As anyone who's sought a signature scent knows, selecting the right one is much harder than it seems. From the balance of notes and allusions to something that stands out from the crowd, perfume bears the burden of channeling the most poetic aspect of personal style. Imagine then the task of coming up with Bottega Veneta's first scent.
That was the job put to Michel Almairac, the famous perfumer behind Bottega Veneta Parfum. His solution elegantly marries the heritage of the label with the history of perfumery itself by inventing a leather smell based on the tanneries in Grasse, France—the world's perfume capital since the 18th century that's also home to many tanneries, due to the abundance of water. The scent evokes this essence of Grasse as well as the luxurious aroma of well-tanned leather, an important distinction Almairac made from poorly-tanned leather that can "smell like a goat."
This particular leather scent (which now solely belongs to Bottega) is the big innovation, but we also learned a new bit of perfume vocabulary when we had the chance to meet Almairac in Paris recently. Chypre, based on the smell of Cyprus, defines the structure of a scent that pairs citrus with florals and more woodsy base-notes. After consulting with Bottega's Creative Director Tomas Maier (no outside tests were done), this chypre takes form with Italian bergamot, Indian patchouli, Indian Sambac jasmine and Brazilian pink peppercorns.
The result of this "weaving of scent," inspired by the brand's level of craftsmanship, as Michel puts it, "smells like Bottega Veneta." It has a remarkable consistency that, for those of us who have been wearing it for a few weeks now, has elicited many compliments. This strength comes from the kind of absolute elegance for which Maier is known.
Comparing the art of making perfume to cooking, Almairac describes how it's the little details that make the difference when it comes to blending ingredients that compliment each other perfectly, creating a sense of mystery by combining new things. While he explained that sometimes you can't oversimplify and need to add more, that was not the case with this perfume. The other key factor comes from new methods of extraction and manufacturing scents, as well as artisanal, quality ingredients, including handmade bases—resulting in what is the most expensive perfume Almairac has made in terms of ingredients.
Having such a success on their first outing, Bottega Veneta seems poised to create more scents in the future. It's easy to imagine a less floral version for men from this base, and Almairac confirmed there's "room for a family." For now, we have to be content with this perfume, which is now available at stores in a gorgeous Murano glass bottle. The line sells from Bottega's newly-revamped site, starting at $65 for a 30-milliliter bottle.
Contributions by Ami Kealoha and Evan Orensten