In 2010 Jean-Paul Guerlain authored two masculine’s adding to the brand’s collection of much loved men’s perfumes. This perfumed duo, Voyou and Arsene Lupin (formally called Dandy) is rumoured to be the last creations by the perfumer with Thierry Wasser taking on responsibilities as the house nose. Inspired by Arsene Lupin, a fictitious character from the novels of French writer, Maurice Leblanc; the two perfumes express the duality of Leblanc’s character who is known as the gentleman thief. Written in the early twentieth century, the Arsene Lupin novels paved the way for characters seen in modern literature and cinema, such as The Thomas Crown Affair and Oceans Eleven. Witty and confident, these charismatic thieves are desired by their viewers instead of being vilified as common criminals. Voyou (a French term for being a rascal) is Jean-Paul Guerlain’s depiction of the character’s mischievous side. The bottle’s natural wood frame shows Lupin’s true form. Aresene Lupin’s (Dandy) coloured wood frame and juice alludes to the character’s sophisticated façade.
Even within the one fragrance exists a certain duality and tension. Voyou is a perfume that begins as a powdery, almost oriental Guerlain style floral. This is cleverly reduced to a timber yard of freshly cut wood as the fragrance progresses. The first notes are bergamot and bitter orange with aromatic herbs and pink pepper. This peppered citrus opening is braced with warm floral notes built around a bouquet of Bulgarian rose. It is at this stage that the first notes of wood begin to show. Guerlain advertises these heavier notes as a blend of patchouli, benzoin, sandalwood and white musk. The start of the fragrance is feminine. Guerlain itself has personified the fragrance as a feminine character that is seducing its male wearer. Voyou exceeds in mystery on skin more than it does on paper. On me, the perfume looses all of its candied notes after it dries down. It is as if the wearer has pushed their way through a dense forest of marshmallows and flowers. Then, breaking through this dense candied foliage, they come to a forest clearing of freshly felled trees; the smell of raw timber melts in the sun. It is a very Guerlain beginning and a novel Guerlain ending I would not necessarily expect. In all, it is a very interesting scent adventure.
This is a combination of modern perfume mixology and classic Guerlain know how. It contains modern notes that will be easily accepted by modern perfume fans and some traditional structures that will appease the old-school critics. Voyou’s mischievous allure will suit a younger man. It could be his first Guerlain, an induction into the world of Guerlain.
Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain, Thierry Wasser
Release date: 2010
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Dry Woods