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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Perfume Review: Bandit by Robert Piguet

Review by Tom

Colombina's recent post about which scents were "French-iest" reminded me that I had never written much about one of my all-time favorite French perfumes: Bandit. In my comments on that post I wrote of it as a "whip-crack androgyne", while earlier Colombina wrote of it as "an elegant perfume that says No". Somewhat overshadowed by its sister fragrance Fracas in the public eye, but sharing the slightly sinister overtones of that ultimate paean to tuberose, this is almost the flip-side of the same film-noirish coin. Fracas is what the creamily seductive blond would wear, all white satin and tuberose, a Singapore Sling and getting you to dump the body by the train tracks at night; Bandit is the sultry brunette who'll sling a mink over her alabaster shoulder, look you straight in the eyes as she plugs you and afterwards calmly order a bourbon, neat. Either way, they are bad, bad girls and you would be well warned to stay away. But you won't will you? You can't...

All hyperbole aside, Bandit does seem more of a product of it's time and is perhaps because of that less accessible than Fracas: it opens with a sharp, medicinal accord dominated by galbanum and vetiver giving the feeling of a heavily wooded glade, moist leaves and earth never touched by the sun (what better place to get rid of the corpse?), almost immediately joined by leather. The leather never leaves the scent- it's the grounding accord here, whether it's joined by the brief hit of white flowers (as if it had met the blonde in the ladies room for a quick cigarette and to compare notes) to the carnal drydown with its peppery musk and gunpowdery incense. Having written that, experiencing Bandit is not only to fall hopelessly for it, it's to see where quite a few houses got the idea for some recent scents. Houses ranging from Le Labo to Lutens have clearly given Bandit a good long sniff. So should you.

Bandit is available at e-tailers and some discount houses for shockingly cheap prices: the 1.7 oz spray EDT I bought was less that $20. While I am happy for the bargain I am also hoping that does not mean that the scent may go away again: this sort of brilliance should be permanent. Also, although I write about this as a feminine scent (and it is) I would not hesitate for a second to recommend it to a man: if you're man enough for Patchouli 24 or Yatagan, you're man enough, or perhaps woman enough for Bandit.

I was going to end this post with the mention that there are several Piguet fragrances from the past that I would adore the chance to experience, luckily according to the Piguet website, we will be able to try Visa and Cravache soon. I for one can't wait...

The image is by Eugenio Recuenco, from


Anonymous Nattygold said...

I enjoyed your review of one of my favorite perfumes.I've been wearing Bandit for more than ten years in various concentrations, the parfum extrait being my favorite. My introduction to Bandit was though a male friend, so I just assumed that's whom it was created for. I often wish more men would experience it. They love and want to get it until I mention it's a woman's parfum. Too bad there's such a hang up of what's male and what's female. I geuss I tell them it's a women's scent, to keep it exclusive to myself.It's an intoxicating incency leather powerhouse of a scent. It takes balls to wear Bandit.

12:50 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It does take balls to wear it. Most men don't have them, and won't. Too bad for them.

Ladies who wear it are however unstoppable

1:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous drydown... top and heart notes that make me sneeze. In fits. Seriously. In all concentrations. And I never react to perfumes. Weird. But wonderful.

1:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Tina (timam) said...

Tom, I love your review and completely agree with it. and while I'm an occasionally-wearing-Fracas blonde, I think I have some of that cool blooded brunette inside of me. I think I should treat her to a bottle of Bandit sometime in the future ;). now that I've bought my first leather-based scent and being totally and utterly in love with it (SL Daim Blond), I'm afraid there's no way back.

2:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Maria B. said...

Tom, wonderful review. You so nailed Bandit! I'm that brunette who orders her drink neat. But could we make it brandy, and is it okay if I skip that whole plugging the guy with bullets part? :-) I bought an entire ounce of the extrait for about $40. Like you, I hope this dangerous potion never goes away.

2:40 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Another Bandit gal here. I think both scents reflect the character Germaine Cellier seems to have been: a gutsy, beautiful, witty blonde, friend to the Surrealists, lacing her conversation with slang, given to tantrums... She had a formidable instinct for excess: overdose of tuberose (Fracas), quinoline (Bandit, Jolie Madame), galbanum (Vent Vert. Genius woman.

2:53 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

I do like Bandit, but I don't love it as much as I thought I would when I first heard of it. That's because on me it is almost all green, with very little leather perceptible.:( Still, it's a bracing scent! And you can't win all of the chemistry lotteries!!

7:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Anita said...

Great review as always. I am slowly working my way into a Bandit love affair - I know it's inevitable, but I'm taking my time. The opening for me is the best, exactly what I dreamed of since I fell for Jolie Madame; the same feel as JM but amped to rocket launch proportions. It's the "gunpowdery incense" that is too heavy on the gunpowder (and car exhaust, and burnt tires) in the drydown that is an acquired taste. I'm getting there.

8:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous aliki said...

Bandit forever! I am a 2nd generation Bandit Lady. My beautiful brazilian mother wore it for the first time at a paquebot ball on the Atlantique when she danced with the... Aga Khan! Mine does not and cannot have the same magic to it, but it has become my comfort scent, my self-assurance scent, and it behaves beautifully in summer as in winter...

9:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

I love those two bad, bad girls. I want to be one of them :-)

9:05 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Thank you, Tom, for a lovely review of one of my Top Tens. Loved Bandit from first sniff many years ago but only acquired a bottle of edp (and that no doubt re formulated) in the last 18 months. It's one I felt I needed to have lived a bit for if that makes sense but although I'm a brunette with a penchant for whisky (the smoky peaty stuff) I might have a problem with the mink! Oh and I'm very excited about Visa!

9:26 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm sorry about the sneezing fits. That's awful!

11:20 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's a slippery slope, this leather-love, but I think you'll enjoy the ride. Plus, Bandit is a bargain, especially compared to Daim Blond (which I agree is a stunner and worth every penny).

11:22 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You can skip the plugging part. It's for the best for all. You just have think film noir.

But of course it can be brandy!

11:25 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I would have loved to meet the mind behind such a panoply of fabulousness

11:27 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I can see where that might disappoint, but is it a good greenness? I think a good green scent would be no bad thing.

11:28 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I love that drydown- the gunpowdery incense and the touch of the getaway vehicle. I wish it was amped up a bit.

But you see what I mean when I write that quite a few modern houses gave this a good long whiff, right?

11:31 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


What a great story! Perfect! Aga Khan!

I an sure you are as captivating in it as much justice as your Mother was!

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you are at least one, if not one and a half..

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Love that peaty stuff as well; I also am averse to fur. A) I think it's bad karma to drape yourself in that much suffering (just my own belief, I don't judge others, after all, if those rodents lived in my attic I would call Terminex) and B) I live in Southern California, where the temps never get below 40.

11:37 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Excited about a (reformulated?) Cravache too....

Great writing, Tommo. I don't know if I'm man enough for Bandit as Yatagan all too often smells like my favourite Swiss stock powder to me....

12:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous greeneyes said...

This is my tough girl fragrance. I like to wear it when I'm facing a bad day and need to be cool-headed and strong...I'm living off samples, and I need to be strong a lot lately, so a bottle can't be far off! I love Fracas too and own a bottle, but if I'd tried Bandit first, there would have been no contest.

12:38 PM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

It is good--and very "out there," esp. in the EdT, which I think of as the Green Monster (yes, I live in Boston). The parfum is much smoother and easier to wear. All 3 concentrations are great galbanum fests--but I do love my leather.

1:25 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you can handle it ;-)

Frankly, at that price point, if you can't what's the loss?

2:03 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's a great tough-girl scent.

The EDT is a great bargain. Just sayin'

2:04 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It is the Green Monster! But that's what I love about it. I've read that the perfume is smoother, but I kind of like the rough edges of the EDT.

2:06 PM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Bandit is a marvel, I completely agree. I smelled it first in the parfum, and I never got beyond that.

4:25 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


One day I wil get a decant of the perfume from you. I want to try it in that form as well.

8:59 PM EDT  
Blogger Patricia said...

I sought for years to find the perfect though I knew somewhere deep inside it was hiding and waiting to be discovered. Trial after trial of sickening florals, I never gave up hope because my brain could smell the perfect scent. Then came Bandit. I knew at once I had found it. Nothing compares. It is earthy and sexy and wild. I combine the perfume with the eau de perfume.... perfection. There will never be another love like this one.

11:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Deni Dithyrambic said...

But what would a redhead wear? Right now I am in love with Fraca and what it does with my chemistry. It is almost scary to think what it will do with Bandit. Leather, huh?

9:30 PM EDT  

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