Wednesday, 21 April 2010


I've heard around five times in the news that today, it's the birthday of Queen Elizabeth. Not that it mattered to me in any particular way but it prompted me to blow dust off the bottle of Houbigant's Chantilly.

Houbigant is a brand that has fallen deep. From supplying the court of France and England to a drugstore brand. The history is neatly summed up here. The main point is that after around 1994, Houbigant is an empty name.

I got Chantilly because I liked the icosahedron shaped bottle. The tag says Collection Royale and I haven't found such a flacon elsewhere so I don't really know. I guess it was a limited edition, the idea offers itself, but I have no idea when it was launched. the tag also says Blended in U. S. A. so it may be after the Houbigant brand was taken over by Dana. I have no idea.
Not rarely bottles are better than content but this wasn't the case.

Now, the fragrance. I was struck. It is old-fashioned in the best way, a generous bouquet of roses and other flora with a pinch of salty leather and spices and quite some oakmoss. It's pretty hard to discern the notes, the thing is very well blended. I read various descriptions of it, along the lines of Ptuiii, a grandma scent, boring soapy powdery ugly. I would agree only with the grandma scent, after all, good part of the Guerlain classics are grandma scents and grandma's grandma scents so what. When thinking how to describe the scent, words like lush, rich, glamorous, luxurious sprang into my mind. And happines and joie de vivre. I'll wear it for errands, and mind you, I'm far away from anything glamorous (1).
And... the drydown is all oakmoss and leather. It has almost mineral qualities and at least referring to inanimate nature seems to be a bit of a trend (Sel de Vetiver, Olivier Durbano's line, Lalique's rather uninspiring Amethyste...) so to hell with grandma scent.

Houbigant was launched in 1941, a creation of Marcel Billot.
Nowadays it is available cheaply all over the internet but I have no idea whether it's the same thing as mine.

top notes: fruity notes, neroli, bergamot, lemon
middle notes: spices, carnation, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, orange blossom
base notes: leather, tonka bean, musk, benzoin, oakmoss, vanilla, sandalwood

(1) like, faded hoodie, secondhand jeans and I don't accept criticism. I don't care about clothes that much as long as they fit, last long, are comfy and black - which ends with expensive tank tops and hoodies that don't look the price, after all, I carefully remove all offending logos. I like to get up, pick whatever and be sure that it works.


  1. *That* is what Chantilly is inside?

    Zowie. Up until now, all I knew was that "Chantilly" was the name of a perfume. And a kind of lace. So I guess I was thinking light and flowery and airy. But...a drydown of oakmoss and leather? Lush? Roses, not violets or carnations? Brrrrrreeeeeep...rewind brain, try again.

    BTW, I think the iconic dragon bottle is pretty cool, too. (Just kidding; I loves me an icosahedron, too. Dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons...I'm kind of a hedronist. ;) )

    Aren't discoveries fun?

  2. This is one of the perfumes that are hard to describe, it is blended so well that it gets rather difficult to discern. I may be wrong, I'm not an expert nor do I play one on TV.
    Also, it is old-fashioned in the best sense of the word. Rich, complex, somewhat on the heavy side.
    Tetrahedron may be Jacomo's Parfum Rare. Dodecahedron - haven't seen this one as a perfume bottle.