A Tale From the Past: Balenciaga Ho Hang

giochini_hohangI’m a hopeless nostalgic and, as such, tend to cling to memories, olfactory ones included. Thank God I’m not the only one! Some weeks ago I had the chance to speak about this with Giorgia, who explained how her mother couldn’t replace her favourite perfume – Balenciaga Ho Hang. The starting point was the plague of reformulations, which are sometimes so drastic that they turn our beloved scents from the past into something tragically different. Unfortunately, Ho Hang‘s fate has been crueller: if you fear the adjective “reformulated”, “discontinued” can give you nightmares and I guess that’s what’s happened to Giorgia’s mother. The search for an original bottle of her favourite perfume (metal cap, honeycomb box) is becoming harder and harder, because when a perfume is no more on the market, it’s destined to die.

balenciaga_hohang_1972ad_bornunicorn

balenciaga_hohang_1978ad_bornunicornI have never tried Ho Hang, even if I remember someone I knew (a relative, maybe) used it. I’d love to, though. I’m not a fan of 1970s perfumes, but I’ve hardly read a negative opinion about this one. Created in 1971 by Jacques Jantzen (who created Cialenga, another historical Balenciaga perfume, in 1973), it’s an elegant and sophisticated balsamic fragrance with a citrus opening and a woody/spicy heart. Its olfactory pyramid includes orange, lavender, basil, bergamot and lemon as top notes; carnation, patchouli, cedar, Brazilian rosewood and geranium as middle notes; labdanum, tonka bean, amber, musk, benzoin and vanilla as base notes. Ho Hang, which means “very fragrant” in Cantonese, has a powdery quality, given by the carnation, which is balanced by what Chantal-Hélène Wagner refers to as “a very true animalic accord”: “It smells exactly like the fur of an animal for a few moments,” she adds. No one can resist such a powerful description!

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