Gucci Guilty Pour Homme ~ fragrance review

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme + sleeping men

Gucci has just launched Gucci Guilty Pour Homme in the U.S. I always start my exploration of a new Gucci fragrance by reading Gucci PR news releases and interviews with Gucci execs; these mini-manifestos on perfume are guaranteed to prompt laughter (though they possess not a bit of wit) and a combo of shock and respect (all that Gucci cares about when it comes to a fragrance and its launch is making money…they don’t even try to convince us they regard perfume as an aesthetic creation). The pairing of Gucci with Procter & Gamble Co. over the last several years has produced some bland, inexpensive–smelling “luxury perfumes,” but the cash registers are humming. Gucci Guilty Pour Homme is expected to bring in $250 million in retail sales (globally) in its first year on shelves.1

Let’s start with humor. Discussing the success of the feminine Gucci Guilty launch last autumn, Tracy Van Heusden, senior beauty buyer, House of Fraser department stores, said, I…believe that the success of the launch is also due to the fragrance launching in [the fall]. We do see stronger results for fragrance launches in autumn and winter than in spring and summer, perhaps due to the desire for change that accompanies the change in the seasons.”2 Huh? There IS also an important change in the seasons from winter to spring…and an accompanying shift in “scent sensibilities” from dark, rich perfumes to lighter, brighter fragrances. But what do department stores know about perfume, anyway?

It seems Gucci’s Guilty franchise was conceived in the marketing department long before the Guilty perfumes were developed (since they are ultra-mainstream fragrances, one need not devote too much time to formulation, I suppose). For the women’s Guilty launch, Gucci designer Frida Giannini fashioned a 3-D advertising campaign featuring everything from iPad press kits to tailored e-cards to partnerships with MTV and Vogue. Many of these methods will be used in the Gucci Guilty Pour Homme launch.

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme (‘designed’ by Giannini, ‘blended’ by  P&G’s fragrance-design team, in ‘collaboration’ with Givaudan…whew!) is classified as an aromatic fougère and lists fragrance notes of lime, lavender, pink pepper, cardamom, orange blossom, neroli, cedar, sandalwood and patchouli.

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme advert

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme opens with a blur, or ‘smear,’ of notes; you can smell, all at once, limes, lavender, orange blossom and pink pepper: these notes are sheer but a bit “screechy.” There’s absolutely nothing noteworthy or new about the fragrance; in fact, it falls flat the moment it hits skin. There’s a hint of ozone freshness and sports fragrance herbal-menthol as the cologne develops, and these aromas make me think of “masstige” (drugstore) teen (boy) body washes. But perhaps that’s on purpose, because Gucci Guilty Pour Homme is targeting “the elusive social-networking consumer, a much-sought-after and slippery target that the [perfume] industry hopes can help revive its waning appeal.”3 Gucci will rely on Facebook, YouTube, Captain America4, and Evan Rachel Wood in its marketing efforts aimed at young men. (Gucci’s Facebook page has millions of followers.)

Annalise Quest, a general merchandise manager for beauty at Harrods, says it all…and says it best regarding the Gucci scent philosophy: “Gucci Guilty has all of the right ingredients — slick packaging using Gucci’s interlocking Gs, a very commercial and on-trend juice and a powerful marketing campaign. The customer is buying into the lifestyle and designs of Frida Giannini, and the marketing campaign behind Gucci [Guilty] is integral in bringing that lifestyle to life.”5

Too bad Gucci and Procter & Gamble always go the easy (and banal) route when creating perfumes. If they’d put their powerful marketing machine behind an adventurous fragrance, chances are it would succeed (after all, people ARE gullible: they buy stuff like Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, Gucci by Gucci Sport Pour Homme, and Guilty, don’t they?). Gucci regards fragrance as just another place to stick those shiny interlocking Gs, but they admit it, happily, so how can I be upset?

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme Eau de Toilette sprays are available in 30 (?), 50 ($57) and 90 ($73) ml; other Guilty Pour Homme products include aftershave lotion, shower gel and deodorant spray.

Note: top image [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.

1. Women's Wear Daily, 1/7/2011.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. actor Chris Evans.

5. Women's Wear Daily, 1/7/2011.

Watch the Gucci Guilty women’s and men’s ads here and here.

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  1. Bee says:

    why bother with a scent, for the thrill of owning interlocking Gs (wow) and sharing Frida’s lifestyle, of course, I’d be happy with an aqueous ethanolic solution

    • Kevin says:

      Bee: the interlocking Gs are apparently POWERFUL!

  2. BlackRaspberry says:

    “We do see stronger results for fragrance launches in autumn and winter than in spring and summer, perhaps due to the desire for change that accompanies the change in the seasons.”

    . . .There’s also this little winter holiday called Christmas. I heard sometimes people buy things for other people during this whole Christmas thing.

    • Merlin says:

      Oh, you cant expect these little public holidays to affect sales: its the shift of season – guaranteed!

    • AnnS says:

      I thought the same myself. It’s mystifying that they didn’t recognize the trend. ;-)

    • Kevin says:

      BlackRaspberry: HA! True.

  3. mals86 says:

    So the fact that about a quarter of the words in this review deal with what the scent smells like is actually significant… mm-hm, I see. If all you can think about when smelling it is the marketing, it isn’t worth trying. (scratches Gucci Guilty ph off the list of scent for The CEO to try.) Thanks for taking one for the team!

    • Kevin says:

      Mals86: It would have been the shortest review in history if I stuck to “the fragrance.”

  4. Dilana says:

    Perhaps fall launches do better than Spring launches because they soak through the general purchaser’s consciousness (and are properly stocked through the retail world) in time for the Xmass buying rush. Why not say so?
    Who exactly is that elusive social networker? Is that a code word for “under thirty?” No, from the description, he (this is a product “pour hommes”), is a guy who devotes his time to various internet programs and bases his purchasing thereon, but is not already into fragrance. (Otherwise he would not be elusive to scent marketers, certainly indie music labels and Warcraft *marketers, have no problem reaching him). Does this guy need a lot of trendy fragrances? May be he is “social networking” as an alternative to going out to trendy clubs, where someone might notice if he is wearing a trendy fragance. (Of course, it is my contention that just about nobody can identify fragrances, the exception being a few readers of this blog).
    Finally given those awful Guilty ads, why no have a fragrance that actually has some aroma of sex?, or sweat?. Oh wait, I forgot, those ads are about theoretical, highly photo-shopped bodies artistically intertwined, like some bad Baroque painting, not actual humans.
    * Apologies if I have the name of this massively popular computer hobby wrong.

    • LaMaroc says:

      Lol! All the WOW players and agoraphobic computer nerds I know think of Axe as a “fine fragrance”, soooo….

      • Kevin says:

        LaMaroc: I wore the new AXE at the same time as the Gucci and think the AXE is better. I didn’t wash off the AXE … it’s coconut!

        • LaMaroc says:

          Ha! I love it. What is the new one called? Sounds yummy!

    • Kevin says:

      Dilana; I guess they’ll NEVER use this elusive customer as the IMAGE of Gucci? It would be interesting to see him!

      • Rappleyea says:

        I’m picturing the geeks from Big Bang Theory! :-D

  5. StinkPretty says:

    Howling at “guaranteed to prompt laughter (though they possess not a bit of wit).” Very rich. Very rich indeed.

    • Kevin says:

      SP: I get my laughs where I can!

  6. LaMaroc says:

    *That* is Chris Evans in the ad above? Ewww! I always thought he was rather bland but there he looks like a thug. And Ms. Wood looks…unconscious. lol I recently smelled the Guilty for women in a store the other day and found it repellant – yes, as in bug spray. So, between that experience and your reivew I now know I can avoid even picking up the bottle on this one. Muchas *muchas* gracias, Kevin.
    Btw, love the “snoring” graphics accompanying the pic. That made me start laughing even before I started reading the article.

    • mals86 says:

      Unconscious! Love it. (Not an ERW fan.)

      • LaMaroc says:

        Me, either. I only know her from that movie Thirteen and Hands Across the Universe which my niece made me sit through. Grueling.

    • AnnS says:

      I don’t even know who those people are… ha. I’m obviously not the target market anyway as I use most of my tech assets for work, not leisure.

      • LaMaroc says:

        The first time I saw Chris Evans was in a trailer for some movie with, I think, Kim Basinger, of all people. I was like “Who is this guy? He looks like he could be my cousin or a guy I went to high school with. Yawn!” And he hasn’t grown on me at all. I do like the comic-book/action movies for a fun day at the cinema, but to me it takes a more riveting actor like RDJr as Iron Man to keep me in my seat. (Might help that I’ve had a crush on the guy since, uh, “Weird Science”. Totally dating myself. Ok, I turned 39 on Monday! :P )

        • AnnS says:

          Happy Birthday! (It’s a great age if I do say so myself ;-) ) I liked the first Iron Man. I’m not totally immune from comic book movie things. But I like Smallville best.

          • LaMaroc says:

            Thank you, AnnS! Yes, I’m trying to be positive and not get hooked into the whole “stay at 39” thing. Although I will need to get out of town next year. My family is known for sneak-attack b-day parties for 40th b-days if you stick around.

    • Kevin says:

      La M: You’re welcome.

  7. anna says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Very funny and erudite post as usual. I think all perfume companies are ultimately concerned with making money they are businesses after all, however this does seem overtly so. As regards gullibility of purchasers, aren’t they just buying into what they think is a recognised status symbol? You should write about the semiotics of wearing and buying perfumes.

    • Kevin says:

      Anna: yes, money is the KEY for everyone…but the way Gucci treats perfume as an afterthought always surprises me…they know their consumer…not a connoisseur of scent, that’s for sure.

  8. cologniano says:

    Gucci is Guilty of no creativity. I waited and waited for this launch, I went back 3 straight days and applied this concoction. I tried to like it the first time, it was okay, lasted between 3 and five hours and pretty much disappeared. I went the second time and applied more than I did the first time and still, I usually say “ah yeah” when there is some potential, nothing. The counter person was all giddy about the juice, but I shot it down big time! I told her it was boring, nothing special. I already have a little Gucci Gucci left so buying this would be over kill. I went back the third day, I’m trying here, I applied it again and I had made up my mind, nothing, it started to smell like I had bad body odor and was covering up, I smell a lot of that at the gym. I was Gucci Guilty of stalking a fragrance and am utterly ashamed of my conduct (not really). I know one thing for sure, Gucci should be guilty for disappointing.

    • AnnS says:

      I got a sample of Guilty women’s included in an order from Sephora. I did give it a shot. It thought it was OK for the first 15 minutes – not FBW for me, but not horrible or anything – but then the drydown was just off the charts cheap dryer sheet musk, cheap truck stop handsoap musk. Yuck. 15 minutes of pleasure – sounds like the marketing strategy they were headed for with short attention span technology being their basis for development. If they had bothered to execute a decent drydown, it would have been a solid department store fragrance.

      • Kevin says:

        Anns: they certainly aren’t spending bucks on perfume materials…only bottles, ads, and the like.

    • Kevin says:

      Cologniano: I”m sorry…there’s lots more stuff out there though. HA! This one I could NOT get off my skin…I had to take a mid-day break at work and go to Nordstrom and spray on something else to counter it.

  9. VanMorrisonFan says:

    All kinds of possibilities for flankers here…No Lo Contendre (which is kind of like, but not exactly guilty in legal circles), Appeal (what often follows a Guilty verdict), Plea Bargain, Parole, Commutation…lots of legal terms to use in flanker names…

    • AnnS says:

      How about Memorandum for an Addendum to a Real Fragrance Brief.

    • LaMaroc says:

      Sounds like a fragrance job for Lindsey Lohan! *bah-dum-dum*

    • Dilana says:

      Liable To…
      Accessory (followed, of course, by Accessory After the Fact)
      Miss Demeanor
      The First Degree (followed, by, in lesser concentrations by Second, and Third Degree).
      Incite the Passion (a term for evidence which has no logical implications but is designed to incite the passions of the jury)
      SCiENTER (scienter, is a very fancy legal term for you darn well knew that you weren’t supposed to do that).

      • VanMorrisonFan says:

        I love Miss Demeanor! That is very clever! Wish I’d thought of that!

    • Kevin says:

      VanMorrison: RECALL!

    • Rappleyea says:

      ROTFL!! You all are killin’ me!

  10. AnnS says:

    Ha – I’m thinking if they want to hit that social network (do I have to talk to someone face to face?) demographic so badly, they may as well just sub the oh-we-forgot-about-the-formula contents of the very important GG-reat bottle for a real ipad or iphone or whatever “GG-ucci” device they can fit in the same amount of space. A small yet powerful device for meaningful interpersonal exchanges.

    • Dilana says:

      Who knows? Maybe there is a market for “designer” branded computer accessories. There are, after all, designer branded ear buds, and there used to be designer cell phone carriers (until they kept changing cell phone sizes). That would certainly make more sense than trying to reach the “social media” customer to make purchases for one of the two senses (smell) which can not be transmitted through social media.

      O f course it is also possible that the social media type customer is actually too sophisticated for this marketing trend. The Gucci is a couture fashion house, i.e., one that earned its reputation making couture clothing. The “social media” customer may be elusive since he or she recognizes that the trademark alone will not translate to any representation of quality when attached to a totally different product, like ear buds or perfume.

      • AnnS says:

        I read somewhere on the internet recently (guardian uk?) that the tech savvy individual is too hard a demographic to pin down. They are too knowledgeable, too well read, too “clever” for standard marketing practices. “They” always want to be ahead of the curve/trendsetters, which is a hard place to market test. I would agree there is a certain truth to it. There certainly seems to be a lot of desperation in recent online marketing strategies that is annoying. But that’s all spaghetti being thrown at the rest of the market who might think those things are what super hip people on the edge are using. Ah, perception.

  11. cologniano says:

    Speaking of Lindsey Lohan. Part of her community service will be janitorial duties in a morgue. She’ll have a field day over there with all those unsuspecting hollywood corpses decorated with lots of jewelry.

    • KateReed says:

      Mabe an actual frag worth noticing will come out of that? Eau de Lohan…the Community Service years! Whiffs of cold flesh and disinfectant over a bouquet of white flowers and a base of church incense and coffin wax…

      • Dilana says:

        “Flesh, Fruity, Floral?”

  12. RuthW says:

    Thanks for the review, it was a fun read.
    I don’t even mind all the PR shenanigans as long as the juice smells good – why is that so hard?
    Even if the average aspirational asshole (AAA) only wants a logo bottle on his bathroom sink, shouldn’t the company want a quality product to go with that quality marketing campaign?
    Thank god my DH doesn’t care about that crap and will wear whatever I give him – which recently was Lomani Pour Homme, found it dirt cheap, great reviews on Basenotes and it smells fabulous.

    • annemarie says:

      The reason it’s so hard is that it costs more money, generally, to produce a good fragrance. The reason, correctly it seems, that if they market it well, people will buy it anyway, regardless.

      • RuthW says:

        By “produce” do you mean the actual cost of the materials in the perfume or the act of construction/time involved by the perfumer in designing the perfume?
        I ask because there are drugstore and mid-level department store fragrances that smell great, so obviously its not an issue for everyone. It seems like I am always reading interviews of perfumers that describe perfumes that never saw the light of day because they weren’t produced, so there must be quite a few formulas lying around catching dust.
        I am not trying to be snarky, please understand this is NOT directed at you, merely my frustration with the dreck these corporations are shoving down my throat in every magazine I read.

        • annemarie says:

          Yes, I understand, that’s why I used the qualifier ‘generally’. I was thinking of both development time and the quality of materials. They do come at a cost. There are lots of great mid-price perfumes (thank goodness!). I wonder, tho’, if some of them were intgroduced at higher price points – to recoup the investment in producing the stuff – but have gone down in price? I’m thinking of things like Tocade, Cinema, Yvresse, First (which is very cheap where I live at the moment). So is Arpege.

          I guess there are lots of things that affect the price.

          • RuthW says:

            You are right, there are a lot of factors that determine price.
            Even though I don’t care for this release, at least there is Gucci Pour Homme- that one I will continue to buy for my DH.

  13. Rappleyea says:

    My very first boss wore Gucci loafers (they’re de rigueur in the Thoroughbred business) so those famous, inter-twining G’s have a very sinister connotation for me. So it’s no surprise that the juice is junk! But funny and interesting review anyway.

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: long gone there was Eau de Gucci…and I still like Gucci pour homme…the rest? Not one I care about.

  14. annemarie says:

    Obviously the really sad part is that this is apparently ‘a very on-trend juice’. That says a lot about the fragrance industry these days.

    Of course we have known for ages that many fragrance houses invest in making sure that the juice smells good for a few minutes on a blotter, or after the Gucci guy has applied it after his shower, and don’t bother with its development. Where the company does pick up again is for the marketing campaign. The problem for us is that great big hole in the middle – the development and drydown of the fragrance.

    Oh well. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Annemarie, I’ve been wondering about that myself–the lack of investment in the development of the fragrance. It seems, once again, to be a matter of general ignorance on the part of the general population–people don’t know to look for those changes, so they don’t wait to resniff their arm an hour later before buying a bottle.

  15. newtothis26 says:

    You know what? I got the new Gucci Guilty because I smelled it in the store and I told my hubby to buy it for me on my bday. Well, needless to say, it is a very weak, watered down fragrance that tricks you into buying it with a strong intro on first spray, fancy packaging, and a good name! I am so disappointed…..I still wear it because I don’t want to waste my money lol, but I might end up giving it away….He got me the gift set for about $75 and I regret that he spent that much on it.

    • annemarie says:

      Do the other products work okay?

  16. rendangboy says:

    Those Gucci perfumes creative directed by Tom Ford are now looking more and more like masterpieces in comparison, eh?

  17. thenoseknows says:

    WOW! talk about Unnecssarily Acerbic! This didn’t read so much as a review as more of a verbal flogging about How malignantly infuriated you seem to be at Gucci! As someone who (and in the case of yourself Kevin, Gladly so) Looks BEYOND the gloss and the Gleam of the Hyperbolic marketing of Gucci Guilty I was THOROUGHLY Impressed with both the Pour Femme and Pour Homme Fragrances… I bought the fragrance unsniffed and was not at all disappointed! whereas you find it thin and flat and “SCREECHY” (Kinda like your Review… VERY SCREECHY!) I actually found it Sensual and Bracing and very sexy in the dry down! I find that a lot of the Perfuminstas on here are so indignant with anything that screams “COMMERCIAL” Shall we say or Mass Marketed and that their fragrances must be NICHE and Overwhelmingly PONDEROUS that you miss out on the simple joy of a damn fine smelling fragrance and come in with immediate preconceptions about things and judge them not only Unfairly but Bitterly and Harshly! So Gucci Likes their fragrances to “APPEAL” what in the world is so wrong with that? they have a BILLION Dollar company to maintain and cannot go on wild tangents A La Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle or any of those Small Kitchen sink Niche labels that all of you on here throw yourselves on the railroad tracks for BECAUSE they are Esoteric! I have no need to defend Gucci or Giannini… They don’t need it… they are doing WAY FINE without it, But in the end, all this Ivory Tower Snobbery wears as thin as you say this Fragrance does!

    • Robin says:

      Please take a look at the comment policy:

      It is absolutely fine to disagree with a review, it is not fine to make personal attacks on anyone — authors or other readers.

    • annemarie says:

      Thenoseknows, I hear what you are saying, not that I appreciate the way you are saying it. But have a look at Angela’s review of Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, from a short time ago:

      I hope you will agree that this is an example (and it is not an isolated example) of an open-minded and respectful discussion on NST of a mainstream fragrance. Plenty of people were sharing their simple joy in a much-loved fragrance. Plenty of others were saying ‘Hmm … that sounds great … I’ll give that a try … ‘.

      • Robin says:

        What we want are honest reviews. Kevin only recently gave a glowing review to a $20 coconut fragrance by Pacifica. It simply isn’t fair to accuse him of “Ivory Tower Snobbery”, and I do think it’s just wrong-headed to assume that if someone prefers Frederic Malle’s fragrances to Gucci’s fragrances, it must simply be a matter of snobbery. That’s like saying you can’t prefer a fine wine to Boone’s Farm without being a snob, and it’s just plain wrong.

        I do understand though that many people feel insulted when they read a scathing review of scent they love. All I can say is that if you want to comment to disagree, you have to find a respectful way to do so. It is very clear in the comment policy: you can insult fragrances all you want, but you cannot insult other people.

        • LaMaroc says:

          Reading “Perfumes: The Guide” definitely helped me get a thicker skin about my perfume likes (they absolutely *trash* many of my favorites) and also helped me appreciate other people’s opinions about fragrance. :)

          • annemarie says:

            Yeah, me too! I’m still smarting years later. Love the Guide tho’.

          • Robin says:

            I think I developed a thick skin right away since I came to perfumistaship via MakeupAlley, where your favorite might get trashed and adored in equal measure. But there are many people, I know, who would rather not read anything critical about fragrances at all, and of course, the fragrance companies would prefer it that way too.

            I also know that readers are more likely to chime in when they agree with a review, but I just can’t state strongly enough how welcome opposing views are. They just have to be polite.

    • Dilana says:

      Serge Lutens is a division of Shishiedo, which I believe is one of the largest cosmetic companies in the world.

      • Dilana says:

        Let me add a further comment. I found the marketing campaign strategy quoted to be what was cynical and snobby. The marketing people seemed to imply that those who are not in the social networking crowd are not “trendy” enough to be their consumers, and those who are the social networking type are gullible enough to be persuaded to buy a perfume through dubious facebook postings.

    • thenoseknows says:

      To Robin… My Apologies… I wasn’t trying to be insulting or inappropriate… And i understand my comments are a bit Florid and over the top and I can promise i will not do this kind of thing again… i will surely find more diplomatic ways of stating my case and not go into rabid mode… Again… I Sincerely apologize to you and all the people of the forum… I am prone to being somewhat passionate and that can get the best of me sometimes and off i go into territory i should know better than to traverse! if i offended anyone, again, my intent was the SHEER Opposite of that, yet i know it did not come across that way and for that i am quite saddened and ashamed… So I beg Forgiveness and proclaim That i will never rant about in this manner ever again here… i will keep my comments as Ms. Robin asks us all to… Friendly and Diplomatic… :

      Thank You All….

      • Robin says:

        Hey, we all have bad days — consider it forgotten!

  18. SMS0511 says:

    I won’t buy expense fragrances any more, whether niche or commercial. What I do is check them out – I get a sample or test it on my own skin then look out for a perfume oil version. I have never been disappointed with the two suppliers I use and their versions are spot on imho. I have perfume oil versions of Gucci pour Femme and Gucci Guilty. I’ve put them away because they are cool weather scents.

    Basically, I smell good for a fraction of the cost.

  19. Karin says:

    Kevin – love the graphic!!!! A snooze…

  20. Rictor07 says:

    Yeah, i thought this was boring too. I like the older Gucci stuff the best. ive owned a bottle of Gucci Pour Homme II, but that was a gift. The only one i might ever consider buying for myself is the original Pour Homme.

  21. eminere says:

    The bottle is hideous in real life. It looks cheap and tacky, and the metal finish make it look rusted or tarnished. In fact, I thought the bottle was more feminine than masculine, and in any case patently unattractive compared to the women’s Guilty.

    The juice was, of course, nothing to write home about.

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