Opens up with a fresh but cheap smelling lavender floor cleaner smell. It’s been compared to Old Spice and I agree that they smell similar. Pot Pourri has a warmer, more woody, less powdery feel to it and possibly more spice. It does feel dated but still pleasant nonetheless.
To be clear, do not be thrown off by its name: Potpourri is not your grandma's or auntie's bowl of potpourri, it is not powdery, sweet, and floral (save for the carnation here). This old world 19th century creation is more a potion that clears the senses and heals the soul, pre-dating familiar classic approaches to perfumery. It is unapologetically camphoraceous, phenolic, medicinal, and I love every second of it. A blast of bay leaves, rosemary and thyme braces you from the start, so warm and savory, almost reminding me of a more perfumed Bell's Seasoning.
However, as we reach the heart of the fragrance, we realize this is all buffered by a softer, more resinous undercurrent; this junction is the most sensuous and captivating stage in development, as we have this duality that imparts a musky, ever so lightly perspiring sensation. I detect the peru balsam with its more vanillic, cinnamic qualities, as it slowly enters the picture. Obtained by removing the bark of the Myroxylon balsamum tree and scorching the exposed wood, peru balsam not only has its history in flavor perfume but also medicine, so naturally it would be present in this concoction. The dry down to the base is ever more smoky, elusive, and musky, perhaps due to this really stoic patchouli fixing it all together- no chocolate, no cacao, no cake. All dirt, must, sweat, and candor wrapped in a balsamic sweetness.
Now you may ask, why wear something that smells somewhat medicinal? Trust me when I say that Potpourri is so not of the time or world for that matter that it somehow works; it is this dichotomy of the antiseptic with the dirty, the erogenous. All of this really speaks to the adventure in perfume, the depth and dimension in fragrance, not to mention the scope of history. One who has grown tired of the same hackneyed sweet amber bases and safe, yawn-inducing accessible 'niche' ennui of today could stand to reach for Potpourri, amongst others in the Santa Maria Novella house.
The flagship of the Santa Maria Novella line? That is what it seems. Pot Pourri is a brilliant combination of notes that appeals highly to my sensibilities. I smell spices, resins, and eucalyptus. I know there are many other notes, including some florals, but the blending is superb. This is a fragrance from another age, and is a definite step back in time. There is a medicinal quality, which lends to that old time feel. This is what I think Richard Collier would have bought in a shop to put on when he was trying to get himself put together to meet Elise McKenna when he traveled back to the past. An excellent fragrance that I will enjoy for many years to come. Thanks to Grungevig for his input on this fragrance and the Santa Maria Novella line. A great house with many gems.
This scent's name should be taken very seriously. It does, indeed, smell like the ultimate ur-potpourri. And if you like smelling like Claire Burke's original home fragrance, here is your chance. I would love to smell this on someone else, preferably a male. But after having tried this myself a few times, I found that I am just not quite up to wearing a fragrance this fervently resinous and herbal for an entire day. I actually feel this way about most incense-heavy scents, so take that as you will.
I think that anyone intrigued by old-world scents that smell highly natural and aromatic should give this a whirl. Plus, you will smell like no one else in the room, or building, or general area.
I sprayed this on at a local store and sniffed my arm, turned to the SA, and asked "does this smell like ham to you?" She agreed and I walked out determined that this was either going to completely win me over with its cleverness or turn out to be a disaster. Oddly, it was neither...
So, um, the ham smell... I'm figuring it's some combination of the burnt smell of camphor or birch tar with kitchen spices and cloves, with cumin giving it a meaty quality. It actually only lasted a few minutes, giving way to a rather forward oregano smell with a smoky spice cabinet in the background. A few hours later, I was left with a a quiet herbal-smelling smudge where it had been.
So, in the end it was the strong oregano focus that turned me off, as opposed to the ham. The burnt quality was a clever touch missing in most of these really old herb-mix perfumes, but alas, this isn't for me.
Outrageously gorgeous aromatic giving way to a resin and spice concoction with more than enough reference to dried herbs and flowers but undercut with a rarified medicinal sweetness that is not the least bit candied. Intimations of soil, camphorous balms at healing retreats, an old time invalid taking a constitutional; all is unhealthy poetic distance washed over with a rouge swipe at vigor. Still, the hand is gloved in keeping with refinement. A triangulation occurs in the pyramid and over time: lighter opening/heavy middle/lighter drydown and spice/medicine/spice. Not at all of this time, older in feel than most any fragrance I have tried.