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  1. #1
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    Default Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    The tester of Houbigant's long-awaited re-release of Fougère Royale arrived in San Francisco on Sunday, but my commitments over my birthday weekend made impossible for me to get a couple of small vials until this afternoon (Tuesday, October 12).

    Well, I'll begin by describing the bottle. It is a square, solid design with a fretwork basket-weave motif of clear and frosted glass. The juice's pale green peeks through the glass in subtle variation of tone across the pattern of frosted and clear glass. The cap is a silver-toned affair of solid, square proportions, echoing the shape of the bottle, and reminiscent of the flat-topped caps of Amouage fragrances, only broader and more massive.

    Enough about the bottle. The Juice:

    Fougère from the first, the triad of Houbigant's invention (lavender, oakmoss, and tonka bean) shines forth as itself, not detectable as any of its components, but as a quartum quid, a fourth thing, being all of the other three, but at the same time none of them — a totally new olfactory impression, unique, and utterly a being unto itself. To this add a definite green note of depth and vibrancy, backed by vetiver and woods, with perhaps a hint of the oriental about it. Throughout, the resinous bitter note of oakmoss seems to be slightly pulled out of the fougère strand by the reinforcement of vetiver, and perhaps a touch of geranium.

    I haven't seen the full notes pyramid yet, though the Houbigant rep who shared this with me promises to email it to me soon. At that time, I may have more to say, or have to amend my earlier suppositions. In any case, it's still too soon after initial application to say anything with much precision about base notes and any persistence of notes from upper layers.

    The overall impression? The best I can say is that Patou pour Homme Privé, my previous standard of judgment for the fougère genre, has nothing on Fougère Royale. Coming from me, that's high and mighty praise, because until I smelled this, I thought the Patou Privé to be the pinnacle of green-woody fougères. Fougère Royale is infinitesimally sharper, but somehow slightly less herbal, and more grounded in the base note.

    One caveat about this: This is not an aromatic fougère of the type of the late 70's through 80's, like Azzaro pour Homme and others of its type. They came nearly a hundred years after Houbigant's first Fougère Royale, and introduced spicy aromaticity to the notion of fougère. This was a natural and well-received variation on the genre; yet I feel that the new Houbigant may hark back to an earlier style of more herbal-green and woody fougère, an age-of-innocence version of fougère now (or perhaps until now) largely lost to time. The original 1882 Houbigant Fougère Royale, if by some miracle there were one left that had not gone off one bit from its day of manufacture, I imagine, would have been very much like this.

    It's for Houbigant to say whether they found and exactly duplicated the original formula from some deep and closely-guarded vault. I can only imagine that it might well have been like this. I don't know what materials went into the re-release or how they were sourced, though I am told that the process of perfecting this was long and went through many iterations. I would like to imagine that I am not smelling any note that was not available to perfumers in 1882, whether from a natural or reconstructed synthetic source. Somehow, to me, that is believable.

    One more thing: What I am wearing on my right hand is the eau de parfum. There is a more intense version available in very limited edition which I recall being told was a parfum concentration. That's a treat that I have yet to experience.
    Last edited by JaimeB; 13th October 2010 at 06:33 AM.
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  2. #2
    NYCBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Jaime, when I was in San Francisco last month for the BN meet-up, the rep at Neiman Marcus told me that it would be available as an EDP and a parfum. No mention was made of an EDT version. Are you sure the tester was an EDT? Also, do you have any assessments yet about its sillage and longevity?
    Currently wearing: Samsara by Guerlain

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by NYCBoy View Post
    Jaime, when I was in San Francisco last month for the BN meet-up, the rep at Neiman Marcus told me that it would be available as an EDP and a parfum. No mention was made of an EDT version. Are you sure the tester was an EDT? Also, do you have any assessments yet about its sillage and longevity?
    Sorry, my mistake, it is an eau de parfum; I have made the change in the original post. I can't really say much about longevity yet. The sillage is very pronounced at first, and then goes to more humane proportions after about an hour, but is definitely noticeable from about arm's length. It should be detectable from a passer-by.
    Yr good bud,

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    I'm almost afraid to ask. like they say, "if you have to ask how much it costs.......", but I will, what are we looking at........$50-$100 per 1oz./30ml?
    Currently wearing: Avant Garde by Lanvin

  5. #5

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Thanks for the review... I am really interested in trying this.
    I don't know much about medicine, but I know what I like. -- S.J. Perelman

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Yes - many thanks!
    * * * *
    Currently wearing: Bleu de Chanel by Chanel

  7. #7

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Jaime, thank you for this! Houbigant was once one of the great fragrance companies of the 18th and 19th centuries. What happened to them was a pure shame as they were on a par with Guerlain! (Older than Guerlain, in fact. In fact, a certain dandy might have bought his scent from them.)

    I only recall the Musk Oil of the 1960s-70s, marketed through their Alyssa Ashley line, and now I only like Quelque Fleurs. Lutece was the last big hurrah for the women's market.
    "...her fragrance all in my keeping; softly she comes in the night." Lyrics, Gordon Lightfoot, "Softly."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Wow, sounds wonderful Jaime. How lucky you are.

    One more thing: Don't you guys think it's sort of unusual that Houbigant hasn't really done a full-on press release for this scent (or did I miss it?). I have read ZERO information about this on the perfume blogosphere and noone, as far as I can see, has a picture of the new bottle. WTH?
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 13th October 2010 at 03:19 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by odioustoilet View Post
    I'm almost afraid to ask. like they say, "if you have to ask how much it costs.......", but I will, what are we looking at........$50-$100 per 1oz./30ml?
    I'm sorry I forgot to include that detail. The perfume version is $600 US, and the EdP, $170. I'm sorry that I still haven't clarified the sizes. The tester of the EdP I saw today looked to be at least 75 ml. It might even have been 100 ml. I should have looked at the label, but didn't. Mea culpa. I haven't seen or heard any hard information about the perfume, except that I heard early on the packaging is supposed to be very attractive.
    Yr good bud,

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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Wow, sounds wonderful Jaime. How lucky you are.

    One more thing: Don't you guys think it's sort of unusual that Houbigant hasn't really done a full-on press release for this scent (or did I miss it?). I have read ZERO information about this on the perfume blogosphere and noone, as far as I can see, has a picture of the new bottle. WTH?
    The launch is supposed to take place at San Francisco Neiman's around October 20. I think they are sort of keeping it under wraps in order to stimulate more interest. I think many people today don't recognize the name Fougère Royale or its significance in the history of perfumery. Everybody here on Basenotes probably knows the word fougère, but the world at large probably doesn't know that FR was the very first of its kind and pioneered the genre.
    Yr good bud,

    JaimeB

    "Why spend life seeking that which does not satisfy? Why remain a slave, when freedom waits? Let your life shine; illumine the world with your truth!"

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    Fiat justitia ruat cælum.

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  11. #11

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Thanks for the detailed descriptions. This is certainly a "must try"!
    Currently wearing: Augusto by Mazzolari

  12. #12

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    I'm drooling.

    Any word if this will be available in-store only, or will it also be offered online?
    Rare, vintage, and niche off-site sales.
    Big list of niche splits.
    For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. - Vladimir Nabokov

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    This is definitely of interest to me. As I've noted elsewhere, I'm so lucky as to have a vintage (1960's) bottle of FR. It is magnificent, though likely less fresh than it had been in its prime. Jaime, thanks for your review which suggests a marvelous scent of stunning depth. I look forward to trying the new version.
    odysseusm

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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    At this point, the only Neimans that's carrying it is the San Francisco one. They were talking about doing a press party at some point, but it would have to be in stock before that would happen. By way of explanation, the US Houbigant rep also works at the San Francisco Neiman Marcus, so he's built up a bit of a cult around Houbigant in SF that most cities don't have. They use SF as a test market before going nationwide. That's why we also have the exclusive on 10 Corso Como Uomo, which is distributed by Houbigant.

    Though it is surprising that the big perfume blogs don't know about this yet. I suppose they don't have samples yet, either, and it's hard to do a big promo push on a product that's only available at one specific store. Plus, there are only a limited number of bottles being made, so a big rush of collectors calling for it would likely result in disappointment. I'd personally expect to hear more once it hits a wider release.

    It really does smell great... I think pretty much everyone who has had the opportunity to smell it has put their name in for a bottle.
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    It's nice to see an 'exclusive' happening somewhere in the US besides New York.

    Has the Houbigant rep mentioned who the nose was behind this new release?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    It's nice to see an 'exclusive' happening somewhere in the US besides New York.
    No it's not nice at all! ...I'm sure other New Yorker Basenoters will agree with me!
    “I wanna say something. I’m gonna put it out there. If you like it, you can take it, if you don’t, send it right back…."

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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Apparently, he fought quite hard for the exclusive not to be given to Bergdorfs.

    He mentioned the nose, too. Apparently, they had old formulas and ingredient lists and samples of the original around, but they wanted a very respected nose to be in charge of the recreation process. Sadly, I've forgotten the name, but I'm pretty sure I remember it being someone I knew from Frederic Malle, if that helps...

    Maybe Jaime knows??
    Has everyone checked out my Top 100 Blog??

  18. #18

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    This is all very exciting; Houbigant was all but history when I started getting interested in fragrance.
    +1 for a non-NYC rollout!
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Finally, the official pyramid, definite sizes and prices, and the photos!

    Top Notes: Bergamot, Mediterranean Herbs, Lavender, Chamomile •Heart Notes: Rondeletia,* Geranium, Rose de Mai Orpur‡, Cinnamon, Carnation • Base Notes: Amber, Oakmoss, Patchouli Orpur, Tonka Bean Orpur, Clary Sage

    [*Rondeletia odorata (Fragrant Panama Rose) originally from Cuba]
    [‡Orpur® is a special collection of more than 50 pure naturals from Givaudan which are selected in partnership with perfumers]

    Official sizes and prices:

    Fougère Royale EdP 100 ml. $170 US
    Fougère Royale Perfume Edition 100 ml. $600 US (Yes, that's 100 ml.) presented in a hardwood lacquered box.

    And pictures:

    image24.jpg
    EdP Bottle

    image25.jpg
    EdP Box

    image27.jpg
    Perfume Edition Box

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by JaimeB; 28th October 2010 at 03:28 PM.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Beautiful.

    I was expecting the perfume to be 30ml, but at 100ml, the price isn't so outrageous.

    One bottle of each, please.
    Rare, vintage, and niche off-site sales.
    Big list of niche splits.
    For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. - Vladimir Nabokov

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by strifeknot View Post
    Beautiful.

    I was expecting the perfume to be 30ml, but at 100ml, the price isn't so outrageous.

    One bottle of each, please.
    The perfume is supposed to be a very limited edition. I think I heard the Houbigant rep say that all the available perfumes were sold. But that may only be the ones allotted to San Francisco Neiman's. Keep your fingers crossed! It is kind of amazing that it would be 100 ml. of extrait though. The rep wasn't sure, but he thought the perfume might be a spray bottle, too.

    I am gratified that I guessed correctly about geranium and vetiver. It was a safe bet that there would be lavender, oakmoss, and tonka bean! I thought that there was clary sage in there, but I didn't want to go out on a limb. I should have. It turns out I was right about that, too.

    Well, I think that's enough self-congratulation for one post.
    Yr good bud,

    JaimeB

    "Why spend life seeking that which does not satisfy? Why remain a slave, when freedom waits? Let your life shine; illumine the world with your truth!"

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    Fiat justitia ruat cælum.

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  22. #22

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    The price is outstanding - looks like they are aiming into higher niche segment.
    My vintage bottle of parfum (from 60`s) costed me just mere 80 bucks.
    Nevertheless I`d love to try this new perfume and compare it to the vintage. Hope this will arrive to Russia!
    Vetiver The Great!!!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by rogalal View Post
    Apparently, he fought quite hard for the exclusive not to be given to Bergdorfs.

    He mentioned the nose, too. Apparently, they had old formulas and ingredient lists and samples of the original around, but they wanted a very respected nose to be in charge of the recreation process. Sadly, I've forgotten the name, but I'm pretty sure I remember it being someone I knew from Frederic Malle, if that helps...

    Maybe Jaime knows??
    Houbigant sent me their presentation package, at the rep's request, so that I'd be able to write a review. That's where all the updated information i posted came from, and the pictures.

    But in all that, there's no mention of a nose. Next time I see the rep, I'll ask. Unfortunately, I pulled jury duty today, so it may be a while...

    The bottle design, however, their presentation package attributes to Jean-Christophe Gaydon. He's a bottle designer based in Grasse. The only English web reference I found useful is here. For those who can read French, there's a far more interesting site here.

    A little blurb of description from the Houbigant presentation package:

    Fougere Royale opens with an uplifting cocktail of sparkling citrus oils, blending into an aromatic bouquet of Mediterranean herbs, where lavender and Moroccan chamomile oil dictate a buoyant tempo.
    A redolent heart follows, wherein a floral-spicy "Rondeletia" accord is revealed through rich geranium nuances and warm spices. A floral intermezzo showcases rare rose essences and absolutes, spiked with pepper, cinnamon and carnation.
    Finally, a grand finale of earthy, ambery and woody harmonies, with moss notes joining a sensual patchouli theme enriched by warm coumarinic undertones of tonka beans and clary sage absolute.

    Last edited by JaimeB; 15th October 2010 at 03:00 PM.
    Yr good bud,

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  24. #24

    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Quote Originally Posted by JaimeB View Post
    Fougere Royale opens with an uplifting cocktail of sparkling citrus oils, blending into an aromatic bouquet of Mediterranean herbs, where lavender and Moroccan chamomile oil dictate a buoyant tempo.
    A redolent heart follows, wherein a floral-spicy "Rondeletia" accord is revealed through rich geranium nuances and warm spices. A floral intermezzo showcases rare rose essences and absolutes, spiked with pepper, cinnamon and carnation.
    Finally, a grand finale of earthy, ambery and woody harmonies, with moss notes joining a sensual patchouli theme enriched by warm coumarinic undertones of tonka beans and clary sage absolute.




    ...I am literally drooling over that description Jaime, I love every single note mentioned...and Rondeletia Panama Rose originally from Cuba!?...I can't even imagine what that must smell like but it has to be tremendous!
    Thank you for passing on all that info and for your review. Now THAT is how you write romance for a fragrance: it's direct, descriptive, gives us all the notes and outlines the overall feel of the fragrance with out any cheesy stories or a lot of mumbo jumbo. And the presentation? I think it's stunning.
    This is such an exciting new release I can barely stand it!
    “I wanna say something. I’m gonna put it out there. If you like it, you can take it, if you don’t, send it right back…."

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    WooHoo! Probably the best piece of news I heard all year! Thanks for the write-ups, Jaime.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Two items in answer to questions posed earlier:


    1. The Perfume Edition of Fougère Royale will come in a 100 ml. spray bottle.
    2. During the long process of development of the scent, various perfumers worked on it, but the final credited nose is Rodrigo Flores-Roux, about whom you can read an interesting article here.
    Yr good bud,

    JaimeB

    "Why spend life seeking that which does not satisfy? Why remain a slave, when freedom waits? Let your life shine; illumine the world with your truth!"

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    Fiat justitia ruat cælum.

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    Let him who can hope for nothing despair of nothing.

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    It is an evil thing to arm an angry man.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Will it be possible to order this online? I live in Canada, and this will perhaps be my only blind buy ever!

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    Two comments...

    First, I stopped into Neiman Marcus SF today and am now wearing FR on my left arm. It is beautiful and I generally agree with the assessments here and in another BN thread or two, but I find the drydown surprisingly bright and tea-like -- I smell something in common with the drydown of one of the Carthusia fragrances, maybe Mediterraneo. Not a negative by any means, but not what I expected either.

    Second:
    Quote Originally Posted by JaimeB View Post
    During the long process of development of the scent, various perfumers worked on it, but the final credited nose is Rodrigo Flores-Roux
    Wow, he did my favorite scent in the Six Scents line: series 2, no. 5, a remarkable fennel-based scent, absolutely one-of-a-kind, dry, grassy, very true to nature. Come to think of it, it shares with FR a "brightness" that is totally unlike the hissy aromatic quality that spoils (for me) so many of the modern aromatic fougeres. Sign me up for his fan club!
    Spray it, don’t say it…
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    ^ Thinking about the FR drydown some more, it may be the coumarin that gives me an impression of tea leaves. The scent of coumarin is often described as "sweet hay."
    Spray it, don’t say it…
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Houbigant Fougère Royale: A first sniff from a tester

    I found a reference to the somewhat mysterious (or at least hitherto unfamiliar) Rondeletia note listed in the heart note of the re-release of Fougère Royale! I decided to check Nigel Groom's The New Perfume Handbook (2nd Edition) London: Chapman & Hall (1997), and found this entry:

    "Rondeletia
    A synthetic perfume made by combining various flower fragrances to imitate the fragrance of the flowers of the Rondeletia shrub of Mexico and Cuba."

    It would appear that the knowledge and use of this material has been around for a while, and I suppose that that the perfumer, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, being Mexican, might be familiar with it and may have put it into the mix as his individual "signature."
    Yr good bud,

    JaimeB

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