As a continuation of my review of Habit Rouge eau de cologne, I thought it would be only natural to review the reformulated version of the eau de toilette. I will not repeat my historical excavation of the scent, which you can find in the eau de cologne’s review should you be looking for information of the fragrance’s inspiration and heritage. What is interesting with the recent eau de toilette is the amount of reformulation that has occurred in comparison to earlier examples of Habit Rouge. Generally reformulations are the bane of a perfume fan’s sensory existence, however Guerlain have proven that on rare occasions, these tamperings can refresh an old classic. Why fix something that isn’t broken you may ask? Blame it on oak moss if you will, or the IFRA. In any case, it has happened and thankfully Guerlain have had such a successful business over the decades, Ebay and other vintage perfume traders are abundant with old stock should you prefer your Habit Rouge exalted with the restricted tree moss. For me, 21st century Habit Rouge is a blissful dream.
The eau de toilette has a sharp green citrus accord that is powered with rosewood. The florals have been reworked and modernized. There is less emphasis on the carnation, a symbol of an outdated past in men’s fragrance. New Habit Rouge is much more vegetal in comparison to its older self. The cinnamon note has had a facelift. My subjective take (and I need to bare in mind some of my perception could be tainted by the fact I am comparing aged perfume with newer stock) is it has been reworked with eugenol and iso eugenol, derivatives of the clove bud. This makes the fragrance less gourmand, less sweet, but still spicy. The fragrance’s leather notes have been moved to the forefront with the resinous notes of benzoin, labdanum and amber left to play in the background like mischievous children at the back of the classroom. Overall, this newer version smells clean and fresh. Leather notes and precious wood let the audience know this is intended for a sophisticated man. This newfound freshness makes me feel like 21st century Habit Rouge has more in common with Vetiver, when at the perfume’s inception in 1965, it was more related to Mitsouko.
Habit Rouge will always get my attention when I find its silage on the street. It’s the type of fragrance to which guys my age will turn their noses up, thinking it is something that their father would wear. Why then, they choose to fill their bathroom cabinets with bottles of uninteresting (to me) fragrances is a mystery. Habit Rouge is perfect on an older man and requires some confidence when worn by someone younger. I consider it one of the greatest perfumes for men, as have many others since 1965.
Guerlain Habit Rouge (original formulations), Guerlain Habit Rouge L’Eau, Miller Harris Cuir d’Oranger.
Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain
Bottle designer: Centdegres
Release date: 1965
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Oriental