jeudi 7 juin 2012

Tell me about the new Habanita...



I started writing about Habanita in the 80s. In fact, when I reopened an old diary during the development of Séville à l’aube because I wanted Bertrand to take into account the fact that I was wearing Habanita in the scene that inspired the fragrance, I found that I’d written about it on the very first page.

‘Habanita. Hasn’t my life, since I’ve encountered it, been wholly turned towards this perfume? I feel as though I’d spent my life going towards it, in the opposite movement of those women who distance themselves gradually from the perfume they’ve chosen for themselves, or of those who hang on to theirs because they’re afraid of change.
Habanita. Little by little, I have accomplished this perfume.
I smoke Havana cigars now. I wear carnations in my hair. I wrap myself in dancing silk dresses that cling to my breasts and my hips. Since Andalusia, I want to feel myself thus, heavy, hot and a little damp in a dress that caresses my body.
Habanita: Spain. Seville. The place where I found my perfume. But also incense and orange blossom.’

Molinard’s Saint-Valentine’s day launch party of the new Habanita was a ball: they’d commandeered a lovely little hideaway of a hotel and as we wandered from one room to another, we could get a temporary tattoo, learn a fan dance from a burlesque artist, custom-blend our own version of Habanita (from a choice of pre-mixed bases) or enjoy a good cigar.



Yet when the time came to do a write-up, I found I couldn’t. It’s not that I hate the reformulation: Habanita hasn’t mutated into a fruity floral or a laundry musk, and it still packs the wallop of what was advertised in 1924 as “the most tenacious perfume in the world”. And I did get a piece of information that was never disclosed to my knowledge: the name of the perfumer who composed it, one Mr. Boucanier.

But I can’t bring myself to write about. I was Habanita. Seeing this newer, younger version of her is like looking at a Photoshopped picture of my former self. 

So exceptionally, instead of doing a review, I’m giving you the floor.

I’ll draw five samples of the new Habanita, but the condition is that when I post again in a month, the winners will write a comment, even a brief one. 

It’s better if you own an older version and are able to compare, but it’s not compulsory. If any one of you feels up to writing a full post, I’m up for that too: just let me know in an email.


Top picture: Carmen Amaya dancing, by Gjon Mili
Bottom picture: a snapshot of the one-day Habanita Hotel

           

48 commentaires:

  1. Hi Denyse, don't enter me in the draw b/c I have a FB of the new Habanita EDP as well as a decant of the EDT. I'm fairly new to Habanita so I have not lived it like you. So to be honest, I cannot detect a great deal of difference between the two, certainly not enough to own FBs of both. If you can manage it, I would ultimately love to know your thoughts. Finding name of the perfumer wonderful, thanks for sharing that.

    I write sometimes for Perfume Posse and have a post in the queue there about Habanita. Not sure when it will appear.

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  2. I would willingly comment to try even a "new" classic. I am not a professional writer, but I have completely succumbed to perfume.

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  3. Sure, why not? I'll give it a shot. I've never tried Habanita before, though.

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  4. Annemarie, when you compare EDP and EDT, are you speaking of the new (in the streamlined bottle) and the pre-2012? Looking forward to your impressions on the Posse.

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  5. Susan, curious to see how Habanita appears to someone who's never known it.

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  6. Hi again, I'm comparing the 2012 release EDP (in the square bottle) with the EDT that I bought from TPC about three months ago, and which I assume is the EDT currently on the market through most of the online discounters (but which I suspect has been recently d/c because it is not on the Molinard website any more).

    I don't get the 'fresh' side of the new EDP that Molinard mentions on its website. But perhaps the good news for anyone who loves the old EDT is that you maybe don't need to worry too much about the 2012 EDP because to me they seem very similar indeed.

    Still, I am so hoping that someone else who knows Habanita well and who has been able to sample the 2012 EDP will chime in. I've read your book Denyse, and I completely understand your issue with Habanita.

    Have you seen the new box, by the way? It is in that same gorgeous velvety black stuff as the dust cover of your book. Weird irony, eh. I take my hat off to Molinard, they have not scrimped on the packaging. The 2012 Habanita is a pleasure to own. If only they would correct the typographical errors on their website ('strenght' and 'edwardia era') I would be completely happy.

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  7. Annemarie, "fresh" is certainly not how I would qualify Habanita in any of its iterations! I did notice the material of the box and how similar it is to my book cover -- I put that down to the invention of a cool new process... and fate, since Habanita plays such an important role in the book, the development process of Séville à l'aube and my life!

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  8. It is so sad that iconic scents are getting reformulated. Just look on the new Opium- poor shade of former glory.
    I have big decant of classic Habanita, so willing to try the current version. Regards, Ela

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  9. Ela, the noises I get for Opium is that Jean-Louis Sieuzac, the original perfumer, was called upon to bring the formula closer to the original. Apparently it started drifting away fairly early on, but so incrementally no one really noticed until there was a significant change in the re-designed bottles.

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  10. I have a really old version of Habanita: http://tinyurl.com/cep6flh
    and I love to write. I'd love a chance to sample the new Habanita and promise to send my comments.

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  11. I'd like to try the new version just to compare.

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  12. Please count me in! I have but a dim memory of the former Habanita and am quite curious about its new guise...

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  13. Queen Cupcake, that makes you an ideal "candidate"! I have Habanita from the 80s but also a bottle from 1948 (there was a newspaper page in the box to date it). You should send the link to Molinard, they might be able to date yours since it's still a family-owned company with archives.

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  14. Laurinha, I'm sure the new version will revive your memory!

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  15. I'd like to try! I haven't smelled the new or old versions, so I'm a blank slate.

    Can't wait to try Seville a l'Aube!

    Heidi

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  16. Heidi, I'll soon be doing a new draw of preview samples of Séville à l'aube for people who've bought the book...

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  17. I'm a relatively new perfumista and have only had a chance to sample a very, very small bit of Habanita, so I would love a chance to see why everyone is so wild about it!

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  18. Denyse, great idea about asking Molinard about the date of that bottle. I have emailed them and am crossing my fingers that they will get back to me with the information.

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  19. Allison, that's how Alice falls into the rabbit hole!

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  20. Queen Cupcake, from the little I saw of the owners they seemed like very nice people. I'm sure if they can they'll help.

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  21. This is quite a challenge, but I would love to try it! I have never smelled Habanita and have longed to after your vivid descriptions.
    Ariane

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  22. I would love to write about Habanita. I tried an old one few years ago, powerful stuff!

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  23. Ariane, I'm delighted you're taking up that challenge!

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  24. Alina, it is, isn't it? The ultimate sillage monster!

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  25. My only interaction was 2010's parfum version, but I'm still very curious to see what difference 2 years make.

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  26. Eric, I'd be curious to read about the difference you find.

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  27. Denyse, what a moving post!

    I bought some 40+ year old EDC when I was reading The Perfume Lover. I had never worn Habanita before or known anyone who did, so I have no history with it and would enjoy the challenge of comparing with the 2012 version. ~~nozknoz

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  28. Nozknoz, that would be really interesting... Don't you find that EDC already has quasi-nuclear strength despite its lower concentration? To think I once wore the extrait...

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  29. You're right, Denyse: there's no "eau" in the old EDC! It's really lovely.

    One thing I like about Habanita is that it's both rich and austere. I suppose that's logical for an accord based on vanilla and vetiver, but it's really genius. It also strikes me that there's an intersection with my older Shalimar EDC, which is much more baroque, of course, but also has a core of vanilla and vetiver. ~~nozknoz

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  30. Nozknoz, I think that yin/yang contrast -- so typical of the Garçonne era -- is one of the things that must have attracted me way back when...
    It is said that the Mousse de Saxe De Laire base may have been the inspiration.

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  31. I'm not entering into the draw, because for me, Habanita has always been one of those scents that lose out simply because there's a rendition on the same theme I enjoy more. For me, the current version doesn't hold a candle to the plush Cuir Ottoman in terms of smooth leather, or Amouage's Ubar in terms of powdery animalics. It's nice, I don't mind it, but it's not a show-stopper perfume for me, and it's without a personal history.

    There are a number of scents that have entered my personal memories in a keen way, so I understand being somewhat speechless over a reformulation...

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  32. Sugandaraja, I'd have never associated Cuir Ottoman with Habanita, which for me is not really a leather note... But I see what you mean. And I do love Cuir Ottoman. Must re-try Ubar from that standpoint.

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  33. Sounds like the party was a blast.
    I don't have a long history with Habanita, but I have a bottle of Habanita edt bought in 2008 and a sample of Habanita (not sure on concentration) from the 60's. I'd love to try a sample of the new Habanita and I would be happy to comment on it.
    Thanks for the blog.

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  34. Cheesegan, then you've got plenty of material to compare!

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  35. hotlanta linda11 juin 2012 à 01:35

    I have Habanita from the 80`s to compare with - however, yt is not a `critical` judge - I`m always tryng to find the good points! Thank you!! When does your book come to Amazon in the USA???? :-)

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  36. Linda, I'm downright Polyanna-ish myself most of the time!
    The book is coming out in the US early 2013, no specific date set yet as it's still pretty early.

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  37. I have never tried Habanita, and before reading perfume blogs, had never even heard of it. I would be willing to try and tell you what I think.

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  38. I would be happy to comment, and even to write a full post (*gleeful to!*), if I am up to the challenge – I say that because I haven’t yet encountered Habanita but given what I’ve read about it and your intimate connection to it I don’t know that I would do it justice – despite a lot of familiarity w/ more recent fragrances, I’m not as familiar with vintage perfume styles so anything I write would be from that (less than fully-informed) perspective. I do however enjoy perfumes with distinct points of view and with definite character - that's now how I answer the obligatory sales associate question of “what kind of perfumes do you like," since listing the notes I like rarely gets me anywhere! Could you count me in if your draw is still open?

    -Lys

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  39. Ooh yes please, I know the "old" Habanita very well, and am intrigued about the modern release. (Although to be completely honest, even tho' there is much I luv about the vintage H (i.e. the vetiver and vanilla/tobacco facets), the industrial strength "powder" does frighten/deter me somewhat. :o)

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  40. Maureen, it's a fairly obscure fragrance, which is why, way back when niche barely existed, I picked it as my signature, so it's not surprising you only learned about it via the blogs.

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  41. Lys, perfumes with character are *exactly* what one should request! You don't need to have an encyclopedic culture of vintage to know they speak to you. In fact, in an age when vintage wasn't yet vintage, people knew how to recognize quality instinctively because the culture was out there in department stores. Sadly not so now.

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  42. Julz, it's powerful, no doubt about it, and I'm not sure I could wear Habanita every day now as I did back in the 80s...

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  43. I don't know the vintage Habanita, but the notes sound really appealing to me, and I commit to writing a short (and hopefully somehow insightful) review if I am the lucky winner.

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  44. Hi Denyse! I would love a shot at sampling the new Habanita! I have nothing to compare it to, but would love to test my chops on describing it and how it makes me feel. Maybe entrance my Ecudorian husband while I'm at it haha. This sounds wonderful!

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