New Perfume Review The 7 Virtues Santal Vanille- Way Ahead of the Curve

Trends come and go but I always look to who was there before it became one. When it comes to the whole “clean” and sustainable fragrance concept, one of the first was The 7 Virtues. Owned by Barb Stegemann whom I met in 2013. She laid out the principles back then which these movements have embraced in the last couple of years. What has become interesting to me is her style of perfume making has also evolved over the same time period. The first releases were simple soliflores highlighting the sustainable source of the keynote. I kind of lost touch with the brand but by the time I looked again in 2018 there had been a change. The perfumes were no longer simple while still featuring a sustainable ingredient. The latest, The 7 Virtues Santal Vanille carries on in this way.

Barb Stegemann

Ms. Stegemann has worked with only two perfumers Julie Pluchet and Angela Stavrevska. I presume one of them is behind this. When I tuned back in two years ago the one, I tried was called Vanilla Woods by Ms. Stavrevska. It was a gourmandy vanilla where the promised woods didn’t really show up. Santal Vanille seems like a reversal of words as Sandalwood Vanilla feels like it is the B-Side to that earlier release. The difference is in this case both ingredients show up.

In the early going the sandalwood takes the lead. This is from sustainable plantations in Sri Lanka. I enjoy this variety of sandalwood for a dryness that comes with it. It generally needs something to figuratively re-hydrate it. Here the ingredient that does that is myrrh. The resin flows into the spaces of this sandalwood adding depth and texture. Now the vanilla comes forward. This is less foodie in effect and more about the sweetness of it. It coaxes out the inherent creaminess of the sandalwood and amplifies it. This becomes an enjoyable abstract of sandalwood until one final ingredient sneaks in over the later stages. The first day I wore this I found myself noticing a change from sweet wood to something like suntan lotion. It is because the listed ingredient of coconut stealthily inserts itself. It makes the late stages kind of beach-like because of it. If you’re not a fan of coconut it is very subtle. This doesn’t even come close to becoming a gourmand.

Santal Vanille has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

When you’re ahead of the curve it allows for you to be more innovative when everyone else has caught up. Ms. Stegemann has done this admirably as Santal Vanille proves.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

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