I think this Hermessence flew under most people's radar. I've had a sample for a while, but never got a few full wearings out of it, until recently.
In a nutshell, this is Tam Dao meets Philosykos. It's crazy how it's almost a perfect blend of the two. The fig opening is ripe and green, sweet, but only naturally. Quickly, one of the best sandalwood notes that I've smelled in a long time, comes forward, and within 10 minutes, sandalwood dominates. With fig, and coconut lingering in the background. When the notes blend together, it smells a bit like iris too.
After about 20 minutes, the notes sort of intertwined, and become more an accord than anything. Like most from the Hermessence line, you can expect that to happen. A simple linear smell. There is however a slightly sour smell going on, it's not a big deal, but I do notice it for a while. I can't tell what note it is, or what combination causing this.
Although this a definite thumbs up for me, it's not something I would wanna buy, because I could get my sandalwood and fig fixes elsewhere without having to spend over $300 for a bottle.
I think I underrated this line way more than it deserved, except for Cuir d’Ange which stroke me since the very first sniff as the utter overwhelming masterpiece it is. Both Vetiver Tonka and Ambre Narguilé quite grew on me slowly over time, and lately Santal Massoia has done it too – even more slowly. It seemed to me a weak sandalwoody ”thingy” at first, while now I quite changed my mind about it (luckily I hesitated to review it right away back then). I mean, I liked it already, but it just seemed a bit too tame at first. On the contrary, it’s a fantastic, perfectly compelling and fulfilling scent: and as many fantastic scents, it just requires a bit more attention than usual to get its value at its fullest. Composition-wise it bears Ellena’s best features, which this Hermessence line surely and deservedly glorified: transparency, weightlessness, and yet a substantial, consistent, rich presence and persistence – just a different, “airy” concept of richness. If you want to understand the difference between “light” and “weightless”, then a couple of these Hermessence scents are quite a magnificent example of that.
Since the very first minutes, Santal Massoia goes back to Gucci Rush for Men’s territory: clean, modern, transparent, onirically creamy sandalwood-cedar notes, here paired with a subtle, marvelously comforting sort of milky-fruity note (the “fig” nuance). Take Gucci Rush for Men, for once not raping it like any other depressing ripoff of it did in the past years (from Azzaro Chrome to Pal Zileri Sartoriale), mix it with Carbone de Balmain’s concept of a “fig-infused woody accord”, give it a luxury, extremely quality substance and elegance as in the very few best sandalwood scents of all times, tweak the volume know down to left a bit, spray it on an angel’s wing, distill it, there’s Santal Massoia. By the way, the “angelic” component – I wasn’t kidding about that – will emerge even more clearly on the late drydown, a fantastic, ephemeral sort of watercolour touch of bright, vibrant yet extremely delicate floral nuances with a light woody undertone, oddly even more fresher than the early stages.
A superb piece of classy understatement, nowhere and anywhere on your skin, one of those subtle scents which seem always about to vanish and yet you smell around them for hours, and hours. Just pure white brilliance with a sophisticated, somehow opalescent and dreamy texture as in some old Polaroids of a trip to Middle East. It’s very simple actually, a delicate (and amazingly high-quality) creamy sandalwood, and yet Ellena’s ability makes it smell just like heaven. A dreamlike reflection of heaven, actually, given its smooth, glassy, see-through substance. Just give it a shot. Amazing and completely unique.
Milk & Woods...
Santal Massoïa is a milky, fig-like interpretation of creamy sandalwood. It is a sweet, very playful scent which blends with the skin beautifully giving a translucent, "beige" like impression of warm, musky skin.
I find that Jean Claud-Ellena's description of "milky woods" sums this up pretty well. Sandalwood itself is known for it's milky, creamy quality (notes of real Milk are also featured in the composition) and the note of Massoïa adds another special quality... a cinnamon-like vibe juxtaposed with real Coconut notes. The Fig note here is both green, and slightly mineral-like in the top (Ellena's trademark use of Iso-E-Super), but dried fruit-like and resinous in the background too.
A pretty enjoyable fragrance, I find it very nice and approachable. Be warned though, it is a skin scent throughout. It stays very close and blends with warm skin, staying there until the drydown.
I can’t say I was looking forward to the Hermèssence foray into sandalwood with any degree of enthusiasm. The wan, anemic style Jean-Claude Elléna has adopted for this line doesn’t appeal to me to begin with, and sandalwood, whether Mysore or Australian, is an assertive note. Nonetheless, I was curious as to how an unconventionally trim and transparent sandalwood fragrance might smell. Not much like sandalwood, it turns out.
Santal Massoïa opens on a sour, rather chemical-smelling green fig note, which persists for much of the development. This “fig” is actually abrasive enough to make me sneeze if I inhale it with any vigor. Such woods as there are in Santal Massoïa take their time emerging. What eventually makes its way past the sour fig is a very pale, dry wood and coconut accord that smells more like cedar than sandalwood. I wouldn’t recognize massoia wood if it bit me in the backside, but if this is it, I’m not impressed. Santal Massoïa’s late stages are pretty much dried coconut and sawdust, which seems insufficient to me at roughly $75 US per ounce.
Fleshless as they are, the best of the Hermèssence scents (Osmanthe Yunnan, Ambre Narguilé,) still have a certain spare elegance about them. This one just smells like a miscalculation. I’ll take Santal Majuscule or Santal Noble any day.
Humid, yes, delicately humid at the beginning, than languid, barely peppery, minimally creamy and supremely woody with a perfumed wet woods aroma (a la Dsquared2) and a sort of barely (almost oily) floral final spark which conjures me remotely Fahrenheit Dior (ideally replacing the violet with smooth iris and the gasoline with a minimal resinous coconutty touch soothing the woods). The mild (because of a delicate almondy soap) sandalwood aroma is dominant, the milky vibe is produced by soft iris combined with an almondy/coconutty sort of foam which provides a touch of oiliness (a density anyway deprived of the typical milky coconutty aroma) which affords a minimal touch of creaminess to the floral woodiness (like a vague sort of resin producing a faint oleous undertone lingering around). A faint and fresh figgy feel lifts finally its discreet aroma in the air as surrounded by a typical cool (slightly peppery) vetiver/sandalwood accord (as for an ideal combination between Philosykos, 7 De Loewe and Bvlgari Man). A pleasant ethereal potion, masculine, classic and intimate.
04th February, 2014 (last edited: 06th February, 2014)