Caron Tabac Blond: A Cigarette That Bears a Lipstick’s Traces


Being a fan of hesperides and heavy incense fragrances (I know, from one extreme to the other), I expected little from Caron Tabac Blond. Being a Leather, it doesn’t fall into either of my favourite camps. However, I’d read such enthusiastic reviews by experienced parfumistas both male and female that I decided to hunt it down.

Thanks to a very kind friend (you know who you are) I was given a full bottle on loan. The bottle itself is delightful: all gold caps and gold ridged lid and raised polka dots on the beautiful glass. At first sniff I was uninspired. It was dry, brown and dusty. However the previous day I had been wearing the diametrical opposite: Chanel Cristalle (see my earlier review),  which is fresh, citrussy and dewy.

I tried again, and this time, being in the right mindset for Leather and Tobacco, I fell a little bit in love with Tabac Blond.  Imagine finding an old leather satchel in an antique shop. Imagine an ancient unsmoked packet of cigarettes in the bottom, along with some dog-eared love letters and a pressed carnation. Take a deep sniff. That’s Tabac Blond. Papery, dry, Tobacco and Leather. It brought to mind the yellowing pages of an old book, dusty and forgotten. The perfect destination for this fragrance is either Paris, for any reason at all, or Hay on Wye – the Second Hand Book Capital of the World, where some of the ancient shops still have bells on the door.

Caron Tabac Blond was an edgy contender when it was created in 1919. Emancipated women were coming out of the woodwork  and, can you bear it?, they were smoking.  In public.  Like men.  Enter Stage Left: Tabac Blond.  Designed to complement the smell of Le Smoking, the Tobacco notes are not as common now. In fact there is nothing modern about this dusty treat. Bearing in mind today’s fruity, screechy monstrosities, that in itself should be celebrated.  Tabac Blond is the classic trench coat in a room full of neon anoraks. Pure class.

4 thoughts on “Caron Tabac Blond: A Cigarette That Bears a Lipstick’s Traces”

  1. Over the years, Tabac Blond has been reformulated from the zinger it was originally – I believe Luca Turin bemoans the fact that the modern version is less leathery and milder than the vintage perfume he remembers. I don’t know, but I agree whole heartedly with you that even in the modern formulation it is a rare and different creature compared to the average thing you find on counters. I don’t suppose it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it smells like angels are dancing on your skin.

    1. I didn’t like it so much taken out of context but after a day of 21st century perfume counters I came home and realised that this is a little piece of genius and fell in love with it. We need this to remind us of when scent was great. It has seriously grown on me.

  2. Dear Iscent

    A wonderful first impression of Tabac. The perfume does seem to have changed over the years, though the extent is I think sometimes overstated by some.

    It’s confused by the fact that Tabac has appeared and still appears in different concentrations that are, like Guerlain’s and Chanel’s quite different. They were also conceived to have been worn together – normally parfum extrait as a base with eau de toilette used to refresh the top notes throughout the day.A totally different experience from today’s spray on and go linear affairs.

    What particularly interests me is the concentration you tried – was it really in the type of bottle shown above, the classic Caron EdT flacon and was it indeed and EdT?

    I haven’t seen this format of the fragrance for a long while, so it might be quite an old batch – all the better for you.

    If you do decide to try this masterpiece again, I’d beg borrow ans steal to give the parfum extrait or at least the eau de parfum a shot – they’re both pretty robust.

    Happy adventuring

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,

      Thank you for your invaluable interest and input. I didn’t know that about extraits and EDTs, although it makes perfect sense. I checked the bottle I used and it is an EDT. I will indeed seek out the stronger stuff. I would love it if the UK High Street began to smell like this; leathery tobacco and class. How I tire of today’s fruity miasma.

      yours ever


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