Caron Tabac Blond Parfum – Modern Extrait Version

1920s or 1930s ad, via angryharry.com

1920s or 1930s ad, via angryharry.com

Androgyny, the dawn of the modern age, and the desire to blend masculinity with femininity are some of the inspirations behind Tabac Blond. It is one of the legendary leather and tobacco perfumes of the early 20th-century from the famous house of Caron.

Tabac Blond was released in 1919, the same year of another perfume giant, Guerlain’s Mitsouko. Tabac Blond was the creation of Caron’s founder and “nose,” Ernest Daltroff, who sought to create a scent for the new, modern woman. As Fragrantica puts it, it was a fragrance “for women who smoke cigarettes, since a cigarette was, at that time, the perfect symbol of freedom and chic of a Parisian woman.” Caron has a more evocative and vivid description:

To mark the dawn of feminine liberation, CARON made the bold move in 1919 of dedicating a deliberately provocative perfume to the beautiful androgynous women of the era, with their long ivory and mother-of-pearl cigarette-holders poised nonchalantly between their lips.

Tabac Blond: a subtly ambiguous fragrance that borrows the leathery head notes from the world of masculine fragrance, and combines them with Caron’s inimitable floral bouquet…

Source: topwalls.net

Source: topwalls.net

Tabac Blond is one of Caron’s Haute Parfumerie “Urn Scents” which originated as extracts or pure parfums. While Tabac Blond is now also available in eau de parfum concentration, what most people rave about is the vintage pure parfum. Now, I tried the parfum extrait version, but not the vintage version. I would like to, but, frankly, it’s not what most people have access to. So, modern Tabac Blond extrait is the focus of this review. You can find it at a handful of niche perfume sites, like Luckyscent, though I doubt anything would compare to the experience of buying it at a Caron boutique where the sales assistants will fill your bottle from their exquisite, famed Baccarat crystal urns into something a little more practical, portable, and pedestrian.

Caron Boutique and the famous urns. Photo via bloggang.com and Examiner.com

Caron Boutique and the famous urns. Photo via bloggang.com and Examiner.com

The Caron website lists only three things for Tabac Blond’s notes: Leather, iris, and cedar. Fragrantica has a much more complete list:

leather, carnation, lime blossom, iris, vetiver, ylang-ylang, cedar, patchouli, vanilla, ambergris, musk.

Tabac Blond Extrait via Luckyscent.

Tabac Blond Extrait via Luckyscent.

You will notice that tobacco is not mentioned anywhere. Yes, this perfume known for being the original tobacco, smoking scent does not actually include a single drop of the note. (Neither, for that matter, does Habanita which followed it two years later in 1921 from Molinard.)

I need to say something at the outset. I’m not really one for powdery scents, let alone powdery florals. My tastes run towards deep Orientals, heavily spiced ambers, smoky woody fragrances, or mossy Chypres, but I always appreciate something which is well-done and refined in nature. Tabac Blond certainly qualifies, even in its modern form.

Source: nature.desktopnexus.com

Source: nature.desktopnexus.com

The parfum opens on my skin with a flood of carnation that is primarily spicy, peppered, and almost a bit clove-like in its aroma. There is a hint of something akin to rose in its sweetness, but the carnation’s piquant, spicy nature really dominates. It is followed by powder, then leather which has a definite animalic undertone, as if it had been lightly coated with castoreum. Flickers of lime and vanilla quietly trail behind, but the main bouquet is of powdered carnation, lightly infused with animalic leather. There is a sweetness to the powder, which definitely comes from iris, but it is not heavily vanillic.

Marrons Glacés.

Marrons Glacés.

The Caron base which I’ve detected in a few of its other fragrances, like Nuit de Noel, is very evident here. “Caronade,” as it’s called, is very hard to describe if you haven’t smelled it, but it essentially consists of a bouquet that always makes me think of marrons glacée or glazed, iced chestnuts. It’s visually very brown, with a dark richness that is simultaneously dry, sweet, powdered, nutty, and a little bit vetiver-like in its dark, somewhat earthy woodiness. I realise that all sounds very odd, but marrons glacée or iced chestnuts are often mentioned by people when it comes to describing the Caronade, so try to imagine a slightly leathered, dry, faintly powdered, vetiver-ish, spicy, vanillic version of that, and you’ll be close.

Tabac Blond slowly starts to shift. About 5 minutes in, the iris becomes more prominent in its own right. It’s chilly, cool, and very much like scented, sweetened, makeup powder. The Caronade signature also becomes more visible, but the leather is surprisingly subtle on my skin. It drifts through the top notes as a dark spectre with an animalic undertone, but I would never sniff Tabac Blond and think, “ah, leather!” Carnation and powder, definitely, but the leather takes a distinct back-seat to the other two elements. Still, it’s really nice as it has both a warm richness and a refined smoothness that evokes kid-skin.

Habanita EDT bottle and box.

Habanita EDT bottle and box.

It’s hard for me to review Tabac Blond without bringing up Habanita, its younger sister. The two perfumes have a similar profile, share a number of notes in common, and are quite alike on my skin. For example, a subtle tinge of sourness. I don’t know if it is my skin or something about the lime blossom, but Tabac Blond has the faintest trace of sourness. It also popped up with Habanita which has bergamot instead of lime to go with all the florals, powder, and leather, but it was significantly stronger there. With Tabac Blond, it is much more subtle and fades away after about 30 minutes. Another difference is that Tabac Blond is much more leathered, dark, spicy, and smooth than Habanita on me. The latter was fruity, more synthetic in feel, and sweeter. Tabac Blond’s leather is much smoother, lacking Habanita’s rubbery or sharp edges. The Habanita is dominated primarily by rose, while Tabac Blond is all spicy carnation with a subtext of cloves. Finally, the Habanita lacks the very key Caronade signature, and is about ten times more powerful in terms of projection.

Source: Walltor.com

Source: Walltor.com

Yet, for all the subtle differences, the two fragrances are definitely related. Powdered florals, lightly flecked by leather, and carrying a trace of some vaguely abstract “tobacco.” The latter is much softer and more subtle in Tabac Blond than it is in Habanita, but the note is pretty much identical. It smells just like the powdered, scented paper in an empty pack of cigarettes. It’s never tobacco in the way of modern fragrances that have that note; this is not the tobacco of Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille, or Serge LutensChergui. This is scented, powdered paper in something that once contained tobacco and whose lingering traces have merely carried over.

Source: Allposters.com

Source: Allposters.com

Tabac Blond continues to change as time goes by. The sillage was initially moderate, but starts to drop after 40 minutes. At the end of the 2nd hour, Tabac Blond is almost a skin scent, though it is very easy to detect up close. It coats the skin as a discrete, silken layer of carnation and powdered, lipstick-y iris, with a faint trace of leather and tobacco paper, all nestled within the warm embrace of the chestnut-y, dark Caronade. The lime is no longer there, and faded away about 30 minutes in; the animalic undertones soon followed. The tobacco paper impression is now almost imperceptible, requiring a lot of hard sniffs to detect it lurking in the lower layers. The vanilla is also quite muted, adding an indirect touch of sweetness to the carnation which is now much less spicy and clove-like. There is a faint touch of warmth growing in the base, though it is wholly abstract and can’t be singled out as amber in any distinct way.

Source: thevintagemoth.blogspot.com

Source: thevintagemoth.blogspot.com

Tabac Blond remains largely unchanged until its very end, with only subtle differences in the strength of certain notes. The one new thing to appear is the cedar which becomes a tiny bit prominent in the drydown, as does the vanilla, while the carnation becomes increasingly abstract. By the start of the sixth hour, Tabac Blond is a true skin scent that is primarily an abstract, powdered floral with cedar and vanilla. There is a trace of something dark lurking underneath that sometimes feels like very soft, muted leather, but, at other times, merely seems like the Caronade.

In its final moments, Tabac Blond is just a blur of something powdered, vaguely sweet, and with the faintest trace of Caronade. A small quantity lasted for quite a while on my skin: about 1/4 of a ml, gave me just under 11 hours in duration. A slightly larger amount increased the time-frame to about 13 hours. The longevity is just as well, because Tabac Blond in the extrait version isn’t cheap. It’s $265 for 15 ml, though Luckyscent offers a 7.5 ml bottle for $100. Unfortunately, they are sold out of it, with no indication of when they might get it in. Somehow, the fragrance is cheaper in Europe where the 15 ml bottle retails for €120 or about $153. (See the Details section at the end for more information.)

I have mixed feelings about Tabac Blond. As noted earlier, powdered florals are not really my thing, but there is something appealing about the Caron’s version in the opening hours. It’s definitely very pretty at times, especially with the spicy clove undertone, and I’m sure the vintage was even better, with added darkness, smokiness, and bundles of animalic leather. The current parfum version is sophisticated, powdered femininity, but it’s a lot less complicated or interesting than I thought it would be. To be fair, this is not the version everyone talks about, and I rarely find powder puff scents to be interesting in general. Very few of them appeal to me, but I certainly think Tabac Blond is more nuanced than the current Knize Ten, another powdery leather thanks to reformulation. I definitely prefer it to Habanita, which isn’t as luxurious, high-quality, rich or smooth.

I think Tabac Blond skews quite feminine by today’s standards, as I suspect it’s too powdered and makeup-like for most men. Yet, a ton of men love Knize Ten which has been also reformulated into a very powdery scent these days, so who knows. Tabac Blond is much richer, and sweeter than the original Knize Ten, and not as oriental as Knize Gold. Plus, its leather is extremely different, as there is not an iota of birch tar in the Tabac Blond parfum that I tried. The note is much smoother and more refined than the leather in the Knize fragrance; perhaps more akin to the drydown leather of Chanel‘s Cuir de Russie. It’s also sweeter than the leather in both those fragrances, thanks to the Caronade with its mix of dryness, sweetness, vanilla and chestnuts.

Tabac Blond extrait is generally a much adored fragrance in its vintage form. You can read any number of rave, positive reviews for it on the blogosphere, as it may be one of the most discussed fragrances out there, and everyone gets around to covering it eventually. Take, for example, Angela at Now Smell This who wrote, in part:

Although I can imagine a man wearing Tabac Blond well, on me the perfume feels luxuriously womanly. It’s top notes are leather, carnation, and linden, with heart notes of iris, vetiver, ylang ylang, and lime-tree leaf. Its base is cedar, patchouli, vanilla, amber, and musk, although a smoky, spicy vanilla is mostly what lingers on my skin.

Tabac Blond’s range isn’t huge. I don’t get the piquant top notes that many fragrances provide, but instead tobacco leaf, gently supported by spicy florals, starts right off the bat. Then the scent of raw leather appears for a while, and the effect is that of a buttery leather ashtray full of cigarette butts and snickerdoodles, or maybe a leather-vanilla soufflé in a smoky brasserie, if anything like that were ever cooked up. Imagine lipstick-stained wine glasses on marble-topped tables, a smeared golden haze on the mirror over the bar, and worn, red leather banquettes, and you start to get the idea. Tabac Blond has good staying power, and a dab on each wrist and behind the ears will last all day.

Marlene Dietrich via Pinterest.

Marlene Dietrich via Pinterest.

It sounds lovely but, if you look at the date of that review, it’s 2007 and I suspect she may have tested the older, vintage version. I’ve tried to stay away from the issue of vintage Tabac Blond because, frankly, the majority of us will never get the chance to try it. It is simply too expensive, and hard to obtain.

It’s also not easy to find reviews of the modern, current Tabac Blond, as everyone focuses on the reportedly glorious original which was Marlene Dietrich’s favorite scent. A lot of times, talk of the modern version usually comes in the form of a comment posted to a review about the vintage version, with people lamenting the changes, the loss of the leather, and the dominance of powdered florals. Well, they aren’t wrong about that last part, and it makes me feel a lot better for my ambivalence towards the scent.

One person who has written, albeit briefly, about the current version is Bois de Jasmin who did a comparative assessment of both. She loves the vintage parfum which she rates at 5-stars, but gave the modern fragrance a rare one-star. Her review of the 2011 Tabac Blond is wholly disapproving:

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.

Others have noted definite changes in the scent as well, but my friend, Suzanne, of Eiderdown Press didn’t think they were enormous back in 2009. Perhaps things have gone further down hill since then, but you may be interested in her comparative view of two bottles of the Extrait which she purchased at different times back around the reformulation date:

the big question circulating the blogs last year was, Has this fragrance been “watered down” during the course of its reformulations?  To which I can only say, I purchased two decants of the extrait de parfum back in 2007, and there were noticeable differences between them: the one purchased later in the year was distinctly less dense and full-bodied  than the first decant. Yes, it was a little disturbing; but that said, the Tabac Blonde extrait from either one of those decant bottles still smells as provocatively unique and unto-itself as any scent in my collection. The fragrance’s smoky, spicy, burnt-rubber-and- carnations opening reminds me of the first delicious drags of cigarette—the first one you’ve had in ages—and as it dries down, the tar-like quality dissolves into warm leather, with an amber-and-vanilla finish that does not diminish the smokiness of this scent, but makes for a smooth, fat-bottomed ride that seems to go on forever. Put it all together, and everything about Tabac Blond—from its invitation to enjoy a private, leisurely smoke to its leather panels to its cushiony amber seat—says, Get into my car, babe. Let’s drive.

Suzanne’s version sounds significantly more leathered, tobacco’ed, and ambered than the sample I ordered in 2013, which makes me wonder if the fragrance has been watered down even more since she bought her decant in 2007.

Still, on Fragrantica, the current version of Tabac Blond seems to be much appreciated, though primarily by women. Something that struck me as very odd is that 15 people have voted for a similarity between Tabac Blond and Karl Lagerfeld‘s cologne. Now, I love and own the vintage version, but not the new, reformulated fragrance which appears under the name “Karl Lagerfeld Classic.” I haven’t smelled the latter in a long, long time, but, to my memory, it’s not at all similar to Tabac Blond. It certainly lacks the Caronade signature, as well as the richness and the smoothness of Tabac Blond. I also remember the new, reformulated Lagerfeld “Classic” as being significantly sweeter, more synthetic, and with more actual tobacco, but without any of the carnation spice.

Clearly, vintage Tabac Blond Extrait was a masterpiece of leather, but the current version isn’t terrible. It’s definitely something more suited to those who love powdery carnation or floral scents, but it does have pretty aspects. The Caronade adds a very lovely, rich vein of dark sweetness, and the leather (when it appears) is wonderfully smooth. It may not last very long, but I enjoyed its subtle flickers in the earlier stages. Tabac Blond definitely skews feminine in my view, and I think most men would struggle with the powder aspect. Still, a lot of men adore Knize Ten which, in its modern formulation, is also very powdery, so there is a slim chance that Tabac Blond might appeal. However, don’t expect a ton of leather with modern Tabac Blond, and the same goes for the tobacco.

The main conclusion to draw from all this seems to be this: perhaps we should all scour eBay for the vintage version. Modern Tabac Blond is a great interpretation of a carnation powder puff, with the added benefit of some other subtle elements, brief as they might be, but it’s not really a leather scent any more.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: The version of Tabac Blond that I tested was the Extrait or Parfum which costs $100 for a 7.5 ml bottle, $265 for a 15 ml bottle, and up depending on size. There is also an Eau de Parfum that comes in two sizes. A 50 ml bottle that retails for $130, or a 100 ml bottle that costs $170. Caron has a website, but no e-store from which you can buy the perfumes. In the U.S.: Tabac Blond Extrait is carried at Seattle’s Parfumerie Nasreen which sells the Extrait for $265, but it doesn’t state the size of the bottle (which looks larger than 7.5 ml to me). The $100, small Parfum size is offered by Luckyscent, which also sells the EDP version, but all three are sold out. You can have them email you when they receive it. Tabac Blond Pure Parfum is offered by The Perfume House in Portland which sells the 15 ml bottle for $265, and a 50 ml bottle for $330. It also offers the EDP versions. In New York, you can find it at Caron’s boutique at 715 Lexington Avenue or can perhaps call to order (Ph: (212) 308-0270). There seems to be no other retail options. Nordstrom’s once carried the EDP, but no more. Outside the U.S.: In Paris, you can purchase the fragrance from the 3 Caron boutiques. In France, you can order Tabac Blond Extrait from Atelier Parfumé in a variety of sizes, ranging from the 7.5 ml for €90, going up to €120 for 15 ml, €150 for 20 ml, and €250 for the 50 ml size. You can contact them to see where they ship. One place that says it ships worldwide is the Soleil d’Or Parfumerie which sells Tabac Blond Extrait in the 50 ml bottle for €226. They are sold out of the 15 ml bottle. In the UK, I couldn’t find the Extrait version anywhere. I only found Tabac Blond EDP at Escentual which is briefly discounting the fragrances at £84 for the 50 ml instead of £105, while the 100 ml bottle of EDP is reduced to £134 instead of £167.50. The EDP is available for full price at London’s Les Senteurs, along with a sample for purchase. Samples: I obtained my sample from Surrender to Chance which sells the Extrait starting at $5.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. What I did instead was to order the Smaller Caron Gateway Pack which gives you Tabac Blond Pure Parfum, along with Poivre Parfum, and Parfum Sacré in EDP version in a set that starts at $9.99 for three 1/2 ml vials. The site also offers Vintage Tabac Blond Extrait starting at $19.99 for a 1/4 ml vial.

25 thoughts on “Caron Tabac Blond Parfum – Modern Extrait Version

  1. Tabac Blond is one of those perfumes that I keep trying “to get” (Chanel No 5, Shalimar and Mitsouko being other examples of the same category): I know that many people love it and praise but I just can’t do them. I have no doubts that reformulations damaged Tabac Blond the same way as it happened to other perfumes but I doubt I would have liked it in any of reincarnations. And I must also say that I don’t smell tobacco in that perfume. Or at least I do not smell anything I would recognize as tobacco. And still I’m sad that one more iconic and beloved by many perfume is [almost] lost.

    • I gave up the fight to love Chanel No. 5 a long, long time ago, even if that makes me a failed perfume lover. With regard to Tabac Blond, do you think it suffers from the smell that puts you off vintage fragrances in general? That sort of old-fashioned vibe that you don’t seem to respond to?

      With regard to the tobacco, no, I don’t smell anything that would approximate regular, normal tobacco, either. Only the leftover paper in a cigarette pack.

        • I think Suzanne only has the vintage versions, or relatively vintage in that they were purchased prior to the 2007/2008 reformulations.

          Yeah, I think that old-fashioned perfumes aren’t your general style or tastes. Perhaps too dated in feel?

          • When a first thing that comes to my mind on a perfume application is: “it’s a vintage perfume” – I don’t want to wear it. I might still think it smells interesting and wonder how it was in its prime time but I do not want to smell of it.

  2. “It’s $265 for 15 ml, though Luckyscent offers a 7.5 ml bottle for $100.” Well, that’s a *very* bizarre pricing scheme! Odd and unusual, to be sure.

    I’m so glad you wrote this. Of course, I’ve heard a lot about Tabac Blond given its legendary status. The more you described it, the more I’m not sure I’d really like it, but I think it’s probably one of those things any perfume fan should smell, just because it has been around forever and is likely quite influential in the same way things like No. 5 and Shalimar and Mitsouko, etc. are. This might be one of those things I’d find quite appealing on someone else, but not for me. At any rate, one of these days I shall give it a try.

    Unrelated, but goodness, those urns are glorious! Kid in a candy shop, indeed!

    • I think that every hardcore perfume lover should try it at least once in their life, but preferably the vintage if they get the chance. The thing is, I’m not sure the modern one really counts as real Tabac Blond, or gives one a sense of what the legend used to be. Given Bois de Jasmin’s horrified reaction to the modern one, the old one must have been really and drastically different. And she’s not alone in her disgust over the new version. The one or two passing comments that I’ve read on it in various post responses all lament the total loss of leather with florals replacing it as the main focus.

      What I honestly don’t understand is the reason for the leather’s very limited, muffled appearance. It’s not like oakmoss that has been severely curtailed, and even if the levels are now much less than they used to be under IFRA/EU rules, there are plenty of other leather fragrances out there that smell more of strongly of the note. Tons with birch tar, cade, etc. And certainly more than a few with tobacco. So, WTF happened to make Tabac Blond such a floral fragrance?

      As for the pricing, it is weird, yes. The thing is, the Caron website doesn’t list any prices, so perhaps theirs are more regular or logical? The $265 for 15 ml was at 2 different places though, so that may be the set retail cost. However, there seem to be much more drastic variations in pricing for another Caron urn extrait, the Poivre fragrance, so I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on? Perhaps some of the stores jack it up a little? Who knows.

  3. I am glad you reviewed the new version of the only vintage perfume I would ever open my wallet for. I am wearing a drop of the vintage right now, and I get very little of what your are describing. What I am wearing Is the cushions in the back seat of my Dad’s 1954 Cadillac intermingled with my mom’s perfume and the smoke from their cigarettes. I can not smell iris or powder at all. It is sad when something so beautiful gets reformulated, and all we have are memories. Thank you for showing us the new version.

    • It’s so depressing to read your description of what it used to be. I know perfumistas spit on the new version and bemoan the loss of leather, but it’s understandable given descriptions like yours. Damn, what a difference.

      What I don’t understand, and wrote about up top to Kevin, is WHY Caron reduced the leather so much? It’s hardly as though IFRA/EU restrictions have curtailed or ended real leather fragrances in modern production, and the same goes for tobacco notes (even if Tabac Blond merely recreates it via other things and not actual tobacco). So, I truly don’t understand why they eradicated what must have been a lot of birch tar, tarry leather? Given all the descriptions of the past which almost uniformly talk about lipstick-y notes or makeup, there must have been quite a bit of iris in the original, vintage version, but it was balanced by the darker, more masculine notes. And now…. no. Most definitely, No.

  4. Now I feel better about giving this one a pass. I can get past powderiness if the rest of a perfume is great, but leather often goes sour on me, so if this is a bit sour on YOU, well….

    And I really wish I’d read your review of Nuit de Noël before buying my (largish) sample. It’s exactly what my experience was. I’ll try it again, but it was not what I expected, at all.

    Happy 2014, Kafka! May it be a good year for all of us (and perfume)!

    • Oh dear, another Nuit de Noel disappointment. Do you think it is all the high hopes and hype about the original? It must be that, no? Nuit de Noel was just so…. um…. unappealing, strangely bland, and uninteresting. Given the way the fragrance is described in reviews, I’ve always felt like a bit of a weirdo for my lack of enthusiasm.

      In fact, I took my bottle out only a few days ago to make samples for a few friends, smelled it, and gave the biggest shrug imaginable. That bottle is back to being hidden in the back of my armoire, since it never gets used at all except the one time, once a year, when I want other people to share in the disappointment. LOL.

      I’ll be honest, I’m not particularly sure I would actually like the vintage version either. It’s simply not very me. But who knows, perhaps it is so drastically different as to be virtually a whole different perfume.

      PS — Happy 2014 for you too, Laurels! I hope it’s a lovely year for you and your loved ones.

  5. I tested it a little while back and really liked it, though it’s not my usual at all. I’m going to bore you with my sample notes *g*:

    Opens like Loviatar (BPAL oil- leather, black amber, red musk and myrrh)
    Powdery with leather behind it, amberish
    Smells very film noir
    Floral- carnation- and spice like Shalimar- clove?
    Half hour- There’s a smoky aura but it doesn’t smell like cigarettes
    Hour- Florida water?
    90min- Leather again, muted Loviatar
    It ended on me as purely a leather scent.

    I don’t wear it often, but it’s good for days when I need to feel a little tougher.

    • Thank you so much for providing your notes and assessment, my dear. It’s especially good as you’re approaching all this from a clean slate, without the impact of the original version impacting your views. It seems you get a lot more leather on your skin than I do. I don’t know the BPAL fragrance you mention, Loviatar. I have to ask though, what is “Florida water”? Another BPAL?

      All in all, I’m glad you like Tabac Blond. It’s nice to hear some positive words about it. 🙂 Now I’m curious as to what you’d think of Habanita.

      • Florida water is the American version of German Eau de Cologne, like 4711. The one I have is made by a local Santeria priest. It’s heavy on cloves, which you would like, but also on lavender, which you would not.

        The BPAl oil is discontinued, I believe. Tabac Blond is more subtle on me than Loviatar.

        Now I’m wondering about Habanita too!

  6. Dearest Kafka
    A very fair and balanced and, as always, detailed review. So neat (in the British sense) to start with an expression of your own taste prejudices, something that I may start doing with sweet perfumes in future.
    As to Tabac Blonde, I have tried vintage and current extrait and EdP.
    I must say I find your description captures the individual elements perfectly, though I do get more leather than you seem to and more of that darkness underneath (would it have been the same Mousse de Saxe base that Nuit de Noel is famed for?).
    For me though, the overall effect is so much more than the sum of the parts. Tabac Blonde is mood perfume, an evocation of a moment, a place, a preoccupation: 1919, Paris, female emancipation and despite all the tampering an element of that survives.
    As for the numerous extraordinarily critical reviews of Caron’s output I must say I find them tiresome and for the most part disingenuous. I understand that people will come to the new versions with expectations founded on the greatness of the past and preconceptions of how they feel they ‘should’ smell. But to award one star to this scent in the current extrait, to place it on a level I assume with the latest Coty or P&G celebrity stink is frankly absurd and a lapse in critical judgement.
    As always you demonstrate your integrity writing about the scent as you smelt it without fear, favour or prejudice.
    Thank you.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • I definitely think the base in Tabac Blond overlaps with that in Nuit de Noel, and it must be the Mousse de Saxe. To me, the whole thing smells very chestnut-y, though also darkly woody, a bit leathery, and with vetiver-oakmoss in tiny parts. It’s a fascinating mélange of notes, and quite a distinctive signature.

      With regard to the sharply critical, negative views of modern Tabac Blond, I really understand it. I’m the EXACT same way about modern Opium. I find nothing of any redeeming value in it, as it is essentially a completely different fragrance now. Tabac Blond hasn’t changed quite so drastically, but there is something deeply painful on an emotional level in finding one’s favorite horribly disfigured.

      I can’t speak for Bois de Jasmin or what’s in her mind, but I wouldn’t be surprised if her One-Star rating was relative to the original, and not one-star on an absolute scale or basis. I’m sure she wouldn’t compare modern Tabac Blond to some P&G celebrity horror or the latest Stetson/Coty thing. But one can’t create a numeric system just for certain fragrances, and relative to their original formula, so she probably was stuck. Again, I’m merely guessing, but I fully relate to very subjective, very personal pain over a beloved scent being changed. Perhaps on her skin, the changes to Tabac Blond are quite extreme.

      You know, I read your review of Tabac Blond and was about to link to it when I noticed that it seemed to be for the EDP versions (modern and original), not the Extrait pure parfum concentration. Since that may have confused people, I didn’t end up quoting you, but I very much enjoyed your perceptions of the scent. I think your skin gives you profoundly more leather than I experienced, which I rather envy.

      • Dearest Kafka
        You’re being your extraordinarily just and wise self as ever.
        I do understand the pain that people feel when a ‘sacred scent’ is messed around with, honestly. Equally I would always defend the right of anyone to a subjective pint of view, especially the heartbroken. I think the problem comes with star ratings generally (and I wasn’t intending to highlight Bois de Jasmine particularly here, the hatred for modern Caron fragrances is widespread). If one chooses to go down the path of a closely demarked ranking system for perfumes like stars or marks (which I definitely don;t think is for me) then I think there’s a certain, perhaps responsibility sounds to pompous, but understanding with the reader that all perfumes are being judged by the same standard.
        It’s on that basis I think the Carons are unfairly handled, today;s house is being punished for having such a great past even though many of its fragrances knock spots off ninety percent of the mainstream.
        It seems a shame that people are being given the wrong idea.
        I hope that’s clarified what I meant to say first of all.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

        • You clarified things beautifully, my sweet, and I did understand that you were referencing people in general. As for star ratings, or ratings in general, I could never do it either. Merely drawing up a ranked listing for my Best Of 2013 list put me in a tizzy. To rate or rank things on a daily basis would drive me quite mad with the stress of it all. LOL.

          As for modern Carons in general, I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with either of my blind buys of Montaigne or Nuit de Noel. Montaigne I like when I put it on, generally, but modern Nuit de Noel….. GAH!!!!!! It was such a monstrous, massive, crashing disappointment, you have no idea. All the reviews of Nuit de Noel which focused primarily on the feel of it (and perhaps its vintage manifestations) were completely misled me and made me expect something very different. In fact, Nuit de Noel is one of the reasons why I decided to blog for myself with reviews that were hugely detailed and which covered the specifics of how a scent was, from start to finish.

          So, I have a bit of an iffy thing with modern Carons, but I do see a completely different level of quality, refinement, sophistication, and depth in their Urn scents, than in the regular line that I’d tried previously.

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  8. I do hope I’m not too late to this particular party, but I was at The Perfume House in Portland today (fantastic shop!) and tried Tabac Blonde, which I was Soooo looking forward to. I has a small bottle of the vintage extrait many years ago and could only vaguely recollect the leather and baccy smell, but I do remember that I loved it. Your words “massive, monstrous, crashing disappointment” used above to describe your experience of modern N de N are exactly how I felt today when I tried the modern TB. Absolutely horrible. A screeching blast of alcohol-ey carnations, alcohol and did I mention alcohol – I don’t know what I was getting or how, but even when I went back to the cotton ball over the next half hour, it was still this medicinal, burn-y mess. I am so glad I didn’t put it on my skin. I also tried Habanita , SL’s Chergui and a number of other baccy perfumes which, while not really thing, were far preferable.
    (And I am SO with you on the modern Opium – what a debacle…)

    • First, welcome to the blog, Sally. Second, oh dear. I feel for you, Sally, I really do. I don’t think fragrances can be judged my cotton balls or paper mouilletes, but what incentive is there for one to put it on the skin with that start of introduction? Such a shame that you experienced so much of the alcohol base. It sounds worse than all my powder! But I had to laugh at the repetition of the “massive, monstrous, crashing disappointment.” lolololol. You poor, poor thing. I shouldn’t laugh so much, but your horror is palatable. 😀 Did you get to try any other Carons and, in specific, Poivre by any chance? Sooooooooooo much better on my skin, and, hopefully, on yours too.

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