Not long after "sudden onset perfume mania" struck in early 2008, I progressed from printing out sheaves of fragrance pyramids of individual scents from Osmoz to setting about acquiring samples to try. The very first of these was a twin pack of DKNY Delicious Night and Cashmere Mist. The steel wool and Ribena disaster that is the former nearly put me off my nascent hobby for ever, while the latter appealed to me primarily on account of the name. Back then, I wouldn't have been able to tell benzoin from a bento box or Benny Hill.
I wore the spray vial of Cashmere Mist on the first day of a long work trip, to meetings with shoe factories on the Dutch/German border. It was a grey, damp, mizzly kind of day that makes you feel cold to your bones, and the perfume acted as a cosy scarf. I shan't say cashmere, because it was a bit rougher than that - let's go with mohair for now, but that is really a bit too far along the scratchy spectrum.
Notes: bergamot, jasmine, lily of the valley, suede, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, musk and cashmere
And before long I discovered the swap scene, and thanks to lovethescents Cashmere Mist became my first full bottle of perfume (if you discount the seven year old bottle of EL Intuition, which had gone quietly rancid on my bedroom windowsill at some point between 2001 and 2008).
Fast forward three and a half years to the launch of Bottega Veneta EDP. I have now looked this house up and clocked that it is a luxury Italian brand of leather goods. I rather like the look of the ones with a basket weave effect. The name is a bit of a mouthful, mind. The word "Bottega" made me think of "bodega", which in turn makes me think of Spanish wine bars and that place in Northern California where they shot The Birds.
With mounting interest, I read Denyse of Grain de Musc's account of her visit to Paris to meet the perfumer, Michel Almairac, at the launch event - also attended by Katie Puckrik - and each subsequent review I have come across has served to fuel my anticipation further.
Katie sums up this scent in a tweet as: "a secret leather accord femmed up with jasmine". I realise that I am drawn to perfumes with a secret accord of any kind - it is becoming clear to me that I like a hint of mystery in a fragrance... It was Katie indeed who pointed out the secret leather accord in another recent love of mine, L'Agent by Agent Provocateur, and I am pleased to report that I have finally detected it! I'd say that Ormonde Jayne's Ta'if smells mysterious too, though I couldn't put my finger on why exactly. Secret date accord? Accord for a secret date, more like. : - )
Anyway, back to Bottega Veneta and its link to Cashmere Mist. Here is the leatherless note list:
Notes: "bergamot, pink pepper, jasmine, plum, patchouli, benzoin and oakmoss"
The overall vibe of Bottega Veneta is very soft and tender. It's quite rich and fruity initially - possibly the pepper and plum, or maybe even the patchouli? peeking through - but this fades fast. The benzoin gives it that vanillic, fuzzy aspect, but it is less fuzzy and more refined than in Cashmere Mist, which has a slightly synthetic feel if I am honest. Yes, this is Cashmere Mist that has gone to finishing school. The leather note in Bottega Veneta is suede-y rather than leathery, as Olfactoria also found, dubbing it "graceful suede". Cashmere Mist has suede too, but it is quite muted and I get more benzoin than leather of any kind.
Bottega Veneta is also reminiscent of Daim Blond, another fuzzy scent that was sadly raspy on me - in my review I described it as "suede-scented white noise". And then there is a peachy/apricoty note in Bottega Veneta which isn't in Cashmere Mist and which - dare I say it - makes me think of YSL Belle d'Opium. And that also ties back to Daim Blond, which is fuzzy, suede-y AND apricot-y, though not in a good way. And of course apricots have a slightly furry texture, and that is about the level of "nap" we are speaking of in Bottega Veneta.
Notes: "Leather, Iris, Apricot Kernel, Musk, Hawthorn, Jasmine, Cardamom, Heliotrope"
Crucially, there is no apricot or peach listed in Bottega Veneta, and I am struggling to spot the jasmine: it's plum, apricot, patchouli, suede and benzoin for me, but way smoother than those notes connote!
So anyway, between those three fragrances, I think I have covered off the other scents Bottega Veneta reminds me of...Okay, maybe also a teeny bit of Indult Isvaraya (jasmine, plum patchouli), but that is heavier and darker by comparison. Good winter choice, though, while Bottega Veneta fits this time of year perfectly.
In summary then, Bottega Veneta is a sophisticated Cashmere Mist with added fruit and a more pronounced suede note. So nothing like it then, I hear you cry, but it was an inspirational starting point, so that counts! I guess Bottega Veneta also deserves a more ethereal name, if DKNY's more mainstream offering gets one. Hmm, something like "Suede Mist", say. Yes, that is perfect.
The day I tried Bottega Veneta for the first time, I met up with a friend at pilates, who had stopped wearing perfume - distracted by the needs of her growing family - but is keen to experiment now. I surprised her with one of my carded samples (I bought a few, in lieu of a bottle), and she thanked me. "It's very soft and soothing", I said, "so I thought it might be a good place for you to start."
"Oh great!" she replied. "I've got a big day tomorrow, with loads of people coming to an event that I have organised. So I might just wear your perfume then, as I need to stay calm."
I inquired where this event was taking place, and it turned out to be IN A LEATHER MUSEUM...My friend could have just done with that nice statement bag and she'd have been all set.
As for me, given my well-documented penchant for all things quiet and understated, I feel as though I have "come home" with Bottega Veneta. It's early days of course, and I should factor in my Flittersniffer Flibbertygibbet persona, but Bottega Veneta may have all the credentials to be that alien construct of a signature scent, were I ever so self-denying as to assign myself such a thing. Yes, if any perfume could whip me into scent monogamy submission, this floral leather chypre might just be the one.
Photo of Bottega Veneta from the company's website, photo of Cashmere Mist from kissandmakeup.tv, photo of bag from purseblog.com, photo of gloves from sweetspot.ca, photo of gaiters from the leather museum's website.