Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Peau d'Espagne by Santa Maria Novella

Total Reviews: 30
This leather is a little too much on the raunchy side for my tastes, although I appreciate its boldness.
15th December, 2017
It is a decent fragrance in the same ballpark as Givenchy Gentleman. Both are dusty, patchouli based leathers. Peau d'espagne also has added herbs for a pungent and strong opening. It is an Italian take on Peau d'espagne theme and smells quite natural.

Many reviewers call it an "old money" fragrance, which I agree. However, it is not in the same league as Knize Ten.
12th February, 2017
Stardate 20160930:

Finally a leather that smells like leather. If you go to the modern shoe shine and leather repair shops at Grand Central you will smell Peau d'Espagne.
It is the combination of leather, show polish and whatever fragrance they use.
I get a strong "paan" note which to me implies presence of rose, clove, other spices and perhaps some musk.
Much much better than K10 or russian leather.
FB for sure
01st October, 2016
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The Reviews before say it all.
Masculine because it has a strong note of Dry Smoked Bacon.
My Queen can wear Cuir Mauresque and I will nibble her ear.
I'll wear this and she can nibble mine.
15th July, 2016 (last edited: 22nd July, 2016)
What a wonderfully complicated and different fragrance! I tested this fragrance for a couple of weeks in the hopes of finding a leather fragrance that could be worn in the heat of the Texas summer, and, I found it in SMN Peau d'Espagne.

Many others have reviewed the top and middle notes of this fragrance very well, I'd like to add a little on the base. After several hours of wear, the described harsh and medicinal and floral leather gives way to a rather sweet base that reminds me of buckwheat honey and hay.

In my opinion, compared to Knize Ten, SMN Peau d'Espagne is a tighter fragrance, it has a bit less going on, but to me it seems to knit together very cohesively. For hot weather, tight and cohesive works very well. For a warm to hot weather leather, this works for me very nicely. I highly recommend it.
15th July, 2016 (last edited: 21st July, 2016)
Peau d’Espagne (Spanish Leather) is a brash, dark leather fragrance that drills home its point without losing the plot somewhere over amberland or vanillaville.

Unlike cuirs de Russie (Russian leathers), leather fragrances classified as peau d’espagne (Spanish leather) types do not rely primarily on birch tar for their smoky, leathery effect, but instead recreate it through the use of a complex locking system of various dry herbs, flowers (carnation), and dusty woods.

The Peau d’Espagne type of leather came about from the process of curing the leather for fine ladies’ gloves with a sweet-smelling mixture of flowers and botanical essences, which of course masked the terrible stench of uncured leather.

Peau d’Espagne is the oldest, and finest, surviving representative of this type of leather, and although it does contain a small amount of rectified birch tar, its total effect owes more to its complex floral construction than to birch tar. Although it plainly skews masculine, I think this could be phenomenally sexy on the right woman – a bad-ass perhaps, or if playing against type, a quiet, feminine girl who wants her aura to read as unexpectedly kinky.

The leather note is strong and dry, a piece of raw cowhide waiting to be tanned in a vat of dyes. But though it is dark, it is also fresh with an underbelly of green herbs, camphor, and even a touch of mint flooding the gloom with slivers of light.

The florals lend their effect rather than a distinct aroma of their own - the carnation note gives a flourish of clove-scented powder to the leather, and the violet leaf a sharp, green, almost metallic edge.

There is a touch of birch tar here, too, and although I wouldn’t really call this a phenolic fragrance, there is a distinct whiff of tar pits. But think sweet tar, like that in Patchouli 24 or the sweet, rubbery florals behind the tough saddle leather in Lonestar Memories.

As with a few other Santa Maria Novella fragrances, there is a distinctly antiseptic note floating through the heart here, almost like TCP or germolene. This adds a pleasantly medicinal touch, and replicates somewhat the balance achieved in something like Tubereuse Criminelle between the floral, creamy side and the harsh, wintergreen aspect. It is this antiseptic mouthwash note that brings together all the other elements – the leather, the herbs, the carnation, the tar.

A striking, if rather rough leather fragrance in a tradition of Peau d’Espagne that is no longer in fashion.
21st May, 2016
I haven't yet met another person that likes the smell of this, but god I love it! It's like mentholated smoked ham! Santa Maria Novella fragrances so reliably elicit perturbed "What ARE you wearing!" responses that it makes me laugh. People hate it but it smells wonderful. I like to think this is the Peau d'Espagne Molly Bloom remembers wearing in the last chapter of Ulysses. Wear it for yourself. "What IS THAT you are wearing!" like it's a personal affront. Mmmmmmm, soapy tarry fatty medicated meat strips. Glorious.
02nd October, 2015
In a world where perfumes routinely smell like burnt rubber or bleach, it's amazing and kind of awesome that a century-old perfume can still be this shocking.

Peau d'Espagne is almost impossibly complex but worth the effort to get to know. On one hand, it's got a bit of a Knize Ten vibe, but MUCH harsher, with the dreaded gasoline note amplified until the whole thing smells like its fumes could get you high (if they don't kill you first). The suede and flowers fit into a chypre shell, but alongside a slug of dirty, almost burnt patchouli and a generous helping of hot vinegar fumes. There's also a weird minty brightness that comes across as vaguely moldy, but it fits right in with the gasoline and vinegar, so it's actually an interesting counterbalance.

To be honest, most people, including many collectors, will think this smells awful. It exists in limited production for the classic leather fanatics and chypre fetishists and devotees of oily patchouli, flatly rejecting any attempt at mainstream appeal, which I think is brilliant.
14th August, 2015
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
Saddles, tack, horses.... this leather scent has them all. It is an intensely dark, dry leather that is extremely masculine; it is as timeless as the smell of horses and stables (and their timeless appeal as well). There is a medicinal note that smells a bit like saddle soap, but even more like the treated water used to wash horses before the water is scraped off, like in a Roman bath, and they are curry combed and brushed. This scent is old school, old world and old money (and worth every cent in new money terms!).
22nd July, 2015 (last edited: 23rd August, 2016)
shamu1 has said it all and very well indeed.

Dark and dry, bitter, herbal, resinous, strong, black, smoky, meaty. One of the first and greatest leathers ever made and thank goodness, still available after 113 years.

In the late 1800s/early 1900s it was one of forty Peau d'Espagnes available and one of the very few to have survived intact without any attempt to beautify the harsh real leather scent. Barbara Herman tells us that the secret is the use of linaloe berry (a cross between lavender, bergamot and mint), which gives it that dry, bitter, herbal note. Musk, amber and civet go a long way to soften the effect as it dries down.

Too bad it is so expensive - it is a great great leather and should be experienced by everyone interested in the scent. One of the most masculine scents ever made. Samples are available affordably on the internet.
20th March, 2014
Yee-haw! Saddle up cowpoke and stuff a sock down yer jocks.
One heck of a swaggering scent, which opens with a burst of sweet herbs and freshly split wood but soon finds its balance in a mix of smoky birch tar, well-used leather and a sweaty fenugreek-like note. Well-constructed, if a little piercing when sniffed up close. The sweat fades as the hours go by, and the leather gets drier and drier – and increasingly addictive. Beautiful, if somewhat challenging, stuff from the start. Funnily enough, this opens up splendidly on a summer’s day, gaining an airy dimension that the winter cold damps down.
Historical note: the name refers to the expensive scented Spanish leather items which had their heyday among the aristos of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. Why scent your leather? To cover up the pong of having cured it in urine.
14th November, 2013
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Sweetish leather

On my skin this is piirimarily a leather scent, a moderately sweet leather but mess sweet than, for instance, Creed's Royal Delight. It is intensive, with a bit of a herbal, slightly medicinal touch in the drydown at times, but really leather, leather, leather. There is never a harsh note in it, but a gently smoky touch is note. I like it, as I do the good silage and projection. Longevity of over three hours on me.

01st June, 2013
This is very turbulent leather, it opens as mentholated smoked ham, unusual combination of notes, then it smells animalic and herbal at the same time, and reminds me at certain parts of my reference leather scent Montale Cuir the Arabie, but not as nice

Spanish leather smells like apotheque, and calms down in some bitter herbal mix, not having much to do with leather scent, reminded me a little bit of Cuir Lancome at moments too, that floral smokeyness,its nice on its own, but is too green for my taste maybe
13th March, 2013
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l get a mentholated opening, reminiscent to my nose of certain disinfectants, particularly Dettol. This soon gives way to a dry leather, with just a touch of sweetness when sniffed from a distance. ln the heart, the leather turns salty & animalic, like warm male skin, reminding me of Dans Tes Bras. Later still, the base is a soft, lightly powdery leather, fading out after around five hours.
l find this fragrance surprisingly cuddly, not at all harsh or austere as l was expecting. l would encourage more of you ladies out there who love leathers to try this one!
21st November, 2012
I've worn the Peau d'Espagne now for a couple of days from a sample and simply, I'm blown away.

I find it hard to describe how I feel about it. It's old yet has a modern abstract feeling about it. Very much un-mainstream. I absolutely love the birch tar note in there and that adds a real "old world" woody aspect to the fragrance. The whole time this is going on you have faint floral/herbaceous notes floating about in there and they are sitting at the side on a pillow of talc.

The star of this scent though is the medicinal/balmy/ambery binding in the base which along with the dryness of this scent, brings all the notes together. "Leather " fragrances can be cloying (GFT Spanish Leather) and can sometimes be over the top (Knize Ten). I agree with one of the previous reviews saying this is stronger than the above but it is much more perfectly balanced than any other leather I've worn before.

I had previously started a thread in the forum here about finding a scent which was the smell of walking into the entrance hall of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. A lot of answers came back but this is that scent (maybe adding in a little of SMN Pot Pourri), this is alchemy, this is Santa Maria Novella.

The smell of a perfumer in a centuries old building with surrounds just as old. Old oak which has soaked up all the fragrances past and holds those scents as memories for everyone to smell in the future.

This is simply wonderful.

Now...... to try and source a bottle.
26th July, 2012
shamu1 Show all reviews
United States
As a great admirer of leather fragrances, I can say that this is, without a doubt, the driest and darkest leather fragrance I have ever smelled. All other leathers, even Knize Ten and Kolnisch Juchten, smell like a hot fudge sundae by comparison.

It's also got one of the most authentic smelling leather accords I've ever experienced. It smells black, smoky and meaty, without smelling like beef jerky. There are bitter, harsh herbs underlying the leather smell, and they only add to the perfume's dryness and austerity. Peau d'Espagne is so well blended, I find it difficult distinguish any of its individual notes. It just smells like hot black leather for several hours.

The drydown is my favorite part. The leatheriness tones down quite a bit after about four hours of wearing this, and what you're left with is a stark, intensely aromatic herbal drydown with hints of leather and patchouli. This is awesome.

Peau d'Espagne is almost ridiculously masculine. It belongs in the Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme class of brooding, unsmiling, cruel fragrances for hard-asses.

MY RATING: 8.5/10
20th June, 2012
drseid Show all reviews
United States
Peau d'Espagne opens with an almost camphorous mix of heavy herbs, creating a menthol-like accord. It is quite challenging, but not unpleasant. This open very slowly recedes but never dissipates, instead allowing a rather strong birch leather note to emerge and take the fore. By this time the overall scent is much more wearable and enjoyable. I have a hard time identifying any other individual notes here, as the herbal mix still obscures a lot of anything else the scent has to offer. Projection is good, and longevity is above average.

Peau d'Espagne is definitely not my kind of leather scent. That said, I don't dislike it either. The opening is tough to get through due to that herbal eucalyptus mix that is just downright potent. If you can make it past the opening and early heart notes, then there is a decent leather here to discover... The problem is I fear most, myself included will not want to experience the couple hours of Peau d'Espagne in order to get the relatively good payoff much later when there are so many good leather offerings on the market, both classic and contemporary. I definitely think Peau d'Espagne is a nice scent in its own way and recommend a sniff to leather fans, but I think I will keep to more pleasant leathers like Cuiron and Cuir Pleine Fleur. I give Peau d'Espagne a 3 out of 5 rating and a strong neutral.
24th May, 2012 (last edited: 07th June, 2012)
It is a challenging perfume. It is very strong. It makes Bandit and Knize Ten quiver if that were a measure of strength.
Of course brawn is not always the solution, sometimes brain is required. Pd'E has both but bigger muscles.

Its one of the few perfumes that I only spray 3 or 4 sprays.

Stark, astringent, strict, austere are words that come to mind.

I don't wear it often, I think I can't, but when I do I enjoy it tremendously.
08th May, 2012
Oh, is this great. Finally a leather scent with no harsh isobutylquinoline!
26th April, 2012
A very natural smelling leather scent. Released in 1901, Peau D'Espagne is still very wearable and while it has a lot of the classic clichè of that time perfumery, it still shows no aging. An ante-litteram animalic leather that smells much better than most of its successors. A must try!
13th April, 2011
This is a delightful, old-school scent: at once dryly herbal and richly perfume-y. Aromatic spices and perhaps some oakmoss give this a scent like fine old fougere soap. The leather note is restrained, interesting, and elusive. This has a suave, smooth, attractive character. The notes are substantial but not heavy. They are natural-smelling, and thankfully not sweet or cloying. This one intrigues me, since I don’t usually like leather scents.
08th March, 2010
Incredibly spicy, Peau d'Espagne is a leather concoction. But it's a 1900's leather, not at all a 1920's one, like Lanvin Scandal, Chanel Cuir de Russie, or Knize Ten. It's more natural, spicy, woody, herbal and ambery, more medicinal, but a masterpiece!
20th February, 2010
(This review is for the absolute; I applied a only very tiny amount to my wrist and distributes it well over the other arm, since this concentration is not intended to be applied directly to the skin; yes, I am a pushover for a certain kind of bottle.)

I have a weakness for leather notes, so my first request at SMN was for 'something leathery', and 'Peau d'Espagne' was naturally what was presented to me for inspection. After wandering about with it for a day, I decided that I loved it, and went back and bought it.

When first applied, this is not markedly leathery (admittedly, though, since the scent of leather comes primarily form the substances applied to the skins, rather than the skins themselves, this is a rather hazy label). Initially, notes of anise and a sort of soapiness accompany a smoky, muted spiciness. Over time, a much warmer, lightly animalic note emerges, with a suggestion of amber, way in the background. By the end of the day (and this is very persistent... I could smell it the next day, even after a lengthy shower), a muted spiciness remains, hovering over a leathery note that evokes the sun shining in on shelves of leather-bound books. This is the leather of a cosy, much-frequented old library, rather than that of the tack room or the leather bar, the sensuality that of stretching oneself out comfortably in a favourite chair, without encumbering oneself with any more clothing than the temperature demands.
24th March, 2009
bbBD Show all reviews
United States
I generally agree with my man everso on many fragrances, and in my never ending quest to sample every leather fragrance ever made I've come across many whose "Cuir" title did not match the actual scent. I was thus prepared to not be impressed with Peau d'Espagne, even though I'm something of an SMN devotee. Living now in Texas it took me quite a while to source a sample, and at times I almost pulled the trigger on an expensive blind buy.

On first spray I was entirely in agreement with everso - I got a blast of pungent herbs, woods, and amber that smelled little or nothing of leather. Not ready to give up, I gave it ten minutes and noticed the herbal notes were calming down and a leathery quality emerging. Within 20 minutes the herbal notes were merely a side note, and 30 minutes after application I was enjoying a terrifically smooth and rich leather fragrance. I'm not sure why SMN would devise such an opening except maybe that the myriad of notes that combine to create leather require these such an opening as a consequence of the ingredients used ((especially in an old-recipe, low/no synthetic formula like SMNs).

The leather is smooth and luxurious. There is a similarity to Chanel Cuir de Russie (pre Exclusifs) only the SMN has a distinctly more masculine feel to it, perhaps because of the herbal underpinnings that are always subtly present. I generally always get terrific longevity from SMN fragrances, despite their label as 'Acqua di Colonias' (which I don't think they are vis a vis concentration levels), and this is no exception. The leather note, once present, is linear and only fades slowly towards the end. Hints of the fragrance are present over 12 hours later, using 3 sprays.

*SIGH* Another Santa Maria Novella I'd like on my shelf.
27th February, 2009
everso Show all reviews
United States
This is not a real leather scent. I wanted to love this---i really did....however this is a very amber heavy spice driven affair, lacking in any real leather notes or suede. It is a huge dissappointment, as far as i am concerned. It's very well made, however that doesn't change the fact that the name of the fragrance (translates into Spanish Leather) is a complete deception. FAIL!
02nd January, 2009
A number of good scent companies make something called: "Spanish Leather" but in comparison, they are pale pastels compared to this gutsy leather concoction from Santa Maria Novella. The leather accord is not masked, spiced or sweetened. It is presented here as a straightforward smooth leather smell that is strong and almost gets into your throat. I have no earthly idea what makes this "Spanish", per se, but it is most assuredly quality saddle leather with all its sonorous richness. Yes, I meant sonorous rather than olfactory richness. The one magical thing about this is that it makes me think very directly of the sound saddle leather makes when it is moved or twisted-- that pulling skin sound of leather. No other leather fragrance actually makes me think of the experience with leather itself, except this one. Not for the faint of heart, but for the few who really want leather polite saddle soap.
19th December, 2008
This fragrance lingers on everything it touches like a rugged kiss from a cowboy soaked in campfire smoke and saddle leather sweat. It smells like the sexiest man you've ever seen in your life, taking a hot outdoor bath in a tin tub, smeared with sweet shaving lather and dust, steaming on a cold high-desert morning.
05th October, 2008
I'm not sure it's tabasco that it smells like, but there is a strong bitter, peppery, herbal quality (maybe that SMN mace again), especially in the topnotes. I don't see any relationship to Cuir Mauresque. If I can compare it to anything, I'd say it's about midway between topnotes of Knize Ten and the topnotes of Lonestar Memories - only here, this smell lasts at least through the midnotes and into the base a little. And this isn't as good as either of those. Imagine a harsh, dirty, herbal quality on top of a rich, strong leather. Very masculine, very strong, and definitely not for everyone. Like Lonestar, it doesn't last as long as you'd think given the potency of the initial blast. Not for me I'm afraid. The herbs ruin it for me.
16th September, 2006
It smells like a bottle of Tabasco sauce which has been spilled over an ancient leather bound book. This one is a head turner, especially in today's bland aquatic world
24th February, 2006 (last edited: 05th July, 2009)
I either despise leather or don't care for this fragrance. I must say it smells EXACTLY like leather. It is what it claims to be... so perhaps I should not give this a "down" review. It smells like elegant leather, but I am confused as to why someone would WANT to smell like leather. When I bought this, I thought it was going to be more sophisticated than leather.. with a hint of spice, for example. However, I could not get over its scent, nor could eithers around me.
Now, years later, I love and wear this on occasion. I once traded a bottle away and wish I had not, I really like,this now. It settles down to a dignified leather, then to a masculine Knize ish floral, it's more complex than I gave credit. Enjoyable and recommended.
10th December, 2005 (last edited: 18th February, 2017)