One of the most refined fragrance idea of this fall comes from Guerlain and it is Arsène Lupin Dandy, a creation that truly evokes the forgotten elegance of the 20's and 30's, now in a very modern interpretation, light woody chypre. The perfume descends directly from Sous le Vent and Vol de Nuit, but it is only the vague souvenir of the top note and the strength of the original accord that was represented, now in a contrast with a very suave leather violet accord.
Arsène Lupin Dandy is built around 3 ideas: 1) an aromatic spicy resinous note with a great character and power, 2) a soft velvety violet flower softly powdered and musky surounded by small doses of floral absolutes and 3) a true leather note that floats around the perfume in the most elegant way. The 2 main ideas work like a sublime "devoré" fabric. The powerful note, where the balsamic green facet suggests the galbanum incense accord over sweet musk, an idea invented by Jacques Guerlain and recently reinterpreted in an extreme version by Daniela Andrier, slowly becomes a very delicate flower. It is a violet flower that shines in a tender creamy sandalwood -musky base, delicately underlined with a trace of vanilla, benzoin and patchouli. Most surprisingly, the drydown of the perfume evokes Eau de Merveille through its velvety touch and the interpretation of light amber surrounded by soft vanilla, benzoin, ciste and cinnamon. On the skin the perfume reveals the emaciated contemporary tree moss surrounded by the caramel resinous aspect of immortelle flower or fir balsam and ciste. This refined soft chypre note adds a lot of distinction to the subtle accord. The spicy note, with cardamom and pink pepper as main ingredients but built on a nutmeg / cinnamon / bay idea over a cedar note, suggests several great masculine perfumes from the 80's and the original use of the spices in Jean Paul Guerlain previous creations. The perfume recalls many great Guerlain creations, even the last creation of Jean Paul Guerlain, with rose-jasmine-orris over a powdery base with a light peach accent. Unfortunately, the passage from the top note to the velvety suede rose-violet note is quite abrupt and the perfume looses very quick its original powerful facet. In terms of composition, what Jean Paul Guerlain does in Arsène Lupin Dandy is quite unusual because he seems to reverse the function of elements in a fragrance. Dandy starts with a strong dark note, usually found in the drydown, and ends in pure lightness. I'd love to see this perfume in a concentrated version with some aspects reinforced and much more tenacity. The transparency is not exactly the true nature of the perfume and airy chypre is not exactly the essence of Guerlain. What I love in the drydown is the velvety floral chypre note, a very refined idea found in many exquisite creations from the 30's that evoked precious exquisite fabrics with their "je ne sais quoi" aldehydic refinement (I think Dandy has some jasmine absolute / aldehydes / mandarin / peach in traces).
If Arsène Lupin Dandy is the expression of modern refinement through the use of an original note, Arsène Lupin Voyou is the opposite. It is extremely conventional, a stereotypical fresh woody oriental. Take any modern masculine fougere oriental launched from Armani Code to Givenchy Play Intense, take out all the "obvious" testosterone notes (like lavender, DHM, cold spices) and add the modern Guerlain signature found in Art et la Matière or Elixirs Charnels - benzoin, amber, vanillin and ethyl vanillin, some rosy notes. Arsène Lupin Voyou starts in a very fresh context dominated by bergamot, bigarade and coriander and rapidly turns into the sweet + dry woods notes with a triumphal vanilla. The sandal-amber-patchouli-benzoin accord is without any interest. If you want the same idea in good interpretation, try Voile d'Ambre (Yves Rocher), a VCA creation or the last Francis Kurkdjian opus, according to the budget. This fragrance ébauche with an unusual artemisia, maybe the only original shade, is less interesting than any recent Guerlain creation - take Elixirs Charnels for contrast. To my nose, Arsène Lupin Voyou (Guerlain) is just an unfinished project, bottled for the sake of a new launch. I desperately looked for a chypre leather note inside and I found none, only a burnt dry note that underlines the specific note found in some vanilla extracts and exquisitely expressed in the new Midnight in Paris (Van Cleef & Arpels). The excess of vanilla kills the balance of the perfume which becomes extremely flat. Dommage!
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art