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Santal Blanc 2019* – Fresh and woody and floral

Santalum album in Hyderabad, India - Wikipedia

Santal Blanc was the first Serge Lutens fragrance I bought. Launched in 2001, it was gorgeous – creamy, resinous, warm and woody. It was one of the few perfumes that I ever considered for a signature scent since I was in my 20's. Then it was discontinued. It's always a bit of a gut punch when that happens, but also a reminder that times change, people change and tastes change. I moved on. I busied myself with discovering new perfumers, exploring new fragrances, finding new brands and launching this website with Kay.

Then one day, a newsletter fell into my Inbox that announced Santal Blanc was going to be relaunched as part of Lutens’ initial Les Eaux de Politesse collection in 2019. This collection also included other existing fragrances: Fleurs de Citronnier, Gris Clair, L'Eau Froide, L'Eau de Paille and one new one, L'Eau d'Armoise.

'Les Eaux de Politesse' translates into English as 'Polite Waters.' One of the keystones of politeness is cleanliness. The Serge Lutens website says: '"Luxury begins with cleanliness". With these few short words, in 2010 Serge Lutens set the tone for a new vision of perfume: light, fresh, devoid of the heady, sticky, overly masculine notes of colognes.'

Reading the announcement, I felt a kind of giddy excitement. The kind I had felt when I lined up with four girlfriends for two days to get Springsteen tickets a few lifetimes ago. Still, as soon as I could get my hands on Santal Blanc, I did. Guess what? I love this new Santal Blanc.

It opens with a fresh, clean note of cedar and spicy, rosy pink peppercorn. As it settles, the spiciness of the pink peppercorn extends to a note of warm, spicy cinnamon, at the same time, the rosiness leads to a floral heart of lush rose, aromatic jasmine and violet, courtesy of orris root. This is a combination that works exceptionally well with sandalwood, and it's not long before the warm, woody, and creamy star of the show appears to take centre stage. As it evolves, fenugreek, spicy and maple-syrup faceted, gently sweetens the sandalwood wood, which blends with a base of musky Angelica root, resinous, spicy benzoin, and sweet, woody copaiba balsam which adds soft balsamic nuances to the blend.

Santal Blanc 2019’s drydown is woody and floral and very elegant. Santal Blanc 2019, is in sharp contrast to the other santal fragrances in a Lutens' stable. It's still creamy, resinous, warm and woody, but it's also airy, open, fresh and without the weight and heaviness of Santal de Mysore and Santal Majuscule, yet just as stunning.

I can smell and experience each note in Santal Blanc 2019, and that is by design: "Allowing each note to fade away or come to the fore at will, Serge Lutens' Eaux de Politesse are the ideal representation of our vague desires for change." it says on Lutens' website.

So, maybe change is good. Maybe trying new things keeps us more vibrant, more relevant and more interesting. Well, at least that's how I feel when I wear Santal Blanc 2019.

* Santal Blanc 2019 is what I am calling this re-launched version to differentiate it from the 2001 version. Santal Blanc 2019 is not an official name.

Santal Blanc 2019 is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.