First steps into the spotlight… Bottega Veneta by Bottega Veneta The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“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.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy. The Perfumed Dandy


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36 responses to “First steps into the spotlight… Bottega Veneta by Bottega Veneta The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. Mary E.

    Marvelous photos and descriptions of Bottega Veneta! Must go apply some…

  2. Lilybelle

    We do indeed. Live in hope, that is. I very much liked BV when I tried it. And those smoothed off edges are ok when you’re not in the mood the be challenged. Loved your review, Mr. Dandy. 🙂

    • Dearest Lily
      Indeed they are… I hadn’t meant to sound at all hard on this perfume, I like it very much indeed… my goodness comparing anything to the young Audrey Hepburn should indicate that.
      It’s just that it’s excited me that we may get more and better if the creative team at this house keeps its nerve… I mean it’s pretty, but it’s not Azuree!
      Though, yes, perhaps one wouldn’t want to live with Azuree every day…. she’s certainly ‘challenging’.
      Thank you as always for the kind words.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        I didn’t think you were being too hard. I love and mourn my old classics, so I can totally empathize. But there are those days when smoothed and harmless works well. I agree, with this fragrance as Bottega Veneta’s first offering we can hopefully look to greater things. I’m not holding my breath, though. I don’t want to be cynical, but…you know. The way I see it, I have two choices: Wear my old fragrances and enjoy them while they last (mostly what I’ve been doing). Or, enter the spirit of the current age and do not look back. I can’t seem to do both simultaneously, it’s like sitting on a fence. And then there are the days for Azuree. 😉

      • Dearest Lily
        It is a quandary. I too find a it a challenge to go to the modern mainstream after revelling in classics (imagine the culture shock after my month with Caron!?!).
        Yet sometimes it is worth it, as with this one… and who knows, perhaps the commercial success this has enjoyed (in Europe at least) might persuade others to follow and go further.
        Hope! Have hope dear one!!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. I loved this review too, and am envious that you can still be arsed.

    I am going, myself, through a period of absolute perfume apathy myself, particularly when it comes to the contemporary, behaved, perfumes such as this.

    My brain has gone all java

    • Dearest Ginza
      Ahhh… the muse will return, she better had we’re all banking on it!
      And if you’ve gone all Java gaga then that’s all to be expected, think of it as your Beatles with the Yogi (not bear) period.
      Something good will come of it mark my words…
      As to the perfume, she is very well behaved, but one feels that this house might have a little bravery hidden away somewhere (very hidden, sadly, in the case of the inevitable ‘eau legere’).
      And The Dandy is ever the optimist.
      And yours, ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. batkitty

    Ah, Bottega Veneta is lovely and I do enjoy wearing it. I agree it isn’t a challenging scent, but there’s definitely room in my collection for an absolutely free and easy perfume to wear on relaxed days. It’s such a pretty thing, youthful and elegant but not “young” and I like knowing it’s there for the days when I just want to “put something on” and not think too hard about it. Really enjoyed the review.

    • Dearest Batkitty
      You are quite right, one doesn’t always want a perfume that’s going to answer back! Sometimes rather than being challenging it’s rather nice when a scent is simply envelopingly lovely – which this absolutely is.
      And as to your distinction between ‘youthful’ and ‘young’, quite so, there’s nothing childish about this really quite sophisticated thing.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Who doesn’t love a glorious new ingénue? As for Madame Colette, was it true her husband would screech at her to write because “there isn’t a sou in the house”?

  6. Dear Dandy, I love the purple thread in your images. Simply Grand! Vital and Warm! (What a great film poster!) I’m adding Bottega Veneta to my fragrances-to-try list. Clipping from Colette, “Live in the moment! Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.” Merci! T.

  7. rosestrang

    Great description of the perfume! I love the glimpse of potential – the suggestion of a deeper more meaningful existence beneath the surface elegance. When I first tried it I was impressed by its beautiful composition and that touch of almost prefect elegance – leather, not too much fruit. But you’re absolutely right about the ‘too yielding’ patchouli’. For me that goes much further. Put it this way – I sprayed on Chanel’ Coromandel 10 days ago, and it till clings to my coatsleave – will have to get it dry cleaned! I really have a problem with patchouli and my nose needs a break from it.

    For me Bottega Venetta goes like this – Lovely, surprising, elegant? Patchouli. Crash.
    Do you ever feel there’s too much patchouli? For me it’s incredibly lasting and pervasive. I smell it in absolutely everything (Chanel’s Polge seems anosmic to it now, Bulgari seem to be copying the style) and I’m sick of it being added to perfumes so they can be tagged with ‘noir’ and ‘chypre’!
    Anyway, that’s my strop for the day. Enjoyed the review Sir T.P.D.!

    • Dearest Rose
      A very interesting train of thought, which set The Dandy thinking too.
      You are of course quite right, patchouli is the new black, or ‘noir’, used to give perfumes ‘depth’ or ‘edge’.
      And why? Perhaps because oakmoss is restricted and decent analogues are only just coming to the fore, meanwhile galbanum is considered too frosty for modern use (it’s the only element of the classic chypre formulation missing here).
      Then, of course, ‘suede’ is the new leather and no one would dream of accenting a floral chypre with a good sturdy birch tar hide these days (I come back to Azuree and Cabochard). Finally, tobacco is beyond the pale.’Ashtay’ everyone scream.
      So when darkness is required, when something needs some depth, when a scent is meant to be ‘grown up’, more and more perfumeurs seem to call on the services of the faithful leaf.
      Now, if you’re a fan of the herbaceous border, as I am, that’s not too bad, but you are spot on… we don’t want this to become the only tool (oud excepted, which is used ubiquitously and similarly) in the box.
      Maybe, the success of the nouvelle chypre will encourage this and other brands to try a more balanced classical interpretation… Carven after all have released a rather good interpretation of Ma Griffe.
      Thank you as ever for getting the grey cells moving.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. rosestrang

    Yes, a spot of Birch tar even in infinitesimal amounts as is Bulgari’s Black has people running for the hills! I’m glad there’s a sort of retro trend for vintage perfumes, a lot of folks know instinctively they’re being fobbed off with insipid perfume. I adore Cuir de Russie and now winter’s on its way I’m looking into leathers – Kelly Caleche and Bottega Venetta were tested for that reason. Liked the KC more, ultimately, but too much grapefruit for me
    I agree, patchouli in itself isn’t a problem, it’s not inspid at all, it’s just ladled on with a heavy hand, and to me it’s already heavy. I think everyone has a particular note that gives trouble. Incidentally, I tried Do Son after reading your review and it’s actually brought me round to tuberose,so I have the edt which is strong enough for me and really enjoy it, lovely! Still couldn’t wear fracas mind you!

    • Dearest Rose
      Isn’t it strange how people have an aversion to the perfectly innocent Bulgari Black? ‘Burning rubber’ is the unfortunate epithet most often used and yet it’s so subtle. I love Cuir de Russie too, I would place among my all time favourites, though Lancome’s Cuir is also absolutely divine in an even more spicy way.
      I agree, everyone has a note that seems to overpower all others, for me, it’s caramel, the slightest hint and all I can smell is toffee bubbling in a pot.
      I’m so pleased about Do Son, it really is ‘the tuberose for people who don’t like tuberose’, he smiles. And as for Fracas, well, even I would concede that it’s a little de trop, though in the best possible way.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  9. I like this quiet beauty a lot but have been waiting for the Mens. Still waiting to smell Pour Homme; it has made it way to London and Canada so hopefully the Down Under perfume colonies are next. Suggest you add two drops of fractionated Birch Tar to the women’s one and step on out.

    • Dear Jordan
      What a great suggestion re adulterating with a little Birch Tar, though perhaps that would overpower the emerging star… one can only but try.
      I hope the – very worthy – ‘pour homme’ arrives in the Antipodes before too long.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • rosestrang

        A wee touch of Birch Tar, a hint of things to come via her flinty intellectual Grandmother?! I’d say shovel out some of the patchouli soil and in with the smidgen of tar!

      • I have a suspicion her flinty grandmama would have worn have worn Cabochard, smoked Gitanes blondes legeres and eaten polo-necked existentialists for breakfast.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  10. Nena

    I’ve been thinking of blind buying this, and now that I have read your wonderful review, I think I will!

    • Dearest Nena
      I feel that this is a perfume unlikely to disappoint… it’s too simply charming for that, and as so many have pointed out before, determinedly wearable.
      Now, be sure to report back on your experiences!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  11. Alice

    Very interesting….me, I’m a Daim Blond fan (‘fanatic’ would be more accurate, I’ve even used up nearly 2 bottles!).. your profile of this sums up exactly why I’ve repeatedly sniffed BV in shops and thought ‘lovely..but…well maybe not right now’..
    An excellent review, as always!

    • Dearest Alice
      ‘Daim Blond’… now that really is all high class make up and knee length suede boots… quite beautiful in it’s soft to the touch powderiness, though a little cheeky too.
      A French ‘ye-ye’ star of the sixties, France Gall or Francoise Hardy made fragrance.
      What a lovely thought!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Alice

        ..and what a fabulous characterization of Daim Blond! Two very lovely stars who would both have worn it very well (I don’t possess knee length suede boots but, well, that’s what perfume’s for, one spray and I have all the necessary style and poise, at least in my imagination!).

      • Alice

        PS. how would a gentleman wear it? Will we find out?

      • Dearest Alice
        How true!! That exactly what perfume is for… one spritz of Cuir de Russie and I’m an aristocratic Russian cavalry officer of the Czar. A touch of Shalimar and… well now, I shan’t give away too many upcoming reviews in one fell swoop…
        As for Daim Blond, unfortunately, as wise Oncle Serge has already declared it available to men and women it can never make the official list, but maybe one Sunday when I am searching for a scent of my own to right about I may turn to this one…
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  12. I didn’t expect to like this perfume – and I did. Thank you for the beautiful review of one of my favorite perfumes.

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  14. Dear Mr Dandy,

    I deliberately did not read your review of BV before I wrote my own lest I was subconsciously influenced. In fact your review is far more technicolour than mine. Mine looks like a sensible black and white talkie compared to your marvellous Busby Berkeley of a review.

    I do agree with you in so far as I feel they could have gone a bit more “out there” and pimped it out a bit. If you’re going to use Oakmoss and Patchouli, turn the volume up. What I got was a refined also-ran Daim Blond, which is no bad thing really, but I was hoping for more Oomph in the base.

    Your friend

    • Dearest Iscent
      Yes indeed, ‘a little more ooomph’… why does that phrase make me think of Victoria Wood!?!
      It’s no Daim Blond, but as some of remarked, there is a comforting, polite but slightly knowing air to it that isn;t entirely without appeal.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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