Sometimes I look at the present state of masculine perfumes in the mainstream and I let out a big sigh of despair. Many are reminiscent of Lynx-soaked (or Axe-soaked if you are a US reader) school changing rooms, often capturing the same fresh and sporty nature that has been done to death, and is as far from the high end as physically possible. The perfume loving men of the world, or just the perfume wearing gents of this good, green Earth deserve better than that, even if they don’t know it just yet!
Of course I am tarring everybody with the same brush here and for every two or three naff mainstream masculines there is one tremendous one, but these greats certainly aren’t in the majority. With this in mind, it’s always refreshing when a designer brand offers up a masculine fragrance that is elevated above the hoi polloi, and offers something unique, high quality and dare I say, beautiful. I mention all of this because Bottega Veneta’s latest masculine offering, Pour Homme Essence Aromatique is one such fragrance: a scent from the mainstream but leagues above it.
Created by perfumer, Amandine Marie (Mugler’s Angel Eau de Toilette), Essence Aromatique is technically a flanker to Bottega Veneta Pour Homme from 2013, joining their Essence Aromatique Pour Femme as a counterpart. It’s a strange hybrid of a fragrance, somewhere between a classic cologne and a modern fougère, playing with bracing freshness and supple softness to create something that is well, strikingly pretty for a masculine fragrance. Bottega Veneta state that Essence Aromatique PH exudes a “relaxed masculine elegance” describing it as an “unexpected take on a classic cologne”. That pretty much sums it up for me, but let’s take a closer look!
Italian Bergamot, Indonesian Patchouli Essence and Siberian Pine
How Does it Smell?
Essence Aromatique opens fresh and zingy with a bright bergamot note. Straight away the texture of this fragrance is different from many citrus-centric fragrances, boasting a soft, cashmere-like feel right from the outset. There’s a subtle pepperiness to the citrus that adds to the overall fluffy feel, providing some depth and warm to the initial sense of refreshment. As bracing as it may be for the first few moments, one gets a real sense that this fragrance is predominately casual and laid back, like a soft designer sweater.
If the top notes are all cologne, then the heart is pure fougère. But this fougère is not a boisterous barbershop brute, no, in fact it’s thoroughly modern, doing away with all the patch and powder of the past. Essence Aromatique is a steely, transparent fougere that presents an almost aquatic lavender note accented by the warm, aromatic greenery of freshly crushed pine. In the base patchouli and leather are used subtly to create a smooth, suede-like finish that is as lovely as it sounds. The whole thing soft and sensitive, with a pretty boy feel.
Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Essence Aromatique is one of the most impressive mainstream masculines I have sniffed in quite some time. It feels genuinely innovative, merging two popular male genres, the cologne and the fougère, to create something new that celebrates a more relaxed and modern take on masculinity. This is an effortlessly wearable masculine that wipes the floor with a lot of the competition out there. It’s smart, sensitive and surprisingly for a modern masculine, it’s really beautiful. Go out and sniff it.
Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Essence Aromatique is available in 50ml (£52), 90ml (£66 and 200ml (£91 exclusively at Harrods) Eau de Cologne.
Sample, image one, notes and quotes via Bottega Veneta. Image two is my own.