A nostalgic – but elegant – time travelling fragrance which will either send you spinning into the past or provide some comforting vibes. Perhaps both.
Chartreuse liqueur accord, wild forest berries, peony, sandalwood creme, skin musk accord.
How do we pick which perfumes to review? Sometimes readers request reviews on scents they are interested in, sometimes something’s cleverness appeals. Sometimes it’s the fact that a fragrance is different, bold, exciting and sometimes it is just that it feels like the perfumer is really trying to say something with the scent and the words are the interpretation of that different language. But sometimes a fragrance just moves me. A scent will lodge in my brain and either stick there, or uncover a memory long forgotten. When that happens, a review follows shortly thereafter, and as you may have guessed, that’s the case with Sandal and Peony.
As a child, I would go and visit my auntie, who lived four doors down the block from my grandma’s house. The houses were set back from a quiet road, so we were allowed to wander down to visit her unescorted. We’d clamber up the wall behind her house, skinning knees as we did so. And we’d sit there, on the stones blackened by ancient mill soot and patched with lichen and wait. My auntie would come out to greet us, with scratchy old bowls in her hands. The bowls would contain slices of vanilla ice cream, hacked off a larger brick that came in a cardboard wrapper. We’d get a slice of ice cream and a scant handful of the delicious raspberries that she grew in the field behind her house. The raspberries were tiny, bitty, but full of the most tart juiciness so that my mouth waters even as I remember them. I’d mash them up, swirling the crimson juice into the ice cream and then, when it was just the right texture, I would gobble it all down.
Delightfully, nostalgically, that is what the start of Sandal and Peony smells like. The first time I tried this scent it span me backwards in time so forcibly that it was almost disorientating. I was there, bruised shins and all, sat on that wall, about to tuck in.
There’s the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream, cool, and melting. Into it you can smell the tartness of summer fruits being dropped, their bruised flesh giving up the sour inner juices. The tartness, and the sweetness, are held beautifully together in the fragrance, neither out of balance with the other. Sandal and Peony is the first scent we have had the pleasure of trying from SP Parfums and if it is any indication of the rest of their collection then we are all in for some real delights.
It was be easy to write off scents which evoke foodstuffs – like this one does – as unsophisticated and inelegant. Many of them are (not that that should stop you wearing them should you so desire, fragrance should bring you pleasure). However, the thing that appeals about Sandal and Peony is that yes, it begins in this vein, but there is something clever going on once the scent settles, and it really brings an elevated level of composition to the fragrance.
The vanilla ice cream slowly shifts into a delicate floral tone and gently leads the composition away from being basic and naive. It feels like it grows up and blossoms, and the way that it shifts is both subtle and beautiful. The forest berries dot the composition still, giving bursts of tartness which maintain the balance in the scent. Sandal and Peony becomes both comforting and exciting, familiar and yet grown up.
The slight astringency of the berries linger in the base and keep pleasant hints of tartness throughout. The fragrance becomes a bit woodier, but it’s the smooth and flowing sandalwood type of wood, milky and luxurious. The base is more simple and less vibrant than the earlier parts of the scent, but still indulgent and lovely.
Sandal and Peony is one of those fragrances which feels a bit off the beaten track. It feels like it is breaking rules and going outside the realms of convention, but it does so with panache and a soupçon more elegance than scents from more established houses and perfumers sometimes muster. The power that Sandal and Peony has is a delight, and we will look out for further releases from this house with interest.
The other stuff
Sandal and Peony lasts really well, lingering for around 8-10 hours following application. The projection of the scent is also solid, going to around handshake distance or thereabouts for certainly the first half of a wear. Later, it sticks much closer to the body.
Sandal and Peony perhaps leans more towards the stereotypically feminine end of the spectrum, but don’t let that put you off if you fancy giving it a go.
If you like Sandal and Peony you may also like Lace by Sarah Baker.
Sandal and Peony is available from the SP Parfums website, where it is priced at €129 for 30ml of EdP.
We were very kindly gifted a no-strings-attached sample of Sandal and Peony by a friend and follower of The Sniff, who has no known association with the SP Parfums brand.