Ho Hang 
Balenciaga (1971)


Average Rating:  35 User Reviews

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Fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of Ho Hang by Balenciaga

There are 35 reviews of Ho Hang by Balenciaga.

Ho Hang opens with a slightly sharp nose tingling lemon and bitter orange tandem, with supporting basil spice before transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart geranium derived sweaty lemon infused rosewood takes the fore, with the basil support remaining, adding a touch of oakmoss and aromatic patchouli to the mix. During the late dry-down as the geranium and basil vacate, the composition shifts gears, turning into a slightly powdery vanilla driven affair, with just a touch of benzoin derived sweetness and mild cedar wood support through the finish. Projection is average, as is longevity at around 8 hours on skin.

Ho Hang Club was a "like" but not "love" for me, so when I blind bought the earlier released Ho Hang (sans Club) I didn't know what to expect. Would it be similar to Ho Hang Club? The answer thankfully is "no." In truth, Ho Hang is a far superior composition. The sweaty lemon accord in the heart is the defining aspect of the perfume, reminding me immediately of the same accord found in YSL pour Homme which was also released in the early 70s, just prior to Ho Hang... Once I found out one of the perfumers behind this marvel was Raymond Chaillan the comparison made perfect sense, as Chaillan (also behind greats like Monsieur Carven, Givenchy III, Opium and so many others) was the nose behind YSL pour Homme as well. The least appealing part of the composition's development is the rather bland woody-vanilla finish, but it certainly smells good, and considering the invigorating open and sublime middle any minor gripes can easily be forgiven. The bottom line is the approximately $300 per 100ml bottle on the aftermarket Ho Hang may not be the finest perfume created by Mr. Chaillon, but it runs with the best of them, earning an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rating and a strong recommendation to lovers of 70s compositions like YSL pour Homme.
Dec 25, 2020

Ho Hang opens with a light citrus freshness reminiscent of Monsieur Givenchy or original Armani Eau Pour Homme. As it unfolds, the cedar, rosewood and geranium appear, adding a dry woody complexity without overpowering the citrus. On my skin it lasts all day, but in a subtle and unobtrusive way.

This is a classy gentleman's scent if there ever was one, and also a wonderful "time capsule" of an aesthetic that seems to have passed out of existence these days.
Dec 4, 2019

Wish current price wasn't so high...would love to get a bottle of this...so smooth and elegant...starts as a wonderfully aromatic ctrusy/herby/minty lavender barbershop fougere...classic , yet with a unique flavor all it's own...develops into a sweetish dry woody taste of the orient...great stuff
Dec 31, 2018

Essentially to me an old school barbershop fougere, arching back to Clubman's or Canoe's powderyness, top notch ingredients and blending, refined and understated, it is a wonderful traditional men's "cologne".
Classical perfumery at its best.

As an anecdote and according to one old Balenciaga ad it was also sold as unisex beating Chanel Boy which it resembles by 45 years.
Jul 30, 2018

Balenciaga was the House of the Living Dead for many years, being resurrected multiple times over the course of several decades since Cristobal Balenciaga shuttered its doors in 1968. Ho Hang (1971) was the launch product of the couture house when it was reopened the first time by Marbert to make perfumes and ready-to-wear accessories, and was released the year before Cristobal's death in 1971. Raymond Chaillan was tapped for perfumer duty on this one, undoubtedly for his recent work for Yves Saint Laurent making Pour Homme (1971) earlier in the year, plus Givenchy III (1970) before that. Being paired with Jacques Jetzen, Raymond Challian's style still dominated this fragrance, and was fond of subtle elegance at a time when subtlety wasn't chic; YSL Pour Homme itself was a citrus chypre loaded with musk, made in a time when the fougère was re-emerging with more heft. The creative directors at the newly-revived Balenciaga probably asked for a competitive fougère, but Challian gave them what they wanted with a twist, as it shares many similarities with the chypre genre, and has an equally soft-spoken manner to many of the immediate postwar greats. My take is that the only thing keeping this from being a super-classy chypre is its lack of leather and animalic tones, with a focus on oakmoss in the base aerated with tonka, while the vanilla and labdanum in the base smoothing out the fougère textures with chypre grace rather than dominating them. Ho Hang is truly hard to define and was even marketed unisex in initial ads, but whatever you think it is, you'll agree that it's an undeniably tasteful merging of classic structures into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Ho Hang opens gently with orange, lavender, basil, and lemon. The orange being a sweeter-than-usual choice, is counterbalanced by a crisp basil note, sprig of mint, and soft lavender with an orris twist that reminds me of D'Orsay Arôme 3 (1943). Several complain that the opening is all too fleeting, but I feel that like many mid-century scents that this draws from, the opening is just meant as a welcome mat to the rest of the fragrance, and not meant to be part of it for any appreciable amount of time. The classic geranium barbershop lines mixed with subtle patchouli of the middle almost swoon the nose into submission. Cedar, sandalwood and rosewood make expected appearances and serve to ease the final shift to the base. Nothing out of the ordinary exists in this base either, because again, Raymond Chaillan prefers buttoned-down lines. Tonka is joined by a big plonk of buttery oakmoss, making the skin glow similar to vintage Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955) but with an additional powdery green fougère elements, while olibanum, labdanum, and vanilla fill in rest. Years later Chaillan would compose Boucheron Pour Homme (1991) along similar lines, proving once again that he was a master of the gentle refinement, but Ho Hang beats it hands-down. Best use is almost all year round, although this might have a bit too much mustiness and powder for the dead of summer. Marketed unisex but ultimately being favored by men because of the structure and dry down, Ho Hang otherwise makes a perfect versatile if very traditional signature, if it wasn't madly expensive now from being long discontinued and from a house that has since rebooted itself into something entirely unlike what it was.

By and large Ho Hang is a high-water mark to a genre that was already passing into history when it released, and if not for the misleading raunchy advertising associated with the scent, probably would have not launched successfully in its era. Ho Hang was discreet at a time when discretion was fast becoming a joke, and evocative of a niche traditionalist mindset 30 years before that market would exist. Still, it hung on for 30 years in the less-forgiving designer market before being discontinued, likely helped by the popularity of it's arguably more-successful (and potent) flanker Ho Hang Club (1987), which too was a house re-launch scent, but under Jacques Bogart's leadership. About that; so when Bogart launched Ho Hang Club, they launched it as Le Club de Balenciaga because "ho hang" can be a problematic phrase in some regions of the world like East Asia or the Middle East; they also wanted to market the original Ho Hang scent in those areas too, so it was renamed "Balenciaga Club" in those markets. Ho Hang is clean, fresh, timeless elegance from a house that is associated with some of the greatest lost perfumes of the mid 20th century, and continues that tradition here. Thanks to current Balenciaga owners Coty Prestige, who see no need to have classic perfumes from the brand that is now more known for modern biker-styled handbags than anything else, Ho Hang was taken behind the shed and euthanized along with the rest of the old portfolio. This unicorn is sadly only for the hardcore collector due to ungodly prices and is a lost masterpiece. Thumbs up
Mar 23, 2018

Ho hang vintage is a bomb . Like ,Antaeus,Captain Molyneux,Tuscany,Equipage ,one of the best ,out of time.
Nov 30, 2017

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