Guerlain Santal Royal



It takes some effort to get a One-Star “Avoid” rating from Luca Turin, but Guerlain has managed it with its new Santal Royal. I don’t always agree with the famous perfume critic and I don’t think Santal Royal is the worst thing I’ve ever smelt, even from Guerlain (L’Homme Ideal holds that dubious distinction), but he’s right: Santal Royal isn’t good. It is especially disappointing coming from a once-great house, perhaps the greatest that ever was.

In essence, Santal Royal is another sub-par, extremely commercial creation from Guerlain without any distinctiveness or originality, and with absolutely nothing remotely reminiscent of sandalwood. What it does have, however, is a strong resemblance to a heavily aromachemical Montale fragrance or to any number of basic, cheap, Middle Eastern fragrances centered on a generic, overly sweet, wholly synthetic, fruity rose-oud combination. Actually, I’ve smelt better perfumes from Montale, which is saying something given my general view of that house.

Photo: vinramani09 on Basenotes.

Photo: Dimitri at Sorcery of Scent,

Santal Royal is an eau de parfum that was created by Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, and released in 2014 in very limited fashion. It was primarily sold in the Middle East and at Harrod’s Salon de Parfums. Late last year, it came to America.

I’ll skip most of Guerlain’s narrative on its website, and quote only the basics:

Woody oriental.
Mysterious, syrupy, enchanting.

Top notes: neroli, jasmine
Heart notes: peach, rose, cinnamon
Base notes: santalwood, leather note, amber notes, oud, muscs note

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Santal Royal opens on my skin with roses drenched with a fruity syrup that is as thick as molasses in its sweetness. Within minutes, the syrup transforms into a thick peach compote that is laced with slivers of oud and jasmine, then sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon. Almost all the notes but the rose smell synthetic, and some go even further to be redolent of chemicals. The rose is thin and given substance solely because of the intense, fruited sweetness that resembles the very worst aspects of purple fruitchouli goo.

Photo by Andy Arthur at

Photo by Andy Arthur at

Other notes hover on the periphery, and they’re worse. There are small whiffs of plastic and burnt plastic, probably emanating from the leather which smells like a cheap quality synthetic from Givaudan or IFF, rather than a deeper birch tar essence. The leather is spicy, as if Safraleine had been used and is basically a low-rent version of the same accord present in Armani Privé Cuir Noir. The only difference is that this leather is thinner and harsher, due to a more aggressive, less refined handling of the synthetics.



The sweetness and fruitiness balloon quickly. Less than 15 minutes into Santal Royal’s development, I feel as though I’m wearing a fruit pie, perhaps a peach cobbler that has been slathered with rose jam, sprinkled with cinnamon, then mixed with bad, harshly blackened, plastic-y shoe leather as well as a touch of thin, wholly chemical oud, and a pinch of clean musk.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

The amount of Santal Royal that I applied seems to make a difference to the nuances that appear because it was even worse when I used only a few smears. Using roughly the equivalent of 2 small spritzes from an actual bottle, Santal Royal was an even simpler, more overtly chemical scent dominated largely by intensely syrupy roses, indistinct fruitiness, generalized spiciness, and harsher synthetics in the base. Most of the notes other than the fruited rose were amorphous, hard to define, and lacking clear delineation. I couldn’t pick out the peach necessarily, nor the “leather.” Really, if I had smelt Santal Royal blindly, I would have thought it was merely a generic saffron rose with dark, syrupy, fruits from patchouli (fruitchouli), some cheap, chemical oud, and something harshly desiccated in feel in the base. It was like a very bad version of an Arabian Oud scent that you can buy for $20 on eBay, or one of any number of small, nameless concoctions that you can find at a Middle Eastern bazaar.

Photo by Lana at Once Upon A Spice blog. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo by Lana at Once Upon A Spice blog. (Direct website link embedded within.)

With a larger dosage or application, Santal Royal shows off more of the nuances that I’ve described here. Using 3 hefty, generous smears equal to about 2.5 good sprays from an actual bottle, the intensity of the chemicals is overshadowed by the increased sweetness and by the “peach pie” bouquet. The cinnamon is clearer and extremely nice, as are the occasional flickers of jasmine that lurk around the sidelines during the first 90 minutes. Even the leather smells less egregiously cheap, plastic-y, and raw, though it continues to feel like a very low-rent version of the Safraleine leather in the Armani Cuir Noir.

Ebanol via Givaudan.

Ebanol via Givaudan.

Yet, regardless of quantity, at no time does Santal Royal smell of sandalwood on my skin. Not the Mysore kind, not the Australian kind, and not even the various synthetic substitutes that are commonly used as a replacement like Javanol or Ebanol. There is no sandalwood on my skin, period. What does appear is chemical oud and, much later on, a generic woodiness that is extremely dusty and desiccated in nature. We will get to that part shortly.

Rose petal jam. Photo by "Boby" on (Website link embedded within.)

Rose petal jam. Photo by “Boby” on (Website link embedded within.)

Santal Royal essentially has two main stages on my skin. The first is the rose-peach pie mix with the secondary inflections that have been described above. For the first four hours, that is Santal Royal’s main bouquet with very few changes. Some of the notes vary in their prominence, strength, or order, waxing and waning over time. As a result, I’d often think that an element had ebbed away, like the leather which briefly seemed to slip into the base after 20 minutes or the cinnamon that retreated to the sidelines after an hour. Yet, each note reappears after some period of time, sometimes stronger than ever, but sometimes as a muted flicker.

Throughout it all, Santal Royal’s core essence remains the same, but the accords start to overlap and the perfume turns softer. The two main changes during this first stage is that the chemicals grow stronger as the 2nd hour begins, while a layer of creaminess appears in the base. Together, they cut through Santal Royal’s jammy goo, dilute the sweetness to more palatable levels, and weaken some of the resemblance to a fruit pie.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

Roughly 2.5 hours into its development, Santal Royal has become a slightly creamy rose fragrance with fruitiness, slightly smoky “leather,” and faint touches of spiciness, oud, generic woodiness, and clean musk. Many of the notes are blurred together, faceless, and lacking clear delineation. For example, you can’t pick out the cinnamon from the general “spiciness,” and even the oud sometimes seems to be engulfed by the fog of basic, synthetic “woods.” The entire bouquet feels thin and airy, though the aromachemicals mean that it is a strong scent up close. Thankfully, neither the leather nor the general scent is abrasively harsh in feel at this point, though a new set of challenges will eventually appear.



Santal Royal’s second stage begins roughly at the start of the 4th hour and is, essentially, the long, linear drydown phase. In it, the chemicals surge to the forefront to create a desiccated, wooded dustiness that covers the rose petals and slowly suffocates the fruited sweetness. What keeps coming to mind is the smell of the bottom of a dusty drawer in an ancient wooden cabinet. Yes, it’s woody in nature, but the predominant sense is amorphous dustiness.

Something about it is extremely harsh. I am very sensitive to powerful aromachemicals in really large amounts, so Santal Royal caused a reaction even in its opening hour, causing the back of my throat to swell up. It only got worse during Santal Royal’s drydown, resulting not only in a severe migraine whenever I smell the perfume up close for too long, but also making my throat feel painfully scratchy and sore nonstop. To be honest, I scrubbed off Santal Royal the first two times I tried it after 5 hours.

Photo by SDWHaven at

Photo by SDWHaven at

It didn’t get better when I wore the perfume all the way through. The first few hours are always a total bore, but the rest was exhaustingly unpleasant and equally generic. All that really happens is that Santal Royal gets drier and drier, then darker and intensely smoky. At the start of the 6th hour, it is a blur of synthetic woodiness that is usually oud-like, always arid and dusty, but never redolent of sandalwood. There are occasional streaks of something smoky and leathered at the edges, a suggestion of spiciness once in a while, and lingering traces of fruited sweetness and clean musk. The thinnest sliver of abstract, rosy floralcy lies on top, but the layer of creaminess in the base has completely dried up.

Photo: "Controlled Burn" by Kevin Cooley. Source: or

Photo: “Controlled Burn” by Kevin Cooley. Source:

By the end of the 7th hour, the smokiness and woods have largely taken over, creating an ashy, burnt wood bouquet that feels extremely pointed and chemically sharp. In its final hours, all that’s left is woody dustiness and dryness.

Santal Royal has generally good projection that is initially extremely powerful, and it also has very good longevity (alas). My skin tends to hold onto powerful aromachemicals like mad, so I wasn’t surprised when the perfume lasted just under 14 hours using the equivalent of roughly 2.5 big sprays or 3 smallish spritzes. With a lesser amount equal to 2 small spritzes, Santal Royal lasted about 11.5 hours. In both cases, the opening bouquet projected roughly 4 inches at first, then seemed to bloom a few inches further. There was also a distinct scent trail that wafted about when I moved. From afar, and at the beginning, it was merely a sticky-sweet rose-oud bouquet, but it definitely lingered in the air about me. Later, and again from afar, the sillage trail wafted sharp woodiness and smokiness. Santal Royal became a skin scent on me after 7 hours with a large amount, and around 5.5 hours with a smaller dosage.

Luca Turin. Source:

Luca Turin. Source:

Santal Royal has received largely negative reviews from bloggers and critics, but has a more enthusiastic following amongst some Fragrantica commentators. Let’s start with the biggest perfume critic of them all: Luca Turin. In his online review for Style Arabia, Luca Turin gave Santal Royal a one-star rating which is accompanied by an “Avoid” definition. He wrote:

Guerlain’s unseemly haste in trying to pander to the Arab market is lately reaching levels that must make Jacques Guerlain spin in his grave. This unisex Santal Royal smells as if Thierry Wasser had mixed equal parts of Cool Water [Davidoff] and any one of the lamentable, so-called “ouds” that Western firms try to sell to Arabs who probably know better.

The result smells like musty apple strudel. The only reference to sandalwood that I can smell is a slug of one of the many molecules that chemists have been trying to pass off as the real thing while the Santalum trees of India grow back. The drydown is slightly better, with a pleasantly monochrome dusty effect. Eminently forgettable.

not sandalwood  [emphasis in the original and from him.]

Photo via The Smelly Vagabond and used in his review.

Photo via The Smelly Vagabond and used in his review.

It’s “not sandalwood,” but it’s also “Not Oud” for one blogger. (I agree.) The Smelly Vagabond is an ardent Guerlain lover, but he called Santal Royal “dross” and “dire,” writing in part:

why is it that you release dross such as Santal Royal? Just to make money? I get that it’s necessary, in order to keep the business afloat, but surely making money can run hand in hand with producing quality fragrances? […]

Santal Royal doesn’t have real sandalwood, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting any, but surely Guerlain could have done something better than the rubbish aromachemical that has been thrown around left, right and centre in pretty much every perfume that was designed for the Middle East (Santal Royal was exclusive to Dubai for some time).

But the “sandalwood” isn’t even the main player in this fragrance. Instead, we have a huge blast of what I’d like to call the Not Oud. What is the Not Oud? The Not Oud is the crap that fragrance companies try to pass off as oud, which comes nowhere close to the real stuff, and which is pretty ubiquitous at this point of time, in every perfume that has “oud” in its name. […] It’s douchey and it’s vile. What’s the point of creating something like that? You don’t make money by creating something that is derivative and that blends in with every other perfume on the market. [snip.]

For Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur, Santal Royal warranted a rare negative review:

Santal Royal is just something that misses the mark by a mile. The press release says Santal Royal will be a deep dark oriental of sandalwood and oud. It is supposed to be “shrouded in mystery”. Instead it is all too obvious in construction and pedestrian. It opens on a whisper of jasmine and neroli which strengthens into a solid note of rose paired with cinnamon. It leads to a very common leather accord which is matched up with the sandalwood and the oud. This felt so much like “perfume by numbers” as there is absolutely nothing here which is special. It is not terrible but it is just so lacking in any imagination that it is surprising. The other thing about this is it lasts much less that I expected on my skin only getting about 8 hours out of my morning application with modest sillage.



On Fragrantica, however, Santal Royal has received some glowing reviews, though I would describe the overall assessment as mixed. Still, for some, Santal Royal is a dark, sweet, sexy scent with leather, spices, and cooked fruits that eventually takes on an interesting dusty quality. One chap calls it a “A beautiful modern Oriental Guerlain Oud” with a commercial feel that he says “is a compliment here,” though he does admit that it is a linear scent. He also adds that something in the perfume “will leave you with a bit of a dry tickle in the throat (which is my only criticism of this scent).” Another positive review talks quite a bit about the dustiness of the scent, though “Q80” seems to have enjoyed it. He also experienced a creamy note which “gives the impression of wet black leather or latex sheets soaked in moisturizer cream mixed with tobacco ashes.”

"Cottage Garden Rose-Petal Syrup." Photo: BecR on

“Cottage Garden Rose-Petal Syrup.” Photo: BecR on

For others, however, Santal Royal is excessively sweet. So much so in fact that one person wrote “the sweetness… makes it smell a bit cheap.” There was a harsher take on things from “Sezyvex” who describes herself as a “Guerlain fan” who rushed to buy the scent at Harrods, only to experience such disappointment that she actually chastises Thierry Wasser for Guerlain’s latest, two releases. She writes, in large part:

I was greatly disappointed because usually Guerlain leaves an impression on my mind but this was just some kind of sickly sweet concoction filled with honey, mildew and rose-dipped water by which I mean the rose wasn’t extracted itself but it was put into a pot of water for weeks and then the water was used to create this sweet honey mixture which I would not categorise as a blend. [¶] Thierry Wasser seems to have a thing for perspiring honey and rose and L’Homme Ideal?!? What in the name of perfumery is that!?! [snip]



On Basenotes, early, pre-release excitement for Santal Royal and admiration for its bottle soon led to similarly mixed reviews, though they are sometimes more negative than what’s on Fragrantica.

Starting with a positive one first, “Journeyman Dave” writes:

Firstly: no sandalwood to be found, zilch. Disappointing at first, as this was the basis of my blind buy. [¶] Once I reset my mind on just smelling what the fragrance was offering I appreciated it much more. This one evolves quite a lot from beginning to end, and its an interesting ride. It initially goes on just a touch femme, as a rosey oud combination. It is a pretty good one though, reminding me of the smoothness of Ex-Idolo 33, not medicinal. Cinnamon is apparent throughout, spicing it up a tad and making it more masculine. It then evolves through a floral stage and then to leather, in that order, with each of those accords taking a bit of a turn in the spotlight.  [¶][…] it’s quite a nice wearing fragrance, I rate it a solid 8/10.

Others are more harshly critical. Take, for example, “Mr. Bon Vivant” who seems have had largely the same experience as I did, resulting in many of the same conclusions:

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

There is no discernible sandalwood, and the general feel of the fragrance is marked by a light, smokey, highly abrasive synthetic that seems to be standing in for leather these days. Santal Royal smells a good deal like Armani Prive Cuir Noir, and both smell fairly bad. They are copies of what is already found in spades in the local Arabian Gulf market, a transparent rose coupled with synthetic “oud” and “leather”. I’m sick of smelling this combo everywhere, and the only good thing about SR is that it plays the sillage lightly.

Please don’t spend money on this stuff. If you blind buy a spray from Arabian Oud or similar retailer, you will get something that will smell 95% the same and at a fraction of the cost. I had much higher hopes from Guerlain, either in better than average materials or in a novel twist. But no such luck this time around. [Emphasis to names added by me.]

Woody, by Arabian Oud, a basic rose-oud fragrance. Photo source: Amazon.

Woody, by Arabian Oud, a basic rose-oud fragrance with spices, synthetics, and clean musk. Photo source: Amazon.

Noggs,” a poster in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (a location which gives him ample exposure to true Middle Eastern fragrances), had similar thoughts:

The first (and strongest) thing that struck me was how much it smelled like some of the sprays from the Arabian houses. Arabian Oud and Junaid came immediately to mind as houses that offer very similar products.

I liked Santal Royal better than Mr. Bon Vivant, but probably not enough to buy it. It is interesting that we both noticed that same thing. [¶][…]

Santal Royal smells, well…generic, and presents itself in a rather prosaically balanced manner oddly similar to how I perceive many of the cheaper Arabian sprays. [Emphasis to names added by me.]

Both he and Mr. Bon Vivant are right, and it would be far cheaper to buy Arabian Oud‘s Woody, Misty Wood, or any one of a myriad, analogous, spicy rose-oud-woody-musk fragrances from a Middle Eastern brand than to spend $200 on the new Guerlain.

As should be quite clear by now, I did not like Santal Royal, though I think it’s better than L’Homme Ideal. While that’s not saying much given my opinion of the latter, at least Santal Royal is not as unbalanced in its notes as L’Homme Ideal, not as extreme, and is more finely tuned on most olfactory levels, though it is far more egregious in another regard (the industrial strength of its synthetics at times). At a higher dosage, there are even some vaguely appealing bits to Santal Royal, like the creaminess that appears in the base for a few hours, the impact of the cinnamon on the fruity rose, and the… well, that’s about it.



Santal Royal may be a (small) step up from the generic profile that plagued L’Homme Ideal, but I think it still reeks of Guerlain’s focus on commercialism and profitability above all else. I’ve gotten a lot of grief for my review of L’Homme Ideal and for my comments on the trend that I think it represents, but I stand by them and think Santal Royal is further evidence of the damage caused by LVMH‘s control over the company. Like L’Homme Ideal, it evinces the same limited focus on commercialism, hyped-up marketing, and market share, in lieu of a true interest in creating an authentically distinctive, high-quality, luxurious-smelling fragrance that stands out in a very over-saturated rose-oud field. Guerlain has become a master of beautiful bottles and endless flankers — and it is driving me insane. Just how many flankers (particularly for La Petit Robe Noire and Shalimar) can one company put out in a single year? Even the trashy L’Homme Ideal is getting a flanker now. (I can only shudder.)

On the Facebook page of the blogger and Guerlain expert, Monsieur Guerlain, a post from January 6th, 2015 says that the company puts out “twenty releases per year. Yes, twenty — that’s more than one every three weeks.” A good number of those seem to be flankers. Some are re-issues. Then, quite separately, there are all the special, limited-edition, super-expensive bottles that are occasionally embellished with jewels, and which Guerlain seems to put out every month or so. In short, it’s gloss and appearance over substance and smell — at a rate of “one every 3 weeks.” I find it appalling.



I don’t blame Thierry Wasser, but I absolutely blame LVMH. Guerlain has become the epitome of mediocrity under the giant multinational’s ownership. You know the sound of the slot machine section of a Las Vegas casino with the gushing of coins and the discordant cacophony in the air? That “ka-ching” is clearly the sound that LVMH hears when it says the name “Guerlain,” and a gushing slot machine is clearly how the subsidiary is being used. It’s cheap, it’s tawdry, and it’s truly sad. Strangely, if you will notice, the same situation is not happening at Dior, another cog in the LVMH machine. At least not to the same degree, since I don’t see Dior putting out a fragrance every 3 weeks and, relatively speaking, the general quality of their scents is better.

I apologise for the digression, but Guerlain’s trajectory is rapidly becoming a sore point with me. Getting back to the topic at hand, if you are really passionate about rose-oud fragrances with some spiciness, some leather, and extremely fruited sweetness, then give Santal Royal a sniff. Perhaps on your skin, it won’t be terribly harsh and synthetic, but don’t expect anything with the quality or smoothness of Guerlain’s Desert d’Orient Collection. And you should definitely not expect anything original or distinctive.

Cost & Availability: Santal Royal is an eau de parfum that comes in a 125 ml bottle that costs $200 or €145. In the U.S.: Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks have Santal Royal. The perfume is on Guerlain’s American website, but you can’t buy it from them, only put it on a wishlist. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, I don’t know if Guerlain’s Toronto boutique or The Bay will have the scent. I didn’t see it on the latter’s website. In the U.K., it might be exclusive to Harrod’s Salon de Parfums, but it’s not on the general Harrods website. In France, the perfume is obviously available at Guerlain stores and Guerlain France, but I didn’t see it on the French Sephora website. In Belgium, the Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie carries it in-store, but doesn’t offer it for purchase online. In the Middle East, the Paris Gallery has it for AED 717. If you’re travelling in Dubai, Dubai Duty-Free has it for order for AED 645. For all other countries, you can use Guerlain’s Store Locator on its website. SamplesSurrender to Chance has Santal Royal starting at $4.99 for a 1 ml vial.

37 thoughts on “Guerlain Santal Royal

  1. Just yesterday I was looking at the Bergdorf Goodman site for Roja Dove and came across Santal Royal. The bottle was pretty. If Mark Behnke gave a negative review, it must not be great. Seriously, go to Arabian Oud. I’m having luck for alot le$$.

    • LOL, I’m amused that you’re telling me to go to Arabian Oud. But yes, it is a cheaper option.

  2. Perfect review, and much kinder than I would ever be about either Santal OR L’homme Ideal. I put them on the same shelf as Black Opium, absolutely forgettable at their best, and often completely revolting. All three were scrubbers for me. Ugh. “Not-oud” pretty much sums it up, ’cause it sure as hell ‘aint sandalwood!

    • L’Homme Ideal….. *shudder* I firmly believe this one is (somewhat)(barely) better, though I’d merely rate it as a 2 or 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. The other Guerlain, though… Can one give negative numbers? Christ, I can’t believe they’re coming out with a flanker of it.

      • Ugh, I know. And today I just heard about (another) Shali flanker AND got to test the new Idylle flanker, Love Blossom. A pretty scent but totally devoid of any Guerlain DNA to my nose. Like Soufflé, it should really have been released as an AA, but there you are.

  3. This is just a huge hot mess. I was so excited to test it that I went straight for the skin and as soon as I spritzed, I regretted. It is so heavy and dense that it makes me tired just to get a whiff of it. How can they market this to the Middle East? I’ve smell stuffs from lower end brand like al haramain that smells much more natural and infinitely better. What a shame!!!

    • You’re right to wonder how they can market this to the Middle East. I’m sure they have smelt better scents there for much less, but I suppose Guerlain is selling its name at this point (and the pretty bottles) more than anything else. It really is a shame.

  4. I’m looking forward to my free sample of Black Opium 🙂

    Anyway, yes, it is a sad state of affairs with Guerlain and the the almighty $$$$s. I just hope they don’t mess around with the Exclusive Collection. I feel like I should immediately buy back-up bottles of Cuir Beluga and Spiritueuse Double Vanille, the two Guerlains I wear most often.

    Thank you for your review as you just saved me some precious skin time.

  5. “Just how many flankers (particularly for La Petit Robe Noire and Shalimar) can one company put out in a single year? Even the trashy L’Homme Ideal is getting a flanker now. (I can only shudder.)” 😀

    That statement is hilarious, but also sadly true.

    I have no plans to smell this scent, but I found your review fascinating, K – particularly in terms of the second half of it. So under LVMH, Guerlain is putting out a fragrance every three weeks … yikes! Considering how great Guerlain was, the very essence of French chic, it’s just so sad to hear this. Trying to cash in on a certain market, they’ve lost their identity – but I wonder if anyone will care besides those of us who are perfume obsessed. You’d think it would effect them negatively, but I suppose with their reputation and name, it won’t for a very long time.

    • The speed of their output, the largely generic nature, and the madness involving flankers really feels like Fast Food Perfumery to me. There is still enough luxurious quality in the high-end Exclusive Collection to prevent a comparison to McDonalds, but the rest of the line definitely feeds like fast food to me. Like you, I wonder how long all of this can go on without impacting their reputation and, like you, I think it won’t change for a while to come. But if they don’t stop, it definitely *will* change and LVMH will have killed their golden goose.

  6. I was going to say that you lost me when I saw the word “syrupy” , but that’s not strictly true. I haven’t tried any Guerlain perfumes in several years and don’t plan to anymore. I haven’t liked any and have had bad reactions to others. And I’m a person with no allergies. I am saddened because I also think that Gueralin WAS the greatest perfume house ever! I love many of their original fragrances and even those that I don’t love, I like very very much.

    Pretty perfume bottles are nice, but what matters to me is what’s inside. I agree with my daughter, who said, “It’s the perfume I’m interested in. I don’t care if it comes in a hollowed out potato.” 🙂

    • Heh, I like your daughter and her perspective. 🙂 I think there are a number of people who feel as you do, who truly love a good number of the originals and then really, really like the others. That legacy is the one thing that really keeps Guerlain going, imo, and keeps it as perhaps the most popular perfume house in the world. Coasting on their past greatness and on the appearance of pretty bottles….

  7. Thanks for the review. I hope you don’t give up on Guerlain. I have a simple fondness for Eau de Cologne Imperiale and Heritage EDT.

    Let’s hope Guerlain can come up with something with a little more adventure. Less brainy and more emotional. Even people like me might like it.

    • Hi Liam, welcome to the blog. I take it that Santal Royal was not a success on your skin either? 🙂

      • Lordy! Nonono! It was precisely a musty apple strudel. Firms like Amouage exist for a reason; the likes are the ones who do ‘Omani’ Middle East well and proud.

        It’s a tricky scenario for Guerlain, but I understand that they need money. In my opinion, going back to their roots and promoting products fittingly would be best. But… What do I know :P?!


        • A “musty apple strudel” — HA! 😀 I think I would have preferred that to what I encountered, Liam, because the drydown phase on my skin was… not pleasant.

          Speaking of Amouage, their latest (Sunshine) is not exactly a masterpiece, in my opinion, and part of the problem is that they seem to be trending towards more generic and (more importantly) a more Western style of perfumery instead of sticking to their roots. It’s a real shame because they’re losing what made them so special.

          • Chong and I had met up when he was promoting his Sunshine in Australia. Politely, I didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. It’s very pricy too. I think the Journey fragrances will be the last ‘great Amouages’… for a while at least.

          • Well, as you may have gathered from my Sunshine review last week, I have a slightly different view of Journey Woman. lol. But at least we agree on Sunshine. 😉 😀

    • Talking solely about LVMH-era creations, in the regular line, I’d definitely say L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme (LIDG & Eau Extreme LIDGE versions). For most people, probably L’Instant for women as well, even though I have rather a complicated hate/like/fascinated/repelled relationship with it.

      Amongst the Exclusive Collections, there are more choices but, generally, I find them all over-priced for what they are and/or lacking in creativity or originality. The Desert d’Orients trio, in particular, feel like well-worn replays on existing themes whether chypres or generally oud-incense-smoky rose combos, but they are all very well done in terms of smoothness and quality. Guerlain’s SDV has massive overlap with other fragrances too (like Ambre Narguilé or Tobacco Vanilla) in terms of its notes, but it too is luxurious, deep, smooth and rich. Cuir Beluga is one I love, though it doesn’t last long on me. In all those cases, the perfumes are over-priced for what they are, imo, particularly as they aren’t original at all but when there is clear quality and richness, then pricing becomes a personal valuation at that point.

      The rest of the LVMH-generated Guerlains that I’ve tried leave me shrugging at best, and I’m talking about the Exclusives or high-end ones here. Some of them like Chypre Fatal trigger enormously negative feelings. I’ll never understand the Un Parfum/Un Ville line and, apparently, neither did anyone else since Guerlain just discontinued all of them. And in terms of the new releases in the regular line, I think they’re pretty abysmal, especially in terms of quality. For some of the classics, Guerlain has cut costs on the quality of the ingredients (especially the bergamot) to such an extent that a few of them (especially in EDT form) are almost unbearable for me to wear.

  8. Pretty bottle, but it’s wholly unsurprising that Guerlain has released yet another generic fragrance. Really a shame how far the house has fallen, but I guess a lot of people still love the new things they are offering. Hmph.

    • A lot of people really do love everything new put out by Guerlain. Well, all the more joy to them. 😉

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  10. Santal Royal is one of the best parfum on the market. Who cares what Luca Turin “the star” says. Is he the God? Did he make any parfum or it is easier to write thousand critics. People do not be ships!

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  12. Hi all, I’m a fanatic of Guerlain….since l’Homme idéal, I received it for my birthday. Since then I bought nearly all the men bottles (Habit Rouge (EDP, EDT, L’eau, Dress code), Vetiver (EDT, Extreme), Heritage (EDT, EDP), Eau du Coq, Eau impériale, Homme Eau boisée, the 3 flankers Homme Ideal (the cologne only to play sports, its refreshing)…. ).

    And I just fell in love with Santal Royal…it has something for me.

    I never “trust” a review to know if I will like a perfume, I have to try it, again and again, for me a “connection” is needed.

    Just to say, do not always follow reviews, the feeling of a perfume has to be personnal and with your instinct, not rules.

    Depending of my mood, clothes, weather i change everyday of perfume.

    Next target Ambre Eternel…

    Have a good day 🙂

  13. Hello there, I just wandered onto your page and I am quite surprised to see Sezyvex being mentioned. It is a great honour indeed… Only Sezyvex is not a girl but a man! Yes the name sounds a bit crazy but I have heard of crazier! I’m finding your blog quite helpful when I want to know about something new because I have almost stopped blind buying after experiences such as Santal Royal! Keep up the great work 😀

  14. The original photo of Santal Royal with gold leafed background, credited to a Basenotes reader, is in fact mine; lifted from the Sorcery of Scent perfume blog. Many thanks.

    • Thank you for letting me know. I wasn’t aware, and I think it’s important to give the accurate credit. I have changed the caption to reflect that the photo is from you at Sorcery of Scent, and also listed the url to your site. I can also remove the photo entirely if you prefer. Let me know if that is what you wish. Otherwise, have a lovely Sunday and thank you again for letting me know.

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