escape for Men (1993) quickly dies away to be replaced with something closer to a cross between the aforementioned Armani and something like the later Guerlain Coriolan (1998), square in the middle of aromatic chypre territory. Oakmoss, cedar, musk, and balsam fir take this home on skin leaving behind a moderate and rather traditional masculine trail which lasts for a decent amount of time when worn in warmer weather. Call this a 90's fresh scent for grown-ups, or a weird mashing of two separate schools of though, but whatever it is, I like it. Sud Est is a traditional Italian eau made for a man, but reinterpreted with a bit of 90's modernism that inadvertently also renders some of the gender associations void, and it's as simple as that.
Most of the misunderstanding and rejection comes from the very 90's opening of Sud Est, which the aforementioned vintage gurus just cannot get past if it saved their lives, but gives way to something they'd ironically enjoy if they could handle the transition between the two. If you're closed off to the experience of anything outside the walled garden of discontinued dictionary-perfect chypres, aromatic fougères, animalics, powdery barbershops of yesteryear, or their expensive niche market recreations, I will of course say for you to stay away from Romeo Gigli Sud Est. Likewise, if you grew up on purely synthetic trend-conscious mall kiosk perfumery like 90's fresh fougères, 2000's gourmands, ozonics, and 2010's "woodyamber" compliment-getting "ambrox bombs", you may also find the dry, tart, and rustic finish of Sud Est to be a bit weird. Straddling generations is a hard thing to do in perfume, especially when they are as clearly-defined and almost diamond-cut like they are with male concepts of generational style, and it's the reason a great number of perfumes made on the cusp of decades tend to fail, even if Sud Est was oddly playing catch-up to market leaders mid-decade rather than straddling the border of it in transitory fashion. Regardless of all that, this is a very enjoyable fragrance for the open-minded lover of clean green things and conjures mental imagery of wind-swept Tuscan hillsides strewn with wild flora. I highly recommend sampling this one regardless of gender if you want to step just outside of the norm, as Sud Est can be easily unisex due to the contrast of bright fruity opening and herbal aromatic finish. A total underdog champion in my book! Thumbs up!
If nothing else, the early to mid 90's were adventurous as far as fragrances go. Sud Est is made buoyant by light herbs and flowers arranged in an almost jammy density (think of Rochas Globe if you've tried it)with that airy calone touch, anchored by an old-school sandal and moss. Most of all I get basil, jasmine, and a musky artemisia to my nose. The rest of the players here are surprisingly quiet, as I expected something more akin to the slightly similar Venezia by Laura Biagiotti, the original Nicole Miller, or perhaps the aquatic loudness of CK's Truth for Men. Instead, we get this sweet(ish), soft(ish) woody(ish), herbaceous blend which almost smells watercolor in its indistinct way. Playfully gentle and unabashedly 90's in style, Sud Est is a fine example of stylistic compromise, or perhaps conglomeration. While its older brother, Romeo Gigli, is the suave, debonair brother of the family, Sud is the jack of all trades. Both are quite detailed and have been very fun to review.
Bigsly hits it. New West and Pino Silvestre, 3 to 1 ratio. The thing I like about this is that it goes on smooth and quiet, then WHAM! It hits you with full force of metallic calone much like Jules by Dior but with a very barber-shopy vibe.
As with other Gigli scents for men, you need confidence to wear this, or it will wear you.
The Lesser Known Fragrance From Romeo Gigli That Eclipses Its Also Excellent Brother...
Sud Est goes on with a blast of gorgeous green oakmoss, while adding basil, thyme and other herbs along with a jasmine floral undertone for balance. As the fragrance progresses to its early heart the herbs grow in intensity as the basil and thyme become the stars, adding in an underlying cinnamon spice as the florals dissipate and the oakmoss slowly recedes. During the late dry-down the starring herbs remain as the oakmoss is finally replaced by supporting cedar and musk in the base. Projection is outstanding, and so is longevity at well over 15 hours on skin.
Sud Est was a blind buy, and I can safely say it is one of the best I have made to date. The early green oakmoss hooks you in and the herbs, spices and late woods seal the deal. If you have tried the regular Romeo Gigli, I would not use it as the basis for expecting to love or hate Sud Est as the compositions couldn't be much more different. Just about the only thing similar is the fabulous bottle they both come in. Honestly, I am having a hard time finding a fragrance Sud Est most closely resembles outside of the incomparable vintage Captain Molyneux early-on; and that only strengthens my belief that Sud Est was a landmark release that successfully bridged the gap between old-school powerhouses and modern releases alike. The bottom line is the discontinued $47+ street price per 50ml aftermarket bottle Sud Est is a home run from Romeo Gigli and a must buy for spice lovers and powerhouse fans alike, earning a very strong "near masterpiece" rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Pros: Oakmoss, herbs, spice and fine woods... What's not to love? Outstanding performance.
Cons: Discontinued, and getting harder to find on the aftermarket.
A cozy mélange of mediterranean herbs, spices, resins and balsams with subtle floral elements and some final musky woodiness. Not so brilliant as the great Romeo Gigli by Romeo Gigli but anyway an interesting melancholic floral-herbal creation (possessing several elements in common with scents as Coriolan and Trussardi Action imo but with an its own peculiar personality). The link of bergamot, herbs and moss imprints a classic and almost barber shop (cologney) initial vibe. Thyme, rosemary and terragon exude a strong initial herbal feel, the spices (mostly cinnamon and cloves) provide a certain kind of tasty depth, exoticism and pungency, the florals afford a sort of romantic and silent nostalgia of far moments while a tad of basams along the dry down softens the musky-mossy aroma with a touch of honeyed stream. In this final expression the aroma becomes more modern, comforting and and deep (salty-sweet, woody, mossy and spicy-floral). In particular along the wake I detect woods, spices, soft baldams, herbs and hyacynth. Evocative, particular and discreet.