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June 03, 2005

Fragrance Review: Caron Tabac Blond (New and Vintage)

Caron house

Original:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Reformulation:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

Ernest Daltroff (1870-1941), a great perfumer and founder of Parfums Caron, must have been quite a character and also a man of great marketing vision. When smoking became appropriate for women after WWI, in 1919, he promptly created Tabac Blond. It was a fragrance that would imitate the scent of undried (blond) tobacco, thus, placing a cigarette among the accoutrement of a chic Parisian woman.

Although I find nothing chic about smoking, Tabac Blond never fails to make me feel like someone effortlessly glamorous, outfitted in black satin, long gloves and pearls, with lips varnished crimson red. The elegance of this perfume is suggested by the unique combination of leather, tobacco leaf and vanilla. It is a dry fragrance, with a strong smoky note that initially reminds me of smoldering pinecones. This impression is pleasant one, and as the notes meld into unique dry leather composition, the warmth of amber fills the outlines of the composition. A smoky vanilla note makes its entrance relatively soon and adds a welcome touch of sweetness. A fragrance that is not traditionally feminine, Tabac Blond is a great choice for someone who is confident and daring (or at least wants to appear this way.)

The extrait de parfum is by far the best choice, and I cannot stress enough how amazing it is. The eau de toilette is nice, but it lacks the beautiful radiance of parfum. Tabac Blond includes notes of leather, carnation, linden, iris, vetiver, ylang ylang, cedar, patchouli, vanilla, amber and musk.

On Reformulation (March 2011):

It is telling that every time I try to write "Tabac Blond," I invariably end up with "Tabac Bland." Indeed, the new version is just that, a bland carnation. The original Tabac Blond has a dark smoky leather note that in combination with rich tobacco and sandalwood create a haunting, smoldering effect. None of those elements are present in what passes for Tabac Blond today. There is a hint of clove and sheer moss, a whisper of something green, but overall, Tabac Blond in its current form is not even worth smelling. Might as well try some other leathers on the market, like Robert Piguet Bandit or Chanel Cuir de Russie.

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