Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum: fragrance review

"On these days he rose early, set off at a gallop, urging on his horse, then got down to wipe his boots in the grass and put on black gloves before entering. He liked going into the courtyard, and noticing the gate turn against his shoulder, the cock crow on the wall, the lads run to meet him. He liked the granary and the stables; he liked old Rouault, who pressed his hand and called him his saviour; he liked the small wooden shoes of Mademoiselle Emma on the scoured flags of the kitchen--her high heels made her a little taller; and when she walked in front of him, the wooden soles springing up quickly struck with a sharp sound against the leather of her boots." ~Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, ch.II
If, like me, you've ever swooned over the austerely sensuous implications of leather in all its forms: from the tight-fitting driving gloves of an enigmatic heist wheelman (on they go like part of a superhero's suit), to the posh interiors of a Bentley, all through the fetishistically-fitted dresses that populated Helmut Newton's wet dreams......
If you've admired Florentine artisan handbags, fondly remembering your hand caressing the supple leather surface and the feeling of understated luxury and elegance they exude...
If you yearn for the sweetly pungent and at the same time totally "fabricated" smell of a good, old-school leather fragrance...
...then the fragrance release introduced by the Bottega Veneta brand (the apex of leather luxury) is set to stir your heart with unbridled longing. And deservedly so: Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum is unquestionably among the finest releases of 2011.

The scent
Bottega Veneta follows into glorious lineage: it unites elements of both posh-smelling floral leathers of yore (Chanel Cuir de Russie, Grès Cabochard), fusing the narcotic sex of jasmine with the plush of leather, and some of the plummy-citrusy goodness of legendary fruity chypres (Diorama, Guerlain Parure, Femme by Rochas). In the past, "woody plum" was based on the famous De Laire Prunol base: peach, ionones, aldehydes C-14 and C-18, cumin, cardamom, methyl isobutyl ketone V and patchouli.
But Grasse-born, renowned perfumer Micheal Almariac gave a decidedly modern feel to the Bottega Veneta composition; like a vegetal, herbal sub-segment which opens the perfume for the first 10 minutes, shared with Chanel's 31 Rue Cambon or Dior Homme, quickly meeting the patchouli-vanilla of Gucci Rush alongside a plum-rose-leather accord; if you can fathom the quirky marriage of such diverse elements. If I were to liken the perfume's overall effect to other perfumes though, it would be to Boxeuses by Serge Lutens, or Cuir Améthyste by Armani (on which Almairac also worked).

There are four key notes in Bottega Veneta's Eau de Parfum: jasmine sambac, Brazilian pink peppercorn, bergamot, and Indian patchouli (a not particularly "dirty" but richly mature kind, like the one in Almairac's patchouli opus Voleur de Roses, which grows as time lapses and becomes more comforting). The citrus and leather are recoginisable from the opening spraying, while the fragrance warms increasingly with perceptible candied plum notes fanning the floral heart of jasmine, on a resinous backdrop of caramelic benzoin and dark earthy oak moss. Bottega Veneta gains in patchouli strength (nuttier and sweeter) boosted by the humming leather the longer it stays on.
The scent of Bottega Veneta is by no means a powerhouse, but the sillage and tenacity are undeniably very good (even though you might not notice it all the time!) floating over your skin in a delicious murmur and spontaneously eliciting three unsolicited compliments on the morning I tested it for the first time. I think it opens up like a fine cognac when used with a spray; a dab or a blotter test hides its intimate, skin-like tonalities. Although usually I discourage readers from blind buys, this is one of the rare releases that sounds like a good bet for perfume enthusiasts into leathery chypres and who like the notes listed. Even though it's gloriously feminine, daring men might pull it off without eliciting raised eyebrows.

The perfumer
Fragrance composer Michel Almairac told The Moodie Report, “I was asked to create a fragrance that would mirror the brand, which would convey its feeling and atmosphere. That image of Bottega Veneta incorporates elements such as a countryside villa, the smell of furniture, food, and vegetation - in short, the whole ambience of Vicenza, where the brand was born. And as this is the very first  Bottega Veneta fragrance, the parameters were broad, and I could give full rein to my imagination.”
Almairac zeroed on chypre: “Chypre is rich, elegant, and timeless, and very helpful in terms of conveying the abstract floral affect that Tomas wanted me to convey, in addition to the subtle leather tones” and married it to the leather accord of his dreams. 
 “The choice and quality of components is even more important when you have a simple formula such as this,” noted Almairac. “My company, Robertet, is known for using natural products. We treated the four ingredients of this fragrance to enhance or diminish certain qualities. For example, we treated the jasmine to give it a stronger character, but a lighter color.” He succeeded most admirably, hitting upon a soft leather accord which is polished like a fine kid glove and caressing without turning wimpy.

The looks
Fronted by model Nine D’Urso (daughter of Inès de la Fressange and Italian businessman & art dealer Luigi d’Urso) on the beach, the advertising campaign for Bottega Venete Eau de Parfum is dreamy but nicely restrained. Pity those who might think it involves a "marine" type light affair though, as Bottega Veneta is a perfume drenched in ciaroscuro, very specifically full of the warmth of indoors as opposed to outdoors.

The fragrance's bottle harkens back to Murano glass and the traditional Italian carafes. It features a brunito cap and collar, an ebano logo, and a nude leather ribbon clipped with a brunito butterfly, while the underside features Bottega Veneta's famous woven look.

The shopping
Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum is available in 30ml/1oz (65$), 50ml/1.7oz (for $95) and 75ml/2.4oz (for $130), in matching body products (shower gel, body crème and lotion) and as limited edition Extrait de Parfum in Murano (available at Harrods and the Bond Street BV boutique in the UK for £365). The fragrance is currently available in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus in the US and Debenhams and House of Fraser in the UK and will launch more widely in November.

Drive film artwork featuring Ryan Gosling via Soraiah Zohdi


  1. Dear E.,

    *hm* I wasn't sure if I could like this one, but now that you write it's even blind-buy worthy, I'm really tempted.
    You know how much I love leathery chypres & the mention of oak moss makes me swoon!
    If I can't get a hold of a sample, I might very well buy it unsniffed, I think.

    This fall brings us several good fragrance releases. So far Annick Goutal's "Mon Parfum Chéri" is my favorite. Do you like it, too?

    Tabatha (formerly Malena)

  2. dleep17:20

    I have read so many positive things about this perfume - I have to try it. Thanks for the great review.

  3. Anonymous18:09

    Dear E,

    I have a real problem with leather: I can't seem to stay away from it in its apparel form (Me: Oooh just look at that leather jacket. Better half: But you already have a leather jacket.... Oh, simple man). There is nothing like the smell and feel of it, although I did make the mistake of purchasing a smelly leather jacket (in Italy of all places) that I now regret.

    This perfume sounds like it smells the way a well worn leather jacket smells after it has spent some time against perfumed skin. Lovely.


  4. Anonymous18:18

    Thierry Mugler Alien perfume this smell reminds me of.


  5. I blind bought a job lot of carded samples on Ebay, and it is so wonderful that I want to spread the workd and have started giving my stash away to family and friends. At the rate I am going I might need a bottle of this for myself!

  6. The word, the word! Btw, I get a prominent apricot note in this, which may be related to the plum? It is as I hoped Daim Blond would be, but that was like suede-scented white noise on me instead.

  7. I bought it on the second sniff. And I have a review in the making but Helg was faster.

  8. Anonymous23:17

    Such a lovely review, I wish it didn't disappear to nothing on my skin! I would love another elegant leather at my disposal, but this was not meant to be.

  9. Dear T,

    hello there and so nice to see you here again! How are things?

    I think it's a very noteworthy release and easy to like: the leather is very soft, but substantial enough, the florals and fruits plush. The sillage and tenacity are very good, but modern-ly on the discreet end (you know you have it on, people know you have it on, but it doesn't scream, if you know what I mean).
    I think you should definitely get at least a sample/decant to try out!

    A cursory glance at the Goutal left me impressed, but I need to wear it a couple of days more to write a decent review (will do)

  10. Dleep,

    you're welcome, glad you enjoyed the review!
    It's very good, worth a shot.

  11. Natalia,

    *sigh* I KNOW!! Luckily my SO "gets" this addiction as well ;-)
    It's just so snuggly and at the same time confidence boosting, isn't it? A superhero suit, so to speak.

    I think you'd love this one, it's perfumey and a little pungent (as it should be) and at the same time very soft and romantic too.

  12. Anon,

    really?? You should know.

  13. V,

    how very sweet and thoughtful of you!! I applaud your spirit of generosity and good taste! (We can always afford more great-smelling people around us).

  14. V,

    indeed apricot is close to plumminess in perfume terms; they're all analogous of peach lactones and Persicol. I think Daim Blond was too muted and too "hazy" to the point where it good a little muddled (and nauseating on some occasions) on me. I don't know why I wasn't crazy about it, as in theory I should be (and I love Boxeuses). Funny thing, the apricot doesn't bother me in Tresor of all things (even though I find Tresor rather heavy)

  15. L,

    good girl, after my own heart! (we knew that though, didn't we). Looking forward to your individual take on it.

  16. Anon,

    thanks so much for saying so and for commenting!
    That's a pity, shoot, why did that happen? Have you tried on skin and by spraying? I found that dabbing and on a blotter it tends to "disappear" indeed (there is a very low hum on the green-herbal and leather opening, which is benefited by the warmth of skin). Maybe you might have cool, olive-toned skin naturally as well? I find this needs an area with real warmth to bloom.

  17. Oh I really want this! I even get tempted to by this unsniffed, from the description of the notes (leather, oakmoss!) Don't know how easy it will be to come by in Sweden though.

  18. Anonymous11:16

    Perhaps something is wrong with my nose? Everybody seems to love this.. i was very disapppointed. It actually made me feel a tad queasy (but not as much as Shalimar initial). All it did was make me crave a back-up bottle of Cuir de Lancôme....cheers Wendy

  19. Eva,

    I hear it's to be found right next to the Balenciaga counters. Keep an eye out for it, it's not displayed prominently. But it is mainstream release all the same.,

  20. Wendy,

    I think it's nothing wrong with your nose and plenty with our collective relief that a mainstream release is a leathery chypre and a nice, soft one at that. (This should tell anyone something about the state of things in the recent few years!)

    Cuir by Lancome is richer, more burnished and I can see who someone who is into leathers would prefer it over others. It's truer and deeper.
    But BV is a very valiant effort and a complex scent on its own right. I try to judge it for what it is and in that regard it's very good.

  21. I am very interested in testing this one. "Does it really have oakmoss in it? Is it the real deal or the newer synthetic?

  22. Stelma,

    oakmoss is not prohibited, it's restricted: meaning it can be used, only in much lower concentrations than in some of the classics of yore. This doesn't pose many problems for modern formulae, where the effect can be rendered through a scope of solutions (a little natural oakmoss, with added tree moss, oakmoss synthetics or all three), it's mostly a problem for old vintages.
    In BV I don't detect a huge natural oakmoss, but the feeling is very close to chypre-orientals like SL Boxeuses and SL Daim Blond (but without the sweetness of the latter).
    In short: It's quite marvellous, do try it!


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