Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Ho Hang by Balenciaga

Total Reviews: 31
Balenciaga was the House of the Living Dead for many years, being resurrected multiple times over the course of several decades since Cristobal Balenciaga shuttered it's doors in 1968. Ho Hang was the launch product of the couture house when it was reopened the first time by Marbert to make ready-to-wear apparel, and was released the year before Cristobal's death in 1971. Raymond Challian was tapped for perfumer duty on this one, undoubtedly for his recent work for Yves Saint Laurent making Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme earlier in the year, plus Givenchy III (1970) before that. Being paired with Jacques Jetzen, Raymond Challian, whose style dominated this fragrance, seemed fond of subtle elegance with masulines at a time when subtlety wasn't valued, since YSL Pour Homme was an aromatic citrus chypre in a time when the fougère was re-emerging and loaded with heft. We were still a few years away from the heavy woodsy soap bombs of the mid 70's, and the creative directors at the newly-revived Balenciaga probably asked for a competitive fougère too. Challian gave them what they wanted alright, but it shares many similarities with the chypre genre, and has an equally soft-spoken gentlemanly manner to many of the 50's greats. Ho Hang was a generational hold-over like nearly all the Balenciaga masculines to follow: unaware of trend and just delivering understated grace, and traditional design rather than pushing to make trends like it's peers in the field; Ho Hang gets compared to Hermès Equipage (1970) from the year before as well. My take is that the only thing keeping this from being a super-classy chypre is it's lack of leather and animalic tones, with it's focus on tonka and vanilla in the base making it a fougère by definition alone. It's truly hard to define, but whatever you think it is, you'll agree that it's undeniably classic.

Ho Hang opens gently, with orange, lavender, basil, and lemon. The orange being a sweeter-than-usual choice, is counterbalanced by a crisp basil note, sprig of mint, and soft lavender. Several complain that the opening is all too fleeting, but I feel that like many mid-century masculines that this draws parentage from, the opening is just meant as a welcome mat to the rest of the fragrance, and not meant to be part of it for any appreciable amount of time. The classic barbershop lines mixed with subtle patchouli of the middle almost swoon the nose into submission. Cedar, sandalwood and geranium make expected appearances and serve to ease the final shift to the base. Nothing out of the ordinary exists in this base either, because again, Raymond Challian prefers buttoned-down masuline lines, like he was listening to a Bing Crosby record or watching a Noir film while composing Ho Hang. Coumarin from the obvious tonka source is joined by just a smidge of buttery oakmoss, making the skin glow similar to vintage Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955), but with an additional fougère green that the Chanel doesn't have, thanks to the tonka. Olibdanum, labdanum, and vanilla fill in rest. The basil does hang around a bit longer than it should, which is one of two complaints I have, with the other being no cold weather stamina, but they're minor gripes. 20 years later Challian would compose Boucheron Pour Homme (1991) along similar lines, proving once again that he was a master of the gentile masculine, but Ho Hang honestly remains his best male work. If soft barbershop lines and the decorum of a sartorial existence don't please, then there's still the wolf in sheep's clothing of YSL Pour Homme. It's the fougère for chypre lovers, and a fragrance for a man that wants the classic smell of a man without people being able to guess what decade his cologne is from, which I hate people doing to me anyway.

By and large Ho Hang is a high-water mark to a genre that was already passing into history when it released, and if not for the misleadingly raunchy advertising associated with the scent, probably would have not launched successfully. It was discreet at a time when discretion in masculine perfumery was fast becoming a joke, and evocative of a niche traditionalist mindset 30 years before that market would exist. This could be marketed by niche old-schoolers such as Penhaligon's or Caswell-Massey nowadays, hold the same price tag vintage stock does, and sell well. Still, it hung on for 30 years in the less-forgiving designer market before being discontinued, likely helped by the popularity of it's arguably more-successful (and potent) flanker Ho Hang Club (1987), which too was a house re-launch scent, but under Jacques Bogart's leadership. Ho Hang is clean, fresh, timeless masculinity without the use of overly soapy notes or aquatic chemical trickery, and uncommonly light compared to future monsters from the house. It is as against the grain in the 21st century as it was in the 70's, and long discontinued thanks to current Balenciaga owners Coty Prestige, who see no need to have male perfumes from the brand that is now more known for biker-styled handbags than anything else. Is it essential? Only for the hardcore collector due to price and difficulty finding it, but if you can at least try it, you too will be enamoured by it's quiet confidence Ho Hang is a long-missed masterpiece.
23rd March, 2018 (last edited: 30th April, 2018)
Ho hang vintage is a bomb . Like ,Antaeus,Captain Molyneux,Tuscany,Equipage ,one of the best ,out of time.
30th November, 2017
A marginal thumbs up for this classic. It smells fine, but arguably incomplete, a base missing a top, settling almost too quickly into an agreeable accord, but nothing overly gripping.
15th November, 2016
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Stardate 20160804:

It was the trendsetter. The original. Oft copied but never outclassed. Gucci Pour Homme and Gianfranco Ferre for Man (both masterpiece in their own right) derive a lot of their character form Ho Hang.
Like all the good stuff from the days of yore, this has been discontinued and I am glad as it did not get the love it deserved.

04th August, 2016 (last edited: 19th August, 2016)
I see this as a contemporary of Vintage Hermes Equipage. Has the same Gentlemanly flavour. Instead of the Hermes Leather Elegance and Animalic we have more of a Powdery, Spicy Floral Soapy drydown. A nice Basil top note. I like owning both and when wearing one question which is better. Two Classics.
04th June, 2016 (last edited: 08th May, 2017)
I used to wear Ho Hang at high school. I probably was the only guy of my age who wore this one. Nothing ressembles to this. A strange and complex composition: Citrus foral herbal.

Maybe outdated surely not a safe scent and certainly not for everyboby but for me one of the best. On my all Time top 5. Unfortunately discontuned and difficult to find at an indecent price.

Masterpiece 9/10
15th August, 2015
Ho Hang is a naturalistic Italian style masculine with a cool citrus - basil core and a minimum of detailing. Spare and uncompromising, it lies somewhere between a dry Martini and Eau du Sud.
02nd June, 2015 (last edited: 12th June, 2015)
Ho Hang, together with the original Paco Rabanne, Equipage, Grey Flannel, YSL Pour Homme, Loewe Por Homme and a bunch others represented the 70s concept of a well groomed and clean man before the advent of the powerhouse monsters of the late 70s and the 80s. it's complex yet restrained, elegant and clean before this word assumed connotations related to laundry detergents or housekeeping products.

It opens as a classic aromatic fougere (lavender, citrus, green notes and geranium) to then quickly evolve into a super clean and smooth woody oriental with just a tad of sweetness. Nothing that you haven't smelled before if you're familiar with that time masculine perfumery but what really impresses about Ho Hang is how truly sophisticated it is. It's mannered but not too dandified, clean without feeling cold or aseptic but, most of all, after basically 40 years from its original appearance on the market, it doesn't feel dated at all.

Personally, when it comes to masculines of the past, I've to say I feel more comfortable with the rebellious nature of the late 70s and the 80s. Fragrances such as Yatagan, Jules, Kouros, Bel Ami, Salvador Dali Pour Homme is where I've always been at but still, Ho Hang is definitely something not to be overlooked especially considering they don't do stuff like this anymore. A real gem.
11th November, 2014
Used since April 1971, when my first girlfriend bought for me for my 16th birthday. Never stopped using it as it's been my only EDT for the past 43 years. Too bad they discontinued it and now it's difficult to find it as cheap as before.
Simply the best Man EDT!
08th November, 2014
Ho Hang is another of those vintage scents which deserve to be sought-after and loved - and I thank the reputable fellow Basenoter that gave me the chance to taste this gem. One of the most clean, elegant, modern classic colognes I've ever smelled. Basically it is a really cozy, traditional, fresh gentlemen fragrance with a mossy-woody base and an incredibly pleasant soapy-talc feel all over, well blending with a zesty citrus head accord and a bright heart of floral notes (the usual fougère flowers, like carnation), yet with a sharp whiff of uniqueness: a sort of slightly exotic breeze all over, sweet and resinous, spicy and dusty, a bit smoky too, completed by labdanum, tonka, patchouli and vanilla. Refined and understated, not a powerhouse but rather a clean, bright and subtle men's cologne. The smell of the smoking robe of a dandy traveller. Utter class and uniqueness, also particularly more modern than others of its era – it could be easily mistaken for a scent made a couple of years ago. It starts from a classic men's "barbershop" cologne realm, but moves on from there, exploring new territories of refinement. It has a nondescript sort of bright, clever, dandy, exotic sense of sophisticacy which is simply irresistible. The drydown, which has a discreet but long-lasting persistence, is predictably woodier and darker, with a hint of leather, always understated and quite light, made gentler and softer by the drydown of labdanum and flowers which still keep to provide a silky-talc soapy feel contrasting the mossy-herbal and woody notes. I rarely dare to say that, but: worth a purchase (at reasonable prices, obviously).

24th October, 2014
There is a nice fruit/floral/citrus accord in the heart which makes Ho Hang friendlier and a bit more sophisticated than a typical '80's fougere. Just a little pepper too. Spicy leather-clay at the end. It's really quite nice.

I wouldn't have picked out the geranium without the help of the other reviewers here, but now that I know, I'd like to say that this flower seems to add a solid, masculine, joy-with-life, steadfast, "happy to be here" vibe to the men's fragrances in which it is used well. That is certainly the aura I get from Ho Hang.
25th May, 2014
For me, this begins as a spicy lavender splash, very much in the old barbershop vegetal mode. As it calms down, the geranium and basil notes take over and it becomes more herbal. The dry down of vanilla and tonka bean is quite nice, but the lavender fougere notes remain in the background, not dominating as with Balenciaga's formal fougere, POUR HOMME, just pleasantly there.

This is quite different from their later HO HANG CLUB and one wonders as always in this industry why completely different scents are given similar names. HHC is powdery, floral, woody and fabulous. I much prefer it to the original HO HANG.

This is a quality fougere, but due to its lack of originality, I give it a neutral review.
25th November, 2013
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Traditional in a good way

The opening with citrus, lavender basil and refreshing bergamot is very nice and a classic start. Green and adstringent geranium notes in the drydown lead to a base characterised by cedar and tonka, but with only a little sweetness on my skin. Overall a traditional, classic scent that is well done. Initially good silage and projection, then closer to my skin, with an overall longevity of over three hours.

09th August, 2013
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

I often call it Ho Hum. It's definitely in the running among the barbershop spicy fougere clan, but I'm torn between being bored to death by it, or simply struggling to smell the spot of it that I just splashed. It opens with the same anise and powder as Jockey Club, but it's way weaker, and I feel like I'm always waiting for something interesting to happen. Eventually it gets a bit sweeter, more of a spicy oriental, but it's subtle, and the change makes it more fussy and musty to me. It really smells like 1971 in a bad way. I agree that the exotic woods become a bit more noticeable after a while, but again the change is too small for me to notice half the time, or care. The one certain thing about Ho Hang is that if I put it on in the morning, I am guaranteed to forget that I even wore cologne at all that day, and to forget what it even smelled like. It's just too dull and weak to care about.
12th March, 2013 (last edited: 09th August, 2014)
A distinguished and delightful citrus-aromatic oriental, epic and exotic. My Dad'd generation comes to my mind, a pool of daring and willing professional men with an enormous love for the good life, the good work, the parties in the grand hotels, music and travels. Ho hang is measured and well balanced, is a fresh, aromatic oriental with any trace of excess or cloying olfactory perception. Cedarwood, citrus, basil, vanilla and tonka are the key elements. Lavender and rosewood are perfectly combined. The top notes are citrus, green and aromatic with their basil and good amount of lavender. In a while the transition towards the woody heart is accomplished. The geranium is perfectly inserted in order to be blended with citrus and aromatic elements with its restrained but perceivable touch of floral sweetness. The perfect combination of natural elements (floral, citrus, herbal, woody) is endly enveloped by a smooth bed, an oriental base featuring vanilla, labdanum, benzoin and tonka with its touch of velvety smooth (tobacco rounded) masculinity. Impeccable. Ho hang, an old concept of left over distinction.
11th April, 2011 (last edited: 11th November, 2014)
Ho Hang is a wonderful spicy oriental that is not commonly worn or even known about these days. It belongs to the same category of scents such as JHL, Pierre Cardin, Patou pour Homme and Ricci-CLub. Applied too heavily Ho Hang can be very cloying and overly sweet. Applied with a light hand it is a sublime oriental masterpiece.

The opening is a lively fresh citrus accord consisting mostly of Lemon and Bergamot tempered with Orange, Lavender and Basil. The heart of Ho Hang is a floral and woody blend of Geranium, Cedar and Patchouli over a background of Carnation and Rosewood. The oriental base is rather sweet and somewhat powdery being mostly a Vanilla and Amber accord overlying some textures of Tonka, Musk, Benzoin and Labdanum.

This is a rich and floral, spicy oriental that hearkens back to the early '70s when mens fragrances were much richer and more textured. It doesn't smell too retro for its own good however; applied contentiously it is a surprisingly relevant scent for today.
28th January, 2011
"Ho Hang" -- interesting name for an interesting spicy oriental. Like others have expressed, this cologne is a pleasant surprise. It is perhaps a little dated now and I don't think the younger generation would relate so well to its "old school" nature. But for my "old school" nose, Ho Hang offers a pleasing sophistication and distinction. Sillage and longevity are both excellent. Careful, though, not to overdo or Ho Hang could easily become cloying.
07th January, 2011
JonB Show all reviews
United States
Wow, very nice. It is hard to believe this came out of the '70s. This is a woody oriental, but not a heavy one. There are citrus topnotes and other aromatics blended in perfectly to make this a nice "aromatic oriental" There is no syrupy sweetness, just the right sweetness to make this likeable by most.

This would be a great "anytime" scent, and definitely fine for the office. Power and sillage are moderate. Longevity is good.

OK, maybe no one will rate this a 10/10, but it's just so nice to find a fragrance that smells so nice, and is seemingly so versatile. A big thumbs up from me.
13th October, 2009
It will get that, hmm, i have smelled this accord a thousand times by now accord. has a very lively, lemony, spicy/herbal accord (think PDN NY, Eau Suavage). Lemon and hints of orange come of pretty easily. but it doesnt turn orangy, the mood is still very lemony with a woody accord of spices and flroals. i mainly smell geranium with a woody twist. basenotes gets a bitter sweeter and powdery with vanilla and incense. overall, if you appreciate scents like R de Capucci, PDN New York et al, thn this will find home with you almost immediately.
29th September, 2009
Swanky Show all reviews
United States
Don't let the exotic name fool you - this is a classy, masculine scent in the Equipage tradition (this came out around the same time and may have been influenced by Hermes's classic). If you are into old school men's fragrances this should be on your to-do list. This one starts out with an orange blossom and wood accord. Once the tonka/vanilla kicks in the whole thing attains a slightly smoky leather vibe, smooth and creamy. Sillage is not great but longevity is decent. The bottle is a classic as well, similar to Moustache's. You'd do well to pick up either this or Equipage to round out your collection. Ho Hang is suitable for the office or the steakhouse and you won't have every other dude on the subway stealing your thunder.
07th June, 2009 (last edited: 07th June, 2015)
Balenciaga Ho Hang

Balenciaga would not be one of the first Houses that would spring to mind when asking a perfumista or colognoisseur to start naming Houses. That's a shame because Belenciaga as a House has put out some pretty bold and different scents which are still available at a reasonable price. On the women's side that includes Cristobal, Talisman, and Rumba. Sadly on the men's side there are only two scents left, Cristobal pour Homme and Ho Hang. Ho Hang was created in 1971 and for a scent created in the early 70's it manages to have that spicy oriental vibe of the time without feeling dated in the 21st century. Ho Hang starts off with the traditional mix of citrus and bergamot and while it is nothing new it is well-balanced and performs its function as the gatekeeper to lead you into the heart of this scent. The heart is a magnificent mix of rosewood and lavender. These two notes blend together to create a warm floral heart that is at turns sweet and dry, on me. The base starts with the clean lines of cedar and soon pairs it up with the green of vetiver which tempers the sweetness of the heart quite nicely. Ho Hang definitely hangs around on my skin for a long time and it definitely has some projection but not to the level of some of the big powerhouses from the 70's and 80's. If you're looking for a spicy Oriental that doesn't overwhelm give Ho Hang a try it just might introduce you to a new House.
25th April, 2009
JaimeB Show all reviews
United States
A spicy aromatic fougère scent from the early 70s. Fresh and spicy top notes lead to a heart of woods and florals, with a base of amber, resins, musk, coumarin, and vanilla. Great sillage right off and then gets quieter; longevity varies depending on temperature. An appealing scent: fresh, energizing, suave, not overwhelming.
02nd January, 2009
Ho Hang... what a surprise! It is delightful. Easy to overlook this one. As others have said; it is a fresh, woody Oriental. The elements are very well blended and create a lovely accord. The only clearly distinguishable notes are citrus at the beginning and lovely cedarwood throughout. The vanilla is not a problem here (it usually is for me). This is not a rich or overly spicy scent; it is sprightly, invigorating and enjoyable. Excellent dry-down. I’d say HH is in the same mood-camp as Worth pour Homme or Jil Sander Man Pure (Original) & I like it!
** Just a brief update on this. Wore it today and it hit every comfort zone I have. Superb warm spicy scent without being heavy. Wears so well and satisfies throughout the day. Upgraded to a full 5 stars, a definite thumbs-up. again, very similar to Jil Sander but a worthy and more accessible scent. Namely that both are "discontinued" but Ho Hang is widely available in discount and mall outlets. Check it out -- it is very good.
05th April, 2008 (last edited: 06th February, 2014)
Hang Ho Hang! Truth be told it is not a bad scent, just mediocre. One big yawn.
31st March, 2007 (last edited: 06th July, 2009)
Ho Hang is the olfactory translation of the word "understatement" : it sparkles with refinement. Classic (and classy), effortlessly chic, appropriate under just about any circumstance... It is both fresh and sophisticated, perfectly clean yet somewhat "dirty", a little old-fashioned but sure never to go completely out of style : a magnificent scent, for those who know, and need not say more. Bravo !
27th December, 2006
ce1982 Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Wonderfully fresh top notes remind me of a womens perfume, but this is followed by an incredibly enticing middle and oriental base that simply knocks me out. It's so different to everything else I've owned or tried, and I've been asked several time what it is.
11th December, 2006
A warm woody Oriental, classic in construction. Ho Hang has that extra drama – that touch of surrealism – that is prominent in several of the Balenciaga fragrances I’ve experienced. I find the opening very aromatic, which, to me, emphasizes the otherwise understated citrus / herbal top. The aromatics are primarily accomplished through the lavender and basil – a particularly aromatic form of each of them. When I first experienced Ho Hang, I found the opening rather discreet, but the more I wear it, the more power the opening seems to have. The wood middle continues the Oriental nature of the fragrance especially with the help of the dramatic carnation, rosewood, and cedar, smoothed and evened by a mild patchouli. The base is Oriental – not as sweet as the list of notes would indicate – and probably the least dramatic of the levels. Ho Hang is a somewhat fresh, very woody, semi-sweet fragrance, rather old-fashioned, a touch dramatic in its quiet citrus way. It throws a moderate sillage and has very good longevity. Orientals are not my favorite category and I find a sort of built in contradiction about citrus Orientals: I guess I prefer my citruses light and airy… but even so, this is a well made, attractive fragrance.
17th September, 2006 (last edited: 23rd May, 2008)
When I first sprayed this on, I thought it smelled VERY similar to Opium for Women. However, after it dried down, yes, it smelled classy and like a "pool of whispering Gold," which is Naed Nitram's description. Thanks, Naed Nitram (Dean Martin spelled backwards) for your accurate description. I do smell cedar in there somehwere and feel this fragrance would probably be best suited for the end of summer, beginning of fall, and into winter.
21st April, 2006
Yes, it has a cheesy name, but don't let that fool you. It is fresh yet warm, subtle but long lasting. A very refined concoction, the individual notes are difficult to pick out, but the result is distinctive nevertheless. A little tough to find these days, but well worth seeking out, especially if you are looking for something classy that no one else will be wearing.
27th September, 2005
Clean and fresh meets smooth and warm - but with so much subtle elegance, so much quiet refinement. A pool of whispering gold.
08th December, 2004