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Molinard Habanita
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

Sammarco Perfumes Bond-T

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

PORTRAIT OF A LADY

 

(A Lot About My Grandmother; A Little About Molinard Habanita)

 

I’ve been looking at photographs taken of my grandmother when she was a young woman and wondering what perfume, if any, she might have worn at the time.  Her name was Rebecca, she was born in 1902, and judging by the photographs, she was a stylish young lady, with her fur capes and collars.  Raised in the small town of Dauphin, Pennsylvania, in her twenties she enjoyed a career as a legal secretary at a law firm in nearby Harrisburg—and I say “enjoyed” in the literal sense, as my father once told me that her love of being a career girl greatly vexed her mother, my great grandmother, who thought she ought to be more practiced in the skills of home economics—particularly cooking and baking.  Apparently, she did not mind vexing her mother in this regard, as she never did learn to cook more than a few simple dishes: beef vegetable soup, chicken salad sandwiches and creamed chicken on toast being the three that I remember as her mainstays.  (“She’s an excellent cook!” I once pointed out to my father.  “She makes the best vegetable soup on earth.”  To which he replied, “Yes, but when it’s the only dish in one’s repertoire, it should be the best.”)   As for baking, she ignored that aspect of the culinary arts completely; while her mother (whom we called “Nana”) turned out ginger cookies so whispery thin they would melt on your tongue like snowflakes, my grandmother used her oven for storage—of pots and pans she accumulated but rarely used.  Not that it mattered to me or my sisters, because she always kept a bag of Hershey chocolate bars (not the miniatures, but the full-size bars, with almonds) in her purse, and with none of the typical parental concerns as to what time of day it was and whether it was too close to supper, would turn to us with a twinkle in her eye and inquire, “Are you in the mood for a treat?” 

 

Having been born around the turn of the century, my grandmother enjoyed her twenties during the twenties—the roaring 1920s—and this might explain why she took her sweet time settling down.  My father once told me that she loved the excitement of Prohibition—its parties and speakeasies with their hush-hush exuberance and live jazz—and I remember her describing to me how the liquor for those parties would arrive with a secret knock on the basement door, which she used to tap out for me with staccato flair.  No wonder then that she married relatively late, for a woman of her time period, and bore the first of her two children just before turning thirty and the second one in the month after she turned thirty-eight.  She married well—my grandfather, who had started life in the immigrant town of Steelton, Pennsylvania, had ascended to a distinguished position as superintendent of The Telegraph Press, a then-prominent publishing firm that circulated a daily newspaper known as the Harrisburg Telegraph.  But when he died of a heart attack in 1945, she was left a widow with a teenage daughter and a five-year-old son.

 

I came into my grandmother’s life in 1962, so naturally, the woman I knew bore little resemblance to the stylish, jazz loving, slightly rebellious and independent girl I just described.  The grandmother I knew was a quiet, soft-spoken woman who lived alone in a big double-house, both sides of it absolutely adrift in clutter, who didn’t own a car and whose passion for the modern world had largely been replaced by a passion for gardening.  Kind and loving, with a lively wit and an infectious giggle, she loved the entertainments of her grandchildren and thrilled in our games of make-believe.  Grandma existed on a steady diet of cigarettes, strong black coffee, and horribly medicinal throat lozenges; she indulged her grandchildren with junk food and meals taken, like indoor picnics, in odd nooks and out-of-the-way places of her house.  When I was eight or so, I went to stay with her for a week, and because she knew I loved to read, she set up a card table, a coffee pot and toaster on the landing between the upper and lower part of her staircase, where there was a built-in bookcase, a slender panel of window and just enough space for the two of us to sit and have breakfast—to pore over Life and Look magazines and talk about books.  And when you are young person being treated with the kind of respect typically accorded adults—yet not expected to act in the formal and stuffy manner of adults—well, it makes you feel cherished in a way that you never forget.

 

In her sixties, she traded style for comfort; she wore a simple uniform of a cotton shift dress, a sweater, and white Keds sneakers.  Most days she puttered in her flower garden, which was in the style of an English cottage garden, more rustic than formal.  She favored foliage over big blooms, and was fascinated in experimenting with angel-wing begonias, May apples (which reminded her of fairy umbrellas), and bamboo.  Her garden had winding pathways, pockets of woodsy shade, and was contained by a stone wall, giving it a sense of deep privacy.  At its furthest reach, where a swinging gate opened into a back alley, there was a small chimney and hearth that had been built into its back corner.  She told me that gypsies used to camp out there in the “early days,” and though I doubted whether this was true, her face took on such a misty, far-away look whenever she talked about the gypsies, their lively music and dancing, that neither could I convince myself she was telling me a fib.

 

My grandmother died in 1980, when I was a freshman in college, and in the time I knew her, she never wore perfume.  After years of constant smoking, I’m not sure she would have been able to smell perfume.  But when I look at photos of her younger self and see this stylish woman, I can’t help thinking that she might have worn fragrance at an earlier time, and the dreamer in me wants to assign one to her anyway.  So I spent a day thinking about and wearing Coty Chypre, which came out in 1917, but other than its greener qualities, nothing about it seemed reminiscent of her.  Then I hit upon my sample of Molinard Habanita (the edt concentration) and found my answer: this scent not only personifies the young woman she once was, but in a very real sense it smells like the grandmother I knew.

 

Habanita was created in 1921, not as a perfume, but a fragrance to scent cigarettes.  By 1924, its popularity led the company to create Habanita perfume.  It is a fragrance that opens with a punch of piquant tobacco, a smell similar to the tobacco-leaf wrappers of a cigar.  Not long after that, fruity notes emerge, giving it a slightly cherry’d effect, as if the cigar has been wetted by a quick dip into a glass of wine or kirsch before being lit.  The scent stays smoky, with a pinch of sweet-and-sourness to it, for about 20 minutes, and while the tobacco never goes completely away, it eventually succumbs to the most ladylike underpinnings of delicate flowers and talcum powder that I’ve ever had the pleasure to smell.  Thin tendrils of tobacco smoke spiraling around powdery flowers like smoke rings: that is the drydown of Habanita, and indeed it is similar to what my grandmother smelled like.  Despite the fact that she smoked like a chimney, she didn’t have the acrid smell that so many smokers do: when I leaned in close to hug her, I could smell her treasured Pears soap and the talcum powder she applied daily with a big pink puff.  Her skin always smelled clean and soft, and her love of throat lozenges and gargles gave her breath a slightly mentholated quality (not that there is a menthol quality to Habanita—there isn’t).

 

I’m sure many fans of Habanita find it sexy and would not like to hear its name associated with anything that smacks of “grandmother.”   For me, however, Habanita is not sexy in the way that the edgier Caron Tabac Blonde is sexy; what it does represent—to my nose, anyway—is an old-fashioned, roaring-’20s sense of glamour that is high-spirited and flirty while still maintaining a sense of decorum—a politesse and innocence, if you will.  The woman or man who wears Habanita might be independent, free-thinking or even a little eccentric, like my grandmother, but in the end, she or he heeds a code of honor that is in-born.


My grandmother couldn’t follow in her mother’s neat-as-a-pin path; still, every day she walked down Main Street to visit Nana, her devotion to home and family never wavering.  She was a Habanita woman—if not in reality—then in spirit.


Molinard Habanita is available from a number of online perfume discounters.  In the edt concentration, it is an absolute steal (100 ml for $31.99 at ImaginationPerfumery.com).

Images: photos, top, are of my grandmother; bottle image is from ImaginationPerfumery.com.

Posted 5/30/08 by Suzanne Keller.

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