Dana 1932 By Tabu : Classical Perfume Relaunched

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Dana Tabu,  a legendary fragrance created in 1932 by perfumer Jean Carles. Tabu was complex and innovative, and it gave us a whole generation of oriental fragrances that were unabashedly sultry and rich. The original included notes of bergamot, lemon, basil, tarragon, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang, heliotrope, patchouli, oakmoss, musk, benzoin, and vanilla.

This September Dana will introduce a new limited edition relaunch of Tabu called 1932 By Tabu. It was reochestrated by perfumer Brett Schlitter as a softer, spicier version. It will include notes of bergamot, lemon, basil, jasmine, mimosa, rose, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, nutmeg, heliotrope, sandalwood, moss, amber, musk, and vanilla. With Jean Patou, Balmain, Molinard and Jacomo busy relaunching their classical collections, it’s also good to see Dana trying to resuscitate Tabu. Even if the new version will be less animalic and smoldering, Tabu deserves more attention.



  • Suzanna: My mother told me that Tabu was all the rage when she was in college in the early 1950s. With a few other additions like skunk-streaked hair and a bright pink lipstick, it is easy to form a picture of the coed of that era. I was amused to think of one of those freshman survey classes, the gigantic ones, filled to the rafters with the scent of Tabu.

    Am curious about all of the reformulations. I’m always interested in a good Oriental–and I”ve never tried most of those Patous. September 3, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: A good oriental that doesn’t feel like it has been put on a diet is my idea of fun perfume too. I hope that it will live up to our expectations.

      I love your mom’s Tabu associations. 🙂 September 3, 2012 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Ruth: I wonder how the original compares with the version from the 60’s/70’s. In that period, whatever the groomer sprayed on our poodles smelled EXACTLY like Tabu to me. What an association! September 3, 2012 at 5:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s been changing over the years, but the version from the 60s is quite decent and is close enough to the original.
      Washing the kitchen the other day I discovered that the cleaning product I used smelled very much like Terre d’Hermes! 🙂 September 3, 2012 at 5:21pm Reply

  • solanace: My mom has a big ole tabu forgotten at the back of her dressed. I guess she does no care much for it. Huuuummm… September 4, 2012 at 5:03am Reply

    • Victoria: A, you lucky girl! If she’s willing to part with it, you should take it. You will have one of the best orientals on hand, as well as its vintage version! September 4, 2012 at 5:48am Reply

  • solanace: the bottle is at her dresser, of course. sorry. September 4, 2012 at 5:05am Reply

  • annemariec: I’ve managed to accidentally discard a few perfumes in my time (house moves and so on) but Tabu is the only one I have deliberately put in the bin. I mean, it’s a bit like putting a book in the bin – it’s just not something you DO, is it? Well, I did. Tabu was HIDEOUS. This was Tabu I bought for $7.95 about two years ago. I’m very willing to believe that the original was marvellous.

    Hopefully this relaunch will be made of better quality materials than the Tabu on sale in discount stores at the moment. I hope I get a chance to try it. Thanks for the notice! September 4, 2012 at 7:09am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t blame you! The quality of Tabu has been plunging lower and lower over the past twenty years.

      Let’s see what the relaunch does. If anything, it might bring Tabu back into the limelight a bit. At least, I really hope so. September 4, 2012 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Ariadne: Uh oh… I’m in trouble! I love my tiny vintage bottle of Tabu. My little vial of nitroglycerin, my cheapo slummy habit maybe a bit like craving deep fried Twinkies? LOL ;+) Looking forward to this latest version.
    I also LOVED Dana’s Ambush and wore that daily in high school.
    V & S do you know what it was about Ambush perfume that kept me guessing (and re-sniffing) the top note? I have never smelled anything even similar to that perfume again. September 4, 2012 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t know Ambush, Ariadne, but you make me want to smell it! That’s another great drugstore classic. We need to pick Suzanna’s brain on this one. September 4, 2012 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Diane: Another one that my mother used to wear, and I remember it smelled fabulous! It was one of the American scents that was popular here in the UK in the 60s. I hope the new version isn’t too de-fanged. September 4, 2012 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope so too, Diane! But if it’s even a bit better than the current version, it’s already a plus. September 4, 2012 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: I never favored Tabu. Back in the day, my friends favored Ambush, borrowed our boyfriends Canoe and then gravitated to Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew! September 4, 2012 at 3:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Nancy, what did Ambush smell like? Ariadne brought it up in her comment above, and now I’m curious too. September 4, 2012 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Flora: I zeroed in on what you said about Jean Patou, Balmain and other houses relaunching their classics – I did not see that news, but it would be fantastic! Is there recent press about these?

    I have a mini of vintage Tabu in the violin bottle – it’s not for the faint of heart, but it was once really good. September 4, 2012 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I read on Gaia’s blog The Non-Blonde about Jean Patou Pour Homme. Sorry I can’t have a link, but you can check there. It was in a post about the Elements Showcase. Sounds exciting! September 4, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Ruth: All this talk of Ambush and Tabu makes me think that there was a third, or even fourth fragrance, all offered in a holiday set of small bottles with fake fur around the bottle caps/lids. Fake zebra, leopard and tiger come to mind. Of course, it might not have been Dana fragrances at all…given my memory. A bad high school break-up ruined Canoe for me. September 4, 2012 at 8:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: There was Chantilly too from 1941 (originally by Houbigant, but reissued by Dana). I always imagined it as a frothy white floral scent, but it’s a rich, solid oriental. September 5, 2012 at 4:02am Reply

    • Vicki Stammer: I remember that set, too, and oh! for a bottle of Aphrodisia (to back up the precious remains on my shelf from that era). I think you’re reemembering “Tigress” by Faberge. Does this look familiar? February 6, 2014 at 7:57pm Reply

  • Daisy: I’m curious! Basil and tarragon? Sounds very interesting. September 5, 2012 at 12:07am Reply

    • Victoria: I would love a cologne that had a much more pronounced basil+tarragon notes. With some orange, maybe. Wouldn’t that be fun? September 5, 2012 at 4:04am Reply

  • daniel: victoria,
    Ambush was a wonderful fern made also by Jean Carles in the 50’s, but sweeter than Canoe and more feminine September 6, 2012 at 6:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Daniel! I will be at the Osmotheque soon, but I will be sure to smell it there. September 6, 2012 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: My mother had one of those big square bottles of Tabu on her vanity–this was in the early 1960s. I used to take a sniff–it was warm, spicy, sensual. I loved the bottle, and the old Tabu ad campaign with the violinist kissing the woman playing the piano–I would see it in my sister’s fashion magazines. I hope the relaunch can capture some of the old Tabu magic. September 16, 2012 at 8:19pm Reply

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