I Fell for Le Labo's Santal 33 Just Like the Rest of the World and I Don't Care if That Makes Me a Sucker
I mean, even Justin frickin' BEIBER wears it.
The buds aren’t even out of the trees yet, and I’m already psyched for summer. I know, I know. I’m just back from Miami. Soaking up some vitamin D poolside only reminded me how long it’s been since I’ve seen the sun in my own city, and I can’t wait to walk outside and not immediately freeze to death.
Because I’m a bit of an overachiever even when it comes to seasons, I’ve already been thinking ahead and planning out all the fun things I want to do when the weather warms up. Do I want to have backyard barbecues? Dress up every night and hit the town? Maybe spend hours in solitude, wandering around the woods with my dog?
There are so many Alles in me, and they all want different things. How can I know what kind of summer I want to have?
Simple. With perfume.
I tried six amazing fragrances--three citrus, three green--all sent to me by Lucky Scent, and envisioned the kind of summer one would have with each of them. Am I down for a sunhat-and-sparkly-beverages summer? Maybe I’ll have more of a glamourous-bombshell-on-vacation type of summer instead?
Let’s get into it. Summer is, after all, rapidly approaching.
Serge Lutens, Datura Noir
A couple of my fragrance-minded friends, Helena and Suzan, were very excited when I told them I was testing this perfume.
“I wonder if it’ll be sexy or sunscreen-y on her?” Helena wondered aloud on Twitter.
Smelling it right out of the vial, I would definitely have said “Sunscreen-y.” But on my skin... ah, that was a different story.
Datura Noir is marketed as a textbook summery perfume: citrus, white florals and coconut. It opens with a strong mandarin and lemon blossom note that is rounded out with the heaviness of tuberose. The coconut mixes with vanilla and what I think was almond to produce a fresh but seriously seductive summertime scent.
I am not kidding: this is a sexy perfume. Feminine but not sweet; powerful but not cloying. It’s the kind of steamy, romantically charged kind of scent that I imagine Beyoncé wore in the "Drunk In Love" video. It’s the SERFBORT of fragrances.
Out of all the perfumes I tried, this was hands-down my favourite. I’ve never really been a sexy scent person, but I think that Datura Noir is going to change that.
THE TYPE OF SUMMER YOU’LL HAVE WITH THIS PERFUME: Sex kitten on holiday. You have a million attractive suitors, and you wonder which one will have the honour of taking you out tonight? You slip into your hottest outfit and know that you are every inch the superbabe as you answer the door. You only go to the most glamourous, dimly lit places. Your skin glows in the candlelight as your date listens to you attentively, and desire hangs heavy in the air. Wherever the night goes from here, you think, it's gonna be interesting.
4160 Tuesdays, Sunshine and Pancakes
At first, I thought this perfume might be a little too young for me, as it’s meant to evoke a childhood spent at the British seaside. Although it’s definitely an innocent fragrance, it’s anything but immature.
This perfume makes me happy. The fresh lemon, which smells sweet rather than Pledge-y, is the first note present, tempered with honey and vanilla to make you think of, yes, pancakes. It smells like the colour yellow looks: bright, effervescent, cheerful. Then the jasmine comes in and warms it up, providing depth and additional warmth, like sun on clean skin.
There is apparently a note of cedarwood in this perfume, but it didn’t develop on my skin. I made my mum try it out, and the cedar base was much more evident on her. It makes me think of a hand-carved glory box, sitting at the end of a bed in a room with lacy white curtains fluttering in the breeze.
It’s happy. It’s pure. It’s fresh. But above all, it’s FUN. It made me smile every time I caught a whiff of it.
THE TYPE OF SUMMER YOU’LL HAVE WITH THIS PERFUME: The cabin by the lake. Every day, you’ll wake up early and watch as the water turns beautiful colours with the sunrise. You’ll bake sugary treats for all your friends (they’ll only get slightly burnt) and run around barefoot. You’ll count the stars in the summer sky before falling asleep to the sounds of whispering trees. Everything in you will thrill with the beauty of nature and the good company of the people you love.
Atelier Cologne, Orange Sanguine
My first impression of this fragrance as I opened the vial was that it was ALIVE. It’s strong and bold and dazzlingly bright, like orange lightning in a bottle.
On skin, this impression was confirmed. It opens strong with a truly natural orange scent--not extract or essence, but like you’re peeling an incredibly juicy orange. The next thing that I smelled was black pepper, which grounded it and made it more mature, before closing with an almost amber base. It smells truly orange in the best way, without edging into cleaning product territory.
If it had a sound, it would be your best friend laughing really hard at a joke you just made--you know she has a really great laugh.
This is a fun perfume. I know I’ve smelled a lot of fragrances that have orange or citrus derived notes in them, but none that so clearly evoke the freshness and sparkle of the fruit. It’s sweet, naturally so, yet heady and adventurous. The orange scent lasted about four hours on me before drying down to primarily pepper and amber notes, with just an edge of sweetness to keep them in harmony.
THE TYPE OF SUMMER YOU’LL HAVE WITH THIS PERFUME: The girl from Ipanema. Colourful sundresses and big hats are your go-to, as you walk along the boardwalk in a distant coastal town. Brightly painted buildings are to your left; the ocean glitters to your right. You’re excited to meet up with your friends, some of whom you just met the night before, and drink mimosas under the shade of bright umbrellas. Loose-limbed, relaxed, vibrant and happy--life is an adventure, and you’re leaping up to meet it.
Tauer Perfumes, Pentachord Verdant
In my mind, green perfumes are sprightly and clean rather than mysterious and sexy. But this fragrance has made me rethink that; after all, woods have dark pathways as well as sunlit leaves.
Straight away, there’s a rush of deep green. It makes me think of rich moss covering long-fallen leaves in an ancient forest. Then there’s the fragrance of freshly turned earth, like it’s just rained and someone’s crossed your path wearing big boots, kicking up the ground as they go. There’s a faint hint of tobacco and leather, so maybe the person who walked past was a sexy lumberjack. Finally, there’s a base of something wide and rich that I couldn’t place, but that the internet told me was ambergris.
This made the perfume much broader and more sensual, even as all I could think about was this:
I’m not always about tobacco and leather in perfumes, as they usually come out a bit strong on my skin. But in this simple blend--as the name suggests, the Pentachord fragrances have only five notes--I really enjoyed them, because they didn’t overpower the lush opening. It’s quite a unisex fragrance which dried into primarily green notes on my skin, and it was a pleasure to smell all day.
THE TYPE OF SUMMER YOU’LL HAVE WITH THIS PERFUME: Robert Frost meets Little Red Riding Hood. The woods are lovely, dark and deep / but you have promises to keep / and many miles to go before you sleep.
Diptique, Eau de Lierre
This fragrance is said to have been inspired by the scent of ivy. Even though I’ve never smelled the stuff, I can say that this perfume nails exactly what I imagine it would smell like.
Eau de Lierre is rich, glossy and slightly sharp--an invitation and a warning, all in one. It opens with a dense woodsy-green smell with perhaps a tiny hint of pepper hovering around the edges. It’s crisp, like you’ve crushed a leaf in your hand, and then opens into a garden of pale florals like geranium and roses. Finally, the musky base anchors the entire thing with notes of maturity. It’s a fragrance that is vibrant and yet unmistakably adult. For some reason, it reminds me of my grandmother.
On my skin, the musk quickly overpowered the other, more delicate notes, which was a bummer. I would have liked to smell like a very wild garden leading into a silent forest.
THE TYPE OF SUMMER YOU’LL HAVE WITH THIS PERFUME: The haunted garden. You walk through the verdant fields, feeling the late summer mud squelch under your feet. Ahead of you is a crumbling stone wall you’ve never seen before, surrounding... what? You climb over it and find yourself in a madly overgrown garden with one tiny white headstone--one small, ancient grave--at the far end. Delicate nodding flowers crowd around your feet as if begging protection from the large-leafed, glossily green ivy that threatens to clamber over every square inch. Something tells you not to look at the name on the headstone, but you can’t stop yourself. You stretch out your hand to brush away the mud, and what you see sends you reeling backwards, running towards home, the scent of the cracking stems and light flowers following you like ghosts.
This was my favourite green fragrance out of all the ones I tried, because it was the most interesting. In the vial it had a very strong peppery scent, but on my skin it quicky blossomed into something really exciting.
When I was growing up in Australia, pink peppercorn trees were a fixture in many backyards. That’s the exact scent--the scent of the peppers on a hot summer’s day in the desert--that this perfume opens with. Warm grass and what I think is vetiver gives the pepper width, and something quite spicy and herbal--maybe mint?--that I couldn’t place gives it depth. Somehow all of these elements come together to form an incredibly elegant and crisp, yet warm green scent. It’s remarkable.
After wearing it for about five hours, the grass became the main note, almost seeming to dry on my skin, like yellowing lawn at the end of summer. It would be impossible to make a perfume smell more like my childhood, unless it also came wrapped in Liberty floral print fabric.
THE TYPE OF SUMMER YOU’LL HAVE WITH THIS PERFUME: Garden party in the desert. Cloudless skies arch over your head, unbroken and gloriously blue for the millionth day in the row. Crickets scream from the drying box hedges on either side of you, seeming like the actual personification of the heat. You adjust the hem of your chic cocktail dress and step under the canopy of the tent to greet your well-heeled guests, glass of rose in hand. Everyone is delighted to see you. You pretend not to notice the red dust clinging to your shoes.
So tell me: are you Northern Hemsiphere types thinking ahead to summer as much as I am? What’s your warm weather fragrance going to be this year? What kind of summer do you want to have?