As soon as she graduated from ISIPCA, Cartier's current in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, started working at Guerlain. So when I met up with her in Paris a few weeks ago, I had to ask for her take on Habit Rouge. Why does she think the scent has been as successful as it has?
"Really, I don't know. I like it a lot, but I don't know what, precisely, made it so successful. Jean-Paul used to say that he had to create a masculine Shalimar. So maybe it was the first real masculine fragrance for Guerlain. They had Mouchoir De Monsieur and Vetiver, but Habit Rouge was their first abstract fragrance for men. It's a wonderful fragrance. When you wear it, it has a wonderful aura. Maybe what makes it work is the shock between the really hesperidic notes - really acidic notes, and I mean acidic in a positive sense - and the very sweet, modern leathery notes. The leathery note is very specific. I cannot tell its name, but it's a very specific note. It's not birch tar, it's not cade, it's not opoponax. It has something in common with horses. And it's really surprising."
Tomorrow, my series of special posts on Habit Rouge's 50th anniversary continues with an exclusive interview with Guerlain's current in-house 'nose', Thierry Wasser, in which he sheds some light on the mysterious leather note alluded to above.
PS There'll be more from Mathilde Laurent soon.