Sandalwood: 40 posts

Comme des Garcons Blue Invasion : Perfume Reviews

Incense, sandalwood and citrus are to niche perfumery what ruffians, loners and chain-smoking philosophers are to French New Wave cinema. Incense, with its dark connotations, can be made either sultry or brooding. Sandalwood is the wood of choice to imply anything mysterious, while citrus is versatile enough to be twisted into anything you wish. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Comme des Garçons the Jean-Luc Godard of the perfume world, and as its three fragrances, Blue Santal, Blue Cedrat and Blue Encens, in the Blue Invasion collection demonstrate, it’s possible to discover something new even in very familiar themes.

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In traditional perfumery blue is the shorthand for masculine, and if you ever see blue juice in the bottle, 99% of the time, you’d be right to expect a men’s cologne. Unless you’re holding a bottle of Thierry Mugler Angel, of course. Comme des Garçons doesn’t quite do the kind of about-face that Angel performs, but all three fragrances are comfortably androgynous.

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Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Santal Noble : Perfume Review

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Santal Noble is my “reference” sandalwood fragrance, my baseline for other fragrances featuring this note.  It is part of MPG’s “Parfums du Levant” collection for men, the “Levant” broadly referring to a geographic area that is here stretched to include India and therefore the famous and now endangered Mysore sandalwood.

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Although marketed to men, Santal Noble is, in true niche fashion, genderless.  Sandalwood connoisseurs might find the sandalwood note somewhat too mild, but Santal Noble gives me a rush of pleasure each time I wear it.  It is creamy, smooth, and I would go as far as to say, bewitching.

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Serge Lutens Santal Blanc : Perfume Review

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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.

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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.

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Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle : Fragrance Review

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Diamond  heists and Gérard Depardieu’s tax evasion tactics aside, Belgium doesn’t make the front page news often, but the Antwerp fashion scene never fails to be noteworthy. Dries Van Noten is one of the top Belgian designers, and his colorful clothes emphasizing textures and  prints are unusual and eclectic. After walking around his store in Antwerp this summer, I felt as if I had just visited an art exhibit. I then spotted a neat row of Frédéric Malle bottles on one of the shelves and learned that Van Noten is a big fan of Editions de Parfums.

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So here we have Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle, part of a new initiative to create a series of olfactory portraits of artists and other creative personalities. Such projects are only as  interesting as the people who inspire them, and in this case, we have an exciting collaboration. The perfumer interpreting Van Noten’s portrait is Bruno Jovanovic, and the main theme of the composition is warmth.

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Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant : Perfume Review

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I love those moments when I catch a whiff of something beautiful and it turns out to be my own perfume. Kenzo Jungle L’Éléphant doesn’t unroll like a neat scroll; it undulates like ripples on water. Suddenly you find yourself catching a wave of scent–cardamom stewed plums,  smoky woods and dried orange peel, and it feels so unexpected and delightful.

Those who know Kenzo from their latest tame releases–Amour, Madly, and the like, will be surprised by Jungle L’Éléphant. It smells like something that should be called “Noir,” “niche”, and “exclusive”. Instead, Jungle L’Éléphant is available at Sephora* and online discounters. In 1996 when Jungle L’Éléphant was launched, Kenzo wasn’t the dull mainstream house that it is today, and this perfume is a great example of their previously bold and exotic aesthetic.

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