In todays world of pink fruity saccharin bombs, it seems inconceivable that such a remorseless leather chypre as this, adorned with citrus, spice and the barest minimum of florals could ever have been created as a feminine.
It's so dark, and so stark: but it used to be much much more. My strongest memory of Bandit is from the eighties, how its subtly multicoloured sillage filled the street as the eponymous Hell's Angel - who wore it by the bucket load - roared past on his Harley.
An enduring masterpiece from the darkest days of WWII, by that greatest of iconoclasts Germain Cellier.
If you want to know what would 'bitter leather' smell like, get Bandit.
The Galbanum is my most feared note and I do not buy anything that has galbanum in it blind.
I bought bandit blind before I realized I dislike galbanum and I am glad I did.
Galbanum here is not over the top (like Jules, Devin) but supports the leather in the background and gives leather the bitterness.
I have both the 70s version and the modern one. The vintage is definitely better but current does a good job.
Every time I try Bandit, I wonder why I don’t love it. I should love it – I love chypres, I love leathers, and I love the idea of a perfume so bad-ass you can almost visualize its resting bitch face.
Maybe it’s because there’s nothing to distract from Bandit’s core brutality. Chypres are bitter, leather is bitter – leather chypres are therefore doubly bitter. Tabac Blond takes you almost to the edge but drifts into a sweet, smoky amber drydown that softens the landing. Habanita covers it up with flowers and face powder. Jolie Madame has the sweet sparkle of violets.
Bandit apologizes for nothing, and covers nothing up. It’s a tough, bitter, raw-edged leather that winds up in ash and sweat. The flowers that are there are putridly creamy in a stomach-turning way, and the civet forces your head into its crotch.
Putting it on is like fighting your way into a tight black leather jacket that crackles with hostility as you try to make it bend. Once on, there is a raw, salty meat smell that crawls up at your nose from the seams of the jacket, as if bits of cow flesh still cling to the underside. I was always disappointed that Lady Gaga’s first fragrance didn’t smell like I imagined her dripping meat dress to smell – but Bandit does.
But that’s not what turns my stomach. What gets me each and every time is the jarring clash between the raw, salted-meat leather notes and the creamy floral side. The florals are calorific, full-fat renderings of themselves – a rubbery tuberose, a petrol-like jasmine – mashed into a cream cheese texture that when it rubs up against the dark, dry leather causes my gorge to rise. The civet plays a key role here, of course, both heightening the pitch of the brutal leather accord and giving the florals a slutty growl.
To my surprise, it’s the smoky ashes of the dreaded galbanum that rescue Bandit for me – cutting through the overly rich florals and brutal, salted leather, the ash weaves in and out and draws my attention to a campfire in the distance, a successful (and much appreciated) piece of misdirection. Every time I get to this part of the dry down, I wonder if it’s worth at least getting a decant.
On the plus side, Bandit is distinctive, bold, and full of character. It is also ageless. In its cleaned-up, reformulated state, the current Bandit EDP is firmly modern in its minimalism. There is nothing in it that pegs it to any one year, let alone a year as far back as 1944. As Teutonically ergonomic as an Olympian swimmer’s waxed chest, it feels like it could have been debuted in the same year as Rien (Etat Libre d’Orange), even though 62 years separate the two.
On the other hand, Bandit is a fragrance whose high proportion of green notes makes it vulnerable to the ravages of time. In two samples I’ve had (vintage and concentration unknown to me), the green elements – the moss, hyacinth, artemisia? – seemed to have wilted like lettuce in strong sun. The resulting vegetal, decaying mulch does nothing for me, not because it is unpleasant per se, but because part of me associates that wilted green note with perfumes I find dated. I won’t name names, but basically anything with coriander, peach, gardenia, and sometimes that 70’s way of treating patchouli.
In the end, though, Bandit is just a curiosity for me, and a placeholder – it smells much better and richer than the brown-grey drudgery of the current Cabochard and less herbally-up-its-own-ass as Miss Balmain, but not nearly as good as Jolie Madame, whose rush of violets makes me smile. Habanita and Tabac Blond are its sisters-in-arms, equally at home with a sneer and a cigarette dangling out of their mouths, but I would take them – any of them – over Bandit. I just don’t have the personality required for such naked aggression.
Qualifier. This is a superb Perfume. Therefore I've given it the Thumbs up. My personal subjective view affects only me in this way.
I love the opening as it greets me with the same green,green,green bitters as Givenchy III, Aliage and Cabochard. Lovely that!!
Then it turns ugly, my stomach turns slightly. I suspect something like Tuberose.
I am drawn through the muck by a light smokiness and land into a rather Linear Dark Leather paralleled by this feathery smoke.
This leather is plastic,severe and yes,"Butchy" and forbidding.
Reminds me of an event in the 80's. I joined a gay friend on an excursion through a Dyke bar. We were the only two men. There were quite a few very beautiful women on the dance floor and the air full of heated Estrogen. I thought I was being careful about my glances. A short, stocky "Bull" walked past giving me a shoulder shove, a hard stare and "That's my Bitch...Bitch". She was scented like Bandit and angry Estrogen.
I mumbled "No I am with him" pointing at my friend.
Friend and his sister thought it was hilarious!!
I could not get out fast enough. Nearly soiled myself.
Bandit remains as such today. I certainly wouldn't wear it and I am not likely to want to have anyone I am with wear it.
Bandit Plastic, Tuberose and Leather. Nooo, Thank-you.
09th June, 2016 (last edited: 10th January, 2017)
Outstanding unisex, slightly animalic, floral leather, the circa 2000 parfum version.
The floral and the leather are the same smell, as if a zealous tanner made a dark, heavy leather jacket floral and shiny. A thick leather, but soft.
The base isn't a million miles away from the effect in Antaeus, I think they may have a similar patchouli.
The 2016 version (edp) is recognizably the same scent, and nice, just not as nice. It's like a pencil drawing of the same scent. Pencil drawings can be really interesting, and this is like one of those.
06th February, 2016 (last edited: 21st October, 2016)