Friday, October 30, 2015

Eight centuries of experience; Melograno, Peau d' Espagne, and Acquadi Cuba by Santa Maria Novella

Melograno, Peau d' Espagne, and Acquadi Cuba
by
Santa Maria Novella



The regretful part of my trip to Italy was skipping over many local Italian perfume houses that occurred for no reason but ridiculously dense tour agenda that stinted least free time to get around. I'm an architect and I carry my passion and interest everywhere.
While in Firenze we didn't visit the famous Santa Maria Novella church which is a great pity for me, as sad as not visiting the famous ancient pharmacy and apothecary house of Officina Farmaceutuca di Santa Maria Novella: a house of pharmacy and perfumery which I've learnt more about when I left it unvisited.

A picture I took while passing by the church, Opus Quadratum masonry and ornaments that signify gardens and ponds.
Anyhow, by kindness of Florin - a dear friend from Paris to whom I owe my career in perfumery - and also by the kind supports of the house in Firenze, I prepared this review on three random perfumes of the house I found the most debatable in my collection plus, of course, a brief history cause talking about such perfumeries, is all about history and experience.

As the official describes, the first historical traces of Officina goes back to 1221 when the Dominican friars, arriving in Florence, built their monastery just outside the city gate and soon after they began to research and experiment aspects and abilities of herbs planted in their gardens next to the monastery.
In 1612, when the hearsay of quality of the material produced in the monastery reach outside world, monk Fra Angiolo Marchissi opened the pharmacy to the public and started their commercial activity towards pharmacy, perfumery, elixirs, healing waters, etc. that acclaimed publicly. During 18th century the fame and products have been brought to far lands beyond boundaries of neighbor kingdoms, even to Russia.
In 1886 after the confiscation of the church property by the government, for the first time the control passed in the hands of a layman, Cesare Augusto Stefani, nephew of the last Dominican friar who had been the director of the Officina.
In 1991 Eugenio Alphandery approached the Officina, “tradition and innovation” has been since then his motto.


Perfumery was not and is not the only talent of the heir of the house, however, only their history of their perfumery shines like a diamond with honors as delivering Acqua della Regina (the world's first known celebrity perfume for Caterina de Medici, the crown queen of France). The Officina produce many other ancient recipes include Liquore MediceoAlkermesElisir di ChinaAceto dei Sette Ladri, and Acqua di Santa Maria Novella (for controlling hysterics). After 400 years of uninterrupted business in the building situated in Via Reginaldo Giuliani, the house still relies on apothecary father’s artisanal procedures, thought modern technology is employed.


Acqua di Colonia Melograno


Melograno means pomegranate and it summons warm, welcoming sensations and truly signifies the tree. The pomegranate tree spread from Persia (pomegranate was the symbol of fertility, pregnancy, and symbol of divinity in ancient Persian myths) throughout the Mediterranean. It embellished many ancient Egyptian tombs. 
Melograno is full of surprises. A brilliant touch of mossy notes and pomegranate and opoponax (just try it to see how deliberately the fruit and the resin marry to each other) with gourmand vibes of ambery notes including labdanum and vanilla, charged with sweety tobacco. A lush and first class modest floral throne safeguards the delicate and sensitive seeds of the fruit and ephemeral joy of the resin.
The base of Melograno is powdery and mossy with dominant floral layer and it doesn't look like a perfume composed for aromatherapy, it is a perfume for the sake of olfactory.
Very masterly, minimalistic, and straight-to-the-point type of chypré with average longevity, average sillage, pure class.


Acqua di Cuba


Acqua di Cuba is named after its ingredients’ place of origin. This perfume is a custom blend of aromatic notes mingled in bitter orange and bergamot. This top layer is subdued by highly spicy honey that smells like a handmade medicine for an illness. The heart of the fragrance shows the tobacco dominantly. Still honey and shades of lavender live and it delivers more sweet waxy theme but it is rendered by citruses and woodsy notes which lurk at the back. Honey in this composition is the key and it keeps tobacco up. However, with this all Acqua di Cuba is not a regular tobacco heaviness and it presents the note in a cologne format with animalic honey.
Lasts about 6 hours on my skin, with great sillage.


Peau d'Espagne


Peau d’Espagne is a very old fragrance, originally formulated as far back as the 16th century, as an essence used to scent leather. It is a masculine fragrance, with a rich, exclusive bouquet of resinous and spicy notes. This is my type. I dig for leather, birch, and animalic nuances and when they gather in a cannon it brings me an olfacotry orgasm!
Peau d’Espagne opens with punchy powdery carnation and leafy notes. It is thick and slightly dark and rustic with sort of freshness at background. Then striking curtains of leathery birch appears. I love the way birch duplicates leather. This wood deserves much more than being burnt in fireplace!
The base of Peau d’Espagne shows hints of animality. Collaborating with birch and dark leather/petroleum aspects of violet, this seriously elevates the composition to a real award winning state. Strong longevity and beyond average sillage.

Carpe Odor!


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