Puckrik on Perfume: Guerlain Habit Rouge

Katie Puckrik ON Sep 11, 2009 AT 2:35 pm

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

By Katie Puckrik

When I am crowned Queen of All Perfume, I shall command Clinique Happy change its name to the more accurate “Pleasant”, and rechristen Guerlain Habit Rouge “Happy”. Habit Rouge is such a happy smell! It dances in the air around you, swirling out fresh, sweet orange blossoms, a faint milkiness, and soft, soft leather.

This classic eau de toilette is so instantly uplifting, that at first spritz I find myself trilling “How perfectly delightful!” like some 1930s British ingénue. Then I jet ahead to 1970s Charles Bronson in his Japanese “Mandom” cologne commercials (check them out on YouTube; “Mandom No. 6” is my favorite), practically pouring the entire bottle over myself in an ecstasy of olfactory orgasm.

Habit Rouge’s treatment of the often too-shrieky, too-shrill orange blossom is what sits right with me. Here, any sharpness of the floral is tempered with opoponax, a tree resin that is rich and animalic, similar to myrrh but not as bitter. The skin-like warmth is enhanced with a bit of vanilla and amber, and subtle incense and spicy carnation deepen the happiness in the direction of the Orient.

Guerlain Habit Rouge

Guerlain Habit Rouge

Some experience Habit Rouge as powdery, but I smell the dryness as an aspect of its underlying leatheryness. After the initial radiance mellows, HR is a beautiful skin-sweetener that’s ingeniously fresh and warm at the same time – a summerweight

After “Charles Bronson-ing” myself in Habit Rouge one hot summer day, I zipped out for a haircut.
“Mmmm, you smell good,” commented my stylist, Cherie.
“It’s Habit Rouge!” I trilled, back to British ingénue mode. “It’s actually a classic men’s fragrance from the 60s.”
“Men’s!” Cherie made a face. “It smells like perfume! Good perfume, but perfume. For girls.”

Ladies, gender bending has never been so painless. And in the case of Habit Rouge, I think even Charles Bronson would agree.

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