I haven't even come close to smelling the dozens of SMN perfumes, but the one's I find locally, as well as many of their signature soaps, body, and home products share a certain "Santa Maria Novella" signature smell. It's a sort of herbal potpourri smell drowned in soapy powder.
To me, this is the "x factor" that separates SMN's Vetiver from so many others. The vetiver itself is solid and strong, bitter and pungent, but the soapy powdery potpourri smell rounds off the rough edges, leaving it more "perfumey" than many vetivers. There's also a fairly forward geranium, as well as mossy green galbanum making things a bit old-smelling and fusty. The other element that stands out is a weird nutty, woody, nutmeg smell that somehow combines with the SMN signature soap to smell very abstract - kind of like a big slab of nutty woody bread laced with coffee sitting there with the vetiver, greens, and soapy smells.
It's a very complex smell, much more so than most vetivers. For fans of mossy, powdery, old-fashioned scents that are still masculine, SMN Vetiver could be grail material. Personally, I find it intellectually stimulating, but ultimately too garnished. I like vetivers because they have an exciting rawness - SMN Vetiver is too loaded down and smoothed over to be exciting.
Raw materials and "agricole'" exoticism, i'm sorry but i like it. Vetiver Santa Maria Novella is a woody, slightly dusty (barely incensey?), realistic (and yes minimalist) vetiver , which does not introduce for us as a fragrance a game of complex olfactory balancements and that needs a few support (from a couple of natural elements as woods, bergamot and a touch of "dust") to be a "packed aroma itself" finding in the holy complicacy of the few natural ingredients the accomplisment of its own perfection. Some talk about rosewood and i see the reference (at least this is the feeling i would bet to detect on the skin). I detect an ultra-natural (slightly salty/liturgical) earthy/rooty vetiver with hints of bergamot, a minimal touch of spices (cardamom?), may be hints of secret frankincense and with a sheer woody feel probably provided by rosewood itself (influencing at least for the 40% the economy of the final aroma). Dated? Not for me, just arcane, assertive and almost mystic in its natural agrestic pungent holiness. I catch a sort of slightly aqueous "lemony/grassy" pungency throughout in the background possibly provided by the influence of bergamot, spices (possibly cardamom but is a mere supposition) and may be frankincense or labdanum. The dry down introduces a slightly grassy/lemony (in its aftertaste) powder counteracting the woody/incensey holiness of the natural vetiver in a final articulated woodsy combination . Just for the real vetiver fanatic.
This minimalistic composition opens with a rough, dry and in your face blast of raw vetiver that made me immediately believe I had found my new holy grail. Unfortunately, after one hour or so, rosewood takes over surrounding the scent with a "perfumery" vibe that's definitely off-putting for my likes. Amazing opening, depressing drydown (I'm sorry but I'm hypersensitive to rosewood).
This starts of very harsh and perfumey and the vetiver comes out after an hour. The vetiver is nice but subtle.
On the surface it seems to me to be a raw and rough vetiver, as many people have said. This raw note includes lots of iodine, and the iodine accord is even more aggressive than the one in Goutalís Vetiver. I really love that surface impression because I love vetiver in all its aggressive natural glory. However, amid the raw, natural vetiver, I keep coming across a note that reacts in a feminine manner on my skin: it is floral and powdery and is not something I want to wear. It could be the rosewood that moon_fish mentioned. Iím still trying to understand the conflict between the rawness and the powder, not that the two canít coexist: The juxtaposition of the raw / powder is, in a way, intriguing as an accord, itís just not something I would enjoy wearing. I can even see this ó iodine and powder ó as working beautifully on the right person ó male or female ... just not for me.