Note: Please understand that this website is not affiliated with the Houbigant company in any way, it is only a reference page for collectors and those who have enjoyed the Houbigant fragrances.

The goal of this website is to show the present owners of the Houbigant company how much we miss the discontinued classics and hopefully, if they see that there is enough interest and demand, they will bring back the perfume!

Please leave a comment below (for example: of why you liked the perfume, describe the scent, time period or age you wore it, who gave it to you or what occasion, any specific memories), who knows, perhaps someone from the company might see it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Essence Rare by Houbigant c1928

Essence Rare was created in 1928. Story goes that Houbigant wanted a big time aldehyde perfume to compete with Chanel’s no. 5. So Roure-Bertrand chemist Paul Schving created Essence Rare.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It is classified as an aldehydic floral fragrance for women.
  • Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, lily-of-the-valley
  • Middle notes: geranium, rose, iris
  • Base notes: sandalwood, ambergris, vanilla, oakmoss, musk, tonka bean, vetiver, civet


Houbigant wanted to make an impression, one of luxury and elegance, so they commissioned Baccarat to create a faceted gem-like crystal flacon to house the sophisticated perfume. The bottle has twenty polished facets and an inner glass stopper covered by a metal overcap. The base of the bottle is marked "Essence Rare - Houbigant France_New York".

The bottle was presented inside of a cube shaped box covered in polychrome paper with a drop front. The box was lined in royal blue velvet and the bottle rested inside of a gold foil backed depression that accommodated five of the facets.

The bottle was available in four sizes and their original prices:
  • Modele Original...........$25
  • Moyen Modele.............$45
  • Grand Modele..............$75
  • Tres Grande Modele....$125

Hearst's, 1935:
"ESSENCE RARE!... The essence of an essence, like a many-faceted jewel in a lovely setting. Price, $10 and up."

The Delineator, 1935:
"For those who like de luxe scents but cannot afford them there is a special package of Houbigant's "Essence Rare" in a diamond-shaped flacon."

The New Yorker, 1939:
"Houbigant: Demi Jour, the latest, is such a warm, subtle perfume that people might even think it was a part of your personality. Old favorites are done up in a new way: Essence Rare, for instance, appears in a cut-glass bottle (from $10)"

Drug Topics Redbook, 1941:
" Essence Rare Modele Reduit $10.00 to $80.00, Modele Original $27.50."

Fate of the Fragrance:

It was discontinued for years, probably around 1949.

In 1976, it was reformulated with modern ingredients and relaunched under the Houbigant name but in association with Mem.

This version was available in:
  • parfum
  • fragrance spray
  • body fragrance spray (lotion like)
  • dusting powder
  • perfumed soap
  • bath oil

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It is a woody floral aldehyde laced fragrance for women. It starts off with a cool, green, aldehydic top, followed by a radiant floral heart, resting on a sensual, woody base.
  • Top notes: aldehydes, chamomile, bergamot oil, green note, orange 
  • Middle notes: Bulgarian rose, geranium, lily, lily of the valley, orris, rose de mai
  • Base notes: fig leaf, sandalwood, amber, Bourbon vetiver, civet, musk, oakmoss, tonka bean

Cue, 1976:
"Also at Altman's is Houbigant's spectacular new fragrance, Essence Rare — a heady treat for both eye and nose in its exquisite flacon sculpted like a rippled waterfall, undulating with dancing lights and twinkly reflections"


This new version had a heavy crystal bottle looked more like tree bark with a chunky crystal stopper. The gorgeous bottle was manufactured by Pochet et du Courval. The base of the bottle should be molded with "Houbigant Made in France" along with the HP mark for Pochet.

Sometimes the labels are missing on your bottles, so here is a handy guide to help you determine the size of your bottle:
  • Micro Mini perfume 1.25" tall
  • 0.25 oz (7.5 ml) The Perfume Splash (parfum) stands 1.75" tall.
  • 0.50 oz (14 ml) The Perfume Splash (parfum) stands 2.25" tall
  • 1 oz (28 ml) The Perfume Splash (parfum) stands 2.75" tall
  • 0.25 oz The Perfume Spray (parfum) stands 3.75" tall
  • 21 ml Eau de Toilette bottle stands 4.5" tall
  • 0.75 oz The Body Fragrance Spray
  • 1.7 oz The Body Fragrance Spray
  • 2.5 oz The Body Fragrance Spray
  • 3.5 oz The Body Fragrance Spray
  • 1.7 oz Body Fragrance Spray (lotion like)
  • 3.5 oz The Body Fragrance Spray (lotion like)

The bark type theme was carried onto the packaging used for the other products in the Essence Rare line including a glamorous powder jar and the Body Fragrance (lotion type) bottle.

Soap, Cosmetics, Chemical Specialties - Volume 52 - Page 55, 1976:
"Essence Rare" is Houbigant, Inc., New York's first major introduction since "Chantilly" in the 40's."

Vogue, 1977:
"WE SEARCHED UNTIL WE FOUND THE ESSENCE RARE We searched. Until we found a fragrance that starts softly, develops beautifully and never seems to end. And then we made it in perfume. In cologne spray. And in powdering. Essence Rare by Houbigant."

Fate of the Fragrance:

It was discontinued by 1990.

Photos used in this guide were from the following:
  • Perfume Bottles Auction
  • Ebay
  • Beach Packaging Design

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