Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guerlain Habit Rouge

Several years before Ralph Lauren used horsey-set images and branding for his colognes and perfumes, Guerlain did the same thing with Habit Rouge. So what does a masculine perfume named something like "red riding hood" smell like? Surprisingly, pretty much like a butched up Shalimar.

It makes sense, really. Shalimar, at least in its former incarnations, is gorgeous and very complex. Many men like Shalimar and would have loved to wear it, but not everyone finds it easy to get over the branding, marketing and that powdery facet. So Guerlain kept the structure, the citrus top (made even crisper with spicy greens), the smooth sandalwood and rich amber base, took away some of the powder, added leather and poured into a pour homme bottle. The result is a smooth and sophisticated scent, lighter than Shalimar but still instantly recognizable as an oriental Guerlain.

Habit Rouge is sweet and creamy, thus making it stand out from the crowd of commercial masculines of the last couple of decades. Of course, it is a 1960s creation, a time when a good perfume was not a thin airy little nothing. I would have liked to conduct a blind testing of the Guerlain classic masculines in a college dorm and see the young men's (and women's) reaction. After all, this is the generation born into a world of CKWhatever.

In any case, those of us who like to dig deeper when searching for a good perfume can easily appreciate Habit Rouge. It's one of those masculines women like to adopt for themselves just as much as to smell on a man's neck (it promotes some serious nuzzling). I originally bought the (vintage EDC) bottle for the Blond, but have found myself wearing it often during this sizzling summer, often as a morning scent before switching to vintage Shalimar EDC. It's a splash bottle, but I find that dabbing isn't very satisfying (it is an eau de cologne, after all, so I shouldn't be surprised). Spraying gives a better impression of this sweet but tasteful concoction, and while the modern version seems a bit flat and less leathery, it's still light years better than any of the modern Guerlain releases for men.

Vintage Habit Rouge perfume ads:


  1. Habit Rouge is a scent that I loved at first sniff; I would pay a man to wear it! I would wear it myself too; it's one of the best masculines of all time. Of course, if it were introduced today it would probably be aimed at women!

  2. I wholeheartedly concur. I happened to wear HR last night by the seaside and it was lovely. Mind you, I slightly prefer Shalimar.

  3. I can't cope with Shalimar but love Habit Rouge and wear it happily. It just oozes quality somehow. While out on a sniffathon with some Basenotes chums, I kept a dab of it on my little finger as a reference to compare everything else to. Hardly any of the modern mainstream releases could stand the 'quality control' test of 'is it as good as Habit Rouge'.

    I wonder if there are gents out there who could be bribed to wear this lovely thing? It would certainly make the world a nicer place to catch a waft of it from some chap passing by. In the meantime, I'll carry on wearing it myself.

  4. I love seeing all these old ads, they're so gorgeous.

    Funnily enough, I just last night dabbed on a few drops of vintage Shalimar to test. I really found it just a touch too vanilla-y/powdery. Now I need to hunt down some Habit Rouge, it seems.

  5. Habit Rouge is the only Guerlain I've really liked, at least after the citrus top has gone away. I do not need lemon with my leather and amber. Hubby liked it too, so maybe he'll get a bottle.

  6. i love the ad that says, " Habit Rouge means hunting coat. . .think about that for a momment."

    ha ha ha!

    habit rouge is a great substitute for habanita in the summertime.

  7. We're in the middle of a prolonged move living out of luggage, so hubby and I have one perfume each. His is Habit Rouge. I love when I'm just waking up and I start to smell Habit Rouge while he's getting ready in the morning. Mmmm.

  8. Looks like I'll have to get a bottle (again). Glad to know that it hasn't been too badly "reformulated." Habit Rouge was one I wore frequently in undergrad school.

    Lawrence in Ohio

  9. Habit Rouge in extrait ) is a thing of beauty! Alas, it is almost impossible to find, now.


  10. I've been wearing this since I was a kid. So lovely. Totally get the Shalimar comparison.

  11. It's sounds good. I hesitate to wear Shalimar out of the house, but maybe a more masc version would be the thing. I think you may have over spelled CKWhatever...and it should be "CKWhatevah".


  12. The EDT Habit Rouge has some amazing citrus on top but after 30 mins goes a bit leathery and powdery it is very nice and elegant i would have like the top to last alot longer but it does dry down very nice on skin. In the dry down the citrus is completely gone in the background.


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