Perfume Review: Peau Santal & Powdered Veil by Miller Harris


Miller Harris has had a very busy year – they’ve launched two capsule collections of fragrances: Scherzo x Tender and Forage (Lost, Wander & Hidden), and to complete the hat trick, they now presents their third collection of fragrances this year: Peau Santal and Powdered Veil. Housed in bottles coated in intriguing shades of pink (baby pink for Powdered Veil and a more ‘nude’ (not a word I like to use because it only represents one type of skin colour, but other descriptors escape me, ‘blush’ maybe?) shade for Peau Santal), these two fragrances celebrate the intimacy and the ritual of glamming up – the lace of dresses, the powder of make-up, and the wood of dressing tables, and wardrobes. They are fragrances with distinct textures, of powder and skin, that arrive perfectly in time for winter. Let’s check them out.

I remember as a child searching through heavy wooden wardrobes to find diaphanous gowns trimmed with lace, or sitting at the dressing table, surrounded by the paraphernalia of make-up. The scents mingling to define the instant; wood and powder, lace and lipstick. We’ve all had that moment, at the dressing table.

– Sarah Rotheram, Miller Harris CEO


Peau Santal

The Notes

Top: Bergamot, Pink Pepper and Saffron
Heart: Olibanum, Violet Leaf and Papyrus
Base: Sandalwood, Cashmere Woods, Crisp Amber, Vanilla CO2 Extract and Moss

How Does it Smell?

Sandalwoods are the in thing at the moment and the fresh, transparent sandalwood is even more in (see dunhill London Century), with many interpretations of sandalwood moving away from the warm, creamy facets of the material to something fresher, milkier, and more contemporary. Peau Santal most certainly sits on the more translucent end of the spectrum, feeling like a breeze of sandalwood presented with coolness and freshness.

Peau Santal opens up clean and airy with a refreshing, almost juicy bergamot-quality that is unusual for a wood fragrance. Quickly the heart of sandalwood makes itself known, but this is far from the exotic, ancient sandalwoods of the past, this is in fact a crystalline sandal extended with the fresh, aquatic quality of violet leaf. It smells large and enveloping, with a cool smoky quality that is evocative of grey leather. As it dries down, things become less about the creamy, fresh, nutty accents of sandalwood and more about the softness of cashmere woods and transparent vanilla. It smells luxurious.

Peau Santal is a very easy sandalwood to wear and I have been wearing it a lot since it popped through my letterbox. It feels fuller and richer than other neo-sandalwoods (again see Century) but it still celebrates the translucency of this style, choosing to celebrate the cooler, fresher nuances of a material that one so often associates with warmth and richness. I like it very much.


Powdered Veil

The Notes

Top: Pink Pepper, Rhubarb Touch and Geranium
Heart: Transparent Florals, Hedione and Orchid
Base: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, Labdanum, Vanilla Bourbon, Musk, Cashmeran

How Does it Smell?

First things first, can we talk about how beautifully evocative the name ‘Powdered Veil‘ is? It makes one think of a shower of powder – a deluge of fine dust that lands on the skin in delicate, silky drops, coating the body in a gauzy mist of beauty. What it leads one to imagine is a fragrance of transparency and that’s exactly what this is – a clear take on the usually dense note of amber seen through a veil of flowers.

Like Peau Santal, Powdered Veil starts out bright and breezy with a clash of pepper and fruit. This sits atop the slowly burning embers of amber, into which sweet purple petals are thrown for energy. It is a very soft amber – one that clings intimately to the skin, creating a sense of closeness. It’s also quite sweet, but not overly so, thanks to a richness of spice in the base that draws parallels to the phenomenal Nu by YSL.

Amber notes usually get on my nerves after a while – they’re too same-y, but Powdered Veil somehow brings a beautifully luminous nuance to this style, one that isn’t overtly cosy or warming. It’s actually an amber that I like, which is no mean feat – an amber that is as delicate as its name and as soft as the baby pink colour of its bottle. I feel it may be a staple this autumn/winter.


Peau Santal and Powdered Veil are available in 50ml (£75) and 100ml (£105) Eau de Parfum.


Samples, notes and quotes via Miller Harris. Images are my own.