“I’ve read my Colette you know!”
It’s true, she keeps a suede backed copy of ‘Gigi’ in her fashionable handbag at all times.
And though she would never dream of really living that kind of life she likes to let you think she might.
For beyond the enfant terrible on top, underneath the surface siren is a well brought up girl from a good family who just can’t help herself but flirt.
She flirts with the photographer at fashion shoots, plays the coquette with cameramen on commercials, breaks hearts on the catwalk.
It’s what she does for a living… at least until they let her act or she can sit still long enough to write her first novel.
After all, she has an almost intellectual, at the very least aristocratic heritage.
You can see it. It’s there as much in her ready wit and arch attitudes as the poses she strikes and those unforgettably high cheekbones.
Her great aunt was a writer, someone rather famous fifty years or so ago.
She herself would have preferred to dance ballet if it weren’t for those too fragile ankles.
Perhaps the year after next, when she’s through quite so voraciously devouring Vogue, as much to see herself and her friends as anything else. Maybe when the glossy magazines cease to be an extended family album on which she comments slyly how everything in the latest issue seems like what she was wearing, “well, a month or two ago”.
Possibly when this life is over and she doesn’t need to be so delicately perfumed and perfectly made up.
If… when, that tomorrow come she will become someone a little more serious.
For now though, it’s enough to be absolutely attractive and the centre of everyone’s attention.
Bottega Veneta is an ingénue’s perfume.
An irresistibly, undeniably pretty perfume just on the cusp of being truly beautiful.
One can imagine Audrey Hepburn wearing it between breaking through as “Gigi” on Broadway and Hollywood stardom dressed by Hubert de Givenchy.
Before other perfumes became ‘forbidden’.
A gentler contemporary riff on the great leather chypres of the past, it has a decided feel of both the Jazz age and the 1970s about it, but with something of the sharp edges and strife of both eras knocked off.
Indeed, while it is that rounding and smoothing of the scent that makes it so instantly appealing to modern audiences, it is also the lack of spike and spark that means this is a terrifically good but not a great fragrance.
Bergamot gains a ‘bright young thing’ brilliance being paired with on trend pink pepper at the opening.
It is followed quickly by the translucent jasmine of the heart that seems structural, more a frame on which to hang the central themes of the fragrance than a narrative in its own right.
For the meat and drink of the piece we look to a honeyed, though far from cloyingly sweet, patchouli matched in middle to base notes with a serene oakmoss analogue that is utterly pleasant but a little too yielding.
Equally as restrained, again arguably too restrained, is the leather note that drifts into the realms of creamy suede.
Make no mistake though, the overall effect is enchanting and tantalising.
But just like a gifted starlet at the start of her career, this scent hints at greater things to come.
For a first perfume from a revitalised brand this is a brave start, moving forward, the thing to do, surely, would be to let the hair down, pay less attention to the men in marketing and take on more challenging parts.
That way a truly great performance might await us all.
We live in hope.