It's hard to take this fragrance seriously. Trying to cash in on the surge in popularity of perfume during the past few years, Houbigant released this fragrance in 2010, giving it the same name as their original Fougère Royale from 1882. It was a cynical move on their part, by marketing it as a resurrection of what they claim was the very first fougère fragrance, releasing it as a "Parfum", slapping on it a ridiculous price tag of $170 per bottle, and expecting all the vintage and niche perfume snobs to fall for it and eat it whole.
I wouldn't be criticizing
this fragrance as much if only they named it differently, even something like
"Fougère Moderne". By naming
it as they did, however, it seems to me that Houbigant expected perfume enthusiasts
to look at it as a sort of time machine, where they could go back in time
and get some idea of what Fougère Royale smelled like back in 1882. I have to admit that I've never smelled any
versions of FR other than this 2010 release.
However, I've smelled the two fougeres from the same time period to
which Fougère Royale is always compared, Trumper's Wild Fern and Penhaligons' English
Fern, and this new Fougère Royale smells nothing like either of
them, even remotely. In fact, it doesn't smell
like a classical fougère at all.
This is nothing more than a
modern styled niche fragrance that merely smells okay. It's basically a powdery, heady floral scent
with some herbal and woody notes to embellish it. It smells great for the first fifteen minutes
or so: spicy, woody and rich, much like the way I remember Chanel's Egoiste
smelling back in the early 90s.
Unfortunately, Fougère Royale's scent deteriorates the longer you wear
it. The headiness of the floral notes
comes through after the top notes evaporate, and there's also a shrill,
synthetic smelling wood or herbal note that cuts through everything for hours,
and throws the entire scent off balance.
The fragrance smells more synthetic as time goes on, and by the second
hour, it's just plain annoying.
This is a thoroughly modern
scent, and I can't imagine any fragrance, never mind a fougère, smelling
anything like this back in 1882. Therefore
I have a hard time looking at this as a legitimate re-release of Fougère Royale. Where's the strong lavender
note? It's not an awful perfume, but
just a decent one. However, when you're
paying $170 for a bottle, you're entitled to expect perfection, not this. With Fougère Royale, you're
paying $170 for a pretty bottle. This is
MY RATING: 6.5/10
Fragrance House: Houbigant