Perfume Directory

Ho Hang (1971)
by Balenciaga


Ho Hang information

Year of Launch1971
Average Rating
(based on 111 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerRaymond Chaillan
PerfumerJacques Jentzen
Parent CompanyBenckiser > Coty Inc > Coty Prestige
Parent Company at launchMarbert

About Ho Hang

Ho Hang is a masculine fragrance by Balenciaga. The scent was launched in 1971 and the fragrance was created by perfumers Jacques Jentzen and Raymond Chaillan

Ho Hang fragrance notes

Reviews of Ho Hang

Ho Hang opens with a light citrus freshness reminiscent of Monsieur Givenchy or original Armani Eau Pour Homme. As it unfolds, the cedar, rosewood and geranium appear, adding a dry woody complexity without overpowering the citrus. On my skin it lasts all day, but in a subtle and unobtrusive way.

This is a classy gentleman's scent if there ever was one, and also a wonderful "time capsule" of an aesthetic that seems to have passed out of existence these days.
04th December, 2019
Wish current price wasn't so high...would love to get a bottle of smooth and elegant...starts as a wonderfully aromatic ctrusy/herby/minty lavender barbershop fougere...classic , yet with a unique flavor all it's own...develops into a sweetish dry woody taste of the orient...great stuff
31st December, 2018
Essentially to me an old school barbershop fougere, arching back to Clubman's or Canoe's powderyness, top notch ingredients and blending, refined and understated, it is a wonderful traditional men's "cologne".
Classical perfumery at its best.

As an anecdote and according to one old Balenciaga ad it was also sold as unisex beating Chanel Boy which it resembles by 45 years.
30th July, 2018
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

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