Monday, 12 September 2016

Keiko Mecheri - Bois de Santal, the sogginess saviour

As a concept, ‘dry’ is currently highly desirable to me.

Usually, the word dry implies an absence, an emptiness, perhaps a lackluster landscape. But right now, dry means the opposite of damp. And for that reason, it’s a beautiful word.

My new (ancient) cottage is distinctly soggy. Nestling amongst woods at the bottom of a steep scar, it seems to suck the moisture from the land. The cellar is a spooksome little hole, with steps that descend to a mouldy stone room. 5 minutes in the cellar and my hair has absorbed the moisture and achieved the wild manifestation of life before styling products. Not that I’m really complaining. I’ve swopped my trendy city flat for a historic Victorian home and the new walls (despite their often moist tendencies) feel to be enveloping me in cosiness. I sleep well here. And so does Joseph after his errant nocturnal adventures with the neighbourhood cats.

Recently, a friend posted me a decant of a well timed scent, Keiko Mecheri’s Bois de Santal. After a bleak and rain sodden drive over Holme Moor, I made myself a cup of tea and sat down to test the contents of the little package. It soaked up my waterlogged mood.
Bois de Santal is the fragrant equivalent of those little silica bags that you get inside packaging, it’s dryer than an own brand Cream Cracker. Sandalwood rich scents always radiate warmth but somehow Bois de Santal manages to bypass warmth to the point of becoming parched. 

An anorak walk over over Holme Moor

I’ve smelt the perfumer’s synthetic creation of ‘hot sand’ several times, perhaps my favourite interpretation being in Estee Lauder’s summertime rerelease – Bronze Goddess. However, Mecheri’s perfumer has out-beached even Bronze Goddess by adding a bossily dominant ambergris note to transport the salt to this sun bleached olfactory location.

As I sniff my sandalwood infused arm I don’t really smell ‘perfume’. I smell youthful summer skin. As a child I would holiday in North Wales. Usually in a shabby rented caravan. Being a kid, I’d race into the sea, ignorant to the icy temperature and dustbin sized jellyfish that would wash up on the shoreline. I’d spend hours hunting rock pools for soon to be captive crabs and random beach detritus. Back at the caravan, baths were out of the question. I imagine that I probably got away with not washing at all. I remember smelling my arms and marvelling at the way they retained the scent of the sea, I even licked them to taste the salt.

Llanbedrog Beach - site of my salty arms

I imagine that the brief for Bois de Santal was to create an exotic oriental, to conjure a sun scorched picture of India and the 1960s hippie trail. That it certainly does. But for me, the fragrance creates a significantly more valuable olfactory image – autumnal armour. Although Bois De Santal won’t win any awards for innovation, it will certainly keep me dry as the humidity begins to rot the annual leaf suicides.  

Joseph enjoys lurking on my Victorian wall