The Habanita's "boisterous" opening and the (long) way that it takes to evolve towards a perfect mild/soft status of holy balance conjure me the vintage Habit Rouge's tiresome travail (I mean the hesperidic Guerlain's one I used to enjoy in the course of the 90's) and its long laborious transition from the mess to perfection. Several temperamental mouldy/mossy/animalic scents (some effectively vintage or "neo" old-fashion in style) jump furthermore on mind for several of their nuances (from Mazzolari Lui to Aramis classic and Caron Tabac Blond, passing across the Gres Cabochard e/or Bogue Maai's massive chypre core to finally recall on memory several Jovoy Private Label/Sigilli Athunis's arcane dark/woody nuances). At the beginning Molinard Habanita is a compelling mess of herbal notes, turbulent spices, ylang-ylang, angular floral "models", oily hesperides, pungent dry tobacco and stout woody leather (over all surrounded by a bitter/acid licoricey-citric-leathery twist cutting the at moment faint intoxicating mildness). The aroma in this phase is on one bitter/hesperidic side almost off putting (with an almost salty feel provided by an "hellish" accord of leather, herbal notes, citrus and vetiver) but on the other side (gradually unveiling a secret sprouting soul) visceral, powdery/animalic, exotic and attractive. Along the way the leathery/hesperidic intensity starts "taming down" towards a more peaceful powdery amber/tonka/talky sandalwood/oakmoss accord with suede like, soapy, woody (vetiver) and floral (rose/jasmine) nuances. While the floral notes appear on the top somewhat lymphatic, earthy/leafy and vegetal (geranium/carnation mastering at the beginning) in the final phase those seem gentler in a way to "sweeten" the soapy powder with a soft rosey/honeyed (rose/jasmine) victorian whiff. At the end of the trip the vetiver takes the scene mastering over the however notable talky-erotic amber, tonka, honey, ylang-ylang and oakmoss. The final soapiness is kind of "powerfully neutral", yummy, woody, organic, mossy/honeyed and salty as an hellish potion stimulating the receptors of sex. Rarely I've stumbled over something more erotic than Habanita, guys. A majestic leather/chypre semi-oriental masterpiece of sensuality standing out as a Queen still nowadays.
"Don't mess with me...”
Habanita is a phenomenon in stultifying the lot of pretentious super-duper niche fragrances which ask for an arm and a leg to grant you the favor of having them. She embarrasses the hell out of them! She is the mulatta step-sister of Molinard de Molinard. The black sheep and the disgrace of an otherwise noted noble French family. She is how I imagine Tia Dalma would smell, during her ventures along with The Pirates of the Caribbean... A nasty shrew that grabs your throat and utters YOUR last rites as you stand shivering in shock and awe! A scent that would stop The Kraken dead in its tracks! And she surely knows a trick or two to show the newcomers their place. After all, she is around for about a century now... And rumours have it that she is still haunting the narrow, cobblestone alleys around Victor Hugo Boulevard in Grasse, where she was born, in order to find the chance to whisper to her siblings: "DO NOT be like me, for you shall always be alone..."
A dark, sexy beauty... (review for the vintage extrait).
There are a few fragrances in the world, that provoke such a strong response that you go "wow" when you first smell them. For me, Habanita does this straight away.
I find this a fascinating and utterly deep and intoxicating fragrance. It always evokes emotions in me when I try it. The story goes that the formula was discovered by a chemist working at Molinard in Grasse around 1921, and they released it as a fragrance to perfume women's cigarette papers. Three years later, it was released as a women's perfume in it's own right.
What this is, is a dark, earthy, smoky, deep vanilla fragrance. It's like if Shalimar were a heavy smoker almost! The interesting thing is though, is that there is no Tobacco in this at all! Many people get the smell of old dusty perfume and leather mixed with tobacco. But the real effect of tobacco here is a dark, smoky vetiver, a very dry grassy root which smells of earth and dust. This is mixed with a strong leather note, and with resins, orris root, heliotrope and vanilla. There is also a very faint hint of rose, jasmine and even a dried raspberry note.
The immediate impression I get of this is the 1920's jazz clubs. This is almost the smell of the air in those places. Women's perfume (not like today, this is the opulent, dark amber, rose & vanilla type), mixed with the smell of tobacco in the air and makeup etc. It's so evocative for me. Very deep, very dark, very noir. You can imagine slim young 1920's women with short, dark hair and ruby-red lipstick seducing rich men at the bar, the jazz music reaching a high tempo in the background, cocktails and golden lights, the trail of smoke from women with cigarette holders dancing in the limelight. This is such a "bad girl" type fragrance! In my mind I imagine a very elegantly dressed young woman, red lipstick, black dress, perfect hair, talking to a smartly dressed man at a bar... whispering into his ear, slowly seducing him, and him being totally under her spell with every look from her eyes, and every word she says.
To me this has such a very deep, dark, sensual aura about it. It's sweet but it's earthy and slightly dirty. It's from the era where women smoked and drank as a sign of rebellion. But it's still feminine, just in a dark, bold, powerful and confident way.
I have not tried newer formulations, just this vintage extrait. But what a beauty this is! I have never found another fragrance that stirs up so much emotion for me. The closest thing I would compare this to is Tabac Blond by Caron, also an Ambery, Powdery Tobacco-like fragrance, and with hints of something like Shalimar, but more mysterious. This is such an intriguing one, it's like a dancer that is always tempting you, she's so intriguing that you want to come closer, but you can't, she's almost forbidden. There's nothing you can do but sit and watch her do her dance, mesmerised... until the end.
I sometimes struggle to put into words such an intriguing experience. I would encourage anyone to seek this beauty out. Again it is a fragrance which sets a certain mood... and one which commands a certain behaviour from you. Me, I wear it only when dressed in black, and in top style. Leather, Amber, Vanilla, dry, smoky Tobacco-like Vetiver, if this were released today it would be considered a high-end niche fragrance (like Killian's Back to Black). This was so ground-breaking to me that when I smelt it I was instantly transported to another time and place... it's really just something else! I sincerely hope they never discontinue this one, and I want other people to experience this. Like a piece of history in a bottle... and totally wearable even today. Old, and also so powerful it's almost modern. A perfume which is to me so utterly mysterious and complex. Mesmerising!
Gorgeous. A herbal, bitter chypre with a smoky and soapy soul, resinous notes, spices (cloves?) and a humid, dark bouquet of dense and crisp flowers, all wrapped in a truly impressive leather accord – rich, dry, brown, smoked, stout. This is the explosive opening of this great scent, a black fog coming from a time machine which takes you back in time straight into the bed of a 1920's naughty flapper. Initially it's almost all about smoke and leather with a bold, raw animalic and musky accord, plus a soapy powdery side which will eventually emerge better later on, completed by a pungent herbal-aldehydes accord. The blend is raw but sensual, austere but luscious, dry but softened by a heavenly and at the same time, funereal powdery-talcum side. Plus it is also rather modern in its simplicity, as it's much straightforward, crude, less opulent and less aldehydated than other classic "old countess" chypres. I'd say it's also much more androgynous and less predictably "feminine" - it is, but in a modern way, and that is why it's perfectly great for a man too. The leather base is among the most prominent accords from the very beginning until the very end, so you've really plenty of time to enjoy it, and you surely will: this is a truly powerful and nuanced leather accord, smoky, animalic, mossy, crisp, dusty, earthy... together with the urine-animalic accord, the herbs, the narcotic spices and the sumptuous powdery-flower humid note it creates pure gloomy, aristocratic, decadent and utterly refined sexuality. After a while the flowers emerge with more power and clarity, lowering the dark and austere "rawness" of the scent and brightening it with a gentle dash of soapy talcum, always gloomy in a way, but lighter and brighter. Put some lipstick and garters on Knize Ten, that's Habanita. Brilliant!
Genre: Woody Oriental
Habanita goes on in a potent burst of smoke and tobacco, with sweet floral notes and leather in the background. The smoky leather accord persists while the florals recede to yield a very potent, dry, almost medicinal tobacco accord with dark leather underneath. At this stage Habanita smells like a stark, dry cousin of Caron’s Tabac Blond.
Then, very, very slowly, the floral accord begins to resurface, riding on a wave of smooth vanilla, vetiver, and powdery musk. Within an hour Habanita has transformed into a mysterious, smoky-sweet skin scent, with a hint of amber over a vetiver foundation. From an opening that’s outright brazen, it becomes a gentle and elusive fragrance, but one that is also overtly sexual and deeply compelling. You can forget you’re wearing it after an hour or so, but it will reassert itself again from time to time, always showing some new facet of its complex makeup. Worthy of classic status alongside the great Carons and Guerlains.