Skip to main content

Habanita – Si! (July 14, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

Image - Wikimedia Commons - Tropicana nightclub, Havana

Habanita – Molinard – classic fragrance.  I’d read a couple of reviews, but never smelled it, and there it was right in front of me on a shelf in a little store I'd wandered into!! I bought it, thinking what the hell – if it’s horrible I’ll just toss it.

The story goes that Habanita was originally introduced as a scent for cigarettes (weird but novel idea), and in 1924 Molinard made it available as a perfume for women, in black Lalique glass bottles patterned with wood nymphs. It was re-formulated in the 1980’s, but luckily was not dramatically altered like many other classics. The bottle I bought is a replica of the Lalique design – very art nouveau-ish.

Habanita just happens to be FAB-U-LOUS - totally different from what I expected! I braced myself for a sweet, heavy, floral/fruity, a 1980’s take-no-prisoners type BIG scent – the kind that strikes a single “look at me” pose, and then sucks all the air out of the room. What I found instead was a luxurious wonder of a fragrance that unwound each of its notes slowly over several hours, taking its own sweet time to reveal the deep, dark, sexy core. VERY grown-up!

The notes listed by Molinard are:
Top notes: Mastic, Cedarwood, Lavender, Bergamot, a hint of Juniper berry, Leather notes
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Peach, Heliotrope
Base notes: Vanilla, Tobacco, Tonka Bean, Amber, Oakmoss, Musk, Opoponax, Vetiver.

The opening is startlingly green and woody, almost dry, but it soon forms into a cloud of tobacco, sweet Cuban cigar smoke. Just as you’re enjoying your cigar, it transforms into a subtle spiced fruit accord, almost jammy but still tart. The heart notes are the florals - lavender, moving to white jasmine, into  peachy rose, and finally into the soft powdery heliotrope – never sweet, but soft, seductive, feminine.

But the florals are only the prelude to the mysterious base notes, which are the true heart of  Habanita. Vanilla mixed with rich tonka bean, slightly nutty, nougat-y and gourmand is the first delicious layer, then amber and musk, powdery, sexy and mesmerizing, and then, just when you expect the drydown to fade away..... earthy vetiver and dark smoky leather!

Habanita has being doing a striptease - the sensuous dance is done, the silky soft robe has dropped,  the amazing sexy heart is in the spotlight - clothed in a leather bustier and ready for action. The drydown continues.........

So here’s the thing about Habanita – it takes time to experience it, so be patient. There’s a lot going on, so pay attention. It has a surprise  ending, so enjoy it. Kind of like great sex.

Habanita is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are are $5.00 for 1 ml.


Haunted by Habanita

I am really green on this whole perfume scene, but I have jumped in feet first in the past few weeks. I too found a bottle of Habanita at a major discount, and had no idea what to expect when I got it home. My first reaction was that it was weirdly powdery and leathery - unlike anything I've tried before. I wasn't quite ready to try it on my skin as I found quite a few bargain bottles, in addition to several samples from this site and elsewhere, and my arms found other priorities to begin with. But I found my mind continually wandering back to Habanita over the course of the next few days. At long last I sprayed a couple of blasts on my skin. Initially I found it a little overpowering - I still don't have the language for it, but it was like being hugged by an overly-affectionate great aunt who has just had her hair done and sprayed with Sudden Beauty shortly after smoking a half pak of More Cigarettes. Awkward. But then once it settled I couldn't take my nose off it. It's not even powdery - I don't know what it is that I am smelling on the top note, but it's kind of nutty, and woody as Kay describes. I wore it just before going to sleep so I really did miss out on the whole unraveling of this gal, but that gives me something to look forward to as next time I'll apply it in the morning. My discount find today was a bottle of Declaration by Cartier. I LOVE it - cumin, lime, cedar. I am tempted to try to layer it with Wonderwood - what do you guys think of layering? Is it a crime as some suggest?

Re: Haunted by Habanita

Congratulations! You've got a lot of guts to attempt Habanita as a newbie - it is so "otherworldly" compared to what our noses experience from today's perfumes. Keep working on it - the drydown is worth it!
BTW - did you know my Aunt Ethel? You described her perfectly.
Re layering - it's not a crime if between consenting fragrances (LOL) so do it! It's a lot of fun - you can be an olfactory artist with none of the hard work!. The trick will be to remember which scents you've mated together, and how much of each you used - so make notes, and use the Handmaps. Let me know the results.
Happy sniffin'