The Venetian leather atelier Bottega Veneta is a jewel in the crown of Kering, one of the world’s most successful luxury and lifestyle groups. Alongside other luxury brands in Kering’s portfolio, which includes Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta has grown into a global phenomenon and for the past decade the brand has been opening its sleek, dark-interior boutiques all over the world. Bottega Veneta’s signature woven leather, known as “intrecciato,” is a symbol of the house’s value of craftsmanship, quality and discreet luxury. In 2011, with the help of Coty Prestige and Robertet, Bottega Veneta launched its first fragrance for women, a modern chypre with subtle leather undertones. This year Bottega Veneta has added a men’s fragrance to the collection, which is simply titled Pour Homme. I often approach this type of fragrance with trepidation. Luxury brands with little history in perfumery don’t always get it right. The perfume either lacks signature and it is a diluted collage of other successful perfumes on the market or the result is entirely off-brand. Earlier this year a well-known perfumer questioned me; why is a children’s ready-to-wear company launching an oudh perfume? Although 2011 marked the release of Bottega Veneta’s first perfume, the house had already collaborated with L’Artisan Parfumeur and one of my favourite perfumers Olivia Giacobetti, to create scented candles wrapped in intrecciato leather. The idea of a new men’s fragrance sounded promising. Thankfully Bottega Veneta avoided the pitfall of being cliché and Pour Homme is a fragrance that is refreshingly original and in my mind communicates through scent, what the brand symbolizes. Tomas Maier, Creative Director for Bottega Veneta envisioned a man retreating to Dolomiti, north of the brand’s home in Veneto, Italy. In this alpine setting he envisioned the scent of fir cones and pine needles, buoyant in the air that rises off a glacial stream surrounded by wild irises. A popular holiday destination for Italians living in the northern cities, many come to Dolomiti for hiking and mountain climbing. Only four hours from Milan, this juxtaposition between the city’s sartorial man and the rugged man he can become in Italy’s wild north certainly plays a part in this fragrance. Bottega Veneta worked with Givaudan noses Daniela Andrier and Antoine Maisondieu to create the fragrance, which is housed in a sleek bottle with the intrecciato pattern etched on the base. The two highly experienced perfumers have impressive resumes, previously working together more than a decade ago to create Gucci Rush For Men during Gucci’s trailblazing Tom Ford days. Daniela Andrier is Prada’s perfumer of choice and Antoine Maisondieu is known for his work with independent brands such as Comme des Garcons and Etat Libre d’Orange.
Bottega Veneta Pour Homme begins with sappy notes of Canadian fir balsam, Siberian pine and Andalusian cistus labdanum. With juniper from the Balkans, this is a refreshing green opening. It is the smell of a forest walk, of pine needles releasing their coniferous odour as they are crushed under foot. Clary sage adds a rustic texture; Jamaican pimento and other spices bring a feeling of heat. Pour Homme’s floral heart is nondescript, displaying a flash of metallic flowers before receding into the background musks. As the fragrance progresses, notes of Indonesian patchouli coupled with a leather accord come into play. Synthetic notes maintain the fragrance’s transparency and give Pour Homme a distinctly modern feel. Reading the list of notes you might expect a heavy fragrance yet Pour Homme is extremely light on its feet. The success of a "less is more" styled short formula often depends on the quality of what the "less" contains. Bottega Veneta doesn’t cut corners and their version of "less" contains some beautiful raw materials, which bring a natural complexity to the fragrance without feeling cluttered. This also concludes that well made fragrances don’t always have to come at a bankrupting cost.
Bottega Veneta Pour Homme is one of those fragrances that straddle the line between a casual everyday scent and one that is better reserved for formal attire. Like the fragrance brief describes, this smells of the outdoors but it also has a sophisticated well-groomed side. In this sense it is quintessentially Italian. Thinking about my experiences in Italy, most Italian men are immaculately dressed even if they are only going to the market to buy their groceries. Pour Homme is perfectly versatile and I’ve been enjoying it as a fragrance I wear to work as well as something to relax with on weekends. A couple of months ago when I posted a photo of my bottle on Facebook, I immediately got responses from a diverse range of men around the world who were already devotees. Pour Homme has the ability to appeal to a wide male audience.