Raise a siren song with this smooth and shiny sandalwood beauty from L’Orchestre Parfum.
White sandalwood, cedar wood, white musks, heated skin, bergamot, ambroxan, warm milk, caraway.
The tagline for this perfume is “Awaken in a piano” and whilst that is a rather lovely idea: you shrunken down to pixie sized, darting about amongst the strings and hammers, it doesn’t quite feel like it captures the essence of this perfume, in our humble opinions at least. Piano Santal opens smooth and sensuous. If it calls to mind any instrument it would be the sinuous rolls of an oboe’s throaty call.
The sandalwood is the star of this fragrance, for sure, and it shines right from the very first spritz. At the start, the sandalwood is warm and sweet, almost nutty, but there are richer, fruitier nuances in there too, perhaps even the faintest hint of citrus. The fruity tones just flash hints of colour across the surface of the milky sandalwood. Imagine pouring thick cream over a bowl of fruit on a warm summer’s day, but the languid cream is the main thing you can smell and the fruits are but hints that make it feel even creamier and more luxurious.
If this perfume were a food or drink, it would be the ambrosia that the gods of Mount Olympus feasted upon. That warm, oozy sweetness, all milky and satisfying feels like it would slip down one’s throat and warm you from the inside very nicely. Whilst the scent might not be able to convey immortality upon you, you very well may end up feeling like you’re ready to take your place in the pantheon when you wear it.
At least part of that spectacular feeling will be down to quite how shiny this fragrance is. The sandalwood here feels like it is actually glowing, luminous, even a little ghostly perhaps – but the kindly sort of will-o-the-wisp who appears to guide the hero back towards the path rather than deeper off into the swamp. Piano Santal positively radiates. And it made us feel very sparkly when we wore it.
There’s a little flourish of brilliance in the middle of a wear of Piano Santal, although if you aren’t paying attention you may miss it. As we have seen, the sandalwood begins with a milky, fruity and almost citrusy type backing chorus, but as the fragrance wears, this twists ever so slightly into a more herbal, medicinal and savoury paring. The joins are seamless, however, which is why you almost don’t notice it happening. This shift is brought about by the judicious use of caraway and that is the masterstroke to which we refer.
Cardamon and milky sandalwood are used a lot together and that feels like a path which has been trodden with reasonable frequency. Caraway on the other hand has certainly crossed our paths less so. The depth that it brings, the warmth, the slightly earthy, dry tone, all work to keep the sandalwood grounded and give us a sense of movement and transition within the fragrance. It’s a really nice touch, and one which betrays a very clever perfumer at work.
Towards the end of a wear of this fragrance, the supporting chorus of notes recede a little – although they are never that in focus to begin with – and you are left with a smooth, woody scent, flecked with hints of salt here and there.
Piano Santal does contains things other than just sandalwood, but they are such supporting characters it feels like they are only there to lift the sandalwood starlet to new heights. Throughout the duration of the scent, the other ingredients act as counterpoints for the sandalwood to push against, they stop the composition from straying into self-indulgent territory and bring a sense of calm and purity to the whole composition.
The light-touch with which the supporting ingredients have been handled give the fragrance a lovely sense of pleasurable minimalism. There is no clutter, no distraction here at all, just the beautiful, gorgeous central character of sandalwood, who appears as if for our delight alone. This is admirable perfumery though – to make something so pure and unadorned feel really interesting without introducing fuss is not easy to do and the perfumer, Jean Jaques, has handled it beautifully.
The other stuff
Piano Santal isn’t a particularly loud and shouty perfume, it’s too sophisticated and classy to blast people. It seems to project to about handshake distance or a little further.
The longevity of this scent is really good though, it lasts all day – a good ten hours or so – following an early morning application. It’s a really pleasing and comforting scent to wear so the fact that it sticks around is another lovely bonus.
Whilst the gender of all fragrances is entirely up for grabs, we felt that this one leaned more towards the stereotypically feminine side of the spectrum, albeit on the woody scale. Don’t let that put you off if you identify as anyone other than female, just wear what you love.
Piano Santal felt to us like the sort of fragrance that you would wear when you wanted to draw someone to you – almost regardless of season as we can imagine it working nicely all year round.
L’Orchestre Parfum are a French house that pair their fragrances with rather lovely pieces of music written specially for the fragrance. The perfumes are all designed in Paris and produced in Grasse. The lovely thing about this brand is the fusion of fragrance with music, which feels like a natural pairing, given the similarity of the languages between the two (notes, chords/accords, even the perfumer’s organ).
The bottle this brand uses is simple, clean lines and doesn’t detract from the quality of the juice contained within. Each bottle is lacquered by a French artisan.
The other nice touch about this brand is that their sample selection is very reasonably priced – at just €19 for six samples. It’s almost rude to not try them at that price!
Jovoy Mayfair very kindly gave us a no-strings-attached sample of this scent. Thank you to them.