Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule: Mysore goes Bollywood

Click image to access source ilovewildfox.comHow many tales can sandalwood tell? Serge Lutens has already given two versions of it, the Indian bazaar Santal de Mysore and the neighbouring Santal Blanc, less spicy, more floral. Both explore the sweet, buttery side of sandalwood. For me the benchmark sandalwood is Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Santal Noble, a dry, creamy version of the wood with tons of refinement. Hearing the news of a third sandalwood coming from Serge Lutens really made me wonder whether the house would have come up with a drier scent.

Santal Majuscule is definitely a big scent, more restrained though than the exuberant Santal de Mysore. It opens with mere hints of the spicy, milky sandalwood house note but very soon a cornucopia of notes start pouring out of skin. A bright, pink rose explodes suddenly in a cloud of wet, sparkling florality. The rose seems to completely take over the composition in just a few minutes and at this point I am already wondering how this is going to help create a Capital Sandalwood as the name claims. A rich chocolate emerges after a while anchoring the previous flower-bomb phase. This chocolate note is great because it is not thick and gourmand, as in scented candles,  nor bitter and vague, as in Borneo 1834. It could very well be the perfect chocolate note! At times it smells a little like Angel that has become less sexual and more lady-like. Underpinning the chocolate and rose I smell a hint of the breakfast accord found in Jeux de Peau but here it serves only to give a more playful context to the scent. I hated Jeux de Peau because from start to finish it made me smell like like a giant Yankee Candle but here only hints of the chicory note are used and the sweetness is cut down. As Santal Majuscule progresses it develops a very aggressive drydown, fierce and flamboyant. I suddenly catch myself thinking of Chanel Coco. A bright, sparkling, feminine scent is suddenly found on my skin. Chocolate, rose, aldehyde and a fuzzy sandalwood to make it special.

Santal Majuscule is better than I expected given it is the third Serge Lutens sandalwood-centred creation and the similarities with Jeux de Peau I was afraid of. But I wouldn’t say it is about sandalwood, definitely not a capital one. But it is a very pleasing, rather feminine scent and if you like Chanel Coco or Thierry Mugler Angel and feel like moving uptown (or niche-town) you may want to try this. There is nothing exotic about this, just a hint of the Indian style sandalwood Sheldrake has served us in the past with an elegant gloss of sophisticated exuberance.

Notes from Parfumo.net: Savdalwood, Cocoa, Rose

Notes from my nose: sandalwood, coconut, rose, chocolate, chicory

Photo from the fall 2012 Chanel runway taken from ilovewildfox.com (click photo for original link)

Two samples of this were sent to me from Les Salons du Palais Royals just by asking them together with all wax samples of the exclusive line. Guys, don’t pay for them online! Just ask and you will be given!

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MemoryOfScent by Christos Karageorgos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.

19 comments

  1. Perfect description! I really liked Santal Majascule – I was also surprised he’d manage to find a new direction for the note – and whilst I found it really similar to Jeux De Peau it is undoubtably more mature.
    Nice to read a recent review of this one :)

  2. When I smelled Santal Majuscle on its own for the first time I immediately thought it was very similar to Jeux de Peau (which I like a lot). But yesterday I decided to test them in parallel and I clearly smell the differentce for the first couple of hours (it is surprisingly floral – but not in a bad surprise way) but then they are still very similar in the drydown (for my nose). I like Santal Majuscle and will wear it from my small decant.

    • Yes it is a balanced floral bomb. I enjoyed testing it but I do not think I will want to own it. I think the name throws me off, “Chocolat Majuscule” maybe?

  3. Irina

    beautiful review, Christos- thank you
    I was rather put off by Jeux de Peau and not so when I first sniffed Santal Majuscule-which I liked quite a bit- would not wear it, though

    • I think Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake need to finetune a little their cooperation in this new occidental direction the house is taking. I still think L’Eau (the first one) and De Profundis were the most successful creations in terms of creating un-oriental fragrances with the usual dark Serge Lutens atmosphere

  4. Hi Christos. I thought your review was pretty accurate. The only thing that differs in my own experience of it is that I get the Jeux de Peau breakfast accord fairly early on and it rather nauseates me as I wait for the rose to emerge. But the rose with the cocoa quality of the sandalwood … oh, that part I love.

    A Bollywood sandalwood … yes, you made a perfect analogy there!

  5. I believe you really did it justice with this review. It might not be ground-breaking but I find it easily likeable and wearable and that’s pretty much what I want in my everyday life. :)

    • I have been known to blind buy from Serge Lutens so I like a bit of quirkiness in my perfumes. This is a bit too tame for my taste but definitely highly enjoyable.

  6. When I first smelled it, Jeux de Peau was the first association that jumped to mind. I even double checked the label to make sure I didn’t goof and grab the wrong bottle. Now I really like Jeux de Peau, but because of the similarity, I passed on trying Santal Majuscule on my skin. Now I am encouraged to see how they are different.

    • They have similarities but Jeux de Peau is much sweeter and gourmand. Santal Majuscule is more of a classic perfume. They share the chicory note that carries some of the curry notes from Santal de Mysore.

  7. Beautiful review. I agree with you that it’s bordering on gourmand, but ultimately isn’t. But am I the only person who thinks it smells like Christmas?

    • Thank you Joan. Apparently there are many cultural parameters to define what we call “smells like Christmas”. For me Arabie smells like Christmas simply because there is this traditional Greek honey soaked, spiced, Christmas cookie which, if you get it right, tastes just like Arabie smells. I guess you eat a lot of chocolate at Christmas :)

      But I do get what you mean: there is something that makes me think of a champagne bottle popping when I smell SM. It is the part of the fragrance that reminds me of Coco or even Dior Dolce Vita. Not a particular note but rather this fizzy, exploding quality

  8. I do like this quite a lot, as it feels to me like such a creamy and well blended sandalwood. A sandalwood smoothie, if you will. :) I don’t think I need a full bottle, since it’s not something I’d be inclined to reach for a lot, but I do like it.

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