Santa Maria Novella: 3 posts

The Simple Miracle of a Soap Bar

Ever since I made my own scented soap as a perfumery trainee, I’ve been fascinated by the transformation that happens when oils and lye come together. How could such simple materials produce a shiny white bar? And how could the addition of aromatic essences transform an ordinary soap into a small luxury? This is the topic of my recent FT magazine column, Artisanal Scented Soaps.

I talk about my favorite fragrant soaps from brands like Marius Fabre, Claus Porto and Santa Maria Novella.

When exploring artisanal soapmakers, I would be remiss not to include one of Florence’s treasures, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This venerable institution was founded by Dominican friars around 1221 as an infirmary for the monks. Eventually it began producing a range of balms and medicines for the general public. Today, Santa Maria Novella is a cosmetic and perfume house reputed for its simple but elegant formulas.One such example is its iris-scented soap Sapone Fior d’Iris. The fragrance is of iris roots and it lasts on the skin well after a shower, making this soap a perfect companion to an iris perfume like Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Colonia Iris or Chanel 28 La Pausa. To read the full article, please click here.

What is your favorite scented soap?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia : Fragrance Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Aquatic and fresh masculine fragrances have never appealed to me beyond a brief period of infatuation in the 1990s when the trend was still novel and distinctive. After the hundreds of Cool Water and Aqua di Giò clones, I no longer feel interested in this genre. On the other hand, fragrances that explore earthy, smoky and leathery notes never fail to catch my attention. In many ways, their appeal lies in their distinctive character, very much different from the crisp, fresh, and ozonic creations that dominate the masculine market right now. While Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia is a perfume that should not be reserved only for men, it is a fragrance I want to smell on men around me.

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Santa Maria Novella Angels of Florence : Perfume Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Had I not seen the label on the bottle, I would have assumed that Angels of Florence was a new flanker for Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise—the bright, fresh white floral. While Beyond Paradise is a fine fragrance on its own terms, it was disconcerting to discover the similarities with Santa Maria Novella’s newest fragrance (albeit, without the characteristic radiance of Beyond Paradise.) In my opinion, the very essence of niche should be its departure from the mainstream, but it seems that to a greater and greater extent many niche releases are merely copying best-sellers from department stores. By way of example, if you enjoyed the warm and voluptuous Armani Code for Her but felt compelled to spend more money, your wish could be fulfilled by NellyRodi Scentfactory Fleur d’Oranger and Le Labo Jasmin 17. Bond No 9 Nuit de Noho offers a niche version of Thierry Mugler Angel. Even an avant-garde line like Comme des Garçons has toned down its daring act of late. …

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