Few fragrance houses feature tobacco as a starring note: these days, the stuff gives off a whiff of brimstone. But taboo though it is, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato feels it's a perfect fit for Parfum d'Empire, since tobacco ties in with one of the initial uses of perfume: sacred rituals. And with its very origin: per fumum, through smoke. The cult French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg was right after all when he sang that God smoked Havana cigars. In the Americas, gods, spirits and shamans have been smoking for millennia. Long before Columbus arrived, most indigenous peoples used tobacco to purify, heal or procure dream-visions. Ritually smoked to feed the gods or carry the prayers of men, the sacred plant played the role of incense in the New World: a connection, through fire, between heaven and earth. In Tabac Tabou, the tobacco leaf unfolds whiffs of fresh hay and tawny savanna in a penetrating fragrance so lush with rich essences it feels almost oily. Narcissus adds notes of green sap, white flowers, leather and horse's mane. And the honeyed, mulled-fruit accents of sunburnt immortelle melt into the scent of tobacco. A fragrance for the initiated, Tabac Taboo is all the more confidential that some of its secret ingredients are quite rare. While it is a part of Parfum d'Empire's permanent collection, the fragrance will be produced each year in restricted quantities, with the label indicating the vintage.