Gucci Guilty for Men is the new masculine counterpart to Guilty for Women, which was launched last year. Described as an "intense and individual contemporary fougère" in reality, it further solidifies the fragrance vision of artistic director Frida Giannini who is apparently shamelessly prone to stereotyping and visibly values commercial acumen above all else. If Gucci by Gucci, her debut scent, was already commercial, it had a little something to it. But her perfumes of late - she is the official signature on the Gucci fragrances now - seem only interested in exploring the brand's codes as well as the ones that society is willing to accept without blinking an eye as they spray on cologne molecules in the morning. We will blink a bit for them here. Giannini is no moralist, it appears, preferring to sing to the chorus of well-entrenched prejudices, in particular the ones regarding gender roles. It all translates into a perfume to fit that self-soothing ethos.
This is why it is not a problem for her to say things like,
"Everyone is in love with the Gucci Guilty man. He is a risk-taker, a thrill-seeker, yet he always remains sensitive to a woman's desires." Then she tries to top that by adding, "He [the Gucci Guilty man] embodies these desires." And finally, the climax, "Men yearn to be him, women to be his."
The Gucci Guilty man, you would probably not wish to meet in real life, if given a choice. It is therefore amusing to watch the seductive dance of the brand presenting him as the epitome of irresistible charm, for the ages.
"Young, fearless, with impeccable taste, the wearer of Gucci Guilty for Him is a hero for our age - exuding charisma and more than a little dangerous. His life may be under his control, but he refuses to exert any restraints over his passions. The spirit of hedonism that this unleashes is intoxicating. His power resides in knowing that power is a game, and he is ready to play this game to the full when he meets his female match....
But wait, for the gospel of self-love has not been fully expressed,
"The Gucci Guilty hero takes pleasure in refusing to feel guilty about who he is. His remarkable self-confidence allows him to constantly explore new experiences. His unshakable sense of self-identity wields an irresistible force. He knows what he wants and he goes after it with single-minded determination and compulsive charm. It is exhilerating to yield to the impulses of a man with such exceptional magnetism."
Gucci are on to the era of narcissism and to the 5-minute fame age, we get it. What could be amusing on paper is perhaps more preoccupying to smell insidiously for a few short hours, relentlessly pumped into the air on the street, becoming real, if the perfume does well thanks to commercial efforts. There are no other reasons why it should do well. It's all imagery and projection of desires because the perfume itself, you will be able to find in a thousand other bottles. I do not really see any salvaging nuances that would peg it as a conservative fragrance with a few discreet supplementary nuances worth paying attention to. It is just hugely commercial.
The advertising by Frank Miller featuring Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans lets passions run loose, in keeping with the main theme of fast-living. Evan Rachel Wood cultivates a submissive, not-very-bright air with a shipwrecked Pietà look on her face. Chris Evans looks annoyed but will make a pit stop on his wild journey to self-realization before leaving the frame of the commercial in a blast of fire. Of course, you may suspect, they are all ninnies inside, playing it rather than living it; what do you expect from a juice that characterizes its pink peppercorn note as being "defiant." Like, sadly, the fragrance notes, the roles are scripted to the max and made to be played by and for children (check the orange blossom and neroli notes.)
Notes: Italian lemon, mandarin, crushed green leaves, pink pepper, lavender, cardamom, orange blossom, neroli, patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, amber.
The fragrance opens on a rich woody accord with a few dry hints. A minty sprig freshens up the eau. It manages to feel both ambery and watery. The eau de toilette leans in the direction of a fruity-woody concoction evoking olive-tree wood and dried Chinese prune pit. Checking back on my earlier review of Gucci pour Homme II, I see that the olive-wood note was used then too. The flask-shaped perfume bottle is not just here for a visual effect as the scent displays a hedonistic rum-y facet.
The perfumer(s) took a very mainstream accord of masculine perfumery - think Boss for Men - and gave it further sensorial depth than can be expected on average. But otherwise, Gucci Guilty for Men is mostly interested in reenacting some powerfully lingering masculine stereotypes scent-wise, an impression which the press material confirm with its pean sung to glandular machismo.
As the fragrance dries down, the woody-ambery aspect becomes more hushed in tone taking on the softer texture of iris. Without becoming powdery per se, it feels a bit snowy. This is where the discreet leather note that appeared in the top notes becomes more obviously linked to the suede aspect of iris. It evokes the iris cologne, Dior pour Homme.
The clean-shaven notes of a fougère become more characteristic as the perfume progresses, buttressed by warm ambergris and some spices. The sweet almond-y tonka bean which has been made so popular by Paco Rabanne 1 Million is there too. The woods diffuse nicely, being on the sharp side.
Giannini said that the patchouli note in Guilty pour Homme is meant to be perceived as the signature accord of all the Gucci fragrances, but it is rather tame and not very characteristic here.
In the end the fragrance lacks lasting power.
While the fragrance is pleasant, especially for a first-time smeller, it absolutely lacks any originality and personality. It maybe is slightly more flamboyant than the Mr. Smith of men's colognes, due to the effort put at conveying a sense of intensity, which is short-lived at any rate. But exactly like the charisma of an actor, who switches his charm on and off depending on whether he is on or off a camera, it makes a vivid impact, but only for a short while. The fragrance cannot leave a lingering psychological impression going beyond the olfactive sensation because it is much too safe and conformist to leave any distinct memory in you. The only thing I could possibly think of when I try to see the place Gucci Guilty for Men holds in the gallery of men's realeases is that it is remarkably stereotypical and affirming of the contemporary codes of masculine perfumery.
If lifestyle fragrances are not to be shunned, being potentially agreeable companions on your journey through life, it is somewhat deplorable that one would have to waste time listening to a rehashed discourse with no soul distilled into it. This perfume could have honestly been made by an intelligent robot.
Let us not forget that perfume had initially to do with spiritual communication with the gods, per fumum. When perfume becomes just a love-call for the average male, it becomes something painful to witness.
Gucci Guilty for Men ends up evoking the alcoholized breath of a frat boy despite all its efforts at impressing you. If this perfume is guilty of anything, it is of being mind-numbingly dull.