Tuesday, January 29, 2013
SOTD: Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule
I'm not as familiar with sandalwood as I should be. I sniff perfumes, I read the notes lists, reviewers mention the sandalwood, I shrug and say OK, but I don't have the note "down". So I'm going to sniff a selection of my sandalwood pefumes and samples, starting with Santal Majuscule. One spray, several hours.
At the beginning of Santal Majuscule, I get roses and nuts--my brain says "food" more than wood, and I suspect that I'm smelling the immortelle, and perhaps unconsciously reacting to the cocoa note that others perceive but I don't.
This initial nutty woody theme is a nice "low" smell, which leads to my own weird terminology: In my mind, "low" smells are subtle rather than piercing, rich rather than sparkling, mellow rather than sharp. "High" smells are on the other end of all of those scales. Low smells purr and take naps; high smells sing arias or at least do a little tapdancing. Cedar is low; aldehydes are very, very high. L'Artisan Tea for Two is delighftully low; Shiseido White Rose is gloriously high. This is, I emphasize again, all my whacky. You won't find this terminology in perfume glossaries. I think.
The "low" nutty note at the top of Santal Majuscule is accompanied by a piercing, powdery, perfumey billow of "high" rose. In theory, this could work beautifully, like meringue on a thick, rich pie. In practice it doesn't work well for me here. I'd prefer a lower rose, jammier as in Aftelier's Wild Roses or silkier and quieter as in CB I Hate Perfume's Tea/Rose.
In about half an hour, the roses, nuts, and powder settle down enough to stop blocking the view, and "generic wood" finally reveals itself as, "Ah! Sandalwood!" Turns out that I do know what sandalwood smells like. In this perfume, it's a gentle friendly version, without too much spice or glamour. I like it a lot, and I wish that rose would stop tickling it.
The sandalwood, powder, rose, and something incense-prickly kept fighting it out all day, and it wasn't an altogether friendly contest. I suspect that my current distaste for the powdery and prickly is influencing me here, and that at another time I would adore this--as I once did, when I (ahem) bought the bottle. I'm confident that I will love it again, but just this minute I'm a little halfhearted about it.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.
(2/7/2013: Edited for spelling correction.)