Canoe (Dana)

Canoe is another classic feminine perfume that switched gender roles a while back, and now joins Pinaud's wonderful Clubman and the equally wonderful Brut as one of the greatest "barbershop" fougères of all time. Of the three, however, I'd wager Canoe is the low man on the totem pole. Still, for $12, you really can't go wrong with this fragrance.

"Barbershop" refers to the basic lavender/coumarin/moss accord that powders out with any combination of white flowers, vanilla, or musk, and Canoe utilizes a vibrant vanilla note to balance the aromatic snap of lavender in its opening, and the sweetness of coumarin in its heart. There's a lick of orange blossom on top and a dab of talc in the drydown, but otherwise Canoe is simple and fresh-smelling in a very just-out-of-the-barber's-chair sorta way. It's a little more scaled back in strength and longevity than Clubman and Brut, but it's definitely a cross between the two, a bit how I imagine Clubman Vanilla aftershave-cologne smells (I have yet to try that one). Clubman is probably different, but there's no denying that Canoe's vanilla is the trademark note of the scent, and distinctive enough to be memorable.

Has Canoe been reformulated down from what it used to be, back when it was sold in the more Art Deco-looking bottle shown above? Certainly, but it doesn't matter. Postmodern culture has moved well beyond basic talcum powder ferns, but that doesn't mean it needs to stay beyond them. When you're stuck between the olfactory fatigue of Amouage and the spice overload of Serge Lutens, wearing Canoe as a low-key weekend scent may be just what the doctor ordered. Even in its current drugstore form, I wholeheartedly endorse its simple smell and mood-lifting effect. This is a good one.


  1. Another classic! My late uncle wore Canoe. I used to love and wear the feminine counterpart, Ambush. Someone who had worked for Dana told me that they were the same fragrance, and Canoe was just a watered-down version of Ambush.

    1. I'd heard that about Ambush, but never got any first-hand verification. Thanks for sharing, that's really interesting! Seems most masculine fragrances have been pared-back versions of their feminine counterparts. I'll have to check out Ambush if I can find it anywhere.


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