One of the weirdest, but most intriguing, florals I have ever smelled, Santa Maria Novella’s enviable status as apothecary as much as perfumery certainly comes into focus in their most unusual offering.
With a dense, medicinal, almost creepy take on a tropical flower – herbal, smoky, heady and unlike anything else – it is hard to imagine what the monks were quite thinking of as they checked the macerations in their cellars; nodded ‘si’, and sagely began to pour the tarry liquid into bottles.
With its almost perverse combination of sanctity and putridity, I think that Frangipane is probably one of my favourites from SMN (along with the thyme-laden Sandalo, Tuberosa, Pot Pourri, Garofano, and their emotive, inimitably rarified patchouli), although I have yet to actually take the plunge and buy some. Surprisingly, I have also heard that Frangipane is popular with certain, in-the-know swathes of Tokyo dandies, who make the pilgrimage to the city’s fashion Mecca, Isetan, to keep themselves in stock. It is an oddball’s scent, certainly, with its faint, bourgeois-repelling echoes of the centuries; compelling in its strange austerity. The palpable, fruited loneliness of the basilica.
Frangipane is a warm, lilting oddity, as if the tropical flowers in question had been marauded; sequestered; and were now feverishly practicing cello in a grotto (cavernous notes of nutmeg, thyme, and Peru balsam overladled onto frangipani, tuberose and coal-touched orris). A genuinely original scent, it is definitely worth investigating if you yearn to escape from the every day; love flowers, herbs, spice, and dreams, but crave singularity.