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Habit Rouge EdP - The essence of gift giving - May 27, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikipedia - Hunt Master and Hounds, Powderham Castle, UK - Owain.davies, Feb. 18, 2005

I’ve noticed that when people have a passion for something, they like to share it with their friends (that’s you gentle reader) and families. So you just know that over the years my close friends, cousins, sibs, son and husband have been given, and wear, some of the finest fragrances I know.

Of course, gift-giving flows both ways – that’s how I came to have six hanging macramé plant holders, two tire pressure gauges, some suspicious-looking homemade preserves and four “Kiss the Cook” aprons.

Hey, I’m not complaining. I accept all gifts graciously (that’s why I still have them…) and know that they were given from the heart. That’s what really matters.

But every once in a while, my hand does drift over to the other side, his side, of the medicine cabinet just for a little perfume gift reconnoiter. A low level on a frag bottle might give me an idea for an anniversary, birthday or Father’s Day gift.

Rummaging around the shelves I find some real fragrance gems – that bottle of Égoïste I bought my husband in Paris when it came out in 1990 cause he loved the ad so much; the vintage Eau Sauvage I bought him at a yard sale in NYC, a few other swooners that bring back great memories of good times together.

Then my hand finds the leather bound bottle of Habit Rouge EdP I bought him in 2005. I spritz some on my arm and take a long, deep breath. It smells of alchemy. Note to self: check out his frags more often. Then I put the bottle of HR back on the shelf in front of the others – my signal to him to wear this one next please.

Flash back to 1965 when Jean Paul Guerlain creates Habit Rouge. A fourth generation Guerlain, Jean-Paul was the last family master perfumer. He had his grandfather’s gift for olfactory memory and a sense of smell heightened by loss of sight – he was almost completely blind by age 16. Surgery restored his sight and left him with the realisation that perfume is the strongest form of memory. So, when the demand for a masculine version of Shalimar surfaced years later he cast back to his own past for inspiration.

As a young man, Guerlain was an avid equestrian and became an expert in dressage, so Habit Rouge – the name refers to the red jacket worn by fox hunters – was inspired by his olfactory memory of time spent with the fashionable, upper class, horsy set. It quickly became a Guerlain classic and is considered a masterpiece.

Over the years it has been reformulated, rejigged and remodeled, but we’re not going to talk about that here. No. We’re here to talk about the EdP that was launched in 2003. A man’s EdP? Yep – one of the very few. And one I want to smell over and over again on my husband.

It opens with a deep, rich citrus accord of bitter bergamot sweetened with lime and lightened with a floral note of orange blossom. As it moves to the heart the orange blossom fades, replaced with a fresh green note from aromatic neroli. I smell lavender here too, lovely and floral. Then, a surprise: oud - warm, woody balsamic and perfectly placed to transition the fragrance from citrus/floral to warm/woody. This is the alchemy I smell each time I sniff it.  Cinnamon is here too, and gives it a warm spiciness. It all rests ion a base of patchouli, vanilla, and and leather. The patchouli makes it musky and gives it a ‘dirtiness’, while vanilla and amber sweeten it up just enough to soften the leather, making it gentle and sensuous.

The drydown is rich, deep and opulent. And, like the well-mannered horsemen that inspired it, elegant, polite and refined. Habit Rouge EdP is the smell of a gentleman.  

If you’d like to try Habit Rouge EdP, but fear you’ll be depleting my husband’s bottle, don’t worry, I have my own stash of this fine juice cause when I find something I like and want to give it as a gift, I subscribe to the old ‘one for you two for me’ gift giving philosophy.

Today, we’re adding Habit Rouge EdP to our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00.