It wasn’t until I first rolled streaks of Hi Wildflower’s Sándalo perfume oil up and down my inner arms, at the curve where my upper jaw meets my neck, and in a long straight line down from the spot in between my collarbones to several inches below, that I realized I now knew what I had always been meant to smell like: smoke and salt, air and embers. Like I’ve just emerged from the ocean after running in to put out the fire on me, in me, of me. Despite the smoke and salt, or maybe because of it, Sándalo is a clean scent, vaguely powdery; it’s the smell of destruction but also rebirth, of new beginnings.
It’s also the newest scent in Hi Wildflower’s perfume collection, and as I sat with company founder, Tanwi Nandini Islam, trying on the different scents and admiring the array of jewel-toned, super-saturated lipsticks and nail polishes she’d arranged in front of me, she explained to me the scent’s origin:
I wanted to kind of bring alive the royal Hawaiian sandalwood groves that grow on the Big Island, which is rapidly forming itself because the volcanoes are spitting out magma into the ocean, and that’s hardening and cooling into an island. I wanted to evoke that oceanic sandalwood. I want to feel like there’s sandalwood and wind and ash in your hair. Hawaii is such a far-flung place that has such a colonial relationship to the mainland, and the nature there is brimming with complete otherworldliness.