It rained the other day. Again. The drops covered the windows, turning the red roofs of the nearby buildings and the delicate church spires into an impressionistic blur. I’ve learned to enjoy the melancholy serenity of a rainy day, but there are times when the grey mist makes me feel listless and depressed. On such days, I throw open my perfume cabinet and reach for scents that remind me of someplace warm and sunny.
One such perfume is sandalwood. Its creamy sweetness and heavy richness takes me to India, which may be a stereotypical association, except that India, my India, is thoroughly permeated with sandalwood. As a bride, I was rubbed with rosewater and sandalwood paste to make my skin glow. I was fed sandalwood scented milkshakes and fudge. Wherever I went, I smelled sandalwood incense. No wonder that Serge Lutens Santal Blanc whispers Indian stories to me.
Of the three sandalwoods in the Serge Lutens collection, including the dark and moody Santal de Mysore and the sultry Santal Majuscule, Santal Blanc is the least complicated. It was created in 2001, a few years after the artistic team of Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake interpreted Indian sandalwood in Santal de Mysore as caramelized and cumin flavored. By contrast, Santal Blanc is sandalwood stripped to its elemental parts–fresh rose, whipped cream and spicy wood. A dash of brown sugar and rum-macerated raisins embellishes the sandalwood, setting off all its nuances and facets.
A few years ago, I would have urged you to give Santal Blanc a pass and try Diptyque Tam Dao or 10 Corso Como. Like those two fragrances, Santal Blanc blends the milky sweetness of sandalwood with the pencil shaving freshness of cedarwood. But today, both perfumes are significantly different from what they used to be, while Santal Blanc still retains its charm.
When I want intricate tales and scents that make statements, I reach for Santal de Mysore and Santal Majuscule, but on rainy days, when I just want a hug and a ray of sunshine, I wear Santal Blanc. It starts out bright and dazzling and then melts into a soft second skin. It reminds me of sandalwood paste diluted with rose water, and while I may never again play the part of a Bollywood princess, at least I can fantasize about it.
Serge Lutens Santal Blanc Eau de Parfum includes notes of pink pepper, rose, sandalwood, iris, cinnamon, musk, and balsam. $120.00/ 1.69oz. Sold in the export range. The export line fragrances are available from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations.
Sample: my own acquisition