Valentina Eau de Parfum — A Modern Dolce Vita Story Unfolds Via Fragrance
Inside a Roman palazzo replete with vaulted ceilings, majestic Doric columns, gilded doorways, intricate wall sculptures, ad ancient marble statues positioned at the end of the vast space’s many chandelier-lit transepts, a group of male waiters in full uniform, replete with white gloves, carry a five-tiered cake covered in white frosting up a small flight of stairs. In a separate corner of the vast space, members of a live band, clad in black trousers and white button-down shirts with black suspenders — tinker with their instrument: a cello, a trumpet, a drum set, and a saxophone. Servers scurry around the room with silver trays bearing drinking glasses or light the many pillar candles placed inside floor candelabras, giving the room an intimate glow. Guests in feathery fascinators and elegant baubles begin to fill the space, prompting the flash of cameras. And against a jazzy tune, we hear a woman’s summon, “Valentina!”
In a separate room, a fresh-faced brunette (who we instantly recognize as Valentina) fastens the top button of her long-sleeved, knee-length, semi-sheer black dress. Outside, we hear the click-clacking sound of black pumps against the tiled floors as we catch glimpses of an older woman (who we recognize as Valentina’s mother) dashing from room to room yelling for Valentina. Finally, as she pushes open a gilded door, she catches a glimpse of a mischievous-looking Valentina jumping over the balcony outside her room and darting off into the night. Scandal besets the palace, as guests are ushered out, helicopters hover above the city, and stern phone calls are made demanding the retrieval of Valentina. A full-fledged search ensues and, through it all, we hear the cries, “Valentina! Valentina!”
But Valentina herself is anything but woeful. She has abandoned her own lavish birthday party and, from the smile in her face, we know she feels no regret. In fact, once outside the palace gates, Valentina feels like she’s in her element — roaming the city freely, canoodling with new friends at a masquerade party, clapping and laughing as confetti falls from the sky. In another scene she props her elbows on a balcony railing and looks into the night wistfully while, later, she hops into a cab and impulsively kisses the handsome gent beside her.
This is the story behind the Valentina Eau de Parfum, conveyed exquisitely in the short film directed by Johan Renck. Meant to capture the spirit of the Valentina woman, the romantic fragrance is extremely feminine but perhaps in an unconventional manner, with just the right mixture of strength and daintiness, exuding an elegance tempered by a refreshingly rebellious streak. The visual materials developed for the scent, then, were meant to mirror the feeling created by the fragrance, hence the modern day Dolce Vita quality of the video.
Taking inspiration from the Valentino SS12 collection, which juxtaposes leather and lace, darkness and light, and structure and fluidity through the use of evanescent fabrics, the Valentina Eau de Parfum ($80 for 1.7 oz. and $108 for 2.7 oz. at Store.Valentino.com and NeimanMarcus.com) is encased in a clear bottle with just a touch of nude color (due to the elixir inside). Featuring a round shape that references the natural curves of the female form (and which nods to vintage Italian perfume bottles), the Valentina EDP bottle is adorned with taupe, white, and cream-colored ceramic rosettes, the three accents positioned along the bottle’s front façade, immediately conjuring up images of the couture roses we’ve come to associate with Valentino’s fashion designs. Lastly, a flat, round, silver-toned metal disc is balanced atop a black pearl (the atomizer), both positioned atop a silver ring at the neck of the bottle, with the Valentino name etched along its periphery. It’s quite possibly the most stunning, elegant, artistic perfume bottle I’ve ever encountered, surpassing even Jean Paul Gaultier’s figural bottle shapes or Narciso Rodriguez’s gradient colored bottles.
The fragrance, developed by Olivier Cresp and Alberto Morillas, is described as a floral oriental, but it doesn’t feel as spicy or earthy as some of the scents we associate with this category (Guerlain’s Shalimar perfume being the main example). Concoted using emblematic Italian ingredients, the Valentina Eau de Parfum has an intriguing sheerness to it, an ephemeral quality that makes it all the more fascinating.
It opens with a rather unique pairing of top notes: juicy Calabrian bergamot and earthy white Alba truffles (the latter being a rather unusual note that has, until now, been rather absent from the realm of perfumery and is exclusive to Valentino). The sparkling, energizing, joyful quality of the bergamot stands in stark opposition to the musky, pungent, slightly spicy aroma of the white truffle, and yet there’s harmony in these seemingly paradoxical scents. Once your senses are titillated by this duo of notes, you’ll start detecting the florals at the heart of the fragrance — the romantic aroma of jasmine dancing with an Amalfi orange blossom note and infused with a juicy playfulness thanks to the incorporation of a strawberry flavor. To complete the fragrance composition, Cresp and Morillas relied on a mixture of amber, cedarwood, and vanilla base notes.
Overall, the Valentina Eau de Parfum is a classically feminine scent, not one aiming to innovate through shock tactics and outlandish notes. Instead, its defiance feels way more subtle, noticeable only to those with a keen nose. Many of the perfume’s notes are rather common (jasmine, orange blossom, vanilla, and cedarwood, for instance), but the clever incorporation of the white truffle note gives the composition a slight kick, an ever so subtle effrontery to the classical fragrance schism. The result is a beautiful, ladylike fragrance with an unexpected edge.