Santa Maria Novella (2002)

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Nostalgia by Santa Maria Novella

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About Nostalgia by Santa Maria Novella

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Santa Maria Novella
Fragrance House

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella’s intent with this fragrance was to suggest the odors associated with Millemiglia race cars. Smells of tires worn out by acceleration and sudden braking blend with hints of gasoline and leather, both of which are characteristic of antique cars.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Reviews of Nostalgia by Santa Maria Novella

There are 42 reviews of Nostalgia by Santa Maria Novella.

If someone asks why I turn to the experience of scent, one of the main reasons is for nostalgia. Where does it take me in my path? Is faded youth once more illuminated? What memories are conjured up in the ether? It could very well explain my penchant for the classics and scents that a "normie" might think is "dated" or "hasn't aged well." Santa Maria Novella's Nostalgia, though released in 2002, does hit a lot of buttons, and in a startling manner.

The opening is the most shocking gasoline/petrol note I ever experienced in a fragrance—one might think it shouldn't even be inhaled. It's that realistic, and it's fascinating. The blast is brief, much like the flash point of gasoline and would otherwise be overwhelming if it persisted, but I love that it exists in this composition, as it serves as a perfect introduction to the fragrance as it warms into leather, rubber, hot asphalt under the scorching sun. Styrax and birch tar along with what seems to be fractionations of petitgrain serve to create this whole effect.

It dries down musky and vanillic, with an echo of car grease, and oiliness perhaps contributed by ambrette seed. I see checkered flags as I daydream. If those who were supremely disappointed with Penhaligon's Sports Car Club, they may find the experience they need with Nostalgia. For me, it takes me back to visits with my Dad to ADAP or NAPA auto parts shops when I was a kid and the overall feel of vehicles from that time, when there was far more leather, rubber and metal than the plastic of today. The wafts of exhaust and fumes, while thankfully a thing of the past due to reduced emissions, still carries with it something somehow wistful to me as well. So as not to put too fine a point on it, Nostalgia is worth the experience if any of the above appeals to you.

At heart, Nostalgia is a reworking of the classic leather style, and thus is a relative of classics like Knize Ten or Avon Leather. What distinguishes it as a modern fragrance is both its conceptual bent (a leather for petrolheads) and its utilization of the rubbery tones made popular by Bvlgari Black a few years before its release.

The opening is wild and wonderful: petrol fumes and rubber and vintage leather. The wildness is not sustained beyond the first hour, though, and it quickly settles into a spiced, soft, old-school leather with a rubbery tone.

It's lovely and wholly deserves its acclaim, but it's also not a groundbreaking creation. You have to enjoy classic leather scents to enjoy this slight tweak on the genre.

The scent description of SMN Nostalgia was intriguing enough for me to purchase. I found a vintage bottle with the wood cap and the uninspired label on Ebay.
First spray and I was in love. The nostril hairs in my nose immediately curled and I harkened back to the time when I used to sniff the leaded gasoline (not habitually, just when I visited the gas station). The top notes of bergamot, petitgrain and styrax are what make this scent unique.
Sadly, this intense rush dies down quickly and what remains is a fairly common leather, tobacco scent. Don't get me wrong, even my wife likes the dried-down scent, but I bought it for the gasoline punch and sadly that aspect of this cologne is too short-lived. Re-application is a must.

In all honesty, Nostalgia lives somewhere between a top-notch A*Men-style caramel gourmand and a Polo Green-inspired cinnamon spiced fougere, with just a pinch of weirdness running through it.

As such, there's a core of lavender, pie spices, and coumarin/hay melted together with a caramelized vanilla/patchouli mix. The terpines (that gasoline undertone) in the coumarin are amplified by a shot of rubber and there's something leathery and burnt in there as well, which accounts for the race car elements, but most of what I smell is really the lavender and sweet cinnamon/brown sugar caramel.

Because of this, Nostalgia is actually quite wearable. The "weird" elements are more fun than off-putting, and the brown sugar caramel drydown with leather underneath is perfection.

Side note: If you want a more challenging and literal car smell, check out Xyrena 66.

Nostalgia erupts into your field of vision just like a stubborn child memory: fast, without a warning and surreptitiously loudly. It envelops you with top notes that recount the memories of your grandfathers old gasoline-imbued leather Mercedez interiors mixed in with his citrusy cologne and tobacco-stained fingers. Yet, just quickly as he puts his foot down on the accelerator and whisks you off your feet, this intense nostalgic memory is torn away from you. And so in a jiffy, the car crashes into an old oak tree and as the memory dissolves into fumes of burnt tyres and incandescent wood, you're left desperately clinging onto the remains of your childhood clasping the only thing you have left: your mother's base note of burnt vanilla.

I adore this intense perfume, but, just like a moment of reverie, it is far too volatile and its complexity dissolves too quickly into mundane vanilla. Tempted to give it a neutral review but, despite its flaws, I still love those 15 minutes of violent rush.

Nostalgia is supposed to smell like an Italian racing car on the track, complete with gasoline fumes, rubber seating, and all. During the fleeting topnotes, Nostalgia pulls this off in spectacular fashion with a pure petrol note that would put the current version of Fahrenheit to shame, followed quickly by a shot of sweet car-seat rubber and leather.

The smoke and fuel dissipate rather quickly, however, leaving behind a sweet, rubbery, vanillic tailbone that smells rather too close to Bvlgari Black to justify the price. The scent is nicely woody and quietly masculine.

Beyond the arresting opening, I don't think Nostalgia is particularly challenging, so I see this as a great option for men (or indeed women) who might be looking to dip their toes into niche but not go too far into weird/ugly/difficult territory. This is just different enough to provide good fun and shock value, but sweet, woody, and generically aftershave-like in the drydown to reassure novices and big ole scaredy cats.

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