Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Molinard-Habanita (current EDT)


My bottle of Habanita by Molinard smells to me like the love child of Bandit and Shalimar. It's the current formula in EDT with stuff like coumarin and oakmoss listed on the box (at least it still has some coumarin and oakmoss in it. Who knows for how long?), so no miracle vintage juice here. Just a bottle bought from one of the discounters for less than $20. Still, Habanita is marvelous in its smoky-leather-oriental glory, and wearing it feels as natural as my own skin.

Launched in the early 1920s first as a tobacco additive, Habanita was meant to be worn in New York speakeasies as well as in Parisian salons. It was probably right at home among the Mitsouko and Shalimar wearing ladies of its time, as well as on Hollywood stars of the following decades. And why not? The powdery smell of their makeup, the whiffs of smoke, Hermes handbags, furs and the interior of limousines. It's all there, and comes alive on skin, together with soft peachy-apricoty roundness (I wonder if back in the day it also had an illicit ménage à trois with Mitsouko, but the current Molinard version is not mossy enough to point that way).

Habanita is not everyone's cup of spiked tea. I know some are put off by the sweet powder. I suspect most of them also despise Shalimar for the very same reason. Others smell a stale ashtray and would probably cry if we made them wear Bandit. It's funny, because I'm as anti-smoking as they come and hate hate hate the smell, but I adore tobacco perfumes, old and new.

Habanita walks a line between comfort and temptation. It's cozy and cuddly, but wears some wicked black lingerie under the cashmere wrap. It tells stories of its sordid past and unforgettable lovers. It has all the elements of a great femme fatale, but I have no doubt that a man who wears oriental well and love smoky-leathery perfumes would wear it beautifully without getting strange looks on the subway.

Habanita by Molinard is easily available online for half a song, at least in North America. The parfum is also around (Aedes used to have it, but I no longer see it online) and I'm seriously tempted. I bet it's even more gorgeous.

Photo of Dorothy Sebastian: The Roaring Twenties

12 comments:

  1. I just purchased this unsniffed yesterday. From your review, it sounds like I'll love it!

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  2. I remember I had a whole winter dedicated to Habanita, it was perfect, the tobacco, boozy richness was warm and energizing. The other day I found I had a bit left and tried it on again. I really built some memories up around this one.

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  3. I purchased the EdT several months ago, after sampling the pure perfume in Seattle. I keep sniffing the bottle but have yet to apply it to my skin. Just waiting for the right moment.

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  4. Gaia, maybe you can help me? Or one of your readers can? I enjoy Bandit and rank it in my Top 10. However, I don't so much get ashtray or tobacco from it, more dirty, nasty, smoked leather.

    I amplify sweet tobacco to an intolerable, migraine-inducing level and avoid it like the plague. To your knowledge and nose, is tobacco actually a note in Bandit? In Habanita?

    I'm open to scents like what I find in Bandit but hate to waste evenings in the dark, waiting-out migraines.

    Any advice on scents that I should try or try to avoid? (No, I won't hold you responsible for any migraines!)
    Thanks!
    *jen

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  5. An online shop called "BeautyEncounter" has the parfum for $225.

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  6. My bottle of Habanita by Molinard smells to me like the love child of Bandit and Shalimar.


    You are so so right. I could say the same, these fragrances are very special to me. Habanita is so great, I have still some. And want to buy always.

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  7. I'm another anti-smoking, tobacco scent loving girl! This one sounds very nice!

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  8. I so loved seeing your review of Habanita, which has been on my mind lately as well. I was curious about the current version, because so far the oldest version I am only familiar with is from the 1990s. Sounds like it has been well treated by Molinard!

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  9. I have been meaning to try this but now it is at the top of the list! A ménage a trois with Shalimar, Bandit and Mitsouko...sounds gorgeous! Thanks for the nudge.

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  10. It was too powdery for me. Of course, that's when I first started paying attention to perfumes and smells. Perhaps today I'm like it better.

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  11. I love it too, it's one of the best inexpensive perfumes around. I love the black pressed-glass bottle too. (And I'm a big Bandit lover.)

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  12. Everybody seems to be thinking about Habanita lately! I had an older bottle and the newer parfum but last weekend saw a newer edt on sale and grabbed it. I was surprised by the differences in all three. But I like the edt's the best. Older Habanita is something else. Very rich and lush. Newer edt is rich but not particularly detailed to my nose, but I love it. The dry down is fantastic. I feel like you: Sort of appalled by cig smoke but love a tobacco fragrance. Go figure.

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