The House of Dana was originally founded in Barcelona, Spain in 1932 by Javier Serra, a former executive of the perfume house Myrurgia. Serra’s vision was to create brands that reflected originality and true beauty.
He chose the name Dana for his business because it was short, good sounding in all languages and could be easily tied to perfume and beauty themes: in Greek mythology, Danae was a goddess of music and poetry, and the mother of Perseus by Zeus. She was said to have been a great beauty. Dana means "success" in the old and mysterious Basque language, "white pearl" in Arabic and Buddhism and "sweet awakening" in Afghan culture. It is also an island in the Pacific, where youth has no sunset.
For the company's logo, Serra chose a dramatic Greek-inspired drawing of a woman's head by Spanish artist Mariano Andreu.
On August 22, 1932, the House of Dana launched its first perfume Tabu. Created by legendary French perfumer Jean Carles —who would later composed outstanding perfumes of the era such as Miss Dior, Ma Griffe and Shocking de Schiaparelli—Tabu became a classic oriental perfume with a sensual reputation from Paris to New York. It will be the prototype of the later Youth Dew and Opium. Serra was able to create a stand alone perfume and a marketing campaign for the woman whom every man desired.
The long-running print advertisement for Tabu reproduced the 1901 painting La Sonate à Kreutzer by French artist René-Xavier Prinet which shows a violinist, overcome with passion, breaking off his performance to embrace his female piano accompanist. The painting was inspired by the novella by Leo Tolstoy of the same title (The Kreutzer Sonata). Dana acquired the painting and used it to advertise the perfume, evoking the dreams of forbidden but exciting terrain opening up to the woman who wears it, hence its slogan: "Tabu, the forbidden fragrance".
After launching new successes like 20 Carats
and Bolero in 1933, Canoe and Emir in 1935 and Platine in 1938, Dana relocated to Paris near the prestigious Place Vendôme: 9, rue de la Paix. But main office operations were transferred to the United States in 1940 when Germans occupied Paris. The New York based office continues to manage operations globally even to this day. Serra went on to release a string of original perfumes including Voodoo in 1951 and the remarkably well received Ambush in 1955.
In the 1990s, Dana acquired the licenses for several classic perfumes originally produced by other houses, including Chantilly, Love’s Baby Soft, English Leather, British Sterling, Toujours Moi, Monsieur Musk, Heaven Sent and Navy for Women. Dana's prestige offerings were reconfigured for new generations, continuing to produce many of the scents originally offered but also re-introducing updated versions of some beloved fragrances of yesteryear.
Since 2008, Dana has been managed by the New York based private equity firm Patriarch Partners LLC, whose CEO and owner is Lynn Tilton. Patriarch Partners is the largest woman-owned business in America. Today, the House of Dana continues to create original and unique fragrances for men and women.