Valentina by Valentino (2011) {Perfume Review & Musings}



Valentina is the new, upcoming perfume by Valentino destined to younger women. It is reportedly inspired by Rome and the image of a "modern heiress" who is embodied by model Freja Beha Erichsen photographed by David Sims. She also plays in the commercial directed by Johan Renk.

"She sets home in a classical Roman palazzo but there is nothing she likes more than feeling the heart beat of the vivid city of Rome." 

The story behind the commercial is that Valentina escapes the confines of her gilt-cage life on the day of her 20th birthday to lose herself into the Roman night. Co-created by perfumers Alberto Morillas and Olivier Cresp, The perfume is offered as "an irreverent Italian floral oriental." Its mood is gourmand with its creamy, sweet and savory facets and overall dessert-y feel...


Presented initially as the perfume personifying young Italian rebels from the bourgeoisie, it remains squarely on the side of the establishment and the Dolce Vita with its luxury white truffle note, as if decadence was the ultimate answer and expression of revolt from a class of blasé youth. In that, there is something existentialist and very Italian, but the Valentina story, like the Valentina perfume are only distant echoes of that world of complex paradoxes.

Olfactorily speaking, the white-truffle accord brings a tad of strangeness but it is a pleasant strangeness meant to awaken your tastebuds, nothing else. Morillas sees the perfume as one playing with aristocratic codes - the white floral bouquet - while being modernized and brightened by a note of wild strawberries. Curiously for me, that stawberry note creates a sense of being a bit old-fashioned as it reminds me of certain standard uses of strawberry in older perfumes.


Notes: bergamot, white truffles, jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, wild strawberries, cedar, amber, vanilla, benzoin.


The fragrance opens on a green bergamot note, soon counterbalanced by the woody, nutty and mushroom-y nuances of white Alba truffle considered to be a finer delicacy over black truffle. It is that culinary note which brings a subtle addictive edge to the classic white floral bouquet.

One can recognize the trademark slant brought by perfumer Olivier Cresp, who can be considered a specialist of gourmand notes since Angel by Thierry Mugler and Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana. The truffle note adds a paradoxically interesting bland effect to the rich bouquet of Sambac jasmine, Amalfi orange blossom and tuberose. It is a little bit as if you had decided to steep all three flowers in a pleasantly bland glass of soy milk or silken tofu. While there are fresh notes in the composition, they are mostly overlaid by the creamy aspects of the florals. A little pepper and musk from the cedar - perhaps the truffle too - add spice to the sweet, pudding-like jus.

Later in the longer drydown, one will be able to recognize a signature eau-de-cologne accord by Alberto Morillas, the creator of Thierry Mugler Cologne. But it is there more as a structural accord than as an obvious effect.

Like with many perfumes which are oriented towards a lifestyle approach - how to best fit in the daily, aspirational lives of people, rather than make the traffic stop at a head-turning sillage - its personality is not edgy. In fact, one might note that in this type of perfume, "edgy" often becomes replaced by "addictive." Its sense of innovation is subtle and mostly apparent in that new nuance brought to a creamy white floral bouquet. There is nothing dramatic and Lohengrin-like about this perfume when you start smelling it with some intensity, but something does happen in the air. It is that waft-back effect for which your cue is: what is that great-smelling perfume? And yes, it's the one you happen to be wearing. At this point, something escapes your immediate apprehension but you might get positive reactions from people able to smell that other, projective aspect of the perfume. 

Valentina made me think of two other perfume references: Ricci Ricci by Nina Ricci for its rich, creamy and updated white floral bouquet, but it is younger-feeling still than the latter. And then, I also smell the sweet, candied note of Gem by Van Cleef and Arpels in the background.

In the end, perfumistas will probably want to steer clear of this perfume as it does not correspond to their demands for obvious, punch-like creative effects. if you are more on the side of the smell-good school of thought, then you might enjoy it. It is not unique, but it has a little something to it. Bottle-istas will probably swoon over the lovely style of the flacon and picture it very well on their vanities (the flower appliqués, which look like suede leather, are in painted matte metal.)


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