Jean-Paul Guerlain created his two Arsène Lupin men's perfumes, Dandy and Voyou, as an homage to the Gentleman Thief Arsène Lupin, who is a French literary hero. While Voyou didn't move me much and I have yet to explore it beyond the first unmemorable testing, Dandy is a spectacular perfume. I don't know about the French fictional burglar, but this is something I could imagine on Cary Grant in his To Catch A Thief role as John Robie. Between his suits and romancing Grace Kelly in the French Riviera, the elegance and sleekness of Dandy couldn't have been a better match.
Now, don't get me wrong- this Guerlain creation from last fall is as modern as it comes. It doesn't smell like anything from 1952, and despite the promise for an "oriental leather", the leather note is decidedly subtle. The opening notes are quite aromatic and peppery. It's almost misleading in a way and doesn't even hint on being a Guerlain. Only when the deeper and darker notes join the party and things become more about woody and incense can I get the connection. There's a super elegant violet leaf thread that makes me think of older masculine Guerlains, such as Mouchoir de Monsieur. Dandy is much easier to wear, though, and feels less powdery (I think the husband described MdM as "stuffy" when I made him try it) and tinged with something green .
The dry-down is all warmth, incense and mellow leather. I get why it's marketed as a masculine, but honestly, Guerlain could have easily labeled it as unisex, shared or whatever. It's not macho in any way and would appeal to many a woman. I can't get enough of Dandy and doubt anyone would raise an eyebrow at a woman wearing it. Kind of like sneaking into Cary Grant's closet and borrowing a shirt, a scarf and his fragrance, then pairing them with skinny jeans or a little black dress.
Guerlain Arsène Lupin Dandy ($235, 2.5oz) is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Guerlain boutiques around the world.
The New Mayfair Edwardians by Norman Parkinson, 1950
Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief, 1950, imdb.com