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.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve hungered for glamour.
But when you’re a small child living in The Middle Of Nowhere, Australia, glamour is hard to come by. I built elaborate paper models of big cities and knew exactly which apartment window was my own, made “fashions” out of fitted sheets, and pretended my stuffed animals were party guests who hung on my every word.
But that was all imaginary; I may as well have been pretending I was a fish. Or it was, until I discovered Diana Vreeland, legendary editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
I found a copy of her autobiography, DV, on my parents’ bookshelf, and a whole new world opened up. Here was someone truly living the life that I dreamed of. Here was someone who had felt ugly--like me!--but who made herself into the most fascinating, attractive, wonderful person in the world.
I read her words over and over, knowing that this was the life for me. I would grow up, move far away and become glamourous. “There’s only one very good life,” Diana Vreeland famously said. “And that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself.”
Vreeland was a huge fan of bright colors, big jewelry, and perfumes. “Scent is as important to a well-turned-out woman as her makeup, her nail varnish, her pearls,” she said.
So it makes perfect sense that DV’s electric spirit lives on now in Diana Vreeland Parfums.
This is a line truly worthy of her name. Each are complex, interesting fragrances--bold, dramatic, commanding and playful at turns--much as the woman herself was.
With brightly colored glass and a gorgeous silk tassel, the bottles are SUBSTANTIAL. The caps (each bearing her signature) are magnetized, so they pop back onto the bottles with a satisfying click.
Each scent captures a different facet of Diana’s legendary personality. Let’s look at each in turn!
“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”
Simply Divine IS simply divine. It’s a mouth-watering green floral that smells like a gorgeous summer garden--lots of bright green leaves and the heady scent of tuberose, then adds subtle hints of jasmine and orange blossom. There’s a vanilla base which makes the dry-down interesting but not overpowering. This is that rare fragrance that feels truly, honestly alive.
This is a big perfume. It will enter the room before you do. It envelops you in a violet cloud of glamour, and I cannot get enough of it. If my entire life smelled like Simply Divine, I would be the happiest woman in the world. It’s spectacular and I love it. It is by far my favorite in the DV line.
“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it.”
When sprayed in the air, Outrageously Vibrant smells very rich and VERY gourmand--I felt like I could eat it.
The sugary-sweetness is creme de cassis, which EXPLODES into ripe currants as soon as it hits skin. Big red roses come in to play as the scent settles, with the tiniest bit of patchouli peeking its head around the corner. I generally can’t stand patchouli, but I both liked and understood its purpose here. It’s the disciplinarian, giving form and structure to the otherwise overly voluptuous rose and black currants.
This perfume clings tightly to you; you need to get up close to get the full effect. For something I initially thought was so bold, it's a surprisingly intimate scent.
“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.”
My first thoughts upon trying this were, This is really beautiful, but not for me. However, I knew that this would be something my mother would ADORE, so I enlisted her as my tester.
Absolutely Vital is 100% sandalwood-dominated at the start, then softens with gentle additions of vanilla and myrrh. My mother loved the hidden notes of jasmine that dominate the base--she said that it smelled “like warm white flowers.”
"Warm" is the perfect way to describe this fragrance. It’s expansive and grand, yet cozy and comforting. It’s lovely, even though it’s not something I would wear myself.
My mother, on the other hand, is obsessed. “If you’re looking for a Christmas present for someone,” she said meaningfully. “I’ll take a bottle of this.”
“If it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.”
The most unisex scent in the line, it begins with a lot of jasmine made spicy and interesting with a hint of pimento. Sandalwood opens at the heart, and there’s cashmeran (a musk) at the base. It’s sexy and wild. It’s woody and floral, and I couldn’t stop smelling it when I had it on.
And that surprised me! I was not expecting to love this, because I’m not a sandalwood or musk girl. But oh, that jasmine sambac! It’s so delicious and, like Simply Divine, VERY big. I feel like I’m walking around in a cloud of seduction when I wear it. It’s glorious.
“Style--all who have it share one thing: originality.”
As an oriental fragrance, this is all about amber and resin in large quantities. The initial spray was sharp and made me think of an expensive drink. There’s a very light hint of leather and a lot of vanilla at the center, and the softest musk as it dries down. This feels like wearing an expensive cashmere sweater in an old, wood-paneled library, and I dig it.
Extravagance Russe is the quietest perfume in the DV line. Staying close to my skin, it’s luxurious and exotic but tasteful, perfect for when you want to make a statement without shouting.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach the height of glamour (and editorial excellence) set by Diana Vreeland. But I do know that, with these perfumes, I’ll be inspired to live vibrantly every damn day.