Santal Blanc by Van Cleef + Arpels

Hi there Posse. It’s been a while since I reviewed some new stuff for you all. Well, this past week I had a First In Fragrance order arrive. Tucked away inside were a few very interesting new fragrances that I thought we could look at. Santal Blanc might seem like a familiar name for a fragrance. Yeah, you’ll be remembering the 2001 released Santal Blanc by Serge Lutens (which, just BTW, has been repackaged into the cool new square ice glass bottles. OOOOH!).

So Van Cleef & Arpels has done their own version as part of the Collection Extraordinaire. There have been some really good hits and some misses in the range but my favourite is the amber, Ambre Impérial. A solid, simple amber that purrs beautifully through a cool day or evening out. If you are currently amber less in your collection it’s a pretty good place to start, or if you need a no brainer amber that you can spritz and go.

Santal Blanc by Van Cleef & Arpels 2019

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin, Fig milk
Heart: Violet, Sandalwood
Base: Tonka bean, Musk

The initial swish of fragrance from the atomiser is 100% buttery goodness. The fig milk is hardly fruity at all for the first few minutes, it smells more like full cream milk warming on the stove with a knob of butter melting into it. Once the citrus and fig make their entrance its a juicy, summer weight with this very unusual sweet, hot milkiness. This is hardly what I’ve come to expect from the VC&A Collection Extraordinaire, which are usually much safer and less challenging than this baby.

Santal Blanc is happily weird, a wearable weird that doesn’t seem to relate to anything else I’ve smelled, as a whole. It has that OTT ylang/sandal/milk vibe of Guerlain Samsara mixed with the ultra creamy fig of L’Artisan Premier Figuier and hints of Costume National 21 but nothing compares to the way this is structured or wears.

Once the fireworks die down I’m left smelling like clean, healthy skin and sweet milky woods. It’s beautiful and has kept me huffing myself for most of the day.

In my mind the casual wearer might eschew Santal Blanc, it may be just a little too crazy for them. Perfumistas, on the other hand, will take to it immediately. Gorgeously blended, sophisticated and unusual, with just a little look towards out there.

Surrender To Chance have most of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire line so I guess this will be available to sample there soon too.

How do you like your sandalwood?

Portia xx




Portia also writes for Australian Perfume Junkies

  • Brenda R Moyes says:

    This sounds like it could be a lot like Hermessence Santal Massoia. Any resemblance?

    • Portia says:

      Hey Brenda,
      I have a 15ml of Santal Massoia here somewhere. I will have to side by side them. Currently I have no memory of how it smells.
      Portia xx

  • hczerwiec says:

    Samsara + Premier Figuier = happy Heidi!

  • Cassieflower says:

    Not sure if I’ve ever met a Sandalwood I didn’t like. My gateway and reference was probably Samsara. This sounds amazing. Want to get my sniffer on it.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Cassieflower,
      Yes, me too. Sandalwood is heavenly.
      When I first started going to India in 2000 there were some amazing Scent Wallahs who used sandalwood oil as the basis for most of their fragrances. I’m really sad that I didn’t buy more. Within two years they had begun using created sandalwood aroma chemicals because they are so much cheaper and the Mysore sandalwood was basically gone.
      Did you ever get your sniff on Miller et Bertaux Indian Study: Santal +++++. It’s heavenly too.
      Portia xx

  • Tatiana says:

    I love my sandalwood in Bois des Iles and SL Santal Blanc and Santal Majuscule and Santal de Mysore and vintage Samsara. This sounds beautiful and right up my alley.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Tatiana,
      Three of those are in my collection too. Yet to try the Lutens Mysore and I did try the blanc a while back but memory is vague.
      Portia xx

  • Jo says:

    Well crap. That sounded lovely right up until the fig. 🙁 Fig and I just do not get along.

  • Tara C says:

    Sounds interesting, although I am not a fig person. My magic sandalwood is vintage 10 Corso Como.

    • Portia says:

      Hiya TaraC,
      Vintage 10 Corso Como! Yum! I’ve not smelt the modern, did it change?
      Portia xx

      • Tara C says:

        It hasn’t changed a lot, but due to the lack of real Mysore sandalwood, it has lost a bit of its magic. Still very worthy though.

        • Portia says:

          Aha! OK, that makes sense. The Aussie sandalwood is a bit bite-her and has a eucalyptus like opening. We are now doing Aussie Mysore too and it also has just a twinge of bite at open, base is creamy and dry.
          Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    Oh my gosh! That sounds amazing. Your reference to Premier Figuier makes me want to sniff it more. I have the VC&A Bois d’Iris and love that one. I love sandalwood and woodsy scents like Bois des Iles and Tam Dao.

    • Portia says:

      Hey DinaC,
      Bois d’Iris is so beautiful, eh?
      With your taste I definitely recommend a sniff of Sanytal Blanc, it could be your next great love.
      Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    you know…. I always wanted to LOVE the VC&A line but it never quite clicked for me (I don’t mesh well with their musk base, I don’t think) – but the list of notes here? It may be that the thing that hasn’t jibed with me in the past might. just. work.

    The ‘weird’ part is seductive, as well! 😉


    • Portia says:

      Hey Musette,
      I think the rest of the line might be a bit safe for you, and many other perfumistas. They are very pretty creations and probably not as interesting as long term perfumistas need them to be. Also the price point is quite high for something people will often have a similar FB of something else already.
      This Santal Blanc is just weird enouh though that it might tickle your fancy, musk base & all.
      Portia xx

  • Brigitte says:

    WANT!!! Based on your review!
    Sandalwood? Pure e.o. is my favorite.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Brigitte,
      Sandalwood is yum. Have you tried any of the Mount Romance Australian sandalwood products? It’s an Australian company. I particularly like their 1845 fragrance and Calming Cream.
      Portia xx