I’m used to thinking of iris as the shapeshifter of perfume, but leather fragrances can be equally squirrelly. From the sharp, dominatrix nappa of Robert Piguet Bandit and the oily, sweet saddle leather of Caron Tabac Blond, to the fresh, air-salt suede of DelRae Mythique and the floral glove leather of Lancôme Cuir de Lancôme, leather isn’t always easy to pin down. Now with Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum, another leather joins the mix. This one is full but refined, friendly but elegant. I’m hooked.
Perfumer Michel Almairac created Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum. Its notes include patchouli, oak moss, bergamot, jasmine, and pink pepper. Bottega Veneta classifies it as a “leathery floral chypre.” Bottega Veneta’s online advertising includes a film with quiet solo piano transitioning to strings, supplemented with the sounds of seagulls and a far-off storm. The model featured in the sepia-tinted campaign is atypically beautiful with a strong nose and brow. She’s swaddled in something fancy and silk, and she seems to be alone, focused on the horizon. It’s an unusually introspective ad.
The fragrance is reserved, but not as withdrawn as the ad campaign suggests. Bottega Veneta opens with pale citrus giving way to smooth suede and floral apricot. A hint of ocean air adds an edge to the suede. When I read Denyse’s review of Bottega Veneta at Grain de Musc I nodded the whole way through: the tight, velvety nap of apricots? Check. The moist, sweet-tart smell of a cold plum? Check. The iodine of the sea? Yes, that, too, and subtly.
Tingling jasmine lightens Bottega Veneta’s sweetened glove leather. Fruit-phobes, don’t worry: the fruit merely softens the leather the way a rose in the garden can smell like raspberries. Despite the fruity hint, it’s still a rose, and Bottega Veneta is still a leather fragrance. As Bottega Veneta ages, benzoin and patchouli continue to fill it out so that it retains warmth and presence. The fragrance feels full and round, yet soft as a kitten’s ear. It’s easy to wear and present without being demanding. It has moderate sillage and lasts all day on my skin.
Side by side with Serge Lutens Daim Blond, Daim Blond’s Lutensian legacy of cedar and stewed fruit show starkly. I never would have characterized Daim Blond that way if I hadn’t smelled it next to the calm luxe of Bottega Veneta. Thinking their leathers were equally sweet and refined, I tried Bottega Veneta next to Cuir de Lancôme. Cuir de Lancôme read more watery-floral, although its leather had the same good breeding as Bottega Veneta’s. I came away with a new and deeper appreciation for Cuir de Lancôme (and such a bargain at online discounters!) but also a nagging lust for Bottega Veneta.
When I wore Bottega Veneta at the office, it earned unanimously positive reviews. “It’s beautiful,” my boss said. (Bonus review: He also said, “Have you ever smelled Tom Ford Black Orchid? That stuff is strong. I like it, but I can’t wear it. But if I cook something stinky like fish, I can spray it on the curtains to hide the odor.”) My favorite sales associate at Nordstrom said of Bottega Veneta, “I think it’s going to be big.” (His bonus review: “Have you smelled Prada Candy? It’s not my favorite. That caramel. It smells like something you’d spray to cover up another odor.”)
Before too long, I know I won’t be able to resist adding Bottega Veneta to my collection. When I do, it will find regular rotation through work, dinner parties, and evenings at home. Shoot, if I ever end up in an evening gown and a mussed, 1960s coiffure while staring out at the ocean like the model in Bottega Veneta’s ad, I’ll wear it then, too. What a nice surprise from the department store.
Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum is available in a 50 ml bottle for $95, and a 75 ml bottle for $130. Also available are a 30 ml bottle of Eau de Parfum , 200 ml shower gel, 200 ml body lotion, 200 ml body cream, and a 60 ml bottle of parfum.