Habanita by Molinard

Habanita was created in 1921 as a fragrance to scent cigarettes. Apparently, it was a bottle of perfume containing a glass rod for applying the fragrance to the cigarette. Obviously this was before cigarettes were known to be cancer-causing sticks of death and before anyone questioned the safety of sucking perfume chemicals directly into your body. By 1924, Habanita was exalted to perfume status and marketed as a fragrance for women and 90 years on, its still a classy broad.

Habanita was the most fortunate discovery 2010 for me. I had heard a lot about this iconic fragrance, but I have to admit, I was litte worried about the notes. Im not partial to chypres and the combination of green and leather is not all that appealing to me. But the reviews on this had me salivating and wanting to try that baby powder+vanilla+tobacco+sweet spices combination for myself.

Quite simply- Habanita is a bombshell. She's strong, sensual, dark and very much self assured. She starts off enticing you with her sweet side, then ensares you with her conniving dark side. Theres something glamourous and sexy about this smouldering concoction that brings to mind an elegant femme fatale, smoking a cigarette in a long holder, dressed in a black flapper dress with fishnet stocking and fur coat. She's the kinda gal that every man in the room would walk on hot coals for, just to light her cigarette. I cant help but aiken Habanita to one of my favourite fictional characters- Velma Kelly (the Catherine Zeta-Jones version), they both seem to perfectly made for each other. Realistically but equally, its probably something the legendary "Brooksie" would have worn.

The powdery, vanilla-tinged spiciness, reminiscent of sweet pipe tobacco, is what grabs my attention first. In fact it pretty much jumped out at me from the moment I opened the box.
A slightly sugared amalgamation of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg with a dusting of what smells like vanilla-tinged baby powder. It definitely has a vintage feel to it but somehow it manages to stay out of the "old lady" territory. Its always a good sign when a fragrance is tenacious enough to penetrate your nostrils before you even take it out of the box- it signals that you are going to get your money's worth.  Smelling deeper, a suede-like leather makes its entrance. Smooth and buttery, it reminds me of those leather satchel-type handbags from the 70's. Embossed with designs on the front lapel and the silver t-shaped clasp that you twisted to fasten it. Galbanum and vetiver- green, earthy and smoky make an appearance but they are very well placed in this fragrance and reign in the sweetness without sucking the moisture out of it.
I love the combination of the earthy, smoky green and leather with the powder and spices, they simply absorb each other like a thirsty sponge to become one.

The sillage and longevity are incredible for an EDT. Its enough to bowl you over and the longer it wears, the more divine it becomes. Warm, spicy, smoky and sweet- the perfect combination for Autumn or Winter.
The bottle itself desrves a special mention- an art-deco inspired Lalique bottle, heavy black glass with what looks like some kind of egyptian depiction at first glance, but which are actually water nymphs. The only gripe I have with the bottle however, is that it tends to leak from the base of the gold sprayer. This is one you will not be able to carry in your handbag and will have to store upright at all times. The lid is also a bit tacky, with that gorgeous heavy black glass bottle, they have given it a cheap plastic lid that has been painted gold. Because of the leaking from the base of the sprayer, my plastic lid has been eaten at by the fragrance and looks nasty. However, these flaws aside, its one of the most gorgeous perfume bottles I have come across.

If you can appreciate Tabu, Habanita will be sure to please. The two are not unlike, however Habanita is much more complex with the contrasting addition of green and leather notes. There is also a persisting similarity to Tom Ford's Black Orchid, sharing the same dark gourmand theme and incredible sillage. It's almost as if Tom took his inspiration from Habanita, and gave her a chauvinistic makeover- removing the leather and and replacing it with flowers- toning down the powder and rolling her in the dirt.

Habanita can easily be found on Ebay or online E-Tailers at very affordable prices. This makes it an absolute bargain. My 100ml EDT set me back $64 NZD and that included shipping.


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