Robert Piguet, old and new

Robert Piguet’s fragrance line was originally an extension of its couture fashion line, established in the 1930s. Its first fragrances, Fracas and Bandit, were developed with Germaine Cellier and quickly became big perennial sellers. The couture house closed in 1951, shortly before Piguet’s death, but the brand continued to develop and market fragrances into the 1960s. The house, now exclusively selling fragrance, was sold several times, the last time to Fashion Fragrances and Cosmetics in the late 1990s.

Since that time, Robert Piguet has reformulated its classics to adhere closely to their original versions, albeit with modern materials, and has also released several entirely new fragrances. The house nose seems to be Aurelien Guichard; I have only seen his name and no other perfumer’s connected with the newer fragrances, and we do know that he designed the reorchestrations of Piguet’s classic scents.

I very rarely get the chance to smell the newest, latest, hottest niche perfumery, much less all the indies, but for whatever reason, I’ve had the opportunity to test a fair portion of the fragrances from this house, and wanted to do a few thumbnail reviews here.

Image from the Piguet website

I’ve divided these as Robert Piguet has suggested in its marketing materials: unisex fragrances are highlighted in green. Women’s in (Fracas) pink, of course. Ones I’ve smelled are in bold. I have not listed limited-edition anniversary versions, because typically there is nothing special about the juice. (I’ve also not listed Fracas for Men, which is produced by a licensee of the name from the ’70s era and is generally not regarded as being a legitimate Piguet fragrance.)

Alameda 2013 – Modern chypre. Really, a sweetened patchouli-rose with lily, something like Calypso but without the cheerful fruit, heavier on the patch and castoreum.
Baghari 1954 – Aldehydic woody floral. I bought a small portion through a split. Obviously, vintage bottles age differently, but this thing was intensely animalic on me, so much so that the grocery clerk actually leaned away from me while ringing me up.
Baghari Refo 2006 – Still an aldehydic woody floral, but cleaner. Candlewaxy aldehydes, an intense orange, woods.
Bandit 1944, reformulated 2006 – Mean green chypre leather in both iterations, though the modern ingredients took some of the bulk out. Tried to shiv me in the nose, then went for the eye socket. I had to duck. Bandit indeed. (Hmph.)
Calypso 2010 (Original released in 1950s) – Floriental. Candied orange peel, rose and geranium, a greeny herbal patchouli, a bit of suede, and iris. Fun and pretty. I’d have bought it if I didn’t already own at least two other rose-patchouli scents.
Cravache Refo 2007 (Original released in 1960s) – Aromatic woody chypre.
Douglas Hannant 2011 – Fracas Lite, with pear (also see Petit Fracas, below). To be honest? I liked it. And I’m not sorry. I mean, it sho’ ain’t Fracas, but then absolutely nothing else is.
Fracas 1948, reformulated 2006 – Iconic Giant White Floral. My in-depth review is here. I’ve tried both 1960s parfum and the current EdP; both are very good, though the modern is streamlined (to some degree!) where the vintage was plussshhhh and narcotic.
Futur Refo 2009 (Original released in 1960s) – Green floral. I was sure I’d love this, but I don’t; it is standoffish and almost unfriendly, in my opinion, and now I understand why some people hate green florals. There is a ton of violet leaf in this, which I don’t mind, but also a ton of vetiver, and I wanted more florals than I got. There’s no reason Piguet should classify Futur as feminine, other than that the original was intended for women. I’m convinced a man could wear this successfully.
Gardenia 2014
Jeunesse 1975
Knightsbridge 2013 (Harrods exclusive) – Leather. This scent is still exclusive to Harrods and more expensive than the rest of the line (which is not exactly cheap), at $325 for 50 mls, but I found it really enjoyable. It’s a rose made out of smooth glove leather, sprinkled with nutmeg and drizzled with Calvados, resting on a bed of makeuppy iris powder. Not quite edible, almost addictive. If only it were priced reasonably . . .
L’Entier 2018
L’Insomnuit 2016
Nuit Velour 2017
Oud Delice 2015
Oud Divin 2015
Petit Fracas 2012 – Fruity floral. Like its name suggests, it’s a youthened version of Fracas; actually,  it’s Lite-Fracas-Lite, with a fruity topping and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. (I preferred Douglas Hannant for a modernized Fracas.)
Rose Perfection 2013 – Rose soliflore. Wisps of powdery violet and a little mean-green smack of geranium surround a very pure, pretty rose. I’d probably rather have YSL Paris, but this is nice.
V Intense 2014
Visa 1945
Visa Refo 2007 – Woody oriental. Part of this I liked (the candied-peach/vanilla/suede thing), part of this I really really hated (the Angel-esque, piercing patchouli). Overall, I found it nauseating, but if you liked Angel, give it a shot.

Les Celestials de Knightsbridge Collection:
La Lune 2017
Les Etoiles 2017
Les Soleil 2017

Nouvelle Collection:
Bois Bleu 2013
Bois Noir 2012 – Woody incense. Sometimes I like a nice woody incense (Comme des Garcons Zagorsk, anybody? Amouage Jubilation XXV?), so I tried Bois Noir. Smoky guaiac, aromatic cedar, frankincense and some fairly harsh woody aromachemical lead into dirty patchouli and labdanum. Sigh. No.
Casbah 2012 – Oriental spicy. This one is what I expected Bois Noir to be: woods and incense, with nutmeg added. Not something I’d buy at this price point, but really nice.
Mademoiselle Piguet 2012 – Floral woody musk. Basically, soapy orange blossom, screechy neroli, and shaving-cream tonka on me. I didn’t love it.
Notes 2012 – Herbal fougere. I didn’t realize it was a fougere before trying it (Fragrantica calls it a chypre), but IT SO IS. And therefore, Not My Thing.
Oud 2012

Pacific Collection:
Blossom 2012
Chai 2012
Jeunesse 2012 – Fruity floral. I thought I might enjoy it — I like a good fruity floral, emphasis on good — but the Pacific Collection was patently made for the Asian market, which tends to favor very light florals, and Jeunesse (“Youth”) is an olfactory raspberry macaron, sugared berries over a floral background so light it’s almost not there.

Overall, there are only a few Robert Piguet fragrances I would wear on a regular basis: Knightsbridge and Douglas Hannant (forgive me, Fracas, but that cold-cream orange blossom sometimes just does me in). Maybe Calypso, if I wasn’t already stocked up on rose-patchouli scents. On the other hand, I think the line is fairly well-composed and varied, and Fracas is so iconic that everyone should at least smell it, even the modern iteration.

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6 thoughts on “Robert Piguet, old and new”

  1. What a fun review roundup! I adore Bandit: the jolt of green, the sharp leather, and the floral underpinnings are just right for me. The vintage extrait and EDT are among my top 10 vintages, and I also enjoy the modern EDP, which I find more suitable for summer wear. On occasion, I find myself in the mood for Fracas. I have some vintage parfum minis and would love to have a larger vintage parfum, but $$$$$! I compromised with a bottle of Truth or Dare, which I enjoy too. What is your view of TorD?
    Meanwhile, I was disappointed in my modern Futur: thin and zestless. Modern Gardenia smelled nothing like gardenia. I have not tried vintage Baghari, although “animalic woody floral” sounds right up my alley, grocery clerks bedamned, and I am curious about vintage Calypso and Visa. All so hard to find, so I may need to roll the dice and try a vintage decant.

    1. Oh man, Bandit tried really hard to kill me. (It’s funny — I took to Jolie Madame, which is at least nominally another green leather with florals, like a duck to water, and that immediately.)

      I liked Truth or Dare, although it had a certain, um, cheap bareness to it that made me not want to buy it. Also, I am totally stocked with white florals anyway. I once owned a vintage Fracas mini (and it was the real thing, with the lowercase letters on the label) which was lovely, but in the end there is too much orange blossom in Fracas for me. I sold it.

  2. Hey there Mals86,
    I love the Piguet line. When Joe Garces was GM he came to Australia and we all fell hopelessly under his charm. He took us through the line, how he’d overseen some reformulations and restructures and how he planned the growth of Piguet perfumes.
    It was a full turnaround from a company that had definitely waned.
    Around here there are FBs of Fracas (vintage extract and modern EdP), Bandit, Bois Noir, Blois Bleu, Visa, Petit Fracas and Futur (I even have a backup, it’s cool, sharp, floral chypre is lovely for me)
    Alameda and L’Insomnuit are the two I have my eye on for future purchases.
    Loved this round up.
    Portia xxx

    1. Oh yes! I remember you love Futur. It *is* really nice to see the company presenting rereleases of classics that are not bland, soulless modern versions, isn’t it?

  3. I discovered LInsomnuit thanks to Portia. It’s gorgeous. I sent what was left of my sample to a good friend who loves iris and she adores it too.

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