Perfume Directory

Fougère Royale (1882)
by Houbigant


Fougère Royale information

Year of Launch1882
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 166 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerPaul Parquet
Parent CompanyLoft Fashion and Beauty Diffusion

About Fougère Royale

The very first fougère fragrance was created by Houbigant in 1882. Discontinued in the fifties, but relaunched in 1988. It was once again discontinued and revived once more in 2010.

Fougère Royale fragrance notes

Reviews of Fougère Royale

The word “fougere” apparently translates to “fern” in English. However, this doesn’t say much to most people. A fougere scent will come across as fresh, woody and distinctly masculine. Some may even use the phrase “barbershop” to describe the genre.

Fougere Royale was the first scent in the genre and this modern remake of the original is a superb rendition of the genre. It is a little hard to comment on how close this is to the original of 1882 as samples are... shall we say, a little hard to come by.

The modern version, released in 2010, starts off bold, citrus-fresh, herbaceous and punchy. It’s dry, sour even and lacks any hint of sweetness; perhaps a nod to its origin. There is also a distinct patchouli in the mix and this is apparent right the way down to the base. The fresh woodiness interweaves throughout the development stages whilst still maintaining the patchouli. The scent is particularly reminiscent of Amouage’s Bracken Man, although there are plenty of fougere scents out there that would equally compare to it.

Fougere Royale is an Eau de Parfum and lasts well throughout the working day. It can be enjoyed in all sorts of weather, but I can definitely see this being worn especially in warmer weather.

All lovers of fougere scents owe it to themselves to experience this scent.
21st October, 2019
Rudimentary but influential work that, with its lavender - coumarin - bergamot structure, inaugurated the fougère genre.

Vintage Fougère Royale is not a great perfume; it has moments of charm, but when compared to a modern fougère it feels a bit vague and lacking in direction. This is a structural problem caused but the lack of synthetics that were available to Paul Parquet when he invented the genre back in 1882.

Mitsouko is often thought to be Jacques Guerlain's perfected form of Coty's Chypre - which also invented a new genre; but over the years Fougère Royale has been graced with numerous Mitsouko's of its own. This is, ironically, due to the fact that the fougère has less character than the chypre and hence is more accommodating to the different interpretations that have been imposed on it in the last 130 years.

From a History of Perfume perspective Fougère Royale can hardly be overrated. But when it comes to the version I have worked on, the reality of the perfume doesn't support the mythologising that surrounds it. It's a good - and for a time - lovely scent, but not a masterpiece. For the real greatness of Fougère Royale it's necessary to look to some of its own Mitsouko's.


Vintage barbershop hair lotion in a non greasy, alcoholic base. 1950's or possibly earlier.
03rd October, 2019
Stardate 20190821:

I don't think I can add any thing new here. This is where "masculine" perfumery started.
Unfortunately I am not sure how the current one compares to the original.
Don't get me wrong. The current one is amazing. It is one fragrance everyone should have in their wardrobe. No excuses. Note that there are two versions out there - EDP and Extrait. Both are FBW. I find the EDP better (and more versatile) than extrait. Both can be had for under $1/ml.

But I wonder how the original one might have been. I have a bottle from 70s or so. It is called Houbigant Royal Fern cologne. But it is more of a EDC than a fougere. Nothing like (and,surprisingly, inferior to) what is out now.

21st August, 2019
Transcendent. What else can be said for this 137 year olde granddaddy of Fougeres? And it's amazing that it has as much to offer today as ever. It's as relevant today as any mens fragrance. Several other reviews have nailed down the details more eloquently than I can, but I will say this with confidence. Every serious fragrance loving man should have this in his collection.
26th February, 2019
The fougere genre is a very prominent one in mens' fragrances and actually represents the first time a synthetic aromachemical was used - coumarin, to replicate the scent of tonka beans. 'Fougere' means fern in French and it was thought that if ferns had any scent, they would smell like a mixture of aromatic lavender, oakmoss, and coumarin. Houbigant's Fougere Royale was in fact the first fougere fragrance in history and from which the genre is named. The original formulation of Fougere Royale is nowhere to be found (as it came out over 200 years ago) but fortunately for us, Houbigant released a modern re-issue of the fragrance in 2010. As for the scent, it is an interesting blend of oriental and green fougere notes. To my nose, I detect a very herbal and old-fashioned lavender being the dominant note along with geranium, on a background of green notes, as well as very strong notes of chamomile, tonka beans, cinnamon, and amber that together give the impression of caramel. It smells as if you mixed a traditional fougere with an oriental amber fragrance. I am sure the original Fougere Royale did not smell like this, but I quite enjoy the modern re-issue all the same simply due to its uniqueness in this regard. The overall vibe of the scent I get is a brownish-green (the brown from the amber, and green from the fougere notes). Sillage is moderate while longevity is also quite good at about 8 hours on my skin. It is a well made and quality fragrance.

30th July, 2018
It's rather difficult to be objective with the legendary ur-Fougère itself, considering it's creation gave rise to the most prolific genre in male-oriented perfuming. Everything made like Fougère Royale afterwards was classified as a "Fougère", as was everything before it that contained any traces of clary sage or tonka, which were the primary sources of coumarin, the scent's signature note. History states that Paul Parquet was the first to chemically isolate coumarin away from tonka, so it could be used in higher concentration within the design of a fragrance itself, a process that introduced the first creation to ever contain a synthetic note. Considering that actual fern has no real smell, this "Fougère" or fern-like in French, was a first in suggestive fragrance in much the same way the later Jicky by Guerlain (1889) was the first abstract fragrance not to really resemble anything suggestive or literal. What's perhaps most remarkable then, is upon actually experiencing Fougère Royale, is the discovery of a timeless beauty that clearly contains the parent DNA of all the best "Fougères" to come out since it's inception, but also a scent decidedly wearable in the modern age. Yes, it will scream 1800's coming out of the bottle, especially in it's newer eau de parfum concentration, but there is such a recognizable freshness to this present in all of the other Fougères it's spawned that it still feels appropriate. Lastly, this might be the daddy of all fougères, but it is -not- a barbershop scent like many of it's children, a revelation to me when I first smelled it, but making sense upon later reflection.

Fougère Royale opens with a very scary and shrill sage note, flanked by bergamot and lavender. This immediately confused me and had me thinking that perhaps my batch had spoiled because I was just so used to a blast of lavender opening these things up, with everything from Pour Um Homme de Caron (1934), Canoe (1936), Brut (1963), British Sterling (1964), Paco Rabanne Pour Homme (1973) Azzaro Pour Homme (1978), Tuscany Per Uomo (1984) Eternity for Men (1989) all the way through Rive Gauche Pour Homme (2003) and Sartorial (2010) all opening with lavender accords of various sweetness or dryness. However, this is where the twist in the tale must have occurred, for Fougère Royale does NOT cast lavender in a leading role in the top notes, but rather has it playing accompaniment with floral bergamot so that bitter sage can come out swinging. Don't let that fool you into thinking this is another overly-dry Victorian exercise, as again, the barbershop connection wasn't there. Fougère Royale doesn't grow powdery or piquant, but instead becomes sweet and sunny with a floral bouquet in the middle, containing rose, heliotrope, carnation, geranium, and the odd orchid in a legendary transition into the long-since-standard fougère base notes. Oakmoss, coumarin from that aforementioned tonka, musk, and a just a touch of vanilla complete the transition to a skin scent. The complete experience does indeed mimic the impression of a lush garden grove or dewy forest floor, but that which is found in the mind's eye of a 19th century dandy, rather than a earth-covered gardener.

I think it's the sweet frailty of the floral heart and tart, almost funky opening that mark this as a scent over 100 years old, but the sophisticated blending and overall dynamic between the bright top and bold base that keep it timeless and contemporary. Granted, really vintage versions of this probably have richer mosses, real animal musks, and less of the top note presence because of it, but even in it's modern form it oozes antique Belle Epoch charm and earnest construction. Because of the barbershops churning out rounder, richer, more powdery Fougère scents that became associated with casual use in later years, the "ur-Fougère" comes off as too fancy for everyday use, unless your daily job is as an executive officer of a Fortune 500 company. This stuff could easily go toe-to-toe in a room full of modern Creed, Xerjoff, and Byredo users, but won't stand out as stuffy or old-fashioned due to it's avoidance of stereotypes that ironically the scents which came -after- it would create. I think Fougère Royale perfectly romantic, great for a day outing with friends, loved ones, or formal use. I wouldn't take it to work because it's florals are just too amorous to feel appropriate in that context, and avoid using it on a sweltering hot day because it does get a little warm at the end. Does it live up to all the hyperbole and historical significance it has? Well, nothing really can, so the answer is no. It's not a scent for everyone even if it did create a precedent that would be copied and remodeled a million times over into something that you've undoubtedly tried and liked somewhere. It's most certainly worth testing if not owning, and for those who enjoy it's green-by-proxy design, all sense of antiquity slowly fades and just the perfume itself lives on in the mind, which is what Paul Parquet probably intended all along.

P.S.: This is every bit perfume strength, so expect monster silage and longevity.
07th January, 2018 (last edited: 28th February, 2019)

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Houbigant Fougere Royale Deodorant Stick, 2.6 Fl Oz

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