Tag Archives: dana tabu

Maria’s Lovers (1984)

There are two interesting products on the mantelpiece in the room where the protagonist (Nastassja Kinski) is getting ready.

The first is a perfume box by Dana. The name of the perfume is impossible to read: I believe it’s Tabu, the legendary “parfum de puta” created by Jean Carles and launched in 1932. The film is set in 1946, though, so the box could contain other Dana perfumes – the chypre fruity 20 Carats (1933), the amber Emir (launched in 1935) and the floral Chantilly (1941).

The other product is a round cardboard box of Coty Airspun loose face powder.

Lilly “Cat Girl” Christine’s Dressing Table

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danatabucologne_bornunicornA box of Dana Tabu cologne can be seen on the dressing table of the burlesque dancer Lilly “Cat Girl” Christine. Created by Jean Carles in 1932, Tabu is a sensual warm spicy/woody scent which starts with fresh citrus and spicy notes; according to Fragrantica, its warm oriental base includes amber, resins, civet and precious woods – sandal and patchouli. In Scent and Subversion Barbara Herman explains that “it’s said that Dana’s brief to Carles was along the lines of, ‘Make a perfume a prostitute would wear’”.

Picture source.

American Horror Story S02E08 (Unholy Night)

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ahsasylum_tabuperfume_bornunicorn (8)The dialogue going on between Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) takes place at Christmas time in 1964. He’s giving her a present [1] and she wonders what could it be. She wishes for Dana Tabu perfume, but thinks she will receive some “cheap toilet water from the Woolworth’s” or Yardley’s English Lavender.

There’s a contrast between the two fragrances she mentions, since the first appeals to her seductive side, while the second is more traditional.

danatabuvintagead_bornunicornNo wonder the demon-possessed nun would like to get the “forbidden” perfume. Created in 1932 by Jean Carles, it’s a warm spicy/woody scent which starts with fresh citrus and spicy notes; according to Fragrantica, its warm oriental base includes amber, resins, civet and precious woods – sandal and patchouli. In Scent and Subversion Barbara Herman explains that “it’s said that Dana’s brief to Carles was along the lines of, ‘Make a perfume a prostitute would wear'”.

yardleyenglishlavendervintagead_bornunicornOn the other hand, Fragrantica classifies English Lavender as an aromatic fougère for women. First launched in 1913, it includes notes of rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender and bergamot, with base notes of tonka bean, musk and oakmoss. Such a classic perfume could not charm the wild side of Sister Mary Eunice.

[1] His present is a pair of ruby earrings he stole from a Jewish woman in concentration camp.