Santa Maria Novella – Peau D’Espagne & Potpourri

Santa Maria Novella is a line I never really considered exploring until helped out with goodies from a generous Basenoter. I kind of like the idea of fragrances created over one hundred years ago… I mean, how amazing is that?! I’m sure the formulations aren’t quite identical, but still.
So I have a few samples from the line, expecting traditional colognes and fragrant waters – I was pretty shocked when I first sniffed these!

They say Lonestar Memories has the strongest barbecue leather opening? WRONG! Peau D’Espagne is a nose-searingly strong leather – rough, rugged, intensely smoky and loaded with herbal notes and a cool eucalyptus. It’s a screaming leather tannery upon opening, and in honestly, overwhelming – the almost beef-jerky style smoked meat leather is persistent for a good five to ten minutes, before the herbal notes rise upwards and surprisingly smooth out the composition.

Similarly also to the Tauer, an amber becomes present very quickly, adding a sweet powdery element that becomes more and more prominent as the leather becomes more suede like. The transition is quick shocking actually – the direction Peau D’Espagne takes is completely unexpected. The harsh masculinity of the opening gives way to a feminine amber and vanilla, a scattering of powder and a rose note maybe? It reminds me of the concept of Vierges et Toreros by Etat Libre D’Orange – where the opening of sweet white florals turns into a pungent leather – only here it is in reverse.

The eucalyptus slowly evaporates, taking it’s menthol facet along with it. A slightly camphorous stain is delicately present start to finish, and in the end adds an unusual medicated accord that entwines really nicely with the sweet and powdery base. I enjoy this the longer it is on the skin, and whilst I can’t give up my love for the slightly tamer (and gorgeous start to finish) Lonestar Memories – this is clearly a standout fragrance in the leather genre and I can’t believe I haven’t smelt it before – brilliant! :)

Potpourri opens up close extremely herbal with what feels like a musty rose. Bizarrely, at a distance from the very first spritz, I get a gorgeously plush animalic musk – up close, the spice basket is let loose. I get a hot mixture of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, a spicy ginger, black pepper – whether these are all in here or not I don’t know, but the impression is there at least. Similarly to Peau D’Espagne, there is also a cooler side – a eucalyptus yet again, giving a mentholated clean side to what could otherwise be far too stuffy and dusty.

Along with this herbal hot/cold contrast, there is a green grassy note in Potpourri. This comes forward pretty strong after about ten minutes, where a cool, fresh mint note and dried cookery herbs become the leading accords – I get sage, maybe even rosemary? I think also there is a thyme note, similar to that in Dirty by Lush. At this point, the heated spices calm down considerably, as with Peau D’Espagne, the eucalyptus leaves early on – what is left is this green herbal accord that is perfectly balanced and much more comfortable.

All aspects of the mystery animalic musk disappears, along with the imaginary rose. The potent clove note evaporates and the spicy, resinous fragrance becomes something tame, harmonious, and heartwarmingly familiar – the scent of actually pot pourri? Yes I guess it is, along with a warm, welcoming medley of kitchen herbs, completely de-sweetened and dry. I actually adore the dry down of this, it goes from being loud and complicated to simply lovely, and whilst it is unlike anything I would normally choose to wear – I could easily imagine myself with a bottle of this. It may be an old piece of work, but it smells timeless and very charming!
I will definitely be exploring more of this classic line.

Santa Maria Novella – Peau D’Espange & Potpourri EDC - I’m not sure on prices…

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16 thoughts on “Santa Maria Novella – Peau D’Espagne & Potpourri

  1. F – Thanks for testing these. I have bypassed this line as well thinking that they might be too old school and boring. Peau D’Espange sounds really interesting. I’m not a big fan of leathers, but the fact that it rounds out to a softer scent intrigues me. More to add to the liast to try!!!

    • No problemo – I have one or two more from the line – more traditional colognes I think. But yes, Peau D’Espange dries down soapy even, it’s very clean. But if you do sample, beware, the opening is terrifying even for me :|

      • Now I have to go back to Patrick’s the store by my house. They carry this as well, but I have ignored the line. I think they only come in 100mls though which in most case is too much. Geez, I didn’t think anything scared that nose of yours!

      • Lol! Very few things scare my nose – Peau D’Espagne, Saddle Warmer and Seven Veils scared my nose, my stomach, and permanantly burnt my soul…
        But yes, head down to ole paddy’s and spend you some money!!
        100ml is too much isn’t it :( Especially of this juice, it wouldn’t be a regular wear cologne at all.

  2. I love it! Everything old is new again :-)

    It’s one of their most popular ones, but I just adore it: Melograno.

    Glad to hear you are enjoying SMN!

    • Yeh I’ve heard it’s their most popular, I’ll be sure to get my hands on it soon :D
      Yep I’m quite excited about exploring this line a little more.
      Thanks for readinnngg :)

      • Reading has been great :-)

        Melograno is pretty surprising. I don’t think the name suits it, but maybe there is some historical reason for it . . .

      • I love the history behind these – and how old the compositions smell but would be completely original if released today :D

      • I agree! It just makes me think about how tastes change. I think that back when these fragrances were new, people were much more open to wearing challenging fragrances.

        Now, it seems like everyone wants to smell the same. Like a fruity patchouli bomb. So sad!

      • Yep! These must have been quite standard back then!
        Thankfully in our generation we have tons of variety, but of course people generally opt for safer choices – luckily there are some great perfume houses out there doing wonderful works of fragrant art – from synthetic bombs like Stephen Jones by Comme Des Garcons, to works of classic natural beauty like Secret Garden by Aftelier :)
        It’s just great that fragrances like the SMN’s are still available and in great shape!!

      • Very true :-) I love the bottles too. So nice!

  3. Undina says:

    I don’t like those bottles. I know that bottles have no bearing on a perfume they contain but for me sometimes it’s enough not to test them – after all, with all perfumes available why should I fight against my esthetic prejudices?

  4. laniersmith says:

    Isn’t it fun exploring old classics? An adventure even. Thanks for the wonderful posts. Oh and I rather like these bottles…like something you would find on the elegant dresser of Burt Lancaster as the Sicilian Prince Don Fabrizio Salina in “The Leopard” by Visconti. They have an old world romance to them and a classic look.

    • I agree! I hope they’re not splash bottles though… mind you, that might just add to the charm a little more!
      I think they look like they smell – very botanical. The bottles are a very “Perfumer’s chest” kind of design :)

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