Bandit and the Wearing O’ the Green series

julie-newmar.jpg 

March supposedly comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, at least in folk sayings.  Texas weather-wise I suppose it’s true.  We’re due for a few storms and some high winds this weekend, setting a lion-esque tone for the start of our spring.  And it is definitely spring.  Temps have been in the 70’s lots of blues skies and green things coming up.  I got the gardening bug and spent Saturday buying herbs for a patio garden.  It is very satisfying to look out of my window as I write and see my little bit of the Mediterranean on my patio.  Comes in like a lion…that would certainly describe the aggressive, naughty nature of Robert Piguet’s famous green perfume, Bandit. About 1944 nose Germaine Cellier rocked the fragrance world with this galbanum concoction after inspiration from Piguet’s Pirate themed fashion show and supposedly nabbing a model’s pair of used undies to capture the essence.  Although the latter is really, really creepy, the perfume is fantastic genius.  Cellier is also the nez behind Fracas and Vent Vert as well as Jolie Madame, all interestingly different and very sexual works.

Bandit opens in a green forest on a sunny day.  The heat of the sun warms the canopy until you can smell the greenness of the leaves. Yet somewhere there is a slight indolic whiff of a little naughtiness, enough to make you want to get closer despite the No of the green.  Then, suddenly you are hit over the head with the smooth, elegant florals.  The sensuality of the jasmine and tuberose are tempered with the lady-like aloofness of orris and the rose.  And finally, an irresistible, dark, oak moss and musk ending…rich and dark and human.  Did I mention the trace of leather throughout the composition?  There is some fantastically dirty-girl leather in Bandit which says, “come hither” despite the green galbanum saying “hold it right there buster!”  This contradiction I must imagine is Cellier’s shock value in the piece; a perfume that is quite sexual, but yet keeps you at arm’s length. 

Who would wear this?  Perhaps Julie Newmar as Cat Woman.  Dangerous and deadly, drop dead gorgeous and clad in a leather suit.  Perhaps a film noir’s Vixen-Villain.  She’s brunette, deep voiced and dressed to kill literally.  She also orders a double scotch on the rocks. The woman who wears this is a force to be reckoned with, breaking hearts and well as busting balls. 

On a personal level, Bandit is one of the first green perfumes to interest me in the green category.  Before, I found greens to be too ladylike, too sporty or too young and fresh.  Or just simply abominable. Bandit, on the other hand is something floral, leathery and dirty smelled through a veil of green, peppery gauze. Utterly irresistible to my nose and other’s when it works for me, and just kind of there, hinging on old lady on days it doesn’t work for me. 

While it certainly wouldn’t be my signature perfume, as I am more of a Fracas girl, it is definitely a beloved addition to my collection I reach for when the film noir mood strikes, along with Tabac Blonde.

I hear the modern version of Bandit has undergone reformulations, ranging from a crime against the original art to great similarity to the original.  I have yet to test any of the new formulations, as I was lucky enough to get a little of the vintage parfum.  The Parfum is also supposed to be smooth and elegant wheras the EDT is more aggressive and shocking.  I suppose on my next trip to NM’s or Saks I will have to take a test drive, as it is increasingly more difficult to find the vintage. 

Thus, as it is a daring composition that changed my thoughts about the green category, it is my choice for the first installment for Wearing of the Green.

Interesting excerpt from my note on Bandit: “smells like damp ass.  In a good way.  As though a water nymph had been swimming and then laying out to dry in the forest post tryst.” 

notes: of Neroli, Orange Essence, Ylang-Ylang, Artemisia, Galbanum, and Bergamot.  Heart notes of Jasmine, Tuberose, Orris, Rose, Carnation, and Leather.  Base notes of Oak moss, Castoreum, Patchouli, Vetiver, Myrrh, and Musk

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Published in: on March 4, 2008 at 3:08 am  Comments (2)