The parfum version of Guerlain’s most notorious male scent, Habit Rouge, is not merely a ‘stronger’, more pronounced concentration than the original eau de toilette. Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum is a subtle and marked variation on the eau de toilette, with the latter’s notes being juggled around or swapped completely.
And if you find that version too old fashioned (Tom Ford clearly didn’t; his Noir is a very good, if neutered, homage to it) then don’t bother with this relatively new formulation which came in 2003 and which is currently only available in Europe.
The original Habit Rouge is dandy and plush. It was conceived in 1965 and that won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has smelt it. Compared to the mainstream men’s scents that populate the market some 50 years later it will be considered by many to be dated and fusty, and I can see perfectly how many might reach this conclusion.
Vanilla, citrus, musk and woods combine to produce incredible contrasts as the scent takes its journey throughout the day on the collar of your shirt. It is fresh and dynamic and, by turns, dusty and sombre. It almost smells avant garde in its ambitions but I couldn’t call it contemporary. I love wearing it.
Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum is just as contrary but more of an introvert compared to its room-dominating and more playful elder – in fact it’s the parfum that feels more like a stoic father, older than his years suggest.
Following a massive smack of bergamot and lime in the opening 20 minutes or so, a more refined and dominant leather note adds maturity and elegance, moving things away from the eau de toilette’s cloud of civet and vanilla. It’s less of a show-off, I guess, and the addition of oud doesn’t cater to any on-trend cynicism – it’s there but part of the chorus with the vanilla and iris but thankfully not the main act.
Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum ultimately is a darker but still utterly intriguing variation on the HR brand. Many will find it too ‘old’ and others will just enjoy the ride of experiencing brilliant perfume making. Of the two I may still just prefer the eau de toilette, as it has a lightness and more compellingly experimental edge, especially given its age, that the parfum reigns in.
Both are wonderfully done. The eau de parfum projects considerably during its first hour and lasts a full day to finally become a faint woody and vanilla balm on my wrist. Would smell great on a woman and as an alternative to Guerlain’s Shalimar.
Guerlain, Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum 100ml £71