I've been working my way through some recently acquired DSH samples, courtesy of kind Carol from Waft, What a Fragrancefanatic Thinks. Two that stand out for me so far are Sandalo Inspiritu and Festive.
I love the smell of sandalwood, whether it be a perfume, soap or shaving soap. My earliest memory of sandalwood was in the form of a soap by Roger et Gallet, which my mum always used to have in her linen cupboard, gently scenting our laundry. It's a very smooth, soothing, contemplative smell I find. Sandalo Inspiritu is a very apt name for this perfume, as it is very much about sandalwood, and if I have interpreted the name correctly, is quite spiritual and contemplative. The opening is quite smoky and almost incense-like, not sweet and only gently spicy. The sandalwood is evident from the start, but it is neither creamy nor sweet, as some can be. Rather, its use here reminds me quite a lot of Santal Noble by Maitre Perfumeur et Gantier. As the fragrance develops, the sandalwood does soften and become slightly sweeter and creamy, but it remains a fairly simple and linear construction on my skin. Not that this is a criticism mind you. I think it's this linearity that lends it its contemplative and calming feel, which I like.
Festive surprised me firstly by being in oil format, which I was not expecting. As a result the opening is rather subdued as it takes time to warm up on skin. I initially smell something quite smoky, mixed with clove and a hint of orange. At the time I was wearing this, our shops were full of intense orange and clove pomanders, their scent wafting along shopping corridors and out shopfronts. Festive to me smells just like this. In addition to the aforementioned notes, I also detect pine, fir and incense, which add to the Christmasy feel. I was also surprised to find Festive a bit soapy. Again, for some reason this was the last thing I was expecting, but here it works surprisingly well. It's not a distraction to me, as the soapiness is more like the astringency one associates with crushed rosemary - perhaps this soapiness actually comes from the pine/fir notes. Although miles away in smell to Sandalo Inspiritu, Festive is also quite linear and ultimately I find it equally contemplative and calming, albeit in quite a different fashion, but no less pleasing. If I have one criticism of both, its that I find them relatively short-lived on my skin, but then I do tend to sway towards stronger perfumes.
Image credit - http://photos.demandstudios.com