When I was in Havana last week, the locals insisted that I drop in at La Casa Cubana del Perfume. It wasn’t easy to find but when I did I wasn’t sure what they were selling because there was not one bottle of perfume on the shelves. The left hand side of the store was a “museo” with a few old bottles in cabinets and on the right there was a counter with a line-up of people. I stood in line (when in Rome) and when I got to the head of the line the sales associate handed me a sheet of paper. At the top of the sheet was the word “Copias”. And on the sheet were 5 feminine perfumes and 5 masculine perfumes. OK. So… I asked to smell Amarige. At first sniff on the scent strip next to the beaker, it smelled like Amarige… tuberose-tobacco. Then I asked for Issey Miyake for Men and it smelled very much like Issey Miyake for Men. Paloma Picasso smelled like Paloma. Beautiful! And so I decided to give it a real test. I purchased 10 mls. of “Paloma Picasso”. They provide the small plastic bottle with the atomizer. It cost me 2 pesos (or 2 USD.) which means that a 100 ml. bottle would cost $20.
When I showed my purchase to the Cuban family which I visited, they told me not to expect much. The perfumes from the CCdP don’t last long they said. Thirty minutes later and they disappear.
Turns out… they were right. Even at first spray, you can tell the difference. The real Paloma Picasso is dense, complex and opaque. The fake is watery and translucent. They have some of the same notes… but the important patchouli note is not there… and the luscious rose note that I love about Paloma Picasso is also missing.
I am convinced that the scent strips they give you to try have been sprayed with the real perfume. The fake stuff is NOT what is on the scent strip. No way!
As for my scent strip test, by the time I finished writing this post, the copy was dead (about 30 minutes). It now smells like a laundry musk… one watery sad, sorry note. No need to try it on skin.