Friday, March 17, 2017

Le Labo Santal 33


Le Labo Santal 33 is the Giorgio Beverly Hills of the 2010s in terms of its faceless ubiquity, exorbitant price, and California snob gaucherie, except that Giorgio Beverly Hills is actually good. Santal 33 is present in toiletry form in all the trendy boutique hotels. It is a staple of the millionaire fauxhemian celebrity class who masquerade as countercultural 1960s vagabonds. There are style pieces in the New York Times about it. Hipsters will claim that they wore it before everyone else did as though this gives them some kind of street cred. People who wear it will say that they didn't care for perfume or cologne before their senses were awakened by Santal 33, and they will coo over it like it is the first non-calone non-fruity-floral they have ever smelled,  which it probably is. 
In terms of its actual smell, it is a synthetic Xeroxed sandalwood-fig idea. The original Marc Jacobs for men smells similar, and is stronger, and cheaper. There's nothing really wrong with Santal 33, and it's positive that average Americans, the type that normally have a puritanical class-based fear of fragrance, get excited about a smell and feel emboldened enough to wear it in 2017. Why, though, does it have to be this one? Every time I hear someone express excitement about Santal 33 I want to take them on a personal tour of perfume history and show them all the weird, bold masterpieces that people used to wear and which used to be commonplace until the 1990s.
Santal 33's immense popularity can be traced to its au courant absence of gender and sex appeal, in a decade defined by identity politics gone mad and the proliferation of deceitful pseudo-religious gender theory. It doesn't seem intended for men or women, but for genderless pastel-haired consumers with customizable Mr. Potato Head body modifications, vaguely Bohemian self-images, and $300 to burn. Its smoky-woodsy theme appeals to hipster women who think of themselves as above wearing anything overtly girly, yet it does not have any kind of conventionally masculine hairy-chest fougere signifiers that will give Tumblr Millennials unpleasant reminders of grandfathers or patriarchy. It is ideal for male feminist industry bots attending SXSW conferences on "diversity in tech."