Guerlain Arsene Lupin Dandy and Arsene Lupin Voyou : Fragrance Reviews



Arsène Lupin Dandy:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Arsène Lupin Voyou:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

When I reflect on Jean-Paul Guerlain’s impressive body of work, from Vétiver de Guerlain to Chamade to Samsara, the recent Guerlain PR fiascos involving him sadden me even more. With the fragrances he created, he managed to do what LVMH is still struggling with: to take the classical Guerlain signature of warm tonka bean, rose, iris, vanilla and modernize it. Even more so, he has created scents that have a timeless appeal and that (if regulations do not interfere) will outlive all of the L’Instants, Insolences and Idylles. Jean-Paul Guerlain mentioned in a few interviews that Arsène Lupin Dandy and  Voyou, on which he has worked with Guerlain in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser, are the last fragrances he will create. If so, then this chapter in Guerlain history will be closing on a high note, because out of the two, Arsène Lupin Dandy is a refined, elegant composition with a timeless quality.

Arsène Lupin fragrances are inspired by the fictional character from the series of books by Maurice Leblanc, whose character of gentleman thief Arsène Lupin were as popular in French speaking countries as Sherlock Holmes. Although both fragrances are marketed for men, I would like to note right away that Arsène Lupin Dandy would make an excellent fragrance for women, particularly those of us who love classical fragrances in the woods and green chypre genres.

The main impression of Arsène Lupin Dandy comes from an elegant ménage a trois of its soft leather-amber, green balsamic notes and the warm violet-jasmine accord. It hits its high note with a liberal dose of bergamot, the characteristic peppery bite of which is deliciously amplified with cardamom and pink pepper. Earthy, green notes that set the tone next unfold simultaneously with the dark, balsamic incense note. This lends a memorable tension to the composition, the same excitement one feels stepping outside on a cold winter day and suddenly realizing that the smell of spring is in the air. Arsène Lupin Dandy then moves through the delicate floral heart (accented brilliantly with some very nice jasmine absolute,) and into the refined base of creamy, sheeer musk, dark amber and leather. Despite the heavy, rich notes, the fragrance never loses its refinement and soaring, airy character. It takes me to the glorious Guerlain fragrances like Sous le Vent and Vétiver. Also, those who admire Serge Lutens Bois et Musc and Lalique Encre Noire, will find Arsène Lupin Dandy appealing.

Arsène Lupin Voyou is technically less interesting, and while enjoyable, it lacks the dramatic development and originality of Arsène Lupin Dandy. It is built on a classical masculine dry woods accord of cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and amber, which is wrapped in a big dose of vanillic, sweet notes. Sheer marine notes lighten the effect of the composition, while a creamy note of sweet, warm musk wraps it to the point of being nebulous. In the end, it is just a nice, good-quality, but utterly conventional masculine scent. In the similar vein of dry woods with oriental accents, I would prefer Nicolaï Baladin, Tom Ford Bois Marocain, Comme des Garçons 2 Man, Serge Lutens Daim Blond, and Hermès Eau d’Hermès.

Arsène Lupin Dandy (fragrance family: woods) includes notes of bergamot, pink pepper, cardamom, violet, frankincense, labdanum, leather and patchouli. Arsène Lupin Voyou (fragrance family: woods) includes artemisia, bitter orange, coriander, cardamom, peppercorn, rose, sandalwood, patchouli, musk, amber and benzoin. Both fragrances are in the Parfums Exclusifs collection. They are available from Guerlain boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman in the US.

Samples: my own acquisition



  • Olfactoria: Ah, V, thank you! I was hoping to hear about these from you! 🙂
    Dandy sounds very interesting, since I love both Sous le Vent and SL Bois et Musc. “Stepping outside and realizing spring is in the air” how beautifully put! I could need a breath of spring 🙂 January 17, 2011 at 4:35am Reply

  • Victoria: Dandy is excellent, especially for someone like me who craves green chypres. Voyou, not so much, I actually find it rather boring. January 17, 2011 at 9:07am Reply

  • violetnoir: These appear to be very popular, at least an the NM in San Francisco. They were sold out of both by the end of December, and when I asked for a sample or tester, both were dry!

    I got a little bit of juice out of the tester, but not even enough to make a determination. It sort of reminded me of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed, but like I said, I was not going on much at all.


    Hugs! January 17, 2011 at 6:48pm Reply

  • Marina: Dandy loves-hates my skin, seriously. One day it is exquisite, another…really not 🙂 Don’t know why. January 17, 2011 at 2:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: I think that green notes have that tendency. They are the ones that I have noticed varying the most on different skins. January 17, 2011 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Carla: I look forward to trying these. Jean-Paul Guerlain’s masculines are genius! Vetiver, Eau de Guerlain, Habit Rouge – these are my husband’s favorites. January 18, 2011 at 5:22am Reply

  • Musette: Guerlain’s unfortunate viewpoint has nothing to do with his genius as a perfumer, as we all know (and, fwiw, I do wish folks would move on from that gaffe – I have a 90yr old father whose edit button is completely gone (no dementia – just old and eeeevil now 🙂 – the racial/cultural/gender things he says would make a leatherneck blush. And those opinions have always been there, alas)….but moving on, as I wish others would do, there is nothing more exciting to me than the idea of a collaboration between TW and Guerlain for the more masculin scents. When I was at NM Guerlain they were not displayed but that might be due to the overwhelming ‘girl’ aspect of that counter – I’ll be back in Chicago shortly and these are on my list to seek out.

    Thank you for an, as always, elegant review!

    xoA January 18, 2011 at 10:17am Reply

  • Victoria: When I was at Bergdorf to get a sample, I noticed that they had only a couple of bottles left. That was just before Christmas. I was told that it is quite a popular fragrance.
    Green Irish Tweed is perhaps my favorite Creed, but I have not tried it in a while.
    xoxo January 18, 2011 at 11:48am Reply

  • Victoria: I wear Habit Rouge myself, because it is such an incredible fragrance. If you or your husband like Vetiver, than Dandy is worth at least sampling. It is in the same airy, green woods area. January 18, 2011 at 11:49am Reply

  • Victoria: I am glad that you say this, because I truly feel the same way about it. The fragrances though are incredible, and if the collaboration between JPG and TW on these scents has really taken place, I only wish for more such projects. Dandy is easily the best thing Guerlain has launched over the past couple of years. January 18, 2011 at 11:53am Reply

  • Navneet Singh: Thanks . its awsome ,Jean-Paul Guerlain’s masculines are genius! i will definately forward this my friends January 19, 2011 at 5:35am Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, he created many excellent fragrances, very impression collection. January 19, 2011 at 11:13pm Reply

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