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Thursday, October 12, 2006

For The Boys...Well, not really.

Review by Tom

Today I thought I would review three men's scents from the magical (and sometimes criminally overlooked) house of Guerlain. I feel they are men's scents in name only; women I know wear and love them, and certainly do them justice..

Habit Rouge

Colombina did an exhaustive review of this one two months ago, and there isn't much I can do to add to it or top it. Rather than just write "what she said", I will add that the citrus opening is especially wonderful, somewhat like the candied opening of Acqua di Parma, but spicier and on me almost immediately joined by leather. The leather stays all the way through to the musky drydown. "Habit Rouge" is French for "Hunting Coat" and is, I believe, meant to bring to mind the fantasy of the man home from the hunt, and if this is what it smells like, I'm going to start hanging around stables...


Researching this fragrance, I was shocked to learn that it was introduced in 1992- it seems like such a classic that I almost have a sense memory of it. Not that it doesn't stand tall as a modern fragrance- but so does Jicky to me, and that's from what? 1890? That's what great about most Guerlain scents, they are as timeless as the Moon, and as mysterious. Heritage is a bold, woody and sharp fragrance that starts with a wonderful lemon/bergamot accord that's actually a little bit Annick Goutal-like, until the massive and wholly wonderful pepper and corainder pop into spice things up. It dries down to creamy but subtle vanilla, cedar and patchouli, with that Guerlain-y animal note that sometimes doesn't make it into the description but almost always makes it into the scent. Heritage is like finding out that the businessman's Savile Row suit is hiding a six-pack, and a few (ahem) other goodies....


Sometimes something comes along that is so simple, and so good that one can forget how singularly wonderful it is, until you come from long periods living with poorer imitations. Like sipping a glass of Oban after years of settling for Johnny Walker or curling up in the backseat of a Cadillac after years of riding in a Honda. Not that there is anything wrong with Johnny Walker of Honda cars- they are perfectly serviceable and affordable, one lacks the peaty singularity and the other lacks the swaddling leather, power everyting and A/C that could keep meat. Smelling Guerlain Vetiver after smelling most of the others out there is somewhat like the single-malt and the Caddy: it's so classic, so wonderfully done, so right that you will question why you ever thought of another: a perfectly played vetiver, lightly tinged with citrus and ending up with leather and amber that underscores but never, ever overpowers the eponymous vetiver. Others arguably may come close, but none will ever eclipse it.

Any of these Guerlains are available on the internet and in some discount stores at prices that criminally do not reflect their beauty. While I find that rather a slap in my sensitivities, it does mean that you can stock up. Even if one of them is total scrubber on you, at $25-30 dollars, how much would you be out? I guarantee you will be able to find someone like me who would be thrilled at the receipt of any as a gift.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Colombina and Tom,
My compliments for the enjoyable reviews of the Guerlain scents, and indeed for a very interesting and informative blog in general.
I write to bring another fine, though very different, take on Vetiver to your attention: Vetiver de Puig. If the Guerlain is a grin, the Puig is a knowing smile. I wager you'll enjoy it.

12:53 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again,
addendum to my previous post:
Have you tried Habit Rouge eau legere?
Distinctive as Habit Rouge is I think the "legere" outstrips it, and indeed confess to thinking the legere is what the original should have been!
Would enjoy knowing what you think.

1:01 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Hi, Tom-
Vetiver IS the single malt of vetivers, no doubt, but Karthik has a point re: the Puig.

Much like Caron, the male fragrances are spectacular and work for women as well.

I enjoyed your review, and am glad yoy liked this sniffest in particular...

Me, too !

6:15 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Guerlain certainly is a magical house - although recently they appear to be eschewing magic and going the safe, mundane, human route w/ many of their creations. However, Habit Rouge and Vetiver really are brilliant. And I am going to have to resniff Heritage. I think the lavender put me off, but your review has convinced me that it deserves another chance.

7:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you for the great reviews! D'you know, I think Heritage is the only one of the fairly easily found Guerlain scents that I haven't tried! I must try it! And I shall.

10:34 AM EDT  
Blogger priscilla said...

I have to admit...I prefer the Puig to the Guerlain. (Deathly silence)

My husband tried Habit Rouge when we were in Vegas. I loved it on him, and he liked it, but he preferred L'Instant (WHY?!). He also liked the Vetiver for himeself.

10:40 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'll have to try the Puig. Sounds interesting.

I've never even seen Habit Rouge eau Legere.... must check that out!

12:13 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Is is really good. It's the signature fragrance of a female friend of mine, and I almost can't wear it without feeling like I swiped it, bit it is wonderful.

I guess I am going to have to seriously track downt he Puig...

12:15 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I've noticed that with Guerlain, and I think it's a very disturbing (and ultimately not too smart- it's called losing your brand identity, people and it's the last thing you want to do..) move on their part.

12:17 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks for both the props and the place to publish my ramblings!

12:18 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I haven't smelled the Puig, so i'll reserve judgement, but with so much positive comments, I may have to run out right now and do so!

12:19 PM EDT  

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