Tabu by Dana

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Tabu by Dana is a women's fragrance created by Jean Carles (1892-1966), a legend in the perfumery industry. Jean Carles worked for Roure Bertrand, a company associated with noted fashion houses such as Nina Ricci, Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli and Cristóbal Balenciaga.[1]

The House of Dana was a perfumery established in 1932 in Barcelona, Spain by lawyer Javier Serra. It was later headquartered in Paris. In 1940, it relocated to America during the German occupation of France during World War II. One of the notable creations of the House of Dana was Tabu. The long-running print advertisement reproduces the 1901 painting The Kreutzer Sonata by René-Xavier Prinet,[2] inspired by the novella of the same title by Tolstoy, showing a violinist, overcome with passion, breaking off his performance to embrace his female accompanist. The advertisement, with its romantic imagery and tagline "Tabu, the forbidden fragrance," is generally considered a classic, and has often been parodied.

Tabu's reputation as "the Genghis Khan" of orientals (Luca Turin) is well deserved. Carles used an exceptionally high dose of patchouli (10%), which he combined with clove (carnation), oak moss and benzoin (vanilla effect). Other notes include Bergamot, Neroli, Orange, Coriander, Narcissus, Clover, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Cedar, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Civet, Amber, Musk. Supposedly Dana told Carles to "make a perfume a prostitute would wear." It was one of the first "oriental" scents created in the perfume world and one of the heaviest. It was the inspiration for the later orientals, Tuvara (1948) and Youth Dew (1951).


  • “Tabu”, Fortune, March 1950, pp 84–7.