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: vintageadbrowser.com