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Tabac Blond is a hell of a naughty and ‘mean’ fragrance. It is rather difficult to pull off 'with style' or better with 'the right attitude' and grasp it in its complexity. After all, it takes quite a woman to love this on herself as the usual female fragrances today smell so totally different in comparison. Part of Tabac Blond's thrill IMO is that it is sort of 'daring' for every wearer... it is not a perfect fit for women nor for men. It’s ambiguous or androgynous, its intentions are concealed and never clear. So, I think Roja Dove is very right in saying that Tabac Blond is a 'difficult' fragrance.
However, I had people literally walking around me in circles to finally stand behind me or following me on a train to sit exactly next to me or a woman at the gas station (how fitting with Tabac Blond’s gasoline and harsh smoky opening! ) commenting in total awe that she had never smelled such a perfume. Tabac Blond does this to the ones not in the know and often strikes them like lightening... its absolutely weird, harsh, butch but opulent opening with the delicious and slightly sweeter and softer heart/base gradually joining is a moment of perfect perfume bliss. Iris/orris is a big helper here to keep the picture blurred all through its progression. The overall mood of Tabac Blond is dark, very dark and seethingly sexual.
Tabac Blond is a glorious piece of perfume history… did Ernest Daltroff initially have men in mind to wear this? Was it meant to conceal the stains of smoking, which was still a rather scandalous pleasure for women in the 1920s? Flapper girls… and and… It is all part of the magic and allure of Tabac Blond today.
To my experience there is no 'reformulation'. Tabac Blond - like e.g. En Avion - was newly interpreted when Alès - with Richard Fraysse as nose - took over mid/end 1980s. All samples I got hold of from the period afterwards smell basically the same (including the so-called ‘vintage Tabac Blond’ from ThePerfumedCourt). The original Tabac Blond (and En Avion) was fundamentally chypré in character and as such ‘old-fashioned’ in the style of the 1920/30s. All these chypré classics of the time were redux in their heart and base, but lingered on for a long time. The idea of the time was refinement (Caron was and still is the pinnacle of luxury!). A comparison with the great Lanvin classics is inevitable. It is immediately clear when you put on some original Tabac Blond how rich of animalics it is. If you took Rumeur, Scandal and My Sin minus the sweetness from the florals (mostly jasmine) you would be indeed very close in feel to the original Tabac Blond as if they all together were variations on the same theme.
Some last words of advice: Do only buy from Caron directly and only go for the extrait! I think some reviewers here (mainly U.S.) got an EdP without knowing. This is really half the story, short-lived on skin and not special and rich in the way the extrait is. Bear in mind that Tabac Blond is not a big sillage fragrance (I apply more), smells fantastic if part of it gets on fabric, keep trying if you are 'confused' but intrigued (in case it does not instantly click with you - it took me quite some tries to get it). Vary spraying and dabbing to find your preferred method.
In the end, I think Richard Fraysse is doing an excellent job at Caron and his interpretation of Tabac Blond is outstanding. Caron is the ONLY house today to keep the grand French Haute Parfumerie style alive.
How I love thee, my Tabac Blond! *****
12 October, 2010 (Last Edited: 09 November, 2011)