Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rawhide! The Great Leathers Part I: Santa Maria Novella - Nostalgia

The ability to recreate the pungent and characteristic aroma of leather in perfumery dates back several centuries and involves many great houses and perfumers. In this section Rawhide! The Great Leathers I'll be taking a closer look at some of the most important contributions in the genre.

Leather fragrances diverge hugely, one of the reasons being that leather itself can't be distilled but needs to be recreated in an abstract way through other components. Therefore there are as disparate renditions as Truefitt & Hill's Spanish Leather from 1830 which sports a soapy and sweet tone, Helmut Lang's contemporary Cuiron with its slightly fruity approach and Chanel's very animalic Cuir de Russie.

But first out a more modern take from ancient Italian monastery, herbarium and fragrance maker Santa Maria Novella. Nostalgia is a tribute to automobiles and the aesthetics of early 20th century motoring. The overall impression is however something very avant-garde, especially due to the turbulent opening notes of motor grease and sharp petroleum. This weird bit fades pretty rapidly, making way for something conjuring up images of the majestic leather interior of a Roll's Royce Phantom or vintage Bentley.

In some ways it resembles the old leathers like Knize Ten and even Caron's Tabac Blond, it's closest relative though has to be Bulgari Black, but Nostalgia is even more progressive. Something very untypical for being a Santa Maria Novella fragrance - after all we're talking about a house with several centuries of heritage. In no way does Nostalgia put that legacy to shame, quite on the contrary- this is probably their best launch so far and a great addition to the field.
Overall Rating: 7/10

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