Gucci's new Bamboo is a woody floral apparently inspired by the brand's Bamboo bags (and other bamboo accessories, from jewelry to eyewear to shoes): no, it does not smell like bamboo. It looks to be geared towards about the same market as Gucci Première,1 that is, a bit older than Gucci Guilty, with perhaps a few more dollars to spend. The advertising is the standard reverse bait-and-switch the luxury brands churn out for aspirational buyers (no, you can't afford the couture or the vintage car, but for $100 you can have the perfume). The ad copy goes to some lengths to link the diverse attributes of bamboo to the Gucci woman:
Strong and graceful, one of Gucci’s most recognizable design signatures has defined references in today’s Gucci woman. Bamboo flourishes in extreme conditions. Able to withstand a hurricane’s force, its natural strength compares to steel. Slender and elegant, bamboo soars willowy over other vegetation. The modern Gucci woman shares bamboo’s characteristics.
So what does that smell like? The juice seemed to land right on "slender" and "willowy" and skip the rest: Bamboo is a soft, clean floral, rather wispy, with the slightest touch of creamy powder. (The notes: bergamot, orange blossom, lily, ylang ylang, vanilla, sandalwood and amber.) It teeters on the edge of the white floral family, but it's nearly too light and soft to matter, and all of the flowers have had their edges removed by modern chemistry anyway. The lily is perhaps the strongest floral note, and for a few short minutes I thought Bamboo might turn into a (fun!) lily bomb, but that stage didn't last, and once it settles on skin, it's arguably even less lily than the minimalist lily of Cartier Baiser Volé. The base is a pale sweetish musk, neither as woody or as warm as I'd expected: it smells like it was meant for an early spring launch.
Verdict: If you've been looking for a conservative / ladylike modern floral musk, not too strong, not too sweet, hyper-clean enough that others might not be able to decide if you're wearing perfume or just the remains of some body product,2 Bamboo might suit. It's less fun than Gucci Flora (I liked Flora), and miles less distinctive than Gucci by Gucci or Gucci Première, which might be just what they were after. I am guessing most perfumistas will find it too bland and too prim, and frankly I'm going to be very surprised if it's a huge seller anywhere, but you never know. As always, do comment if you've tried it, and feel free to tell me how wrong I am.
The lasting power is reasonable enough, or at least, the musky base lasts most of the day on me. Still, it's awfully close to the skin after a couple hours. If I didn't know, I'd have pegged it as an Eau de Toilette instead of an Eau de Parfum.
Gucci Bamboo is available in 30 ($70), 50 ($92) and 75 ($115) ml Eau de Parfum and in matching body products. (Update: there is also a 7.4 ml travel spray for $33.)
1. Première was meant as a replacement for Gucci by Gucci, which did not sell to expectations. And perhaps Première was not as much of a hit as they hoped, I don't know.
2. On a paper blotter especially, the dry down of Bamboo smells just like what I imagine a Dove Lily Musk gofresh deodorant would be if they made one.