Dana: Mythical and Mysterious
Dana is a brand that started in Spain, named after the mythological beauty Danae, the mother of Perseus. According to the story, Danae was very beautiful, and her name became synonymous with the beauty of a woman. The Spanish artist Mariano Andreu designed the symbol for the company – the silhouette of a beautiful woman’s head.
The Mythical Beauty
Danae was a princess, the daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos and his wife, Eurydice. As the myth goes, the king heard a prophecy that his own grandson would be the death of him, so he locked his only child, Danae into a cell, so she would never have a child. Zeus, king of the gods, struck by the beauty of this woman, came to her while she was imprisoned, and she bore his child.
Acrisius did not want to sin against the gods by killing his daughter and grandson, so he put mother and child into a wood chest and cast them into the sea. The gods protected the tiny box and the pair survived. When they washed ashore, on the island of Seriphos, they were taken in by a prince who raised the baby, named Perseus, as his own.
The king of Seriphos was charmed by Danae’s beauty, but she did not wish to marry him. But the king was adamant. He would only take one thing in exchange for Danae’s hand in marriage – the head of Medusa, who could turn men into stone. But with the aid of the gods, Perseus was able to slay Medusa and bring back the monster’s head, freeing his mother from the wishes of the king.
Danae’s beauty, which charmed kings and gods was the basis for the name Dana, a perfume company that wishes to bring forth such beauty in all women.
The House of Dana was created in 1932, based in Barcelona, Spain. It was founded by Javier Serra, who was a lawyer, rather than a perfumer. The company headquarters first moved to France, then was forced to move to the United States when the Germans occupied France during the Second World War.
Dana created the famous (and infamous) fragrance known as Tabu. The ad featured a painting named “The Kreutzer Sonata”, painted by Rene Francois Xavier Pinet in 1901, which itself refers to a novel of the same name by the great Russian author Leo Tolstoy. In The Kreutzer Sonata, a violinist is playing with a female accompanist, and the music so fills him with passion, he stops playing to embrace his partner. Tabu was tagged as “the forbidden fragrance”, and eventually became a great classic among perfumes. It is a bestseller, and the House of Dana produces it to this very day.
There is certainly something very romantic about Tabu. Its creator, Jean Carles, made it as the company’s first perfume in 1932. He was famed for his ability to make intriguing fragrances out of unusual ingredients. When creating Tabu, he was asked to create something shockingly, frankly sexual, and Tabu was the result. It opens with spice and citrus, while the heart blooms with exotic florals: narcissus, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and rose. The base is warm and sensual: sandalwood, civet, resins, patchouli, and amber.
Many of Dana’s fragrances were released long ago, then rereleased for the 20th or 21st century. One such fragrance is Canoe, which was first produced in the 1930s, then launched again in 1996. This refined masculine scent opens with lavender, lemon, and clary sage; the middle notes are patchouli, bourbon geranium, carnation, cloves, and cedar; the base has notes of musk, vanilla, tonka bean, heliotrope, and oakmoss. It was also created by Jean Carles, who formulated Tabu.
Ambush is a later Dana fragrance, launched in 1997. This oriental woody fragrance is sweetly alluring, opening with fresh and fruity notes of papaya, bergamot, lemon, sage, lavender, and kiwi. The heart has a touch of passionfruit, but blooms with rose, geranium, and carnation. The drydown notes are warm and smooth: vanilla, heliotrope, praline, sandalwood, and tonka bean.
Dana fragrances were once all high-end prestige scents, but over time, they have changed to become accessible to all women. During this process, they acquired licenses for other famous brands, like Love’s Baby Soft, Chantilly, and Toujours Moi. Even today, they offer some of the original fragrances first offered by Dana in the 1930s and 1940s, in addition to some of the modern fragrances, like Heaven Scent, for those who want something modern.