Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum (Bottega Veneta)

Before you read anything else, read this. Absorb it "slowly and meditatively", to borrow a snippet from the classic American novel to which it pays both reference and tribute.  If you aren't lying in a boneless swoon by the time your eye lights on the phrase "suede, ocean air, and sea-foam taffy", someone might want to check your pulse to see if you have one.

The divine Suzanne, who authored this evocative poem-in-prose, mailed me a sample of the fragrant muse in question along with several other olfactive stunners. True to its forthright, slightly childish personality, Prada Candy shoved its way to the front of the line-- and of course its scampish behavior won immediate pardon. Believe me, no matter how flippant I may have sounded in my review, I sincerely adored it. In two days' time, I nearly sprained my spray-pump finger dispensing it in every conceivable direction.  If my husband and cat had held still long enough, both would surely have ended up Candy-coated.

But Bottega Veneta would not be deferred for long.  Suzanne's wordsmithery made certain of it. Come the dawn of a brand new day, it was time to put away childish things and take up a mature new love.

There's little for me to add to Suzanne's story, either of the perfume or of the Countess, except perhaps a touch of violet water which Nastasia (that loyal lady's maid) has used to freshen the contents of her mistress' steamer trunks. Olenska chose this holiday destination precisely because not a single soul she knows -- either from Old New York or vieille Paris -- would ever dream of setting foot within Atlantic City limits. Here, where the hiss and roar of the tide seems a god-given device to hush up gossip, a lady may tread the Boardwalk in blessed anonymity. Provided veil and parasol remain in skillful play, she may appear in full daylight in the company of a gentleman to whom she is neither related nor married-- an 'old friend', of course, but not 'of the family'; her own.

And she may take her gloves off in public for candy.

Bottega Veneta does indeed recall Serge Lutens' Daim Blond, but with distinctions.  Its suede is dyed a very feminine pinkish-mauve*, a detail emphasized in its slightly fruity-powdery candy opening edged with faint citric acid.  (Do you like SweeTarts, Pixy Stix, Chowards Violet Mints?  I always have-- and was surprised to find how well their scent combines with that of good leather.  Spill them in your handbag sometime and see.) Whatever of Daim Blond's weirdness it eschews, it compensates for in the smoothness and quiet of its leather-- no bumps, no rough patches, no hard seams.  This fragrance makes a point of being easy on the nerves.  (And on the wallet-- 1.7 ounces of beauty for only $95.  For real?  For real.)

As I reveled in Bottega Veneta's cloud of sweet suede and (to borrow Suzanne's delectable choice of words) "silky candy", others reveled too. Having not seen me for a week, one colleague embraced me and caught a trace of Bottega Veneta in my hair. "Oooh!" she exclaimed. "You smell SO good!" As soon as she stepped back, others moved in, curious and eager to discover what she meant.  "Oooh!" came the cry again and again.  "It smells like my fantasy closet!" one woman confided.  In other words, a room-sized walk-in stuffed with high-end fashions, Italian leather shoes and handbags, upholstered boudoir chairs and sweet-smelling sachets-- dream acquisitions seemingly dear to the imaginations of all women but often out of reach in real life.

Not this time.

*The same shade chosen for the bottle's suede collar, described as "skin-colored" on the Bottega Veneta website.  Speaking of which, I found it interesting that BV devotes a greater amount of descriptive copy to their bottle design than to the actual perfume.  Normally, this kind of nonchalance would raise a red flag, as bottles only tend to be the focus of PR copy when the juice inside is substandard.  But Bottega Veneta's diffidence comes from sheer, justifiable aplomb.  Their debut perfume is excellent; they  have every reason to be confident in it-- and it's a very nice bottle, by the way.  Congratulations!

Scent Elements: Bergamot, pink pepper, sambac jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli