Fragrance Reviews Bandit (edp), Robert Piguet

Bandit (edp), Robert Piguet

02/19/09 13:16:24 (5 comments)

by: Fragrantica Team

What is the price that a fearless woman has to pay to show her rebellion against the society? In case of "fragrant subversion", which can be converted into an active, real subversion it will be exactly the price of a bottle of Bandit, a fragrance released in 1944 by the house lead by one of the most qualified and renowned Parisian fashion designers, Robert Piguet.

Bandit is a creation of the nèz Germaine Cellier, the same fragrance designer who created remarkable perfumes, such as Fracas (also belonging to Piguet) and Jolie Madame (Pierre Balmain).

The first Piguet's successful fragrance features top notes of galbanum and ylang, mid notes of leather and jasmine and base notes of patchouli, oak moss and vetiver and represents the ultimate scent for provocative women. Such women are those who are mischievous, rebellious and not afraid of daring, of facing or shocking the sociey, of simply being themselves with their evil and intimidating impetuosity.

According to a fragrance history, "Piguet worked with perfumer Germaine Cellier to launch the Bandit, the spirit and scent of the couture runway in 1944 with models sporting villain masks, brandishing toy revolvers and knives. He sought to evoke the aura of the "bad boy", the outlaw". 

Piguet's fashion was developed to a high level of the French elite requirements and set up by his fashionable vision, when his elegant models and his perfume creations were shaped to the quality and creative standards of the haute couture in that charming epoch. It is easy to understand abundance of elegance, audacity and originality of everything that he created under his label.

Understanding Piguet's style and his importance for the fashion heritage enable women to find their place in attitude of the brand and, consequently, in inherent attitude of Bandit scent. The fragrance is very aligned to two Piguet's trademarks: "the horror of the commonplace and the innate sense of seduction".

Experiencing a personal olfactive journey with Bandit is, disturbing, in the least hand. That is the best adjective to describe opening of the fragrance: a very strong, dark green scent blended with smoky, leathery accords which also bring forward a very peculiar rubbery smell. Undertones are layered, surrounded with darkness, producing a `scary` smell typical of dangerous women spraying Bandit on the body to embody their poisonous, evil side, which is utterly lascive, trangressive and brutal.

The unsual scent creates an astonishing feeling along with tension between addictive desire of smelling it and discovering its liberating effects; wearing a sensual mask and/or getting a mortal weapon and being  a demon woman. On the other hand, the plastic smell and powerful, greenish, spicy accords of galbanum on the skin are, indeed, repulsive. Although the opening may be easily wearable for men, the fragrance something feminine inside, something of the noir diva-style which reminds me of timeless villains, such as  Lotte Lenya, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich. All "Bandit women" of unique beauty are stunningly wicked outlaws who perform their cinema roles and lead their real lives.

The first woman important for development of this fragrance in the noir style of Bandit is Lotte Lenya. The beginning notes of Bandit are not so beautiful as Lotte's simple beauty. Heavy, green galbanum seems to be the scent that contributes to olfactory experience of a war-like scenery where dark green color of armament and soldiers' grey clothing fight against a floral bouquet with fruity undertones (due to galbanum odour characteristics). All this evokes a memory of the classical and well-dressed, sensual woman.

This male strenght of the leathery accords is quite commanding, even lethal. Lotte Lenya appears as an androgynous woman, a man in the body of a woman in her character Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love with 007 Sean Cornery.

She combats her enemies as a  perverse villain colonel ahead of Spectre, the most dangerous criminal organization in the world. A cruel Bandit, just like the opening of Piguet's fragrance!

Ten minutes later, Bandit starts to be less offensive. Brutality of green leather fortified chemically by isobutyl quinoline is rendered by a spicy, gum-like, floral, not exactly strong aldheydics notes. They open feminility of the fragrance with a floral, leathery scent influenced by a subtle jasmine tone which juxtaposes the male and female side of Bandit woman, valuing her sexuality, her animalistic scent and a possible delicacy of the fragrance.

This sexy juxtaposition is marked by evil that some divas can possess: feeling of refined and powerful women smoking their cigarettes with a blasé glance which evidences they don't give a damn to what people think about them. They are able to be as good as any man, they can make their sexual desires come true, they can provoke hate and love in people, they are outlaws and that is the key point.

This part of evolution is revealed in my thoughts and opens the scented doors of my imagination, showing me dark shadows of women like American actress Joan Crawford. She is another superb villian, who is considered a liberate woman, who is bad, beautiful, seductive (by the way, ex-stripper) and fashionable. Moreover, her fashion style was taken into account as the "must have" in the 30's.

Joan had a hard-to-deal-with personality. She was a hurricane woman who expressed her sultry seduction and indulged into sensual desires of men's minds. It is important to take into consideration that she also supported expansion of social role of woman, as well as the amazing performances of Marlene Dietrich.

Even fragrances remind me of these sexy women who don't have common seductiveness, but yet carry their cigarettes. I don't think this second part of scent development smells like tobacco, but I have to state that it is strangely smoky, with an aura of dark and sensual smokiness, as if a legion of rebellious women were preparing to spray some Bandit and pose their beauties while holding a cigarette in their hands, exposing us to the noir symbol of status, elegance and sensuality. The sexy position  of any bandit!

Still, for some time before a final, green, floral, mossy base, undertones of some plastic reminiscences awake violent memories of villians again. I remember "toy revolvers" of Piguet's Couture runway (1944) and then, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis  come to my olfactive journey. The two cinema divas who are known as endless enemies are constant rebels. The remembrance of Bette Davis's evil role in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, in which she and Joan are sisters and also opponents, is evident. Insuperable and wonderful bad way of being of Bette Davis is as delightful as finding the best perfume for the best diva.

For a moment, I think about how some chypre fragrances as Bandit, at a first sniff, seem to be so disgusting-scented for senseless noses that they give up something good beacuse they do not dare to smell it again. Later, in a splendid way, these fragrances can flourish in beauty and show the talent of such an artist as Germaine Cellier. He is, exceptionally, a creator of a fragrance which does not please me so easily in the first notes. I confess that is a classic, a super well-done and very unique fragrance, different from any other chypre fragrance that I've ever smelt and the best of all. It has the power of few fragrances, the power of being timeless.

From this point of view, the same happened in the case of Bette Davis, a legend of the cinema, gay icon, a stereotype of true wickedness, for years loved by many fans around the world, just like a perfume can be loved for decades and decades. A woman who has never fitted into the standard of the beauty possessed by Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot or  most of times, a scary woman, is sometimes referred to as owner of a witch face.

However, Bette Davis has her beauty behind her talent just like Bandit has it and that is the most important distinguishable feature: never to be in the "horror of the commonplace". Even some people can judge Bandit and Bette Davis as a horror, the gift that any art brings. The perfumery is there to reveal the beauty behind the horror. Because of it, nowadays, the perfumery market should think about not being in the "horror of the commonplace", mainly when they insist on releasing so many ordinary fragrances which  will be forgotten soon, just like an actress/actor which has a banal performance and perhaps, will never be remembered therefore. The horror is the beautiful in the perfumery and, certainly, will be salvation of fragrance industry.

Finally, when the fragrance reaches its drydown, its aromatic expressions fade down to a slight, green, floral, mossy trail in my EDP version (probably the version which was updated by Givaudan), since the fragrance loses much of its initial,  leathery, spicy, chords and jasmine becomes very discrete.

Despite of all, the fragrance reinforces its noticeable characteristic of being a very special, leather chypre, as well as genius words of Guy Robert: "Bandit, a beautiful, but brutal perfume". This quote is one of the best realistic one about perfumes, because it describes exactly the entire fragrance and, principally, the final of the scent development.

Jasmine and oakmoss notes react in a type of "highlighted" mix and it is impressive how mesmerizing the juxtaposition of the both is. Behind any Bandit spirit, there is a woman whose beauty is remarkable as a goodness on earth. She is not only a bad girl, she has a fragrant aura whose animalistic-mossy scent connects her to immortal human divinity.

In comparison to the beginning of the perfume, oakmoss introduces this fragrant, airy aspect, which is lighter and voluptuosly natural and, when I think of the divas representation, evokes a great feeling of contemplating them as real and divine women.

On the other hand, trail still keeps the earthy undertones, something more palpable. Deeply smelling Bandit, I would picture these women again, as well as so many others who, during years and years, have fought for their achievements, for a respectul place in the society while showing glamour of their styles, power of the fashion, talent in their art.

I remember fabulous  "Bandit-like" Marlene Dietrich and her audacity of being the first woman in man's clothing, the woman that had a man inside of her, as androgynous as Piguet's fragrance, the woman who also "loved, invented and gave..."(1) to the world of art, just like Piguet did. Always beloved bandit souls, the endless  beauty of Bandit...

Bandit is a female fragrance* in  EDP  and Parfum versions. Robert Piguet Fragrances are available for purchasing on his website or in some retails around the world.  For forther information, contact the official page of the brand.

 (1) quote about Piguet's work by Jean Cocteau "...he loved, he invented, he gave... a generous and vibrant member of our team"
* Bandit is one of the female fragrances more appropriate for men.

Images: Mail Online, Babble, Festival Larochelle, Wikipedia


Author: Cristiane Gonçalves (crisgonc)
Fragrantica Member



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Dear yzqrvpx

I understand that the article does not make sense for you and respect your opinion, however it makes sense for me and a lot of people and this is a normal process in perfume writings. It is like to read a book page, anyone can like or not. That is the perfume world, different sensations, different opinions and we grow with the diversity.

As said wisely by Jeca, any person does not need to have a bottle of the perfume to have an opinion about it and love it. I have Bandit in my collection in form of decant, I have a special collector material about Robert Piguet and his fragrances and so a personal understanding and background about what I wrote about. As perfume writer I have many samples as material work, evaluate them and study perfumery.

Best regards


Dear Yzqrvpx,

I think you do not need to posses a bottle of a perfume to know it and to love it. :-)


a detailed article and link to female film stars does not make sense to me. you have not the Bandit in your perfume collection and can write many ideas of this one perfume? how?


I love the image created for this perfume, summarizes the smell so strong and vibrant, as fluorescent lights shining in the middle of the night.


I admire how you incorporate legendary ladies of the silver screen into your exploration of the scents, Cristiane, thus allowing your readers to engage on a multitude of levels with your writing. Very nicely constructed essay!


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