Thursday, 20 April 2017

Filthy flappers and my problem with leather (Robert Piguet Bandit EDP)

The current Bandit is a reconstruction of an original fragrance launched in 1944 and created by Germaine Cellier, discontinued (when a pallid and harsh version of its former self) in the 1970's and revived in 1990's when the Piguet brand was acquired by the somewhat mundane sounding Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics.

Many of their reconstructions of the original Piguet fragrances using modern ingredients and with some updates for modern regulations and sensibilities are considered to be largely successful, and Bandit is among those.

The original Bandit fitted in a style of provocative early 20th century fragrances for emancipated women: women who wore trousers, smoked in public and generally transgressed social mores of the time. The current Bandit is a dirty chypre with a powerful leather note and an animalic side, and might be more challenging nowadays than it was originally. Why do I say that? Because the current standard for feminine perfumery oscillates between two poles. One is generally sweet: fruity, vanilla, gourmand, fruitchouli, berry, all that stuff that when done well is nice and sweet and when done badly is sickly sweet. The other pole is fresh: aquatic, ''clean'', watery, washed out citrusy fragrances that at best resemble classic Eau de Cologne and at worst smell like laundry soap. There is even a whole brand/fragrance line called Clean, I kid you not. Luca Turin told me it was uniformly horrible, and I believed him without trying them, so there.

Anyway, in the times when smoking indoors is unacceptable, cleanliness is again equalled to goodliness and sweet berry smells are considered to be (1) suitable for grown women (2) actually sexy, a chypre that reeks of sweaty leather might be a sniff too far.

Technically speaking, Bandit is a dark leather chypre and the official notes are as follows:

Top: Aldehydes - Orange - Artemisia - Gardenia - Galbanum - Neroli - Bergamot - Ylang-Ylang

Middle: Carnation - Violet Root - Jasmine - Rose - Tuberose

Base: Leather  - Amber  - Patchouli  - Musk  - Coconut - Civet  - Oakmoss  - Vetiver  - Myrrh

I was very excited to test this when I got round to getting a sample but I was also wary because I rarely love leather fragrances. I mean, I LOVE the smell of actual leather, and I like stuff made of leather, from jackets to wristbands, belts, shoes and occasional less conventional item of leather apparel. But I rarely ''get'' leather notes, or maybe I can't interpret them as leather and so far most ''leather'' fragrances I tried have been less than 100% love - even though I want to love them very much.

I do get leather in Bandit. After the aldehydic/citrusy opening leather comes on in a big way, and my nose reads Bandit on my skin mostly as a woody leather.

This in itself is very impressive in a somewhat inhuman and fairly old-fashioned way. There is a definite hint of a dungeon - a definitely '''cold''' dungeon - about Bandit, and although it's not quite de Sade, neither it is the glossy images of contemporary Tumblr-friendly kink.

A few minutes in Bandit starts to develop into the dirtiest scent this side of ELdO's Secretions Magnifiques (don't even go there): sweaty and borderline gag-inducing animalic note wrapped in leather, surrounded by ripe flowers, underlined by the bitter oakmoss. And it stays like that for hours.

As you might have worked out, the animalic aspect of Bandit is pretty overwhelming - possibly TOO overwhelming - on my skin/for my nose.

Still, this might not work the same way for everyone and as Bandit is a reference leather chypre and widely considered to be a successful retelling (re-smelling?) of a legendary fragrance, it's a must-smell for anybody interested in perfume. I definitely don't recommend buying it blind, especially considering the price, but I do recomemnd acquiring a sample.

All in all, I mark this as good or like but it's less of like really and more of utter awe mixed with a bit of repulsion.

I am glad I didn't buy a bottle blind, but now I am still not entirely sure if I want one having sampled this.

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