A close-up photo of a clear, rectangular perfume bottle with a gold label featuring black text "Santa Maria Novella L'Iris Firenze 1221." The bottle sits on a mirrored surface reflecting the bottle and a golden stopper.

Santa Maria Novella L’Iris: A Sensory Tribute to Florence

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Santa Maria Novella L’Iris: A New Era Begins

For eight centuries, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence has been a sanctuary of fragrance and herbal remedies. Founded by Dominican friars, it has a storied history rich with connections to royalty and botanical innovation. In 2022, this legendary house broke with tradition and introduced us to L’Iris, their very first Eau de Parfum. As a fragrance lover with a passion for niche creations and a particular love for the iris note, I was immediately drawn to this incredible release.

L’Iris belongs to the I Giardini Medicei collection, a quartet of fragrances inspired by the lavish gardens of the Medici family during the Italian Renaissance. This collection also includes Bizzarria, Magnolia, and Gelsomino. L’Iris is an olfactory tribute to the Florentine iris, a symbol of the city itself. At its heart lies the precious concreta d’iris, an extract obtained from Florentine iris rhizomes. This singular ingredient, along with its historical significance, makes L’Iris a scent imbued with exquisite craftsmanship.

Gian Luca Perris, the founder and creative director of Perris Monte Carlo, played a pivotal role in L’Iris’ creation. As the the former CEO of Santa Maria Novella, his vision encouraged the brands expansion into the domain of Eau de Parfum. He also served as the nose for this wonderful fragrance.

A close-up photo of a clear, rectangular perfume bottle with a gold label featuring black text "Santa Maria Novella L'Iris Firenze 1221." The bottle sits on a mirrored surface reflecting the bottle and a golden stopper.

 A Journey Through History and Scent

Santa Maria Novella – Centuries of Fragrance & Healing

Imagine stepping into an apothecary frozen in time. Gleaming glass vessels line wooden shelves, filled with vibrant herbs and mysterious tinctures. I imagine the air must hang heavy with the scents of centuries from long ago – aromatic spices, medicinal elixirs, and the delicate sweetness of ancient perfumes. This is the world of Santa Maria Novella, a Florentine institution born in 1221.

Founded by Dominican friars, Santa Maria Novella’s history is as rich as its fragrances. Spanning centuries, their story encompasses remarkable longevity and a steadfast dedication to the art of perfume. Their legacy is one of continuous evolution, from blending remedies to combat the Black Plague to Caterina de’ Medici bringing the art of Florentine perfumery to France. Their iconic Acqua della Regina, a citrusy fragrance created for Caterina, remains a beloved classic even today.

L’Iris – A Tribute to Florence

L’Iris marks a new chapter for Santa Maria Novella. It is their first Eau de Parfum in more than 800 years and personally, I find it a breathtaking tribute to the iris. At the heart of L’Iris lies the precious concreta d’iris, an extract obtained after a painstaking 6-year maturation process. This singular ingredient, an exercise in patience and a Florentine tradition, infuses L’Iris with an unforgettable elegance.

Sensory Impressions of L’Iris

A bottle of perfume with a gold cap and a black label with gold lettering next to a bunch of purple flowers on a purple background. The perfume bottle is translucent and you can see the light yellow colored perfume inside.

L’Iris Revealed – Notes and Nuances

With each passing moment, L’Iris reveals its notes and nuances, like a secret gently unfolding. The opening is a burst of green vibrancy – the sharp freshness of galbanum intertwined with the spice of timur pepper and a hint of bright neroli. As this initial fanfare softens, a luxurious floral heart emerges. Magnolia, geranium, and jasmine sambac intermingle, creating a rich yet delicate blend of sweetness. Finally, the base settles with grounding musk and ambergris, showcasing the true star of the fragrance – the coveted Florentine concreta d’iris.

A Walk Through Bliss – My L’Iris Experience

From the first spritz, L’Iris possesses a sense of freshness that sets it apart from many other powdery iris fragrances. This freshness lingers beautifully throughout the wear, never becoming stale or overly sweet. Longevity is impressive; I can easily detect traces of it on my skin for at least eight hours after application. Sillage is moderate – present yet never overpowering. For this reason, I find Santa Maria Novella’s L’Iris suitable for all seasons. During colder months it perfoms better in daytime and during the warmest months I love it for day and night. It’s truly suitable for almost any occasion.

While L’Iris is undeniably elegant, it wears with ease. I find myself reaching for it when desiring a scent that’s both sophisticated and subtly playful. Its unique blend of freshness and floralcy makes it equally appropriate for a morning stroll in a blossoming garden, afternoon tea, or a special evening out. In fact, someone recently asked me how L’Iris makes me feel, and my answer was simple: in a state of bliss.

The Visual Experience

My first-edition bottle of L’Iris features a luxurious purple velvet-like label with gold lettering, the brand’s logo tastefully embossed on the back. The simplicity of the design accentuates the preciousness of its contents. This elegant presentation complements the scent itself – refined yet captivating, with a touch of old-world charm.

The L’Iris Connoisseur

A photo of a vintage perfume bottle with a purple velvet-like label and gold lettering. The label reads "L'Iris Santa Maria Novella Firenze." The bottle has a gold cap and the Santa Maria Novella logo is embossed on the back of the clear glass bottle.

Quality & Uniqueness

One of the most striking aspects of L’Iris is the quality of its ingredients. From the initial burst of vibrant galbanum to the lingering musk, there’s a freshness present that speaks to the perfume’s natural ingredients. While undeniably an iris-forward fragrance, L’Iris departs from the overly powdery interpretations often associated with this iconic note. Instead, it offers a multi-faceted experience where the iris shines without overwhelming the other elements.

Who Will Treasure L’Iris

L’Iris is ideally suited for:

  • Lovers of niche fragrances: The complexity and natural feel align with the aesthetic of many niche brands.
  • Collectors of historical houses: As Santa Maria Novella’s first Eau de Parfum, L’Iris has instant collectible appeal.
  • Enthusiasts of iris scents: It offers a fresh take on the iris note, sure to delight any iris lover seeking a fragrance crafted with natural ingredients.
  • Those seeking elegant yet versatile perfumes: L’Iris transitions seamlessly from day to evening wear, especially in warmer months.

While anyone can enjoy L’Iris, those with a prior appreciation for classic iris perfumes will likely find its nuances particularly enchanting.

The Legacy Continues…

With its masterful blend of history and exquisite craftsmanship, L’Iris by Santa Maria Novella is an unforgettable addition to any fragrance lover’s collection. It is a scent I cherish – a fragrant reflection of history and artistry that exemplifies the 800-year legacy of the brand and the enduring beauty of the Florentine iris flower. Balancing historical significance with modern elegance, the scent is both timeless and tempting. From the fresh green opening to the softly refined iris-infused dry down, L’Iris highlights Santa Maria Novella’s enduring legacy and their mastery of modern perfumery. Whether you’re a seasoned fragrance collector or simply seeking a uniquely beautiful scent, L’Iris is truly a treasure worth discovering.

Have you tried L’Iris? I’d love to hear your impressions of this extraordinary perfume! If you’ve tried any of the other I Giardini Medicei fragrances, I’d welcome your recommendations.

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