Just in case you haven't noticed, the phrases "conscious consumerism" and "sustainable luxury" have been appearing with increasing frequency over the past year or two. And now we have Sana Jardin, "the world’s first socially-conscious, luxury fragrance house. . . . created primarily as a vehicle for social change to power social impact through the economic empowerment of women through The Beyond Sustainability™ Movement."
If you'd like to do some reading about Sana Jardin's back story and business model, you can find plenty of information on the company website. I'll limit myself to brief reviews of three Sana Jardin fragrances (from a collection of seven, all developed by perfumer Carlos Benaïm) that I've been trying over the past week or so, and you can decide for yourself what socially conscious fragrance might be and how far you're willing to go for it.
To begin: Revolution de la Fleur is a tropical floral fragrance meant to evoke "an exotic beauty at home on the beaches of Bali, Tulum, Mustique, reclining in the last rays of golden sun, feet in the sand, a flower tucked elegantly behind her ear," with notes of ylang ylang, jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood. It's heavy on buttery frangipani, with some custardy (yet sharp) ylang ylang in the background and a warm vanillic dry down. Revolution de la Fleur may not smell "revolutionary" — the name seems to allude to the company's practices, not the scent itself — but it's a long-lasting, sunny-and-sweet perfume that feels like it should be worn at some very expensive eco-tourism resort.
For something a lighter and sheerer, you could try Berber Blonde, a "glittering" and "shimmering" orange blossom fragrance with additional notes of neroli and musk. (Sana Jardin founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, a "social worker turned fragrance entrepreneur," has said that the name was inspired by her two young sons.) It's a radiant take on Moroccan orange blossom that dries down from the citrusy floral to a fresh "skin scent" musk. Again, it's not breaking any new olfactory ground, but I don't think that was its intent. It's well-made and very wearable, and like all good orange blossom perfumes, it smells chic and cheerful.
My favorite of the three Sana Jardins I've tried so far is Tiger By Her Side, "inspired by myths of ancient Egypt’s High Priestesses, whose perfume-adorned powers enabled them [to] walk with the tiger by their side and connect to their true power and unleash their innate wildness." Well, tigers didn't actually play any part in ancient Egyptian culture (although leopards did), since they're not native to that part of the world, but it's a great name if you ignore the description. Tiger By Her Side is a "seductive" and "mysterious" floriental composition with notes of amber, rose, patchouli and incense. I love its jammy rose note surrounded by thorny hints of spice and resins, not to mention the woody vanilla in the long-lasting base. Like Revolution de la Fleur and Berber Blonde, Tiger is well-constructed and feels classical yet contemporary.
I flirted with the idea of purchasing Tiger By Her Side for myself until I saw the price. If a smaller bottle were available, I might still consider it, but for now, I'm holding off. These scents are priced like "exclusive" designer collections, despite (or perhaps because of) their socially aware philosophy. As you probably already know, you can find some lovely frangipani and orange blossom fragrances, or even a high-quality spiced-rose oriental, for less money.
How do you feel about all this? What's your idea of ethical luxury, sustainable consumerism, or whatever you'd personally call it? Are factors like recyclable packaging and fair labor (and their effect on pricing) on your mind when you purchase perfume? I don't have a definitive answer, myself; I'm just curious to know your thoughts.
Sana Jardin Revolution de la Fleur, Berber Blonde and Tiger by Her Side are available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($225). A discovery set with seven 2 ml samples is $30. For purchasing information, visit the Sana Jardin website.