Dana (1932)

Average Rating:  82 User Reviews

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Tabu by Dana

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About Tabu by Dana

People & Companies

Fragrance House
Jean Carles

Tabu is a women's perfume launched in 1932 by Dana

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Where to buy Tabu

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Reviews of Tabu by Dana

There are 82 reviews of Tabu by Dana.

I rate this better than any stuff currently being released. For me, this is very similar to Timeless by Avon, but this is much stronger and deeper. Good price tag too. This is definately among one of my favourites of all time.

I had an ah-ha moment when I tried vintage Tabu for the first time. Suddenly Youth Dew, Opium and Coco made perfect sense---they were descendants of Tabu. Perfumer Jean Carles approach seems based on the premise that if the oriental genre is built from forceful materials and ferocious tones, why disguise it with tassels and trim? Why try to tame it?

Tabu backs up its vaguely threatening name with a strapping, seductive fragrance. It's an intimidating perfumes. The combination of aggressive, spiced florals and powdered leather is just one example of the hard/soft conflict seeded throughout Tabu. (Spoiler alert: the hard edge always wins.) Tabu investigates olfactory extremes without dicking around with the comfortable center. Vanillic amber oriental perfumes often dive straight for the soft middle ground and wind up a bit eye-glazey. The trap for the perfumer is emphasizing coziness at the expense of spine and coming up with olfactory comfort food.

Tabu's dense powdery opening is in fact sweet but it's a red herring. As the sweetness of the topnote settles, the acerbic edge of the spiced resin accord comes forward to create a fascinating counterbalance. The powder lasts well into the long-arc heartnotes and the way that it's cantilevered off the bitter base of resins focusses attention more on texture than aroma. The cinnamon-clove spices have a similarly tricky balancing act. They alternate between hot and cold without ever dwindling to lukewarm. Carles seems willing to concede the aesthetic middle ground, finding more value at the ends of the spectrum. Tabu is technically an oriental but had as much in common with the big tobacco and leather perfumes of the 20s and 30s as it did with the recumbent Shalimar. No fear of lack of spine here.

Jacques Guerlain's Shalimar is considered the superlative oriental perfume, and for valid reasons. It has superior form and elaborate, sophisticated style. It also has a larger-than-life Auntie Mame quality. Next to Shalimar's layered, accessorized style, Tabu cames off as starched and corseted. Carles' style was less opulent than Guerlain's but not a bit less complex. Carles differed from Guerlain in that he found that the richness of the oriental was not in the drape but in the tailoring.


Wowsers! In high school there was a rubric by which you knew what kind of girl you were/were dealing with: girls who *wouldn't* wore Chantilly or Love's Baby Soft, girls who *might* wore Ambush or Woodhue, while girls who *did* wore Tigress or Tabu.

Tabu was and still is a highly provocative perfume. Wear it with caution and little else!

I've avoided this for years, for various reasons, largely because of my husband, as it has bad associations for him. There are good associations too, but the bad outweigh the good. The good: his mum, who is an awesome lady, used to wear it all the time (and very occasionally will still wear it now), however on her it's really quite sweet, and she tends to douse herself in it. The bad: a lady with whom he used to work, and whom he loathed (with good reason), tried hitting on him a couple of times. She used to drench herself in the stuff, so he was really, really rabidly anti-Tabu for a loooooong time. I wasn't bothered either way myself, so I bypassed it and haven't tried it for at least a dozen years. And yes, there was a teensy bit of perfume-snobbery too – partly because of the lady from his work (she really was a heinous witch) and I didn't want to smell like her, but partly because here in Australia it's more often than not on the “$10 and under” table at chemists everywhere, so I equated ‘cheap' with ‘nasty'; again, more of an association thing rather than outright dislike, as I hadn't smelled it in years and wouldn't have known it if it had come up and bitten me. I can't quite figure out why Tabu gets such a bad rap here in Australia, but it does. Anyhow, after reading the reviews on this website, and seeing various comparisons, I thought I really should give it another go. So when I was out at the shops earlier, I spritzed some on from a tester and waited to see how it went. I'm so glad I did – this is lovely! This is all musky spice on me – I get a lot of clove from this, but thankfully it's not as burny on my skin as some other scents that contain clove can be on me. I get the orange and the amber as well. We have these lollies here called fizzy cola bottles – this makes me think of them. It's a good thing, so don't worry – maybe this is the root-beer smell people are referring to? I can't say as I can't think of a root-beer equivalent here in Australia (ginger beer or sarsaparilla maybe?), but I do like it. I now have a tiny bottle, which I picked up at K-Mart for $11. I think layering this with a vanilla scent (such as Reminiscence Vanille) or, as someone suggested elsewhere, a musk (like Jovan), would be rather nice. Three hours on and it had settled into a softly spiced creamy powder. Eight hours on and it's still there, but softer and still lovely. Definitely glad I have this in my stable. And my husband hasn't commented on it – I deliberately marched past him a bunch of times after I'd re-sprayed from my bottle, and gave him kisses, and he hasn't spontaneously combusted (phew!), so hopefully he's over his anti-Tabu phase! I'm not gonna tell him I've got it either – I'll just wear it and see what he says if he notices it ;)

The opening starts like a tutti orchestra - full there, full presence from the word "go": a slightly spicy clove-infused orange - hints of Creed's Orange Spice but immediately given richness and depth by a smooth, medium bright and creamy amber note. Just splendid. In the drydown a woodsy undertone appears, a smooth patchouli and hints of musk thrown in, followed by a slight floral twist - ylang ylang and jasmine mainly.

The base is a touch darker, owing to a resinous benzoin note, but the comparative brightness of the soft amber with a touch of rose maintain a perfect balance in this overall smooth and, towards the end, a tiny touch powdery, creation.

The performance is absolutely stellar on my skin, with strong sillage, excellent projection and a stupendous monster-longevity of fifteen hours on my skin - an astronomical performance of my dark vintage sample juice.

A deeply sensual, rich, velvety composition, composed of top-quality ingredients and an absolute stunner. 4.25/5.

Tabu is one of my favorite fragrances, and has been since I discovered it in 1962 - yes, I even remember the year! It's that special. Rich, warm, evocative, over-the-top (in the best way) yet perfectly balanced within itself, true to its own character and mission (utter seduction of the senses), Tabu will always be front and center in my collection.

The most recent iteration of the cologne by Dana costs about $12 and is widely available at pharmacies and discount department stores. Like all fragrances - and especially Dana's - it has suffered through reformulation, but it still packs a seductive wallop and is instantly recognizable. It is thinner and less deep than in previous years, but still worth having at that price. Sillage and longevity are enormous on my skin.

If you like Tabu and find a vintage bottle of the extrait, bath oil or cologne, snap it up - the earlier versions are 3-dimensional, and (in my experience) they seldom go off-center if they've been carefully stored. The extrait is to die for, the bath oil is almost as good (and I've never come across a rancid bottle), and the cologne is very nearly as potent.

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