Bottega Veneta, the new perfume from the fashion house, offers exactly what I hoped years ago to get from Hermes Kelly Caleche. Bottega Veneta is a refined floral leather that has just enough edge to stand out not only among other "designer" perfumes but also in a wardrobe that's already quite packed with leather and suede fragrances.
Funny enough, the list of notes doesn't include leather (and many other things I smell in Bottega Veneta). It actually reads like a mostly harmless modern department store perfume. See for yourself: Italian bergamot, Brazilian pink pepper, Indian Sambac jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli. The inclusion of oakmoss made me wince, knowing that because of IFRA regulations the amount of the precious used in Bottega Veneta would never be enough to even register with the average sniffer. But once I started testing this perfume all crankiness vanished. It's so different than anything you find today at Nordstrom and the likes.
In her Bottega Veneta review on NST, Angela makes spot-on comparisons to two other soft leather perfumes: Serge Lutens Daim Blond and Cuir de Lancome. The first couple of times I tested Bottega Veneta definitely brought to mind the buttery suede and apricot jam from Uncle serge. However, Daim Blond is more assertive and also considerably sweeter (and I admit: it usually smells better on my husband than on me, even though I adore it. It just tends to wear me a little). In comparison, Bottega Veneta is more sheer. It's like watching the rich and colorful scene created by Daim Blond through a softening filter. There's not just more air in this scent, but also a hint of salt. The apricot preserve here is more subtle and perhaps served on toast, not eaten one spoonful after another.
Cuir de Lancome shares with Bottega Veneta a soft floral vibe that covers the leather. Thinking of this much beloved and discontinued gem usually sends me in a feat of panic to check my vault of backup bottles and make sure that, indeed, I do have a lifetime supply of it. Now, Bottega Veneta in its sheer apricot veil is not a substitute for Cuir, but their somewhat understated touch and their relationship with one's feminine side are comparable.
The femininity is probably Bottega Veneta's biggest contribution to the leather perfume category. This note is often paired with iris, various animalic substances and/or sharp galbanum. It makes leather both fabulous and hard to wear for many. While I love my leather Bandit-style and will take it in any and every possible shape (smoky and animalic Mona di Orio-style, iris and sofas as in Cuir Ottoman or carnal and syrupy like in Cuir Mauresque), there is something to be said for a refined version one can wear without an ounce of self-consciousness. Bottega Veneta is not just feminine, it's also pretty and friendly in the most pleasing and appropriate way. Amazingly enough, it still retain not an edge but a strong character and point of view.
Bottega Veneta by Bottega Veneta ($95, 1.7 oz) is available from top department stores.
Photos of Nine D’Urso, daughter of Ines De La Fressange, filming the campaign for Bottega Veneta from thisislavie.com.