Molinard Habanita, 1921

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Perfumer unknown.

2007.  I can’t really read Habanita. The synergy that others describe doesn’t happen for me. I actually search for a bit of dissonance in a perfume. It lends character, a bit of mystery. Maybe just gives it a laugh. Even outright antagonism can be effective (see the floral leather genre.)

Habanita has neither synergy, as in the fougere’s coumarin and lavender accord, nor the stagey acrimony of Angel, for instance. It straddles an uncomfortable, tangled territory between leaden and powdery.


2011  on re-sniff: There are other fragrances that I didn’t like at first but found that I loved later in life. Chanel Cristalle, Aromatics Elixir. I suppose I’m just ready for Habanita now.

Habanita captures the feeling of its era, the 1920s. It stands out, it has presence. There’s not a lot of nuance to Habanita, but there lies the charm. Habanita has the sloppy, gin-in-the-bathtub, party feel to it. It has an air of cocktail party exaggeration and escalation. The composition says it all. It slips giggling from one genre to the next: powdery oriental, hard leather, floral, chypre. Smoking cigarettes laced with this stuff must have been fantastic.

Habanita is the classic post-WW I, pre-depression 1920s dypso. Jolly, sloppy, not terribly concerned with its effects on others.

Exuberance has its place.

(image Betty Bacall)


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