Bottega Veneta is one of the more discreet Italian brands, which hangs on the periphery of fashion without too much noise. Founded in 1966, the Venetian atelier developed a reputation with connoisseurs for making meticulously crafted leathergoods. Bottega Veneta’s global expansion didn’t take place until 2001 when the Gucci Group purchased the company and Tomas Maier was appointed Creative Director. Maier helped expand Bottega Veneta from being a niche luxury brand that few people knew to an international luxury brand with boutiques all over the world. With the product offer expanding to include shoes and ready-to-wear, accessories and jewellery, the launch of perfumes was inevitable. After dipping a toe in the market with a small collaboration with L’Artisan Parfumeur making home fragrances, Bottega Veneta partnered with Coty and in 2011 the brand launched its first signature fragrance for women, Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum. Robertet perfumer Michel Almairac worked on this project and he has been the brand’s preferred perfumer to date. Last year he returned to Bottega Veneta and composed Essence Aromatique. Even though he is not the only perfumer Bottega Veneta has worked with over the past four years, the brand’s olfactive signature has clearly emerged – Bottega Veneta perfumes are understated, modern, and there is always a strong reference to nature. For his composition of Essence Aromatique, Almairac took the fundamental notes of eau de cologne and he reinterpreted them. This work is far from the simple citrus structure of eau de cologne but it evokes the same feelings of weightlessness, radiance and freshness. Maier envisioned an Italian coastal setting with his quintessential Bottega Veneta woman set against a backdrop of jade green Mediterranean Sea. On the sand, her relaxed gaze is contemplative and her complexion glows, offset by her pure white bathing suit. She is living la dolce vita. To create the perfume’s ad campaign, Tomas Maier and celebrated American photographer Bruce Weber worked with model Nine d’Urso, the daughter of Ines de la Fressange, one of Karl Lagerfeld’s earliest muses at Chanel, and one of the original faces of Chanel’s Coco parfum ad campaigns. Weber’s campaign image of d’Urso is said to express the “depth, luminosity and contrasts of Bottega Veneta Essence Aromatique.”
Essence Aromatique opens with Italian bergamot. The small citrus fruit is such a generous perfume note, with its zesty bitterness, accents of flowers and olfactory shades of green. Bergamot’s uplifting aura is reminiscent of a classic Eau de Cologne and instils a feeling of vitality and freshness. An interesting twist on the cologne theme is Almairac’s pairing of citrus notes with coriander seed, all of which contain a chemical called linalool. This commonality makes them work harmoniously well together but they both have unique characteristics, which creates a dynamic tension. Coriander seed’s dry, aromatic character plays against the wet juiciness of citrus peels. The centrepiece of the fragrance is a refined Ottoman rose, delicately dusted with sugary vanilla and tonka bean. These beans sway the fragrance into the land of orientals but Essence Aromatique never gives in to the sweet temptation of becoming a fully-fledged amber-ball oriental. Flecks of patchouli provide texture within this sweetness, and although it is perceivable towards the front of the fragrance, it is at this point in the fragrance’s evolution when the wearer can revel in the decadent overdose of Australian sandalwood oil. Almairac’s sandalwood note is beautifully light and ethereal when many other sandalwood fragrances focus on the dark and robust notes normally associated with this raw material. In the finale, the soft rose accord melts into the precious wood, traces of coriander still spark energy and the beauty of sandalwood, timeless and majestic, forms a scented arc over the body, which lingers much longer than a traditional eau de cologne.
Although it was designed with a woman in mind, Bottega Veneta’s Essence Aromatique is a fine example of why men should be open to trying everything in perfume stores – a newly discovered favourite doesn’t always come with a “pour homme” tag. Essence Aromatique has been one of my favourite fragrances to wear this summer. Over Christmas I spent a lot of time at the beach and Essence Aromatique was a constant companion. Its light, relaxed persona makes it perfect for summer holidays and chilled-out weekends. I happily wear it to work on days when I am in the mood for something woody that wears close to the skin.
Alternatives: Guerlain Samsara Shine, Tom Ford Santal Blush, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc.
Creative Direction: Thomas Maier
Perfumer: Michel Almairac (Robertet)
Bottle Designer: Dough Lloyd (Lloyd & Co)
Release Date: 2014
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Floral Oriental