Says the Now Smell This Perfume House listing for SMN:
"The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. The store in Florence, Italy opened to the public in 1612, but the fragrances and body products are based on recipes that the Dominican friars of Florence had been developing (using herbs from the monastery gardens) since the 13th century. It was held by the Dominicans until the late 19th century when it became a private business. Today they market a wide range of fragrances, bath and body products, and home fragrances."
You don't have to go all the way to Italy to get Santa Maria Novella. Aedes in NYC carries the brand, and you can probably get it elsewhere, with a little scouting. Many of the scents are nice but fairly unremarkable. Santa Maria Novella's Iris approaches exceptional, with a sugared medicinal disposition which fluctuates intriguingly between off-putting and come hither. Potpourri is a clove-laden floral and incense affair, one of the best of its kind, certainly better than the Comme des Garçons Incense series, which I've always found slightly overrated, like incense air freshener. Fieno is a little sweet for my taste, whereas Peau d'Espagne was quite a surprise, a look at the underside of the Chanel Cuir de Russie saddle, grimy and sweaty, a grungy wallop of indelicate leather, too stiff to be anywhere near well-worn, whatever the age.
It's probably inevitable, with such a lengthy build-up, that my feelings about Nostalgia would be mixed. I remain affectionately undecided. It goes on with a wondrously rubbery flourish, touched with petrol, hot oil, dust, and sunshine, teetering conceptually between bright and dark, piquant and pungent. And this lasts about thirty minutes on my skin (in the heat), the rest, what there is, lingering subliminally. Nostalgia actually recalls Peau d'Espagne, though it has modified the resinous murk of its ancestor with what almost comes across as citrus. Where Espagne is herbal and opaque, Nostagia is radiant, if not quite sheer. Oddly, and probably unintentionally, it interprets its roadway theme by careening in and out of recognizable masculine territory. Though its wheels never exactly stop burning rubber, Nostalgia comes close at times to more traditional he-man fragrances du jour, albeit in a way which improves upon their general template.
Nostalgia has been compared to Bulgari Black, its most visible rubber contemporary, the poster boy for this kind of thing, and while I like Black as a rule (minus a few qualifications) I think I prefer Nostalgia overall. Black is too refined, too timid for my tastes. I appreciate it but never wear it. For something which is said to be so cutting edge, I find Black rather soft. Nostalgia, on the other hand, has an impressive amount of oomph, if not much more staying power than Black (one of said qualifications). Nostalgia is bolder, more reckless, a fun-lover's ride. Whether or not you're willing to pay 100 bucks for the seat is another issue.