Habit Rouge by Jean-Paul Guerlain 2003 (Or: 1965)


Post by Liam


Hello fantastic fragrance heads,

It’s a pleasure to meet you all. I’m Liam and I love to smell anything and everything, which I’m sure everyone else loves to do also! Appropriately, for my first post on this marvelous website I felt it was only appropriate I talk about the introductory Guerlain fragrance that changed my life – Habit Rouge (EdT). It’s really bloody good. It’s novel, it’s historical, it’s a reference fragrance! When I become king of the world my first order of business is to rename Habit Rouge to ‘Happiness’.

Habit Rouge by Jean-Paul Guerlain 2003 (Or: 1965)

Habit Rouge EdT Guerlain FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

BaseNotes gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Rosewood, Basil, Pimento
Heart: Sandal, Carnation, Patchouli, Cedar, Rose, Cinnamon
Base: Vanilla, Amber, Moss, Leather, Benzoin, Labdanum, Olibanum

Habit Rouge embodies effortlessly what I love in a fragrance. It’s somewhat pompous without being obvious or nauseating. It has a gentlemanly quality that is comforting, very exciting and delicious! It opens like a lemony orange soda with a sherbet-like crispness. It’s a citrus accord moulded with opopanax and sweet and sticky tree resins. It’s incredibly toothsome, and has these light floral nuances that tickle the feminine side… Carnation and rose especially.

My favourite thing with Habit Rouge is the fact that it was (according to Guerlain) the first male fragrance to use a heavy dosage of vanilla. I love vanilla – I mean, who dare say that vanilla is a boring ingredient? The vanilla stems from Shalimar also by Guerlain, but in this fragrance the vanilla presents itself with less of a coumarin spike and more of a refined stickiness softened with discreet herbs. Vanilla, benzoin and a touch of orange blossom create the Guerlain Marshmallow accord, which is obvious… A tart and somewhat sugary smell reminiscent of white marshmallow.

Habit Rouge EdT Guerlain White_Marshmallows WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Subdued modulations of leather are to be found here. The carnal quality is lost, or at least pushed to the very back whilst a buttery and more rounded form of supple leather can be smelt. The underlying oriental spiciness differs heavily from the female archetype, and the oriental category has been made for men.

Habit Rouge is effervescent like lemonade and trails like sweet orange dust. It’s slightly poignant at stages with a gloomy quality, but I’ve found this often entails a sense of complexity. Habit Rouge is perfectly crafted for a man with a sincere and dapper facet, yet also has a mild primal quality that suggests something a little more after that.

Have you seen the advertisement with the red whip?! Grr that’s hot!

“Non, Habit Rouge c’est comme les petits pains,” — [Habit Rouge is] a French institution as constant as croissants

Habit Rouge has a slightly above average longevity and a mild sillage on my skin. It’s inoffensive and universal. You can wear it whenever, wherever and however. Work, rest, play.

Habit Rouge EdT Guerlain Braekeleer Wikipedia.jpgPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Further reading: Now Smell This and Memory of Scent
FragranceNet has $45/50ml (before coupon)
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $3/ml

Thanks for reading! For more please check out my site Olfactics. My journey is still in my infancy! Can you think of any other male oriented orientals? Spare me the Paco Rabanne pl-ease! See ya later!

Liam 🙂

23 thoughts on “Habit Rouge by Jean-Paul Guerlain 2003 (Or: 1965)

  1. I love your article and Habit Rouge. Happy to see your review here at APJ! Welcome, Liam!

    It is true: “It’s novel, it’s historical, it’s a reference fragrance!”


    • Hi Azar, nice to meet you.

      I assure you there will be more to come. I update Olfactics on about a weekly basis and my FB page gets updated sporadically. Thanks for all the kind words.



  2. Hi Liam, what a phenomenal review! I feel as though I am experiencing Habit Rouge right now on my skin. Impeccably written, so poetic and vivid and alive! Every facet of the fragrance glints true. An absolutely delightful read.


  3. Welcome Liam! I enjoyed your review and look forward to reading many more. Your enthusiasm for the scent is infectious which made it so fun to read.


  4. Hi Liam,

    Your review of Habit Rouge was wonderful.

    I remember smelling this fragrance when I was trying all of the Guerlain testers for the first time in David Jones in Brisbane back in 1985. I didn’t realize that it was marketed for men because the tester was nestled in amongst all of the ones for women. I just knew that, as with Mitsouko and Shalimar and others, I loved it. Like you, I adore vanilla in perfumes, and I could smell a lot of it in both Shalimar and Habit Rouge.

    Back then, Habit Rouge was a richer fragrance, and I wish I’d bought a bottle at the time. But I started on the women’s fragrances and here I am 29 years later and I still don’t have any Habit Rouge… Fine though the current version is, perhaps I’ll buy a vintage bottle online first, while I still can. I’m a woman but I have no qualms about wearing it.

    Back in 1989 a gorgeous male colleague of mine occasionally used to spray on his sister’s Loulou, a soft oriental that had only been released a couple of years earlier. He could certainly get away with it. There is a slightly abrasive facet to the fragrance that reminds me a bit of stubble, and I think that quite a few men could wear it.

    Other oriental fragrances that are marketed for women but that I think could be just fine on men include Ysatis and Dune (both woody orientals) and, hey, why not – Shalimar, the quintessential classic. Some version of frankincense oil could also work well.

    I know that you are looking at orientals, but I think that many of the “dry woods” fragrances for women would also be great on men, e.g. Rumba and Jolie Madame.

    Orientals that are marketed to men include Monsieur Musk (Parquet 1973), Versailles (Jean Desprez 1980) and KL Homme (Lagerfeld 1986). Note that I have taken these straight out of the Oriental category of Michael Edwards’ 1995 Fragrance Manual, and I have not checked to see whether they have been discontinued. If they have, though, stock should still be available on eBay.

    Michael Edwards’ 2010 edition of “Fragrances of the World” (the most recent edition that I own, as they are very expensive!) lists exactly 49 other fragrances for men (or unisex) in the Oriental category (all but five of them released since 1995), so I won’t list them all here. There are even more in the Woody Oriental category.

    I hope that this gives you a few ideas, Liam.


  5. Whell Glory Be!

    Testament to your powers of description I can confess that you have a chaste woman dreaming of many layered, multi-faceted men in dapper Habits! Not the habits to which I am accustomed, but a very pleasant diversion.

    Hello and welcome,
    Sister Mary


    • Good day Sister Mary,

      may I say, your written prose is rather fantastic. I personally encounter such acts of passion and fervour from others when I wear Habit Rouge, but in my experience Eau Sauvage makes me go a little loopy in excitement whenever I smell it on someone…or myself…. What other fragrances make you question your devotion to a deity?



      • You are kind Liam. And yet, God Lord! What a topic for discussion! It is not so much that these fragrances make me question my devotion, but they certainly engender a mystical level of spiritual experience…
        I concur with the unsettling powers of Eau Sauvage! But top of my list is Givenchy Gentleman. Heavens above! That one has me closing eyes in fervent prayer reaffirming my conviction that this is what Our Lord Jesus would smell like…


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