Tabu is a female lifestyle fragrance with its wearers extremely loyal, forming a bond with the perfume that lasts a lifetime. The connection that many wearers have to the smell goes beyond a personal preference for their favourite scent but evokes an emotional connection that makes it unforgettable. Love it or loathe it; Tabu is the affordable scent females have known and loved for almost 90 years.
Born into the fragrance world in 1932, Tabu is regarded as one of the world’s true great fragrances and is the only lifestyle fragrance in Michael Edwards book Perfume Legends. Michael Edwards is a fragrance expert and author with his work consisting of the largest guide to perfume classification that has ever existed. He speaks of Tabu as being “listed as one of the great classical fragrances that have influenced modern perfumers”. Tabu sits upon good company with fragrances created by the world’s biggest perfume houses, such as Chanel No.5, Miss Dior, L’Eau d’Issey and Opium. Tabu has impacted the fragrance market that fragrances such as Opium have been modelled on. Although it has been a point of inspiration over the course of its life, the Tabu fragrance remains unique.
Being advertised in magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar from as early as 1941, Tabu has always made its appeal by being exotic, provocative, and ultra-lingering. Tabu was originally created by Jean Carles for his friend Javier Serra. They had met while Serra was working for Myrurgia, a leading Spanish perfume House, before starting his own House; Dana Carles was well known in the industry as an innovator, with his scents’ popularity stemming from the appeal and intrigue born from the unusual materials he used to create them. Dana launched into the perfume world with Tabu as their first fragrance, naming the perfume because it was so daring and sensual. Carles was asked by Serra to create a perfume with shock value. He asked for “un parfum de puta”, meaning a solid, sexy, sensual perfume, and hence Tabu was born.
“The Tabu fragrance is a heady, oriental blend of flowers, spices, and woods. There is an orange blossom complex with a hint of citronellal, basil and amber.“
The Tabu fragrance is a heady, oriental blend of flowers, spices, and woods. There is an orange blossom complex with a hint of citronellal, basil and amber. However, the patchouli/carnation harmony is the key to Tabu. Fragrance composition is somewhat of an art, in the same way, that a musician combines notes and lyrics to create a song, and a chef concocts a dish from ingredients of different measurements.
The first hint of Tabu brings bergamot, orange blossom, and basil as head notes of fresh spicy nature. The first smell of these ingredients is referred to as the perfume’s top notes, often thought of as the most important fragrance component. It plays the largest role in forming the first impression and impacts the wearer. These top notes often last for the first 5-15 minutes of wear. They are typically lighter in body, which instantly draws people into Tabu. The heart notes combine the lingering head notes while broadening the spectrum of ingredients, relying on full-bodied components for longer-lasting wear. Tabu’s heart notes are a mix of carnation, oriental rose, jasmine, and clover, creating a spicy, flowery aroma when sitting on those who wear it. In terms of base notes which are made up of much heavier, richer scents that can be smelt for up to 6 hours after application, Tabu’s carefully crafted rich oriental soul of patchouli, amber, musk, oakmoss and vanilla is what largely gives the fragrance its reputation of being impossible to ignore and attracting such loyal wearers.
Fragrances being a form of art in themselves could be one reason they are showcased and communicated through photography and, not so long ago, paintings. The first advertising of Tabu to appear in a magazine featured ‘the kissing couple’. As it is known today, the Tabu Violinist was painted in 1898 by French artist Rene Prinet. He called his painting The Kreutzer Sonata. While the painting was made many years before Tabu was created, after being exhibited in Paris in 1901, it faded from view until somehow, somewhere, someone from Dana saw it and brought it to Serra’s attention. The painting portrayed a romance that immediately created an affinity with Tabu and began a love affair, described by the New York Times as ‘the longest commercial kiss in history’. Although the advertisement did not explicitly say the lady was wearing Tabu, the direct link made as only a brew so potent could cause the man to forget both music and decorum. The image of the kissing couple’ became as familiar as the Mona Lisa at the time, with letters addressed to ‘Tabu Violinist, New York’ have always reached the company.
Perfumes are composed purposefully, often to nurture a particular experience or evoke a certain emotion in the wearer. Tabu was specifically designed as a romantic fragrance (and often referred to as ‘the forbidden fragrance’) to have the ability to turn heads and alert everyone in the room of the wearer’s presence. The vision was to evoke dreams of forbidden but exciting terrain, opening to the user departures from the ordinary world. Tabu is said to be the very essence of sensuality and passion. Tabu as a fragrance can attribute its heritage, loyalty, and unique scent to cementing it in history, achieving somewhat of a legendary status as it is passed on from generation to generation. Some of the most loyal Tabu wearers either bought or were gifted the fragrance as a teenager and have worn it their whole lives as their signature scent, never coming across another perfume with a comparable impact and significance. Because of their love for the fragrance, they often gift it to other women in their lives or find that their daughters and granddaughters buy it for themselves, sparking a feeling of familiarity and connection or perhaps even bringing up fond memories of their loved one who wears it.
While the Tabu fragrance is long-lasting and has a strong sillage (the trail left behind by the perfume), some women find their favourite form of Tabu lies beyond the actual Cologne Spray (50ml, $29.99 RRP) itself and get their daily dose from the Hand and Body Lotion (100g, $5.95 RRP), Perfumed Talcum Powder (100g $12.99 RRP) or Facial and Body Soap ($4.99 RRP). One can learn to master the art of fragrance layering with each product from the Tabu range designed to bring the scent to each part of your day at an affordable price. Start your morning with the 50ml Spray Cologne, keep a Body Spray (75g, $6.95 RRP) in your handbag for a convenient and affordable top-up, and add the Shampoo & Shower Gel (200g, $5.95 RRP) into your daily routine. Tabu really was created for the woman who wants to be noticed.
You can find it in-store at selected pharmacies and also online at: