If you’ve been following perfume news over the past month or so, you’ve probably noticed that Gucci Guilty is one of this fall's major launches, complete with full-page ads and scent strips in fashion magazines, a movie-star “face,” a television commercial with a theme song, a somewhat hyperbolic press release, a tie-in to the MTV Video Music Awards, and the now-requisite Facebook page. It’s being promoted as a fragrance for a “21st Century beauty” who is “young, audacious, discerning...an iconoclast who lives life at full throttle...sexy and slightly dangerous.”
Guilty’s bottle is certainly eye-catching: it looks like an oversized, gilded (gilty?) Gucci purse clasp or belt buckle, with its unmistakable interlocking “G”s creating a window onto the juice inside. Gucci devotees will want to own Guilty for the container alone. The fragrance is classified as a floriental, with notes of mandarin, pink pepper, peach, lilac, geranium, amber, and patchouli.
Guilty seems to be more of a sheer, fruity oriental than a floral oriental; it opens with a bright citrus accord, dusted with a pepper note that gives it some bite and a suggestion (but just a suggestion) of dirtiness. For a moment, I wondered whether we were about to experience a reworking of Chanel Chance, which was partially responsible for pushing pink pepper into prominence a few years ago, but Guilty is less floral and feels more rounded. The topnotes give off a nice glow. The heart of the fragrance has a very soft hint of lilac, still layered under the golden fruit notes, and the geranium adds a sharp greenish note while continuing the peppery effect. That pepper is about as "dangerous" as things get, which is fine with me, although thrill-seekers who've read the promotional description may be disappointed.
Don't expect any earthiness in the "sexy" patchouli basenote, either; after all, Gucci's air-brushed interpretation of sex typically emphasizes the participants' long, bronzed limbs, luminous cheekbones, and perfectly glossed lips, without any unphotogenic sweatiness. Instead, the fragrance dries down into a blend of silky amber and a slightly syrupy patchouli. It feels translucent and smooth, like a piece of faux-tortoiseshell jewelry cast in a synthetic resin. There's a faint vanillic whisper in the final stages of its development, rounding off the fragrance's lite-oriental aspect. Its staying power is average for an Eau de Toilette.
Guilty deserves two commonly used fashion-world accolades, "modern" and "wearable"; a spritz or two would be suitable for most workplaces, and a heavier re-application would make the transition into evening wear. Guilty has more personality than Flora, but it's lighter (and perhaps more versatile) than the chypre Gucci by Gucci. It feels as sleek and compact as its bottle, but definitely less flashy. So it's not really an "iconoclast," like that imaginary "Gucci Guilty woman," but it compensates for a lack of "audacity" with timeliness and adaptability. It's more of a trend-fitter than a trend-setter, and it should find a wide audience.
Gucci Guilty Eau de Toilette is is available in 30 ($55), 50 ($75), and 75 ml (shown above, $95) Eau de Toilette, as well as in matching body lotion, shower gel, and body shimmer.