Gucci Guilty ~ fragrance review

Gucci Guilty perfume advert

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, iconoclast who lives life at full 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 75 ml bottle

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.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. maggiecat says:

    I sniffed this on a scent strip in a magazine and was intrigued…I’ll go looking for a real spritz this weekend. Lilac was a beloved childhood scent, but I find it just too sweet to wear as a fragrance. In this, however, the lilac was discernible, but balanced…I’m intrigued…

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Maggie! The lilac is subtle, not a central note the way it is in FM En Passant, for example… but yes, “balanced” is a good word for this fragrance.

  2. Fuddy Duddy 101 says:

    smelled this on a magazine as well – it struck me as pleasant but I don’t remember smelling the lilac at all. Because I adore lilac I will be trying this for certain and the 30 ml is just perfect!

    • Jessica says:

      I’m always happy to see 30 ml bottles offered, too!

      • Fuddy Duddy 101 says:

        I just checked out some dept. store web sites (Nordy, NM and Saks) and none of them are offering the 30 ml online. Sephora does not have it at all. Mmmm – maybe later…or at the store itself.

        The Gucci website has it available to order though in the 30 ml size.

        • Jessica says:

          Ah, interesting. Thanks for checking this! I woudn’t be surprised to see it at Sephora soon. They have all the other Gucci fragrances, and they often carry the 30 ml sizes.

          • Fuddy Duddy 101 says:

            You’re welcome. Macy’s has the 30 ml online. And great review, Jessica. Should have said that 1st. Have a fabulous Labor Day Weekend everyone!

  3. Tama says:

    I’m generally interested in trying things with lilac so I’ll give this a sniff. I have almost bought Gucci by Gucci a few times now but always stopped short, so still kind of exploring the house.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Tama… It’s interesting to see what’s going on with Gucci and fragrance. Their fragrance line used to seem a bit all-over-the-place to me. Rush had a lot of personality, but then others, like Envy Me, were sort of pointless. The newer scents seem to form more of a cohesive group. (Robin liked Gucci by Gucci, as I recall!)

  4. Abyss says:

    I must say that I was disappointed when I smelled this one. I thought it smelled very functional, like shampoo or fabric conditioner or some other household product promising you a “morning meadow” or some such fragrance on the packaging. It’ll probably sell well.

    • Jessica says:

      lol, I seem to have liked it more than you did, but I agree, it will sell well.

  5. RusticDove says:

    Well, this doesn’t sound too bad. ;-) I have Gucci by Gucci, and I like it in cooler weather for an uncomplicated, easy scent. Thanks for the timely review as I’m sure we’ll start seeing it everywhere [and when I see it, of course I’ll sniff it]!

    • Jessica says:

      Oh, I think we’ll be seeing it everywhere, too… and I didn’t really expect something shockingly novel, since it’s a big brand and a big release; but it’s nicely done.

  6. faintlymacabre says:

    Can’t say that I love the ad- it looks like his bicep is squishing her chest.

    • Jessica says:

      Ouch! You’re right.

    • mals86 says:

      Oh, EXACTLY what I said when I saw it: Ouch.

    • GGSpokesmanFan says:

      I love this ad! My first thought when I saw it was “oh, to be her!” But then since I fell hard for Chris Evans after seeing Captain America, and the spokesperson is the reason why I checked out Gucci Guilty in the first place, my perspective may be different than yours.

      I showed this page the other day to a new friend who didn’t know who Chris Evans is but very much liked what she saw when I showed her some pics. She and I agreed that he can squish our chests with his bicep any time.:)

  7. APassionateJourney says:

    I’m in looooove with the ads (Inspired by Barbra Streisands A Star Is Born film), I’m in love with the name (Inspired by Barbra Streisand’s song of the same name. Thecreative director is a big Babs fan.), and I loooooooooove the scent and the bottle! I smelled it in a magazine and I found myself going to Barnes and Noble 3 more times to smell the scent strip since Macy’s didn’t have it in yet. On my skin…..oh my goodness. Magic! Macy’s had this HUUUUGE dummy bottle and I love it. I’m so obsessed with it. I’m even scared to touch my bottle! I have to put paper bags over my hands so I won’t get any fingerprints on it! Just too gorgeous!

    • Jessica says:

      APJ, I’d heard that Frida Giannini was inspired by Streisand’s song “Guilty” and that the embrace on the “A Star is Born” album cover reminded her of the interlocking G’s… funny. I tend to take these anecdotes with a grain of salt. ;)

    • GGSpokesmanFan says:

      I love the TV commercial spots and the print ads for Gucci Guilty. Love the scent as well. Funnily enough, I’m not a big fan of the actual bottle. I seem to be the only one who doesn’t care for the bottle.

  8. FragrantWitch says:

    I like the bottle but the juice is not for me. I found it ‘meh’ – fruity with very clean patchouli in the drydown. Nicely done and will sell well but definitely not for real troublemakers!

    • Jessica says:

      Fragrantwitch, I agree, the real troublemakers (which doesn’t really include me, in most things) will have to look further afield — I don’t think they’ll find much to excite them at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s in general! ;)

    • Rappleyea says:

      LOL at “real troublemakers”! :-D

  9. Cheryl says:

    I really enjoyed this review, jessica. And “gilty”? Priceless!

  10. Jeremy says:

    Great review Jessica! I wonder – how feminine do you think it is? Would it be odd on a man?

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Jeremy — You know, on one of the days I was testing this, I caught myself thinking, “A man could almost wear this.” I suppose it would depend on the man! It’s not a masculine scent, per se, but it’s not overtly “feminine” either. So, a man who likes light fruity ambers could try it. But definitely do try before you buy, in any case!

      • Jeremy says:

        Good advice, thanks so much!

    • GGSpokesmanFan says:

      They do have a Gucci Guilty Pour Homme. I saw an interview an MTV VJ did with Chris Evans about Gucci Guilty and she (the VJ) said she was wearing the men’s version. He asked her if he should wear the perfume, then.:)

      • Jessica says:

        But it hadn’t been released yet in September 2010, when I wrote this review, if I recall correctly. ;)

  11. The packaging is fabulous, but it smells terrible.

    • Jessica says:

      Like every other fragrance, it’s not for everyone, of course!

  12. KRL says:

    I sniffed this at Bloomingdale’s last week and must say I prefer the bottle to the juice…

    • Jessica says:

      The bottle is fantastic… I’m sure every magazine will refer to it as “luxe”!

      • KRL says:

        and it is…I’m almost tempted to see if someone will do a split – they take the juice, I take the bottle!

  13. Rappleyea says:

    The notes – lilac, peach, amber – sound discordant to me, but I should know not to trust a read of the notes. Great review Jessica. Thanks.

    Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

    • Jessica says:

      Note listings can be so misleading, it’s true. Enjoy your weekend!

  14. Lovetosmell says:

    The bottle is really nice I bet I won’t like the fragrance I have a bad reaction to fragrances that have patch in it.But, I can’t wait to try it.

    • Jessica says:

      Lovetosmell, Well, it’s a very smooth, clean patchouli, nothing like true patchouli essential oil or even the stuff that people used to wear at Grateful Dead concerts… so, it may not bother you!

  15. kaos.geo says:

    I agree with the review. All I can add is that it smells a little predictable.

    • Jessica says:

      Kaos, It’s not shocking in any way — but, I would argue, neither is Gucci’s overall style. ;)

  16. ssstfam says:

    Just have to mention that I do love the smell and purchased it while I also own Flora and Envy and they are great summer scents for me, I thought this would be a nice add to my collection for a more yr round day or evening. But I was VERY disappointed….within a 1/2 hr I can’t smell it anymore nor can anyone else smell it on me. A friend also just recd as a gift and without me even mentioning she started complaining how it doesn’t last long.
    The other two I own always last throughout the day or night. I don’t like drenching myself in perfume but I swear I could dump the bottle on me and maybe it would last for an hour or two. Sad I really love the scent.

    • Sonam says:

      I totally agree with you, to my misfortune as well….I liked this fragrance, but the lasting power could be better. It lasted on me for two-ish hours, but that’s after I used a generous amount….4-5 sprays from my sample vial, which normally would be plenty for any other fragrance to last at least a strong 3 hours (which would also pass my “to buy or not to buy” test), but this one didn’t cut it. :( I’m so disappointed by my results that I think I’m going to try my test again, because I really wanted to get a bottle….

      • Jessica says:

        The bottle is great! and I found the staying power not bad for an EDT, but of course, everyone’s “mileage” will vary.

  17. turbovivi says:

    very very VERY airy and no lasting power whatsoever. It also turned from being mildly interesting (“dirty”) to blah within 30 mins. The bottle is great looking. Sephora’s 1oz bottle is absolutely elegant and adorable at the same time (how?) – but it is only good for someone that is fresh out of college, at best.

    • Jessica says:

      Turbovivi, It’s been positioned as a fragrance for the younger Gucci fan, so I’m not too surprised about its lightness. A 20-something wearer is probably what they were aiming for!

    • GGSpokesmanFan says:

      This is really funny to me that so many people love the bottle and don’t like the scent when I feel exactly the opposite. I mean I checked out Gucci Guilty because of who the guy is in the ads for it, but I bought it because I love the way it smells.

      I do agree about the lasting power, but it not lasting very long can actually be a very good thing for me. I love to wear fragrance, but I go to several public spaces where they ask you not to wear fragrance because of allergies.

      When I’m going to these places, if I chose a fragrance that doesn’t last, I can still put some on and enjoy it on the way there, and by the time I get where I’m going, it’s gone and not bothering anyone with allergies.

      • Jessica says:

        Well, I generally have no interest in Gucci, but I liked the bottle, and I liked the fragrance… I just didn’t think they were a good fit for one another!

  18. Scentsate says:

    I agree with you about the glow in the topnotes. Actually, I really like Gucci Guilty. I didn’t think it was audacious, either. But I do think it’s fairly original with its potpourri smell. And it’s very warm. Maybe that’s why they are trying to make it carnal. I don’t necessarily think it’s just for young people, though. I think all ages could wear it.

    • Jessica says:

      Scentsate, I agree — it’s versatile enough so that 20-somethings and 30-somethings and upwards can wear it!

  19. Sharon says:

    I absolutely LOVED it at first smell…. Did not smell any lilac or patchouli, but def. a high citrus note. Am 47 years old and do not think it is “too young” for me, I love the clean sexy smell it has, and my husband loves it too.. I normally wear Allure or Hypnose. It struck me as an interesting scent, as did Hypnose when I first tried that. This is going to be a new favorite of mine!

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Sharon — “clean sexy” is a good way to describe it! Glad you liked it too.

  20. mlew413 says:

    Hey! I read like all of your reviews and though we don’t always see eye to eye (what two people always do when it comes to scent?) I love your writing and your reviews always let me know exactly what I need to know about the perfume i’m interested in. It ticked me off when I found this, some idiot trying to pass off your review as his/hers. Annoying!!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks for the kind words! and for pointing that out. It’s surprising, and sad, how often this happens.

  21. alotofscents says:

    Oh poor Jessica, how rude and sad. I hope you corrected the plagerizer!
    I finally got to smell it, and I can’t believe how much I like this. It’s strange because I hardly like anything mainstream lately and I really don’t care for patchouli. This patch is very clean. The whole composition is true to the listed notes, plus a slight, very slight gourmand smell, vanilla? The whole thing is very smooth, there is a soft peach and a hint of lilac, with a lasting impression of subtle amber, patchouli hint and a seamless blending of vanilla.
    Wow, I think I may have to buy a bottle-even though it does remind me a little of a cigarette lighter, ha! I really am impressed, and I can definitely see the subtle sexy in it.

  22. alotofscents says:

    Plagiarizer-oops, I blame my spell checker.

Leave a reply