I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had bought a bottle of Habit Rouge in a sale. The notes are extensive and include lemon, lime, bitter orange, mandarin, bergamot, rosewood, cinnamon, patchouli, pimento, basil, cedar, carnation, lavender, vanilla, amber, leather, benzoin, labdanum, olibanum and sandalwood.
Looking at these notes, it is no surprise then that Habit Rouge strikes me as the masculine counterpart to Shalimar, sharing notes like lemon, bergamot, vanilla and benzoin in particular. This is most evident in the early stages of development, when the zing and spiciness of the lemon and bergamot combine with the sweeter vanilla, a stage when Habit Rouge is at its most dandy. As it dries down, the more leathery and resinous facets come into play, but I detect the same structure throughout.
I chose Habit Rouge over Vetiver (I had been debating which to buy) primarily because I like it, of course, but also because it smells like no other perfume on the market. I understand that Habit Rouge has been reformulated, and also comes in a number of different concentrations or formulations. My bottle is the eau de toilette and smells very similar to how I recall it from a few years ago. The only change, possibly, is that the earlier version I smelled was a touch animalic, while the current version is a bit 'dustier' and drier.
While Habit Rouge is more masculine than Shalimar, I think it is perfectly wearable by a woman. In fact, I suspect there are probably a good few men out there who wouldn't wear it for fear of it not being masculine enough, but perhaps that is a bit presumptuous of me. One thing is clear however, and that is that I have no regret in buying one of the great classic men's Guerlain fragrances.
Image credit - http://www.punmiris.com/