The Scented Hound

Perfume blog with abbreviated perfume reviews & fragrance reviews.


Santa Maria Novella Russa

WHAT I SMELL:  Russa opens with a zesty lemon and buzzing bergamot that is quickly met with a soapy orange that brings it out of the citrus groves and moves it behind the villa wall to the flower and herb garden where sprigs of lavender join the blend.  What was hanging ripened on the branch is now a mix of citrus and freshly picked herbs and flowers gathered in a bountiful basket ready to come into the house.  As soon as the basket makes it to the house, the mixture turns from the garden towards that of the barber.  Here, a foamy herbal soapy mixture that reminds me of traditional barbershop shaving cream breaks forward through the goodness of the garden.  There is something really comforting about Russa at this point.  It’s masculine, reassuring and lightly warmed in a sun-kissed way.  There’s nothing of a “take-charge” kind of masculinity here, but just an ease where the perfume doesn’t require itself to be anything but nicely clean and proper, yet comfortably based in the garden’s bounty.  As the perfume continues its journey, it becomes more “zestified” as the benzoin becomes more pronounced.   Because of this, Russa grows from a rather quiet perfume to one that demands just a bit more attention.  And in the end, a hay-like note comes forward as the perfume makes its final round back to the outdoors and to the sunny fields of the countryside.

From the Santa Maria Novella website:

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella’s Acqua di Colonia Russa fragrance is a bouquet of fresh aromatic citrus notes. Russian cologne was quite a popular fragrance in the early 1800s and each perfumer added a personal touch to his own version. The Santa Maria Novella monks created their own formulation, with citrus top notes and spicy floral middle notes.

Olfactory Notes:  

Top: citrus, Calabrian bergamot

Middle: petitgrain, green aromatic notes, clove

Base: Sumatra benzoin

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  A medieval dandy.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE RUSSA:  comfortable, herbal, “zestified” (yes, that is a made up word)


BOTTOM LINE:  Russa is a wonderfully easy to wear cologne that’s perfect for everyday use.  I tend to prefer masculine perfumes that are not brutishly so and Russa fits that mold very well.

  • Bone Rating: 3.5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Aromatic Citrus
  • Classification: Leans masculine
  • Expense:  $135 for 100 ml eau de cologne


Santa Maria Novella Patchouli

WHAT I SMELL:   Patchouli’s opening is warm, with musty and thickened earthy patchouli that increasingly radiates off of the skin at every breath you take in.  There’s also a medicinal quality that is a cross between herbaceous and mentholated.  In a short time, Patchouli becomes woody, rather dry and it feels like the perfume was dug out from the bottom of a forest.  This is not a pretty patchouli, nor one of sweet youth, but a patchouli that reins from ancient times and one that has been fermenting in a cask until ready to be released after years of careful curation.  As the perfume develops in slow, deliberate and small nuances, it quietly settles in a woody, musky and dried, yet creamy crush of patchouli.  Patchouli would be perfect for those cool and rainy contemplative days when you don’t want to be troubled by current events.

From the Santa Maria Novella website:

The Patchouli perfume from the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica of Santa Maria Novella is a bouquet of oriental woody notes, which evoke the homonymous plant’s homeland: Malaysia and India. In the regions of origin, the unmistakable smell of patchouli pervades public and domestic environments, as traditional medicine believes that it acts on the physical balance and has a positive effect on the psyche.

Olfactory Notes:  Woody notes

Top: floral note

Heart: rosewood

Base: patchouli, sandalwood, oak moss

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  An abandoned Italian villa with remnants of ancient memories still lingering in the air.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE PATCHOULI:  ancient, earthy, serious

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT PATCHOULI:  Take One Thing Off, Perfume Smellin’ Things

BOTTOM LINE:  Patchouli is beautiful without being loud, funky or sweet in any way.  Although not an everyday perfume, it’s one that you’ll go back to again and again when the mood is just right.  For those of you who love patchouli, this is one for your collection.

  • Bone Rating: 4 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Oriental Woody
  • Classification: Unisex
  • Expense:  $125 for 100 ml eau de cologne