Sensual, warm, elegant, Habit Rouge was conceived by master perfumer Jean Paul Guerlain in 1965 when faced with a surprising and novel problem. Men who loved Shalimar perfume on their wives and lovers wanted a comparable powdery composition translated into a virile structure they would claim as their own. Thus Habit Rouge was born, the name alluding to the red jacket landed gentry loved to don on hunting days in the countryside and henceforth adopted for riding competitions.
The Scent and Structure of Habit Rouge
The magic synergy in Habit Rouge, a combination of resins and tree gums such as benzoin and opoponax, creates the photographic effect of a hazy glow all around the subject in an old black & white photograph. These resinous scents have the ability to deepen the voice, the equivalent of a lion's growl reverbrating over many kilometres to effortlessly mark its territory. Those elements form the basic oriental core of this formal, somewhat flamboyant but ultimately humanly sensual fragrance, lifted by traditional citrus notes in the opening (lemon, bergamot and mandarin alongside orange blossom) to mirror the idea in Shalimar, deepened with the spicy notes of cinnamon and carnation and burnished by the pungency of a little leather, which takes on suede smoothness rather than harsher or fetishistic nuances of hard-core leather fragrances. The whole smells like sweet orange talc, powdery and somewhat sweet.
Habit Rouge is mature and dense, yes, but such a wonderful aristocratic classic that its acquaintance simply should be made by younger generations.
On a woman, it can be deeply alluring!
Habit Rouge follows the Vetiver presentation until 2000. (This was the year the latter changed its looks dramatically) Habit Rouge took the simple travel container and red-capped sixties style atomizers. In 1988 it changed into the briefcase-inspired Eau de Toilette flacon design by Robert Granai. It has stayed there ever since, its red label modernised by a slight simplification.
|2002 ad for Habit Rouge|
Habit Rouge was recognisably reformulated in 2003, as evidenced by the change in packaging, coinciding with the launch of the Eau de Parfum concentration. It's still a great fragrance however in all its forms and worth chewing one's teeth on, man or woman.
Comparing Eau de Parfum (one of the rare masculine fragrances to come in such a concentration) to the most well-known form of Habit Rouge, the long-standing Eau de Toilette, the two almost overlap in the initial 20 minutes, with the citrus & orange blossom notes lingering somewhat more in the EDP. But after that phase the two diverge, with the EDP losing the orange blossom (which can give a soapy, clean feel), becoming spicier and muskier as it dries down with the addition of a modern "oud" note and a chocolate tinge, while the EDT retains the lighter "flou" character all the way through, making the EDT the perfect signature scent choice for any time, with the EDP being a bit heavier and therefore more reserved for formal evenings. It's also the most "modern" of all concentrations, somewhat skewing the retro feel of the Habit Rouge fragrance, so purists might want to consider that. The Eau de Toilette boast a big lemon-neroli accord o in the beginning and a soft, smooth suede note in the background, while on the whole it's the most powdery/dusty incarnation of the fragrance.
If you can find it, buy the limited edition Habit Rouge Parfum which tones down the powder and "cleaner" qualities in favour of a muskier, more leathery and camphor-nuanced scent like the vintage Shalimar meets Vol de Nuit.
Of special note is the traditional and vintage Eau de Cologne concentration, the original thing, which is the least "dusty" for those concerned with the powdery aspect of the scent, becoming crisper and more flesh-like vanilla oriental. The sensual aura of the Habit Rouge Eau de Cologne is surprisingly lasting, easily 6 hours on skin and therefore this is a concentration to acquaint yourself with if you're serious about perfume.
Habit Rouge also circulates in various limited editions (Beau Cavalier etc), on which we have posted news on these pages. According to Mr.Guerlain the batches come from: 1965, Dry '67, EdT '88, EdP 2003, Légère '05, Parfum '08, Sport '09, and L'Eau '11.
You can watch the official Habit Rouge L'Eau clip here.
Notes for Guerlain Habit Rouge:
Top: Lemon, Sweet Lime, Bitter Orange, Mandarin, Bergamot, Rosewood
Middle: Cinnamom, Patchouli, Pimento, Basil, Cedar, Carnation, Lavender
Base Note: Vanilla, Amber, Leather, Benzoin, Labdanum, Olibanum, Sandalwood, Leather accord.
pic Degas, Cavalier en Habit Rouge