The Scented Hound

Abbreviated perfume & fragrance reviews from one man's perspective


4 Comments

Vintage Houbigant Essence Rare Parfum Extrait

WHAT I SMELL:  Essence Rare opens with what seems to be fading aldehydes that are quickly met by a spiced geranium.  The perfume deepens quickly as the perfume moves to a civet and amber making it very mature almost from the start as there’s nothing light nor fluffy about it.  As it continues to develop, the oakmoss pushes itself to the forefront and it’s here the perfume puts out a strong forcefield as it’s all powdered and dry oakmoss, spice and civet.  After quite some time, the perfume begins to retreat a bit and thankfully a beautiful sandalwood laced with warm florals begins to take the perfume from the overt to the almost sublime.  In the end, Essence Rare is still mature, but it’s much more approachable, albeit with a strong personality.

Essence Rare Notes:

Top:  aldehydes, bergamot, lily of the valley
Heart:  geranium, rose, iris
Base:  sandalwood, ambergris, vanilla, oakmoss, musk, tonka bean, vetiver, civet

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  Forgive me, but the image of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” popped in my head.  The perfume seems stuck in the 70s, is a bit unforgiving and begs to be noticed.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ESSENCE RARE:  solid, stocky, bold

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT ESSENCE RARE:  Bois de Jasmin, Fragrantica

BOTTOM LINE:  I found the iceberg bottle pictured above at an antique store for $15, so I thought, why not.  As many of you know, I love vintage perfumes, but Essence Rare is a rarity where it’s anything but a love.  What I typically like about these small extrait bottles is that they generally stay fresher than some of their larger counterparts.  I’m sure that there has been degradation with this, but I believe that Essence Rare was pretty much a powerhouse from day one and it does feel very dated.  So my 2 bones rating is based solely on this bottle…but maybe it’s just that bottle and some day I’ll run into one that makes me reconsider.

It should be noted that Essence Rare was reformulated in 2018 and the perfume was once again created by Jean-Claude Ellena.  But everything that I have read about it states that this new version is much lighter and rather pretty and no doubt more approachable to today’s market.

  • Bone Rating: 2 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Floral Aldehyde
  • Note:  Jean-Claude Ellena
  • Classification: To me, very unisex
  • Expense:  Prices vary.  Review based on the 1976 reissued version parfum extrait.