Perfume Directory

Canoé (1936)
by Dana


Canoé information

Year of Launch1936
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 159 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerJean Carles
PackagingMarc Rosen
Parent CompanyPatriarch Partners > Dana Classics

About Canoé

Canoé is a masculine fragrance by Dana. The scent was launched in 1936 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Jean Carles. The bottle was designed by Marc Rosen

Canoé fragrance notes

Reviews of Canoé

dreese Show all reviews
United States
Smells remarkably similar now to the scent of the late 1970s and 80s. Starts out smelling like Brut, which is bad. During the drydown the offending patchouli-moss-cedar mixture goes away, and this fragrance becomes a lovely, dignified stroll down a lane lined by lavender, geraniums, and heliotrope in full bloom.
23rd November, 2018
My memory of Canoe isn't good after not having smelled it since the mid-80s. I liked it alright, but not nearly so well as my Uncle or my brother, who both liked it well enough to make it their signature scents.

I think of it as very dated at this point, but it's cheap now so you might give it a try as a budget cologne or try the aftershave.

I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5
05th February, 2018
Canoe is most certainly the apex babershop fougère. When people ask me how it smells, I tell them it's literally the smell of the powder that the old mom and pop barbershops put on your neck after a fresh cut. This review could end right here if I wanted to be that concise, but it does little justice to the juice and it's history if I do. Canoe started out as an export-only in the US market: troops fighting the Nazis brought it home from France and instantly loved it's light, musky, powdery ambiance, as it was nothing like the spicy and fatty scents they had to subsist with back in the US. The British loved this scent too, as their own leathery and herbal concoctions were not as affable to the nose, but it quickly became the standard for American men moreso than the UK, but with a dirty secret: It was originally meant to be a women's perfume. Those who know the tale of Shulton's Old Spice (1937), will know how this plays out too: Canoe was developed for Dana by Jean Carles and it was intended for the female audience, sold as such initially, but unlike Old Spice's original feminine packaging (when it was called Early American Old Spice), Canoe was never sold under a different name then rebranded for men, just adopted by them as they brought it over from France before and after WWII. Eventually sales figures convinced Dana that it fit men better and they began selling it in the trademark round bottle it's known for now. Oddly enough, Jean Carles would revisit his creation in 1955, tweaking it with heliotrope and additional florals for the ladies, creating "Ambush" perfume in the process, but the eventual promulgation of floral fougères for men and the discontinued fate of Ambush proved that acting on second thoughts doesn't always prove fruitful. Canoe scent eventually received global distribution and saw shipments to US stores sometime in the 50's, becoming a high-end alternative to the aforementioned Old Spice and other drugstore scents, while its oily-powdery vanillic smell became synonymous with masculinity as barbershops adopted Canoe's use in powder or aftershave form. The man who wore Canoe eau de cologne in those days was a learned, cultured, well-traveled and sophisticated man, of the upper-middle classes bare-minimum, with their sons more likely to be seen in Jack Purcell sneakers than the standard Converse fish heads of the day.

The rest of the tale is the usual mass market ubiquity and eventual downmarket dilution that happens to classic fragrances when they literally become too popular for their own good: they becomes too well-known and well-liked to retain their air of exclusivity and prestige, suffering sales drops after growth plateaus, then price cuts cheapening the formula to keep them competitive as they slide downmarket, which was something Canoe suffered long before IFRA standards started affecting fragrances. It didn't help that Dana also crashed and burned, being reborn as New Dana (and eventually Dana Classic Fragrances) after it was absorbed several times into different companies that ate each other along the way. Canoe suffered it's first major stylistic shift formulation in the 90's, when it stopped being made in France, not to meet regulations but to appeal to more modern tastes (it's right in the company's history if you look it up). Afterwards, reformulations were just to mostly meet regulations so there really is no huge difference in the scent of this juice from 1990's onward, just the stuff beforehand. Canoe from any decade opens mostly the same: there is a big rush of lavender, clary sage, and lemon, with a sharp and sticky green geranium that is only found in the barbershop scents of the 30's, 40's, and 50's; anyone who has smelled Avon for Men (1949) or Revlon That Man (1958) knows exactly what I'm talking about. It would be 40 years before geranium in any form close to this came back in vogue, but just for the 90's fresh fougères like Paco Rabanne XS Pour Homme (1993). The biggest difference in pre and post reorchestration is in the dry-down. Older batches with a white label and cap (made in France) will have much heavier heart notes and base notes like all the classic fougères did, offering a richer vanilla and musk experience bonded to real, unrestricted coumarin and pasty oakmoss, imparting a scary sort of "plastic Barbie doll" smell many antique fougères have at skin level past all the flowers and citrus. Newer stuff finds a shift towards stronger top notes that dominate the fragrance for longer (particularly the lavender), making it sharper, less rounded and more linear, which seems sensible if Canoe was being realigned to compete with then-modern fougères like Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein (1989) or Curve for Men by Liz Claiborne (1996).

Both MK I and MK II Canoe have the same "freshly-slapped barbershop talc" smell, but MK I bottles plunge deeper into dark recesses of vanillic oakmoss and tonka, becoming something else entirely after the drydown, while MK II "pauses the transition" halfway and hangs there until you scrub it. IFRA now restricts moss, so the rich base notes could never be restored even if they wanted to, at least not without a surrogate note replacing the moss. It's honestly fine and still wearable without the heavier base, it just doesn't feel quite as quality or all-season, and shifts more towards a spring-summer scent for me, without the warmth to pierce colder fall or winter air. Nothing done to the formula changes the basic and timeless barbershop vibe no matter how new your bottle is, so if you don't like powdery barbershop tropes, this is the granddaddy of them all so I suggest steering clear. Niche barbershop scent makers looking to be the next Pinaud and court the moustache-wax-eating hipsters Penhaligon's usually attracts often look to Canoe as their source of inspiration, and I'm pretty sure "Dad's favorite barber" in business since the 50's still uses old stock of Canoe talc on his hot towels after giving a buzz cut. Before stuff like Canoe, fougères stood toe to toe with chypres in the male realm, as not everyone was happy with how aromatic or floral they were, but after Canoe shifted in an almost oriental sweetness that made them "safe", fougères dominated, crushing everything else strait on through until present day, despite evolving long past that now-archaic structure. Wearing this stuff in the 21st century no longer gives off the letterman jacket vibe of a mid-century ivy league alumni, and people will likely just think you enjoy smelling like your dad or buying your cologne from Walmart, but if you want to shut somebody up you can always tell them that at least your drugstore swill still comes in a glass bottle. Simply a must-experience classic, in any vintage.
23rd October, 2017 (last edited: 19th October, 2018)
A markedly pleasant and powdery affair that will offend very few with its mild barbershopish (lavender plus) manner. Somewhat sweet in a vanilla way but not cloying. Canoe is a very nice venerable creation that performs quite well on a small investment. It is old but does not small obsolete. A good barbershop never goes out of style, IMO. The only possible concern might be its high degree of exposure over many years.

Trying it for the first time now brought back an ancient memory of my first exposure to it in my youth. Amazing how strong those old scent memories are. An easy thumbs up for both my spouse and me.
02nd April, 2017
The fougère has been a yardstick of masculine perfumery since Houbigant released Fougère Royale in 1882. It is a slow moving genre that has sauntered from decade to decade with periodic touchups. The principle accord of lavender and coumarin can support a wide range of alterations. With a few compositional tweeks fougères have ranged from mossy or aromatic to oriental and aquatic hybrids.

The genre was created by the French, idolized by the British and democratized by Americans. Though Canoe was composed in the 1930s (actual release dates vary) in France, it came to epitomize a populist American style of a fragrance. Until the mossy fougères of the 1960s and aromatic fougères of the 1970s, oily-powdery musky lavenders were the masculine paradigm. The accord was ubiquitous, scenting a range of men's grooming products, becoming the scent of the masculine 'safe zone': the barbershop. (Paradoxically, a heliotrope-inflected version of this accord scented the baby powder of the era as well. Was the American man infantilized or were babies inculcated into the culture of masculinity?) Canoe's vanillic musk bears only a passing resemblance to the fougères of the present. On the other hand, it has much in common with sweet, powdery musks like Helmut Lang edp/edc, le Labo Labdanum 18, Kiehls Musk no 1 and even S-Perfumes S-ex.

Compared to previous fougères Canoe dialed down aromatics and woods and emphasized musky vanillic tones, making it as much an oriental as a fougère. A tart geranium accent steers the perfume away from custard, just as Jicky's dusting of culinary herbs does. Canoe ventures so far from 'pastry' vanilla that it lands in the infamous 'plastic doll head' territory. To the modern nose, geranium gives Canoe a dated feel, but it also cuts the softness and prevents a marshmallow effect. By drydown geranium loses its sticky, green sharpness. What remains is a lingering tartness and a slight rosy hue.

Jean Carles composed Canoe as well as its 1955 sibling Dana Ambush, a fougère marketed to women. The two were the sold as masculine and feminine bookends, though they are enough alike that the gender assignments seem arbitrary. Perhaps Carles took inspiration from Guerlain Jicky, which was launched as a masculine fragrance but became unisex by popular acclamation.

Since Paul Parquet's Houbigant Fougère Royale, each generation has had a version of the genre. There is an unbroken line off fougères nearly 150 long and no other perfume style has the old boy's historical momentum. Penhaligon's and Yardley preceded Canoe, which paved the way for Brut, British Sterling and Grey Flannel. Canoe is still produced, but lacks the roundness of earlier formulations. Fortunately, Canoe has been in production for so many years that large quantities are available on the cheap at ebay. The durable vintage musks and high alcohol content (eau de cologne concentration) preserve older bottles very well.

24th January, 2017
If you had asked 20-25 years ago 'what do I think of the cologne called Canoe'.I'd say all I smell is vanilla and powder...nothing else among the notes therefore teetering between a neutral and thumbs down.Not offensive to wear just plain versus other cheap scents.That's coming from that dark blue/old label bottle pictured and the grey label and top version.I'm in K-Mart last year during the holidays and my wife spots a giftset of Canoe with each a 2oz. cologne and aftershave.So we bought it and figured I could stash it at work to apply at work for when I got off and the fam meets at a restaurant.To be honest I think Dana currently has got the scent right this time...

Splashing it on I get a strong and clean lemon and an herbal zip.That vanilla and powder surfaces but a little lavender in the powder colors it.That lemon note dies off some and the sage note is long gone after about 15 minutes.But that lemon is keeping that powder restrained and clean.I'd think I lucked out and maybe this was a fluke...nope.The 8oz. bottle I bought smells exactly the same.Still a sweet cologne but more in control and expansive by notes that should have been blossoming out back then.
20th November, 2016

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Mens Canoe DANA 1.3 fl oz. EAU COLOGNE Glass Bottle Rare Original unused

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vintage NIB CANOE by Dana Eau De Toilette / Eau De Cologne Spray 1 oz For Men

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Canoe Cologne And Aftershave NIB

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Canoe For Men Eau de Toilette Splash 0.5 fl oz by Dana New in Box

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Lot 3 NEW British Sterling & CANOE Splash .5 0.5 oz 15 ml Cologne by Dana

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Canoe Cologne Spray By Dana For Men - 0.5oz/15ml - Brand New In Box

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Canoe by Dana Gift Set 2 oz Eau De Toilette Spray + 2 oz After Shave for Men NIB

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Navigator Cologne from Canoe 1.7 fl oz with box Dana

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CANOE by Dana - 119180

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Canoe by Dana Eau de Cologne Men Splash EDC 2 fl oz 59 ml *RARE*

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Canoe Cologne by Dana, 4 oz EDT Splash for Men 2pk

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Canoe Cologne by Dana, 4 oz EDT Splash & EDT Brumisateur D'eau De T for Men 2pk

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