Montale Parfums Sandflowers: summer solstice

montale sandflower
Sandflowers was part of the first batch of Montale samples I ever bought. At the time oud was my main focus and I chose Sandflowers because of its strange, contradicting name. Flowers in the sand is not a very common sight, but I have come across those eerie sand lilies that defy reason, the way they pop up delicate and narcotic from dry sand. Lying on the beach next to these flowers is a perplexing experience: they dominate with their smell but at the same time they look so fragile as they tend to move their ribbon-like petals frantically even with the slightest breeze, like a castaway in distress. Their smell is sweet and thick, something that fits the Montale vocabulary. What a surprise it proved to be though!

Sandflowers opens with the smell of alcoImagehol. I rarely use this type of description because I believe that you are supposed to smell a bit of alcohol in every opening, so even when I do smell it I do not notice it or remark about it. But with Sandflowers one cannot help but notice. What I realised is that I smell the alcohol because there are absolutely no top notes in this perfume. Those high-pitched notes that get the wearer’s attention are simply excised and left out. Once the alcohol dries out what I get is probably pure calone. Squeaky clean, chemical and boundless. What surprises me is how strange calone smells served up straight, without the usual citrusy or green companions. Calone smells as good in Sandflowers as it smells in Aramis New West, where it is used with fir to convey the breeze of fresh mountain air, at least to my nose. What comes next is a whiff of that strange washed linen accord that I associate with Secretions Magnifiques and, in a much more wearable rendition, in Bas de soie. Don’t be alarmed, Sandflowers is very wearable, but I am impressed at how the perfumer behind this, Pierre Montale or whoever he is, managed to make it wearable without the use of floral notes. At this stage lies the beauty of Sandflowers because all these rather chemical smells come together to produce something rare and difficult: the smell of human skin right after a swim in the blue sea, dried by the sun rays and unadorned by any other smell. Most beach perfumes, as Sandflowers clearly is, cannot resist the use of coconut or fruits to simulate the beach experience, as if the suntan lotion is an inextricable part of it. Montale managed to refrain from his and the result is just pure, sea-washed and sun-dried skin. The effect is so stunning that I synaesthetically feel the warmth of the sun and the cool sea breeze at the same time. All this chemical illusion is joined by the most true to life thyme oil smell, an ingredient that imbues a certain saltiness to a composition. And on a good day I can also smell some hay in the deep dry down. The impression I get is a mixture of chemical smells and natural ingredients that works perfectly to recreate the most human and delicate of all smells, the smell of skin. As an afterthought, the name seems to refer to to those sand crystals found in the desert and look like petrified roses. If these roses had a smell it would be the smell of Montale Sandflowers.

Sandflowers manages to capture the smell of a day by the Aegean sea. Sea, sand and sun. One cannot help but also slip “sex” somewhere between these words too. The amazing human smell of this avant-garde composition always manages to transport me to a careless, summer day, where freedom fills the heart and time stops. The smell of one’s skin blends seamlessly with the smell of the skin of the loved one and there is a promise of timeless eternity. All these fillings are delivered in a beautiful, simple and bare way in this Montale composition that has fallen so far away from the Montale tree that remains a hidden gem and overlooked oddity. Its lasting power is at a par with all other Montale perfumes but it remains a personal scent (although I do remember my sample from years ago smelling much stronger than my current bottle) and becomes one with the stories of our holidays. In a strange way, Sandflowers presents itself as a white canvas upon which the wearer projects the smells they associate with summer. Others smell cucumber, melon, spices, notes completely undetectable to my nose, but I am sure that this is what a day at the beach smells like to them.

Notes from Parfumo: Algae, Aquatic notes, Sea water, Spices, Juniper berry,  Oakmoss, Sandalwood

Montale Sandflowers notes

Notes from my nose: sea breeze, bare skin, sand, thyme, hay


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas 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.


  1. Very intriguing scent that you describe here, Christos; I never knew Montale made anything in this oeuvre. It sounds sublime, and when I see by the notes that it has juniper berry and oakmoss, I can understand why you sense the cool sea breeze component, as juniper berry very much has that effect on me – and I think oak moss would underscore that effect.

    It was fun to learn of those sand lilies that you mention at the beginning of your post. Hard to imagine such flimsy flowers producing a narcotic scent!

    • If I try hard enough I can smell the juniper berries but the only natural ingredient I can pick out is thyme.

      These flowers actually belong to the family of amaryllis, but unlike their odourless cousins, sand lilies have a very strong smell. The downside is that they attract bees and wasps so if you find a beach adorned with them, just be careful

  2. I like this one as well: funnily enough I was thinking about it the other day and wondering whether I should get it for the summer. Once this damp rainy season is over the searing sunshine will come here in Japan and this kind of ozonic (you are right: there is SO much calone in this one, but released from the usual masculine cliches, boring wood notes, spice, and citrus it kind of comes into its own) will smell quite refreshing. A lovely review.

    • Thanks. Actually I have wanted to buy a full bottle of this for many years but it seems that every time I was about to make the decision, I ended up with something with more oomph. Finally I bought my bottle this year in Geneva. And then I realised how stupid I am because it always pays to buy directly from Montale. I guess they are still offering the 20ml bottles with every purchase.

      • I reckon the 20ml would do me as I would only use it on very specific occasions. Nice to see it talked about, though. I am intrigued to go and seek it out again to see if it is likely to work for me this year.

        I always enjoy your way of reviewing things.

        • Well I checked with the official website and the 20ml gift with every 100ml bottle purchase still stands. But what is more interesting is that there is a 3x20ml option for 70 euro and you can select three different scents to make your own box. Montale customer care is still unparalleled

  3. Hey there Christos,
    You have reviewed my favourite Montale. On my second bottle (sadly lost most of the first one in airplane transit, my bag smelled amazing though) and love it dearly. Thanks for explaining why it smells so good to me and some of the things in it.
    I’ve never seen those sand lilies but now I really want to, are they a European thing?
    Portia xx

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