Back when I was a budding perfumista, in late 2008, I was completely overwhelmed by the number of scents, houses, and genres in the world. I was reading blogs and perfume forums and soaking up everything I could about houses, notes, developments, concepts, and I was dying to get down to business and smell some of these strange and unusual things that did not exist in my limited experience. It was hard to know where to start. Instinct, a little knowledge about myself, and intrigue in a classic and venerable house led me first to Caron. I found an online perfume decant retailer and ordered a small coffret of six different extraits. I saved a particular sample for last, one that had piqued my interest with reviews commenting on its brazen sex appeal, that a gal who wears this isn't one to take home to mother, that it is difficult, diabolical, even. The fragrance was Tabac Blond, and it was said to smell of smoke and leather. Everything I'd read said Tabac Blond was in a class of its own, and in a highly eyebrow-raising way. Famed perfume writer Luca Turin describes it as "dykey and angular and dark and totally unpresentable." As another writer put it, "Tabac Blond chooses you; you don't choose her. Once you are one of her initiates, you may never return again from whence you came."
I went into my first wearing of Tabac Blond with the excitement that I was about to experience something big, and indeed, I did. It was smooth and buttery, leathery in a way I'd never known any leather to smell, let alone as a note in a perfume, and all the while being drenched an a thick, spicy, clove-y smoke.
It was the sexiest thing I'd ever smelled, but I never would have guessed sexy smelled anything like this. I perceived that this perfume deserved to be treated with some caution, to be worn lightly and with the most demure clothing and makeup unless I was on the arm of my husband. And those notes... the complete lack of anything hinting at sweet, the floral component coming not in the form of a starring role, but rather as a soft and seductive backdrop for that brazenly naughty and intoxicatingly heady smoke and leather... It turned everything I knew about perfumery up to that point, which wasn't much, on its ear.
I pondered the sex appeal of this perfume, why something that had a development that included a strong gasoline type note on my skin could even fall into such a category. It wasn't a Victoria's Secret type of sexy, or a Tom Ford, but, as bold as it was, it also came across as very personal, something I could wear in a way that said everything and nothing about me. Tabac Blond was not trying to be anything; it simply was. Simultaneously, I discovered, as I went through my tiny sample vial, that I could wear whatever I wanted with it. My clothing, my hair, my jewelry, and my makeup could all say something about me, but my perfume didn't have to. It was just... me. Take it or leave it. I loved that about it.
Three months later, my husband bought me a bottle for our anniversary.
Tabac Blond has been, for the last three and a half years, my most worn and most loved fragrance. I have two different strengths in my collection, the sharper, brasher edp for the warmer months and that decadent extrait for the cold months, because I can't bear to be without this fragrance on account of it not wearing well in certain weather. Tabac Blond is impervious to anything untoward that may happen in a day, or in life. There's no association I hold with it except that it is my soul scent. In becoming completely familiar with it, though, it's lost some of its intrigue. I find myself overlooking it when I want to wear something special. It no longer causes me to raise an eyebrow. Applying this perfume has become as natural a part of my daily routine as anything, but I love that. I love knowing that a fragrance that has captivated so many throughout the years and in so many polarizing ways fits me like a glove, and amidst the sometimes all-too comfortable familiarity, I remember that, yes, I am one of the initiates.
And I will never return from whence I came.
Thanks for reading. ♥