Bandit by Robert Piguet ~ fragrance review

Robert Piguet Bandit fragrancea advertRobert Piguet Bandit perfume

Bandit was the first fragrance release from Parisian fashion designer Robert Piguet. The leather chypre was created by perfumer Germaine Cellier, and launched on "the couture runway in 1944 with models sporting villain masks, brandishing toy revolvers and knives" (via Fashion Fragrances and Cosmetics). Bandit was eventually discontinued, then was re-launched in 1999 in a new formulation created by perfumer Delphine Lebeau of Givaudan. The notes include neroli, orange, ylang ylang, galbanum, jasmine, tuberose, rose, carnation, leather, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli and musk.

Guy Robert called Bandit a beautiful but brutal perfume, and that is as apt a description as any: Bandit is not a fragrance for the timid. It starts with heavy green notes, and moves slowly into a lovely floral blend with hints of spice, but the leather is apparent from the onset, and as it dries down, it is joined by an earthy-mossy accord that vaguely recalls a full ashtray. There is the slightest hint of powder, but it adds nothing of delicacy or girliness, and while Bandit stops short of being feral, the far dry down can only be described as decidedly animalic.

I first tried Bandit some years ago, shortly after I fell in love with Fracas (Fracas being another Piguet-Germaine Cellier composition, more on which tomorrow). Like Fracas, Bandit is in-your-face sexy, but it is the dark, rebellious side of sexy, the bad girl, if you will. It is a sophisticated fragrance, mind you, but in spirit it is younger than Fracas, and it has more energy. Bandit is drinking and smoking and leather jackets, and running around at all hours getting into all sorts of mischief. I've been trying to think of what would be the modern version of such a fragrance, and nothing comes to mind: perhaps there is no such thing?

Anyway, Bandit is just glorious stuff. Do try it if you can.

Robert Piguet Bandit is available in Eau de Parfum, Parfum and Body Lotion. For buying information, see the listing for Robert Piguet under Perfume Houses.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Robin, you know I love you, but Bandit has got to be the most in-your-face-aggressive-juice I have ever put on my skin.

    I love me some Fracas, but in my very humble and respectful opinion, Bandit is a clear and present stinker!


  2. Anonymous says:

    “A full ashtray!” I like that. I reviewed Bandit on my fragrance blog a while ago ( and I swear that to me it smells mostly of cardboard and leather, and it reminds me of nothing so much as a basement full of shoeboxes.
    I bet they're really nice shoes, too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This scent is really dependent on skin chemistry, in my opinion. I have the parfum, and I get the lovely, bracing green in the opening and the dry down is soft, with the leather, oakmoss, and musk along with the florals. I never get the ashtray or cardboard or burning rubber that others mention. My skin tends to really bring out the florals in any fragrance, so that may be why I find it such a comfort scent, whereas most people seem to have the opposite experience! I wouldn't wear it to a job interview, but it doesn't scare me, either. I will say, I first tried the EdT, and that is markedly harsher and I remember thinking it smelled like sweat.

  4. Anonymous says:

    R, really? I don't find it so much more aggressive than Fracas, but certainly in a very different way so I see your point ;-)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Interesting, a basement full of shoeboxes would be Dzing to me, although would agree with you that maybe Dzing is closer to sawdust…but don't get any cardboard in Bandit to speak of. The shoes, maybe, LOL…

  6. Anonymous says:

    I tried the EdT some years ago and would agree it is much harsher. Haven't tried the parfum, but the EdP seems to be a medium ground, perhaps.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, really!

    The last time I tested it (which was earlier this year), tearose and I both agreed that it smelled like leathery sweat, lol!


  8. Anonymous says:

    You guys are nuts, LOL…but hugs to you anyway!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Such a great review! It made me realise why I don't wear Bandit as often as I should have. It has too much energy. I could probably manage drinking and perhaps even smoking and certainly leather jackets, but running around at all hours getting into all sorts of mischief…I am too old and lazy for that. :-D

  10. Anonymous says:

    I sniffed Bandit & Fracas many years and couldn't do them. Way too much, I remember thinking. I'll try them again to see if my scences have changed at all. I like the mystique that the old fragrances seem to collect.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bandit was part of my fragrance education. I remember I wrote on the blog that I was pretty sure there would never come a time that I found it wearable. I was wrong. A wonderful “dangerous perfume.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    I never get the flowers OR the leather … just galbanum and then, the next week or so, patchouli.

    Now you have to do Jolie Madame, which I think of as Bandit with a playfully crazy streak.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great review, R! Bandit certainly is one of the most striking fragrances out there. I did wear it a few times after I bought a bottle of the EDT some years ago, and I got all of that gorgeous leathery wildness, but I had to stop wearing it because the far drydown always turned to ……dirt. I don't know if there could possibly be such a thing as sweaty dirt, but there it was! I wanted to love it, but oh….

    Must try the parfum.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Too old & lazy here too M…any drinking and running around has to cease by 11, sadly…

  15. Anonymous says:

    LOL…never say never — am continually shocked by how many things I hate eventually grow on me.

  16. Anonymous says:

    You're the second person to call it sweaty, so I must be missing something. Certainly there is dirt, but don't pick up the sweat for some reason. Happily, I love the smell of dirt :-)

  17. Anonymous says:

    I can appreciate this perfume but I am definitely not a fan of it. It goes beyond the point of something just not working on my skin, I really don't like it at all. The chypre family of fragrances are probably my least favorite though so I don't know why I expected to feel any different towards it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Whereas I adore chypres, although not always leather chypres. But almost anything with oakmoss interests me…

  19. Anonymous says:

    Very androgynous perfume… I love it and do not hesitate to wear even though I am a man… Reminds me Makassar from Rochas…

  20. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely a man could wear Bandit — in fact, if they were releasing it today would guess it would get released as a men's.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Robin, thanks for this wonderful review on Bandit. Now I know why I like it; it's the leather and other manly bits that draw me to it.

    I can't remember when or how I bought this fragrance over a year ago, thinking it was a male version of Fracas, but when I wear it, my colleagues would comment on the wonderful 'aftershave' I was wearing.

    I eventually discovered more about the history of Bandit and realised that your comments 'the bad girl' fit this description perfectly. It is a great fragrance for men and strong women – but not for the faint-hearted florals!

    Like most male parfumistas, I will try both feminine and masculine oriented fragrances, and this very sexy fragrance is very much a part of my wardrobe. I have to admit I'm in to the dirty/sweet/spicy scents rather than the fresh citrus/florals that are so mainstream by the major fashion houses these days.

    Others in my collection are Kingdom by Alexander McQueen, Kouros, Body Kouros, Opium (F&M), Pour Homme by YSL, Trussardi per uomo, Lapidus pour homme, and a host of Etat Libre d'Orange fragrances. I'm currently awaiting 2 bottles of Yatagan by Caron and Salvador Dali pour homme purchased online.

  22. Anonymous says:

    You know, there was once a Fracas for men, and now I wonder if there was ever a Bandit for men? I honestly don't know. Today's women would probably find it more masculine than feminine anyway, I'd guess. Sounds like you have a great collection!

    • Marise says:

      Just a bit late in reply this…

      I came into a huge bottle of Fracas for Men and it was divine. Everything I love about Fracas but so much less precious.

  23. Anonymous says:

    There certainly is a Fracas for Men and I also have it in my collection. There s a Bandit for Men as well and they can both be purchased online. They were manufactured in the USA under license, as most of Piguet's frgrances were. I think they're now blended in France again.

    Fracas for Men is a sweet/floral/woody and very nice to wear. It comes in a strong cologne strength, but I prefer edp and edt strengths best for my skin.

    I used to wear Fracas and even though it smelt incredible, it really was far too feminine for my image and I gave my sister 3 bottles of edp I won on eBay. It's now her signature fragrance.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Oh! If I only had a sister like you Desmondorama.

    I absolutely love Bandit, it is striking. A classic in its true sense. But it doesn’t get really leathery on my skin, more hey and dry grass, mossy and fresh but still very dry. It has a high pitch that lingers nicely on my skin and travels far in the air. To me this isn’t male at all, it is feminine in the same way as my beloved Paloma Picasso, power perfumes for women.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I describe it as sweaty too. totally sexy sweaty and animalic. I don't know if its the vetiver or green that creates that sense. I have Chanel's sycamore which has the same note but not as aggressive.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Very late to the party, but just received my sample of Bandit and it is obsessive love. Dark, unrelenting, harsh, compelling, unforgettable, sexy, sexy, sexy. I believe one reviewer said she preferred Fracas and found Bandit a stinker, and certainly, to each their own. But I must say Fracas cloys and Bandit claws. I prefer a good tumble any day to being suffocated in velvet. Viva Bandit!

  27. Anonymous says:

    LOL — I love Fracas, but also love your description :-)

  28. Anonymous says:

    I love your comments – you're a very naughty girl and Bandit is definitely the fragrance for you.

    More people should wear it – I do and I'm male!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin – You list the notes of the reformulated Bandit, is it very different from the vintage version? Which version do you prefer?

  30. Anonymous says:

    I have a sample of “vintage” Bandit someone sent me, but I don't know how old it really is. Whatever it is, it is deeper & more animalic than the new, but how much of that is simply the effects of age I can't say. Certainly the new formula is bound to be different since the ingredients of the old are no longer available.

    I don't know that I like one better than the other. The new one is great, and would call it a “respectful” reformulation.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your response Robin :-) I am thinking about ordering Bandit from E-bay, and I saw they have both 'vintage' and new – so I was curious about your opinion. I covet the bottle – looks like Bandit and Fracas are the same bottle style? Very handsome. Will have to try Fracas again too – it's been YEARS and I don't really remember it well. Never tried Bandit though.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Does the vintage give the year? I took a quick peek & the only one I saw listed as “vintage” was an empty mini.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Adding — the reason I'd be concerned is that not all vintage bottles are necessarily the original formula. The Piguet company has changed ownership several times, and the Bandit formula has undoubtedly been changed numerous times over the years. It's not even necessarily the same now as it was in the 90s.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Sheesh – that certainly complicates matters doesn't it? Actually, the e-bay listing I was saving has ended, but the description read that it was the 'original' formula – but who knows? Thanks for the info and I will keep all of this in mind when I order some.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I'd still buy a vintage bottle if I could — didn't mean to dissuade you. I just think people forget that there is no one “vintage” for any fragrance…the formulas change over the years more than people realize, and when you compound that with storage conditions, etc, one vintage bottle might be quite different than the next. This is true w/ any scent, and so when an ebay seller says “the original formula”, it doesn't mean it's the 1944 version, you know?

  36. Anonymous says:

    Gotcha. And, you didn't dissuade me at all – just provided me with very helpful info. At least the Piguet fragrances are in the dark glass bottles which should help guard against too much light exposure – of course, that does nothing to protect against tempurature fluctuations. Thank you so much, again, for the benfit of your knowledge. :-)

  37. Blimunda says:

    I ordered a sampler of this from Les Senteurs. Eugh, I orderd over the phone and asked for a sample of ‘Band-it’ (harsh London accent), and when the SA ran down the list I ordered, pronounced it as “Bon-Dee” (mellifluous french accent). I felt like a bit of a pleb. However, I have to say – Bandit does sound pretty cool when spoken in the plain old english way……

    I want to try both Fracas and Bandit in EdP and extrait. I assume that Harrods will have both, either in their gorund floor parfumerie, and if not, good ol’ Roger Duv won’t me down!

    • Robin says:

      So many things sound better to English ears when they’re said in French, but Bandit is not one of them! I think of both Bandit & Fracas in the English pronunciation, and in the US, so do many SAs so it all works out ;-)

  38. verboten says:

    I have a bottle of Bandit EdT which is wonderfully bitter.* A while ago I smelled some bandit in a store (and I can’t remember the concentration!) and it was nice, but much much sweeter and more floral than my EdT. Anyone know if there has been a reformulation? I’m not sure if what I smelled was a new version, or whether I was smelling the EdP, and the difference you guys talk about is that extreme.

    *To boast–I got this at a discount store for $10!

    • Robin says:

      I don’t know how old your original bottle is, but yes, it’s been reformulated (probably several times) over the years. And congrats on your bargain!

      • verboten says:

        I don’t know how old it is either, but it was reimported from the Middle East or Russia. Do you know if different versions are marketed in different regions?

        • Robin says:

          Not usually, but I don’t know if the company that currently owns the license also owns it in those countries…so can’t be sure.

  39. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Hi Robin. I just got a sample of this today and totally fell head over heels for it. When I went by Fragrancenet to see what it was going for, I was thoroughly confused to see there’s both a listing for men and one for women… Are they the same fragrance but in different concentrations like Eau d’Hadrien? Both listings were out of stock and didn’t say whether they were an EDT or EDP. I don’t know which I have since the notes I’m getting sound more like the masculine counterpart. Or is it just one frag in different strengths? *shakes head* I’m confused…

    • Robin says:

      No, there was actually a Bandit for men, although not sure if they make it anymore or not, and at any rate I don’t think it was made by the same company that currently produces the Piguet fragrances. Unless you got your sample by some odd means, I’d guess it’s the women’s.

  40. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Thank you, Robin. I figured it was likely the one for women, but wanted to be sure before I bought some. Do you notice a dramatic difference between the concentrations? I gravitate toward parfum, but if the EDP is just as good, my wallet will be happy, as will The CEO. :)

    • Robin says:

      I have tried EdP & Parfum — but not from the same time period (have vintage parfum & new edp, in other words). So would be afraid to answer except to say that the EdP is darned good!

  41. Oh, it took me far too long to get my hands on this. Yeah, it is brutal. It is sexy. It has oomph, and it is a statement, and aboslutely wearable.

    It is a pity the leather turns sweaty on me, and then the brutality is gone. What a pity!
    It coud be more bitter and fizzy for my taste – is there something that comes in your mind? I actually look for something “brutal”. Feminine I have yet a lot, I need a weapon for my office.

    • Robin says:

      For something more brutal, one of the Montale leather oudhs would do the trick, but don’t know about the fizzy part.

  42. Gamble says:

    In Perfumes: The Guide, I read that the original creator of Bandit, Germaine Cellier (sp?), used bases – building blocks of scent pre-mixed by the manufacturer – instead of constructing the perfume note by note with discrete substances. Those bases aren’t used today – but according to the guide, those bases mark the difference between the smell of vintage era Bandit and today’s, or 1997’s…
    But man alive! When I first smelled it, I had to have it… It smelled like scratchy, spicy agressive almost-flowers…and the scratchiness, I now think, could be called sweaty…The sillage was livid…wearing it was like chaperoning a panther to a kid’s birthday party …I gave it back to the jungle…lol.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, many perfumers did, and many perfumers got their start working for the companies that made the bases.

  43. gentiana says:

    Whoahaaaaaa! I just got my bottle of Bandit!
    Smelled true danger on paperstripe, smelled wonderful on my wrist. Once… Twice… What the heck, I deserve it (I thought) … So I “slaughtered” my holiday money for it.
    . Worths every drop! It is ME in a way that not many people believe I can be… Not even myself…

  44. kate says:

    Just tried my sample of Bandit and it is GLORIOUS!!!!!
    My kind of per-fume…..full-on, classic, never boring and really really beautiful. This is NOT for the girl who normally wears the new (thin) version of Shalimar or who likes and buys the new genereic fruity florals (Yuk!) Only the brave the bold or the perfumaholic will truly love this one!!!

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