Bandit is a perfume classic by Robert Piguet made in the middle of the twentieth century, in post-war Europe, when perfumers were still interested in the character of women, and not just what they ordered in the patisserie. The time when the chypres ruled women’s perfumes and Bandit is one of the best, if not the best leather themed chypre ever made. Unfortunately, as is the case with many classics, over the years and decades it has been reformulated, but it is still recognizable, striking and boldly wins the hearts of women (and men) across the planet like … well, bandits.
The time in which Bandit arose was very dark, gloomy, heavy clouds were looming over Europe. It was just before the end of the Second World War, in 1944, when Robert Piguet, in collaboration with the genius Miss Germaine Cellier, decided to make a perfume that would reflect the current time, but also point to the coming times. Bandit could not have been a fruity, charming chypre like Mitsouko by Guerlain. He had to be heavy, dense, animal, dark, and leathery. He had to paint the time when women were forced to fight like men, and he also prophesied the time when women wanted the same rights as men. It was a new era, for which no one was prepared, and this was also reflected by the fashion show itself in which Bandit was introduced, made up of models, dressed as archetypal villains in black masks, holding in their hands brandishing knives and toy revolvers. Dark times, dark urges, dark perfumes.
Miss Cellier, who created two perfumes for Robert Piguet – Fracas and Bandit, wanted though scent to display two modes of female behavior and character. A feminine woman presented with Fracas, narcotic, and seductive tuberose, while masculine women were personified in Bandit perfume. These days this perfume would be an excellent choice for every man, but then, 70 years ago, it was only for extraordinary women, like Marlene Dietrich (it was her signature scent) that decided to wear this masterpiece that Guy Robert, the famous perfumer (Amouge Gold), described it as:
Beautiful, but brutal!
The perfume composition of Bandit is leathery chypre, which means that it is a standard base of oakmoss and patchouli at the bottom, labdanum in the heart of perfume and citrus fruits added to the top, heavily embellished with leather note probably isobutyl quinoline. For the freshness of the chypre opening, in this case, the fragrant essence of galbanum is used. Galbanum has a very green, almost neon scent with earthy, resinous undertones. After a while, the tarty freshness of bergamot and galbanum starts to diminish and slowly begins to include other notes: floral, tobacco, spice. Gradually, fragrance notes start to float and are then dissolved again into the black, dense, tar masses that is a leather note in Bandit perfume. Bandit’s defiant nature, hard temper, and strong character remind me of another fantastic leather perfume, which is Aoud Cuir d’Arabie. People who can call this their signature fragrance are rare and refreshing. To know them is also a rarity … and a delight. Even if it does sound paradoxical, given all that is said, such perfumes, as well as people, are a breath of fresh air in modern times.[Fragrance notes] top notes: bergamot, artemisia, galbanum, aldehydes, neroli, ylang ylang; middle notes: rose, iris, carnation, jasmine, tuberose, orange blossom, spices: base notes: leather, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, ambergris, myrrh, castoreum, musk, civet, oakmoss. [Fragrance group] leather chypre
Perfume creator is Germaine Cellier.