I’ve recently renewed my interest in fragrance. Not that I wasn’t before. I’ve always appreciated my Diptyque, Byredo and Frederic Malle scents. It’s just that I’ve recently been reminded of the sheer charm of an alluring scent – in the form of a couple of individuals with a rather clear lack thereof. That, coupled with a newfound freedom and independence over household duties (I moved halfway across the world into our colonisers’ country – party!) came a period of stressing over what my new life should smell like.
I had many contenders. Diptyque’s Feu de Bois: an old reliable, but if I’m starting a new life 10,000km away I bloody well deserve a new fragrance too); Byredo’s Woods: very nice, but I’m not spending another £54 on a candle to sniff an essentially polite version of what I suffered during my time in the military; and Tom Ford’s Oud Wood: but is it even cool to own Tom Ford fragrances anymore? I wasn’t going to risk it. I even bought a Patchouli and Sandalwood candle from Muji to tide me over while I deliberated – the horror!
Then I found it. I’m not sure when I first smelled it, but I’m quite sure a vile stranger taunted me on the Tube for not remembering it sooner. Of course, it was Le Labo’s Santal 33. Call me 5 years late to the party (yes, I’ll admit that), basic (I guess…), a bad fashion/beauty/luxury writer (fuck you) – I wanted it now more than ever before. And I was going to have it, no matter the cost.
No matter the cost, unless it’s £180 for a 100ml bottle of parfum. I had to find another way to smell like a million dollars without costing a million actual pounds. Or so it felt. And, of course, thanks to the capitalist gods that be, Le Labo has made a compelling alternative that might be the answer to my pseudo-luxe-on-a-budget dilemma: the Santal 33 laundry detergent.
It made perfect sense (or scents, or cents, haha). Why pay that much for the eau de parfum when you could spend a little over a quarter of the cost to have your whole damn wardrobe smell the same? The detergent (£42 for 500ml, or about SGD83), created with The Laundress, comes in both Santal 33 and Rose 31 scents, and concentrated to provide 32 washes per 500ml bottle. In Le Labo’s words, this is “la crème de la crème of all-purpose detergent formula[s]”, so why shouldn’t it go with my equally crème de la crème wardrobe of marked-down designer and Uniqlo collaboration garments? I was sold.
While the price might seem ridiculous for a bottle of detergent, I choose to look at the cup half full. If you think about it (but not too much), I’m really only paying a quarter of the price of the perfume to smell like it for a good couple of months or more – depending on how little you care about personal hygiene. That’s damn good value in my book. Personal experience tells me that I usually get bored of a scent in the same time, which is how long the bottle will last. What better time to switch to another equally luxurious detergent? Maybe Rose 31? Heck, even a reviewer on Amazon admitted that it’s “way too expensive, but a luxury we indulge in anyway.” I’m inclined to agree.
In Defense Of… is a series dedicated to making a case for the absurdly overpriced.