Santal 33's omnipresence as the signature scent of both waifish fashion buyers and bored office workers alike is an impressive feat. But as a result of this complete and inescapable ubiquity, the perfume has devolved into the "pumpkin spice latte of fragrances," as one Redditor so aptly put it.
— Read more at Le Labo Santal 33: The Scent That Went From Ruggedly Cool to Utterly Basic at Fashionista.
I can’t help thinking the writer at Fashionista must be too young to remember CK1 (or Eternity, for that matter).
But I think she is also making a point about the luxury aspect….Santal 33 was supposed to be the opposite of something like CK One, which even in its time was a relatively affordable way to buy into the aspirational Calvin Klein lifestyle.
Le Labo supposedly sells exclusivity — a luxury product with a veneer of “hand made” / “artisan”.
When I bought my Patchouli 24 in London several years ago I could barely control my giggles when the “artisan” aka the SA donned his lab coat to make up My Own Bottle. Oh, and re the S-33 being the “pumpkin spice latte of fragrances” – burn!
Well, the irony of modern times is that for luxe to be profitable it has to be something of a Ck One, it has to be aspirational to move enough users to buy it and gain scale. If you don’t do that for the more that your concept is pretty, edge and unique with the current competition you’ll be swallowed in a timeframe of 5 years or less.
Why do you think that prices of new fragrances keep rising? Because lately it’s one of the way you can keep the exclusivity even of something more ubique. You have to sell the exclusive experience and price is a key point on that.
LOL! Or for those of us who will now wear their age on their sleeve:
Opium and White Diamonds
The business elevators used to REEK of both of these.
When I was a kid tagging along with my sister I remember that the train cars in NYC ALWAYS had that as a trailing scent behind so many ladies!
I have never smelled this!
And now why bother
I read a few articles over the past year or two about this scent being so ubiquitous in New York that I was curious to try it. I did. I can’t even recall now what it was like, I was so underwhelmed.
Having worked for high street brands, trendy internet fashion companies like ASOS and high end brands I’ve honestly never smelled this in the wild so not sure where the writer is hanging out. ‘Waifish fashion buyers ‘ are also in extremely short supply in real life – I think the writer has been watching ‘the devil wears prada’ too often.
As a gent the only ubiquitous scents I get battered with all the time are Bleu de Chanel and Terre D’Hermes
I agree. I’ve never smelled Santal 33 in the wild, not that I work in those industries but I move amongst perfume-wearing people who could certainly afford it. I’m in Australia however, and the brand has not had the same penetration here. All of this is to say that the ubiquity of the product can be assumed for all places and times.
I never smell it in my small town. I do smell it when I’m in the city (usually Wash DC & suburbs). I am guessing the places where it is truly ubiquitous are NYC and LA.
I get battered with Curve for men here, and AdG, lol… the men here stick to whats worked✌?
If I like it, I wear it. If 100,000,000 other people like it too, I’m OK with it! Kudos to Le Labo for creating their own No 5!
And not only their own #5, BUT it’s higher priced than a bottle of Chanel #5!
That’s what I love about real perfume people: we wear what we like without regard for price, pedigree, or societal approbation!
?well said ?
Well, this is how a bestseller perfume works. It is launched, people love it, it sets trends and if it has a strong identity it will continue to sell despite of that. Or people will get bored, move to another one and only the loyal users will keep it. The popular niche brands will eventually merge with the mainstream market, there is no escape from that. It is a matter of time.
What really surprises me is how one of the weakest le labos got such a cult status. It’s a boring dry woody fragrance that for me misrepresent what sandalwood is. Maybe because it’s boring and unchalleging it got this cult status, go figure…
I think you might be on to something: the cachet of a niche offering, without anything too hard to wear or odd in it?
I just found there was something naïve (and maybe a little forced) in the writer’s horror at the idea of something trendy quickly passing out of favour. Having never smelled Santal 33, its supposed “basic” (now there’s a word I wish would pass out of ubiquity) quality doesn’t touch me one way or the other. Bleu de Chanel, on the other hand? What do so many, many people see in THAT?
Well, Bleu is still classy even tough boring, what about Sauvage? People love that thing!
Well, now I’m sad.
Oh, and here’s a noob (possibly dumb) question: Not only have I never smelled Santal 33, I’ve never heard its name pronounced. Does one pronounce the numbers in each according to French rules (the words attached to the fragrances appear mostly to be French) or in the English way? Santal Thirty-Three or Santal Trente-Trois? Colette Vingt-Cinq? Bergamote Vingt-Deux?
Sorry, beats me. I say Santal Thirty-Three.
Clearly I’m over-thinking things a bit, here
The only Le Labo product I have ever sniffed is Rose 31 body products, at a Fairmont Hotel. Did not like, and haven’t been motivated to try any others – less so now!
So, I went back to re-read this, and decided that the writers heart was obviously broken by someone who wore Santal 33. ?