Iris by Santa Maria Novella 1901

Hey Hey Posse Peeps! Back in February while on holidays we went and had a look at the Santa Maria Novella store in Florence, Italy. It is ridiculously gorgeous and we had a wonderful time sniffing, chatting, looking and generally enjoying the experience. I only sniffed a few of the fragrances because I was completely overwhelmed by it all. I have been looking through some of my older large decants recently and one that I completely forgot about was Iris by Santa Maria Novella.

Iris by Santa Maria Novella 1901

Iris Santa Maria Novella FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Iris, violet

When I spritz my first whiff is of that curiously bready iris note mixed with a little of the violets green plasticky weirdness. It’s dry and very austere like forgotten attics and dried out books. This opening doesn’t last very long. Soon there is a soft sweet fruitiness and the leather/earth aspect of iris, sheer and airy but quite definitely fragrant. Over all of this rises a violet so clearly that it makes me smile. Everything I wanted a violet fragrance to be Iris is. A warmer, friendlier violet that smells to me of youthful whimsy rather than its often melancholy disposition. In Iris I have found a violet that makes me want to engage with a springlike zest.

Later the iris shrugs off all other notes and stands alone and aloof. A dry, barren, and mildly leathered finale that reminds me of trying to find the moment sound becomes silence after you’ve rung a bell.

Santa Maria Novella Florence 2016 #19Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Not a big or bold fragrance but it does have surprising tenacity. Especially when you consider its being sold as an Eau de Cologne. While you will be smellable by others for the first hour or so after that Iris becomes an under the radar scent. It will huff softly out of your top and if you spritz back of hands and put your chin in your hand you will get a lovely fragrant reminder every time for hours.

I have 10ml that has dropped to 6ml this week. It’s a perfect mid season fragrance. This is my 3rd day wearing Iris for part of the day. It’s also perfect for a bedtime scent, sweetly relaxing.

Florence 2016 #12Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo

Further reading: Black Narcissus and I Smell Therefore I Am
Santa Maria Novella has a USA website or can be found in some department stores.
There are also Santa Maria Novella stand alone stores popping up all over the world.

Have you spent time with any of the Santa Maria Novella fragrances, body products or teas? Which is your favourite?
Portia xx


  • LaDona says:

    You had me at “Iris.” I have a bell jar of Iris Silver Mist, and a wee dram of Xerjoff Irisss that I would magick into a full bottle if I could. Not as familiar with violet, but this sounds lovely…so I’d nick a sample off the Interwebs in a moment. Tobacco is my particular Achilles heel. Any frag with that note, I’m likely to try to pocket, so don’t, for Gods-sake invite me over! Which reminds me….Ava Luxe is about to launch a tobacco violet fragrance and, thanks to you, I am dying for a sniff. She has also reformulated Madame X, and I am saving up for a gallon of it, but may have to scale back for the Violett Tabak she is cooking up. God help me.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Ladona,
      The craving is real.
      Love the Ava Luxe line. Clever fragrances and fun.
      Tobacco, nice. Did you ever try Creed’s Tabarome?
      Portia xx

  • HeidiC says:

    I’ve only tried Eva from them — a very citrusy vetiver. Nice, and kinda unisex-herbal. This one doesn’t sound like my kind of thing. Unlike Florence, which TOTALLY sounds like my kind of thing!

    • Portia says:

      Hey HeidiC,
      Florence is beyond gorgeous. So much to see and do. I would like to spend a month there one year and really get to drink in the history, art and culture.
      It’s also only a quick train ride to Venice or Rome.
      Portia xx

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I have not tried anything from this line, let alone Iris. It seems like I’m not well traveled like so many here. Currently I am saving pennies to visit my sister in San Diego and I’m hoping in the next two years to go to Ireland.

    • Portia says:

      Hi ELDARWEN22,
      I have the travel bug bad and save as much as I can at any given time to have my next trip. Fortunately we are pretty free of encumbrances and can use any extra towards it. Hopefully the travelogues that are posted here bring you joy at seeing the world through my camera.
      Good luck on Ireland. We buy our plane tickets far in advance so there’s no going back and then work as hard as we can towards getting there, buying our accomodation as we have funds so the only money we need for the holiday is spending.
      Portia xxx

  • filomena813 says:

    I have been to the Santa Maria Novella store in Florence several times in the past. The place blows me away and is very special and beautiful. I own about 7 of the scents but Iris is not one of them. I will have to check it out. Aedes de Venustas in NYC carries some of the line.

    • Portia says:

      Hi FILOMENA813,
      It’s absolutely overwhelming there isn’t it. We said afterwards that next time we will give ourselves a half day dedicated to SMN. We never even tried the beauty products or tea.
      Do you have a favourite?
      Portia xx

  • Tatiana says:

    I’ve sniffed a few Santa Maria Novella fragrances, but I’m not sure I’ve come across Iris. I’m pretty sure I would have jumped on a whole bottle if I did. Iris is one of my favorite notes and this one sounds very interesting.

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, Portia! What a gorgeous review! And yet again, you have me craving something new as well as a trip to Florence. 🙂 I normally shy away from violet scents because some have that certain something that reminds me of Choward’s (?) violet chewing gum that an elderly aunt of mine used to have in the bottom of her purse. Sort of musty and fusty, if you know what I mean. But it sounds like the iris helps steer this one elsewhere. I’m off to find some to try — thanks!

    • Portia says:

      Heya Ann,
      Thank you.
      Have you been to Florence?
      This is a violet more in line with the fun of Lolita Lempicka than the dour melancholy often associated with the note, you may well love it.
      Fingers crossed.
      Portia xx

      • Ann says:

        Hi, dear! No, never been to Florence, alas, only to Milan and Venice. But DH and I have decided that we’re going there and to Rome one of these years, so here’s hoping!

  • Dina C. says:

    Iris is one of my favorite notes, and violet is in the top ten, so this really made my ears perk up. My list of favorite iris scents is too long to list. Just go look at Patty’s post on iris scents. That SMN shop looks like a literal shrine to perfume. Florence is on my bucket list, and now that shop is, too. When I think Florence, I think “A Room With a View.” This scent would have been the perfect souvenir for Lucy Honeychurch and her cousin Charlotte. Thank you for a lovely, lyrical image to start my day Portia.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there DinaC,
      Lovely to see you, as always.
      A Room With A View, what novel and movie. Florence is 100% worth the trip. Everything is walking distance in comfortable shoes and every time you look around you it is beautiful. Even if you spend every minute in the various galleries, churches and other fabulous buildings, and never go outside you will love it. Promise.
      Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Love your “RWAV” references, Dina! That and Portia’s beautiful review have made a lovely start to my day, too!

  • poodle says:

    I’ve seen a few scents from this line in some gift shops while I’ve been on weekend getaways. I don’t think Iris was one of them and if it was I may have passed it by because iris frightens me sometimes (Iris Silver Mist, I’m looking at you). I do like violet so if I ever happen to see this in the future I’ll be sure to sniff.
    I agree with Tara on the line she quoted from your review. Very poetic. Dare I say one of the best sentences you’ve ever written.

  • Tara says:

    There’s a Santa Maria Novella store in London but I want to wait till I can go to that temple of loveliness in Florence. I will buy everything starting with Iris.

    Violet is such a tricky note for me – so often too sweet or too green – but this sounds perfect.

    You’re killing me with this line “A dry, barren, and mildly leathered finale that reminds me of trying to find the moment sound becomes silence after you’ve rung a bell.” Gorgeously poetic, Portia.

    • Portia says:

      When you read my stuff you add your own sparkle that resonates when you take pieces out and shine them up.
      Portia xx