Blog post by Gwen

Santal 33 – woody and floral and leathery


I was getting my new glasses fitted a while ago, and as the optician was adjusting the frames, she asked, ‘What perfume are you wearing’?” Before I could say anything, she jumped right back in.  ‘I’m wearing Santal 33. I just love that fragrance. My boyfriend loves it on me, I love it on me. You know, I think Santal 33 is my soul-serving scent.….’  At this point, I must confess, my mind drifted to what to have for dinner.

Back at home, I was checking emails while I waited for the pasta to cook when an email from my very dear friend, Beckie, dropped into my ‘Inbox’:

‘In case you haven’t seen this….’ There was a link to a story on Santal 33.

Two references to the same perfume within an hour of each other? Was the universe speaking to me? I sat down at the computer, followed the link and learned how Santal 33, from indie niche line Le Labo, came to be.

Le Labo was launched in 2006, in New York by Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi, with ten fragrances and one candle - Santal 26. The fragrances were well-received, but the candle was not – until hotelier Ian Schraeger discovered it and had Le Labo create a smokier version for the lobby of his Gramercy Park Hotel. Guests of the hotel noticed the scent and started showing up at the Le Labo store, asking about it. A room spray followed, but people began wearing that as perfume.

Then, in June 2010 Penot was watching the World Cup on a TV screen in a bar on the corner of Prince and Mott streets when he noticed the guy standing in front of him smelled terrific and asked him what fragrance he was wearing. He told Penot that it was a room spray that he buys at a little store called Le Labo.

And that is how Santal 33, Le Labo’s star fragrance and cult classic, was born.

Overcooked pasta aside, the universe was speaking to me, and I listened. Now I, too, am Santal 33 devotee.

The name and number of Le Labo fragrances refer to the main ingredient – in this case, sandalwood, while the number refers to the number of ingredients in the fragrance.

This makes breaking their fragrances down note by note challenging, as it’s the way the ingredients are blended and how they react on your skin that tells the story.

On me, Santa 33 opens with the metallic, green scent of violet followed by a dry, woody jolt of Australian sandalwood. I smell cardamom. Its spiciness warms the wood. There’s smoke, sensual and hypnotic, drifting over the smell of soft, worn leather. Just when I think this is getting a bit masculine in tone, powdery iris adds a sophistication to the fragrance that changes my mind. Cedarwood extends the woodiness and adds a beautiful, balsamy scent. Ambrox, musky and animalic adds richness to the blend.

The drydown is like nothing else I own. It has an understated sensuality that beckons and pleases for hours.

Oh, I do like it when the universe speaks to me.

Check out Santal 33 in our Shop.