Russa fragrance notes

  • Head

    • bergamot, bitter orange, lemon, neroli, rose
  • Heart

    • petitgrain, clove, lavender, verbena, rosemary
  • Base

    • castoreum, civet, benzoin, tolu balsam

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Latest Reviews of Russa

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Santa Maria Novella Colonia Russa, or simply Russa, is one of the house's many colognes and probably the example that I liked most when visiting the house's downtown Manhattan boutique several years ago. Russa is a well-executed, fresh, semi-citric, semi-herbal blend that is agreeable and accessible yet has some intrigue.

Its note listing consists of some expected fresh/citrus players (bergamot, bitter orange, lemon, neroli, petitgrain, verbena), but also rose, lavender, and rosemary, with a dry down to clove, castoreum, civet, benzoin, and tolu balsam. I find the civet and castoreum to be surprising, since the mix is not particularly animalic and what I get out of it that is most interesting is the thread of clove, petitgrain, lavender, rose, and rosemary that gives the mix a bit of intrigue. Still, it does not come off especially animalic, leathery, funky, barnyard-like, etc. to me so I suspect that these pieces are very minimal in terms of the construction of the fragrance.

Unlike Sicilia, which favors the rosemary, Russa leans more so on the clove, mixed with the florals and citruses, and the sort of quirky spicy effect it has on an otherwise more mainstream garden of fresh elements. The blend feels carefully-executed and is very satisfying, perhaps ever so slightly masculine leaning but really quite unisex in the way that most aquatic, fresh, Eau de Cologne types are. It's easy enjoyable, not unfamiliar to fans of designers but intriguing enough for those who adhere to niche offerings.

Performance-wise, Russa is not as strong as Sicilia. It's lighter and fresher, albeit similarly warm-weather-friendly, apt for a summer day, especially. Its pricing is similar to much of the line, however, at $125 for 100ml, so it leans toward being a fragrance that one needs to love to buy, as an EDC with moderate performance is a tough sell at $1/ml, sometimes, even.

Overall, I'm impressed, though Russa demands some more tries from me, certainly preferably out of a spray of some kind rather than a dabber sample, but it remains a recommended try for others looking to explore the house, as it's an easy winner.

8 out of 10
2nd July 2020
A soft gentlemanly soapy leather with the SMN's typical landmark in line with others of the line as Gold Musk and Melograno (i talk about the restrained neutral classic type of soapiness of many fragrances of the brand in line with an old-school conservative recipe). Colonia Russa is an aromatic soft leather (soft suede) scent with a musky/green vibe coming from musk i suppose, may be lavender (plus well modulated greens it seems) and with a soft bed of amber (may be a touch of wax too in the blend) and powdery woods. I detect some sharp flowers (may be geranium) in the central stage and a bergamot/patchouli classic backbone. Radiant, and classic, nothing groundbreaking or original (this one possesses a typical old Penhaligon's style) but an impeccable distinguished soft suede for sure. Close to the skin and averagely durable.
15th December 2013

Citrus, flowers and leatherA bright citrus entrance enhanced by bergamot gives way to a more flowery note, with a touch of patchouli added later on. In the drydown a leather note appears, which is a bright and light new leather on me. Restrained, classic but a tad predictable. Longevity on my skin is two hours.
1st June 2013
CR opens with a blast of realistic citrus--orange, bergamot, lemon, and then light herbs and florals, but the entire time the dark leathery base is apparent. This is the coming together of east and west in 18th Century Europe. The bright citrus and florals of the Farinas meets the dark leather and incense of medieval Russia. A tad discordant like Peter the Great forcing the boyars to shave their beards and adopt western fashion lest they face the Tsar's wrath.
30th October 2010
Eh, it's ok. It definitely does not hide the fact that it's a floral citrus cologne. A touch of leather in this makes a very interesting but blase accord. Not very long lasting but it was nice while it lasted.
15th November 2008
"Colonia Russa" is a very nice citrus fragrance, with a great neroli heart note, a hint of rose and a light oriental leather base with a patchouli note. It is a very classic yet subtle cologne for neroli lovers, far better than any other neroli cologne I could found.
16th July 2008
Show all 9 Reviews of Russa by Santa Maria Novella