Perfume Directory

Habanita (1921)
by Molinard


Habanita information

Year of Launch1921
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 429 votes)

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About Habanita

Habanita is a feminine perfume by Molinard. The scent was launched in 1921

Reviews of Habanita

A distinctive but repugnant blend of baby powder and rotten flowers.
31st May, 2020
Habanita (1921) has an interesting story behind it and shares some powerful peers in its class as a women's leather chypre, but predates them all and even predates most chypres period outside of the earliest examples like Chypre de Coty (1917), Guerlain Mitsouko (1919) and Caron Tabac Blond (1919). The stuff was created to scent the tobacco of a woman's cigarette, inserted via glass rod or with a sachet, and aimed much the same way towards female smokers as Caron Tabac Blond, just not as something to be worn on the body. Eventually women must have figured out how to scent themselves of it rather than their cigarettes, because Molinard eventually release it as a personal fragrance, at which point it directly competed against Tabac Blond in some circles, becoming a part of a small subgenre of rather butch-smelling fragrances for assertive women through the mid 20th century. Scents like Piguet Bandit (1944), Miss Dior by Christian Dior (1947), Estée Lauder Youth Dew (1953) and Cabochard de Gres (1959) would later come to better-classify this genre with animalics or heavy-handed greens, while Habanita would sort of live in the shadows as more of an underdog in its class, going in and out of production with updated packaging as it went along. For those in the know, this is one Hell of a multifaceted chypre comprised mainly of tobacco, leather, benzoin, and a host of carnal embellishments, being softer and more approachable than many others of similar design, yet somehow also seeming more lewd. Habanita sits somewhere between "fallen" and "liberated" on the scale of orneriness inasmuch as this style of perfume goes, since it is both indolic at times, but also commanding at times, like Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde's mistress in a bottle.

I get an obvious tobacco in the opening of Habanita, semi-sweet and dipped in dried fruit essence. Neroli peeks out just a bit as does petitgrain, but this is not about citrus beyond just lightening up the introduction enough to make the tobacco more palatable, as the scent itself was designed to do. Florals like ylang-ylang, geranium, and rose aren't readily apparent in Habanita, but their delicate nature weave in and out of the tobacco and other spicy green essences like vetiver, nutmeg and clove, while an idolic jasmine brings in the dripping sex appeal for which the scent is known. Soapy orris and heliotrope try to clean up Habanita's act a little bit, but I think they just place a damper on things enough to keep this from being a full-on dominatrix like Bandit. Coty also introduced Emeraude (1921) the same year as Habanita, and there are similarities in that oriental chypre's fullness and the finish of Habanita, as both move into a powdery vanilla near the end, but Habanita is more assertive thanks to leather and benzoin keeping the animalic vibes going from the jasmine indole in the heart. Oakmoss, sandalwood, patchouli, and amber reassert the early chypre principles on display with Habanita, and it at once could be mistaken for several early chypres near the skin scent level, but also comes across as unmistakably it's own creature when caught off fabric or in the air. The fact that Habanita can smell like different things at different times all in the same wear is a testament to the complex dynamics of its golden-era composition style. In a time when Guerlain and Chanel were ostentatiously making history with grandiose masterpieces, Molinard was quietly laying groundwork with a gem of their own. This stuff won't please fans of "pretty" perfumes, but there neither was nor still is anything pretty about smoking.

The person liable to like Habanita in the 21st century is admittedly the fan of vintage perfume that may be too focused on more-recent decades around their own coming-of-age to look deeper into the past, and just never thought to go back far enough to encounter such an ur-leather like Habanita. Upon discovery, such a person will wonder where this has been all their life, and its venerable design has long since shed any false pretense of gender assignment, since tobacco, leather, animalics, and aromatic moss are all the furthest things from feminine to the noses of people born after the decline of rampant public smoking, meaning any guy liking such notes shouldn't fear this. I find Habanita unintentionally in line with many of the 21st century's niche tobaccos and leathers, being singular in aesthetic but complex in execution, with blending and a lack of any real note separation being the only thing that blows its cover as a perfume from another time. Eau de toilette feels a little more focused on the key elements of tobacco and leather, while the eau de parfum is "fluffier" and more rounded-out with supporting players into something that may marginally behave better in public, should you choose to be bold and wear this out. Prices and packaging also vary greatly, but seeking vintage may pose a greater risk than normal due to the age of the scent, so if you want to get something closer to the 1920's, you may run into a level of funk not intended by the perfumer. In either case, sampling may require a trip to a decant website as this is not really stocked anywhere outside of independent niche perfume stores or places that specialize in vintage, but is worth the effort for lovers of hubris in their perfumes or just challenging fragrances in general. Thumbs up!
21st April, 2019
Molinard should present a bottle of Habanita to every production of Carmen so the mezzo-soprano's dressing room can whiff of this animalic tobacco floriental; just the thing for the passion play of love and death to come, where she sings :

You don't love me, but I love you,
and so I'm gonna-have-you come what may...

04th January, 2019 (last edited: 30th May, 2019)
Opens with tobacco with a subtle undertone of skank, but then transitions into an elegant suede leather softened by gentle vanilla and powder. This is the most niche-like designer fragrance I've ever had the pleasure of trying! Definitely unisex and not too powdery for this powderphobe. It's like Knize 10 meets Dior Homme. Thumbs up!
21st July, 2018
Having no experience with the original formulation (or with World War I) or reformulation in the 1980's (I only wore baby powder in my crib), I'm reviewing where Habanita is today, as of 2018. It's in an excellent place.

Habanita opens with a citrus smoke, with enough bite and cut to get anyone noticed. It is rounded out somewhat with a vanilla-powdery drydown, but the bite remains throughout-and that edge is what makes the scent so wonderful to me. During the drydown, you get hints of resin and florals (Certainly lilac, and another scent I can't quite picture).

As I just mentioned, Habanita has a wonderful bite to it: for any woman, this would be a true head-turner, the scent of those who take charge and take names later. That citrus-floral cut makes it more of a unisex scent as well, and to that end I'm certainly keeping it in my wardrobe.

Sillage and longevity are good: Sillage is about an arm's length, longevity is in the realm of 7-8 hours (4-5 as far as projection, the drydown another 2-3 as a delightful skin scent).

Very affordable: $25 for 3 oz., should be in everyone (man and woman's collection).

02nd March, 2018
I have always enjoyed fragrances with a leather note (Cabochard and original Fendi).

I so looked forward to receiving Habanita. Still have not adjusted to this fragrance and I like strong rather garish perfumes but this one is extremely strong even for my taste. I haven't given up though. Still wear it now and then.
18th July, 2017

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Habanita De Molinard edt 1.6 oz Vintage

US • Buy it now: USD 50.00.

Habanita. Molinard Eau De Toilette 7ml

US • Buy it now: USD 16.97.

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