Smoky, fruity, and floral notes rest on a base of vanillic, creamy benzoin and leather, making Habanita a complexly comforting scent of sweetness and warmth. A haze of tobacco smoke and the earthiness of leather tie together what starts out sharp (vetiver), gliding later into what one reviewer described as jammy sweetness, another reviewer likening it to a fruit compote. (As the perfume dries down, it smells almost exactly, to me, like the foil that lines a pack of cigarettes.)
Top note: Vetiver, peach, strawberry, orange blossom
Middle note: Rose orientale, ylang-ylang, orris, lilac
Base note: Leather, vanilla, cedarwood, benzoin
I'm not a huge fan of wearing scents that smell of tobacco and leather (unless something extraordinary is going on around this base) although I love the idea. What might at first sniff seem like sensuality in Habanita comes across instead as gourmand, and the tobacco smoke and leather suggest powderiness rather than roughness. So instead of being the dangerous perfume a femme fatale would wear, Habanita signifies comfort — like being stuck in a cafe in Paris on a cold day, comfortably trapped in a room filled with cigarette smoke, an old lady's violet-scented dusting powder, and the aroma of buttery baked goods.
Several commenters said Habanita's scent reminded them of a souk in Morocco, or the Turkish candies called loukoum. I can see faintly what they mean, but Serge Luten's more intense and haunting Chergui — also with tobacco, leather, and gourmand notes — more accurately recalls the exotic. Habanita is simpler, quieter, a haiku to Chergui's epic romance. (Notice in this ad from 1938 that a woman's form rises like smoke from the bottle.)