Valentino Valentina : Perfume Review

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Why do you wear perfume? If I were to judge by fragrance marketing, all of us wear perfume to make the opposite sex fall down in a dazed stupor at our feet.  Now, the good thing about Valentina, the latest perfume from Valentino, is that it avoids the tired clichés; it presents a young woman who plays by her own rules instead of following the conventions. I must have watched the TV ad with its terrific Via Con Me soundtrack by Paolo Conte at least a dozen times before I finally smelled the fragrance.

Valentina was created by perfumers Alberto Morillas and Olivier Cresp, who between the two of them have scented millions of women—CK One, Thierry Mugler Angel, and Kenzo Flower are only a few of the examples that come to mind. When I thought of what could have been done by these two masters for the fashion house of Valentino with its flamboyant, but elegant aesthetic, I could hardly wait to try Valentina. And what a letdown! Despite its vibrant, fun concept, Valentina is tame and devoid of any personality.  It is a pale tuberose with a light swirl of strawberry; it vaguely resembles Juicy Couture, but lacks its laughing, vivacious presence. Why Valentino chose to hire perfumers at the rank of Picasso and make them paint a quaint still life, I have no idea.

Valentina is everything that most fragrance launches are these days—it’s well-crafted, but  it’s also predictable. The initial burst of sweet citrus and berries leads into the white floral swirl, which is transparent and sparkling at first and creamy and sweet a few minutes later. The crisp amber offsets the candy-like sweetness of the drydown, with woods further tempering the vanilla. There are some beautiful ingredients in this fragrance—I notice a green trace of mimosa absolute and a creamy flourish of tuberose, but in the end, Valentina doesn’t say anything new.

When Robin reviewed Valentina on NST, she said, “I hope that if a woman ever finds herself in Freja Beha Erichsen’s shoes — that is, in a gated Italian villa, wearing a gorgeous Valentino dress…well, I hope that she can find herself a more fitting perfume.” Robin is right—Valentina is a nicely crafted perfume, but it leaves so little in my memory that it’s hard to be overly excited about it. A fragrance aiming for the top seller spot can’t take any risks—or at least, the fragrance directors feel that it can’t, but I was disappointed that Valentina ended up as a complete wallflower.

And here is a TV ad for your viewing pleasure:

Valentino Valentina Eau de Parfum includes notes of bergamot, jasmine, strawberry, orange flower, tuberose, cedar, amber, white truffle and vanilla. Available at most major retailers.

 

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Sample: my own acquisition

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32 Comments

  • Vanessa: I was also very disappointed in this one, which doesn’t live up to the ad or the prettily tactile bottle. After the opening citrus / berry burst, it dissolved into a linear, vaguely white chocolate-y musk. Yes, seriously nondescript on my skin, sadly. May 23, 2012 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: The only thing I don’t like is the sprayer, it feels very awkward. Not a huge fan of plastic flowers on bottles, but the presentation was very pretty. Wish that they did something a bit more dramatic. May 23, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

  • Suzanna: What a stylish ad, and I hope it brings back that long-lost era of fragrance advertising so beautifully done for No. 5.

    The ad does not make one expect a reticent, pale fragrance. Too bad! May 23, 2012 at 9:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved the soundtrack for the ad! That I could listen to again and again. May 23, 2012 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: There’s an interesting question: What would one wear if one wear wearing a Valentino gown in an Italian villa? I think I would choose L’Artisan Seville a l’Aube (yes, I have had the opportunity to try it, and it is A-MA-ZING! I’m counting the days until July.) May 23, 2012 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! I’ve been wearing Seville a l’Aube a lot lately, and it’s such a beautiful perfume. Smells like my idea of a Spanish garden. Not sure if you’ve heard Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Noches en los Jardines de España) by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, but this perfume is the olfactory equivalent of that piece. May 23, 2012 at 12:48pm Reply

      • grain de musc: Or Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain… The very essence of “Duende”, the scent’s working title during development.
        And thank you both for loving what I can’t help thinking of as my baby! May 23, 2012 at 12:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank *you*, D! The orange blossom stories that are more than a simple colognes are few and far between, and as someone who recently fell in love with Spain, I can’t think of anything more enchanting than the jasmine and orange blossom perfumed Spanish evenings. May 23, 2012 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Jessica: I was looking forward to trying this one, so I tracked it down at Bergdorf. The bottle is lovely in person. However, a week or so later, I can’t remember anything about the fragrance itself! Not a good sign… May 23, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Valentino is such a flamboyant and distinctive fashion house, and it really needs a bold, dramatic perfume. Something that might go well with that trademark Valentino red. May 23, 2012 at 12:51pm Reply

    • Anne Seagull: It’s a very subtle marshmallows and strawberry-ambery comforting skin scent, and long lasting, but seem less long lasting because it’s less of a strident perfume than some – not meant to be instrusive, but to blend with the wearer. It may be less mind-blowing than Coco Mademoiselle, for example, but it’s more harmonious as a day to day signature IMO. The bottle would be “lovely in person”?…if it gave you some bottle by acquiring funny feet and waddling up to you! March 21, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

  • MB: Thanks for attaching the ad b/c I hadn’t seen it. I guess instead of the cliche that “all of us wear perfume to make the opposite sex fall down in a dazed stupor at our feet” this ad suggests that we all have the fantasy of inhabiting an Italian villa stuffed with servants and boring patrician bluebloods and then “escaping” the villa to the “real” party, the fun scene, which turns out to be an exclusive VIP club with “hot” male models and 500 euro table service. I recognize that the Valentino client is the daughter of the Russian oligarch du jour, Melania Trump, and a handful of trendy Hollywood starlets – but does the perfume launch have to reflect that tired demographic? If “Valentina” had descended to steerage to party like Kate Winslet in Titanic or taken off with the sax player in the band setting up at the villa – and danced the night away in a fountain, a la Ekberg, while the jazz dude busks in some Piazza, that would have been more attractive (to me) than just meeting up with a younger set of well-dressed rich Italians. The Chanel #5 ads were filmed in luxe environments but they were more concerned with creating a mood, a dream, an unreal atmosphere, rather than a narrative. I haven’t seen the one by the pool in, what, decades? and I can still feel the sun and the surreal fractured tempo. May 23, 2012 at 12:23pm Reply

    • grain de musc: MB, it’s very telling of the state of perfume advertising today that we still remember the fabulous Chanel ads conceived by Jacques Helleu, their late artistic director. The ones filmed by Jean-Paul Goude (Egoïste, Coco with Vanessa Paradis in a birdcage) are epoch-making, as is the one you talk about, by Ridley Scott I believe…
      Mind you, I’m always happy to hear a song by my beloved Paolo Conte in an ad. May 23, 2012 at 12:53pm Reply

      • Victoria: Me too! Paolo Conte’s voice makes me melt. May 23, 2012 at 12:59pm Reply

        • MB: Me too. It was the best part of the ad. May 23, 2012 at 3:54pm Reply

      • MB: It was Ridley Scott. And it nailed something so ephemeral – fleeting half-remembered moments of a long ago day. It literalized the experience of capturing a whiff of scent and being transported to a time and a place half-forgotten. That is the beauty and magic of perfume. And Ridley Scott is a maestro. I think Nicolas Roeg could have made an interesting perfume ad. Or Kurasawa. May 23, 2012 at 4:01pm Reply

        • grain de musc: MB, you’ve nailed it exactly. Chanel lost a truly great artistic director in Jacques Helleu who was behind all those beautiful films. May 23, 2012 at 4:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: The demographic is young, so the advertising reflects that, but I love the fun narrative too (still better than the run of the mill perfume ads). And yes, I cannot but agree that the ads you mention cannot even compare. They created a story and made you feel as if you are a part of it. May 23, 2012 at 12:58pm Reply

  • Nancy: Love the music — Paolo Conte — a little reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg. Ooh, la, la – love it! May 23, 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: That voice… I’m now wondering if I would have thought of the ad differently if the soundtrack weren’t so fantastic. May 23, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

      • grain de musc: Once we were in a brasserie, and there was this big dog barking. Paolo Conte went up to it and said “collega” (i.e. “colleague”). “Via con me” was always the song that brought down the house… May 23, 2012 at 4:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: What a great story! I can just imagine how incredible it must have felt to hear Paolo Conte sing in person. I get goosebumps even just listening to his recordings. May 23, 2012 at 6:44pm Reply

  • Camille: I adore this fragrance and I thought the review was a little condescending. I adore your website however! May 23, 2012 at 1:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad that you’re enjoying it! I’m sure that it has its fans. As I said in my review, I think that it’s a well-made perfume. May 23, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

  • MB: Victoria, apropos of a previous day’s post, I went on the Kalustyan website to order that rosewater you recommended for the tea – and they didn’t have it. Maybe I mispelled it (I took if off the BdJ site) but could you remind me what it was and perhaps suggest another online site. Thanks!!! May 23, 2012 at 4:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s by Mymoune, and I just saw it there last week, but it’s not with other floral waters for some reason. It’s on a separate shelf next to the entry way to the spice section.

      Anyway, you can also find it from Kalustyan’s website:
      http://www.kalustyans.com/catalog.asp?menucategory_id=9&category_id=224

      Or search for Rose Water ( Eau de Roses) in their online catalog. May 23, 2012 at 6:43pm Reply

      • MB: THANK YOU! I’M ON THE CASE! May 24, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

  • minette: i would end your first paragraph with the words ” …at which point, i fell asleep.”

    can’t even remember how this one smelled – it was sooooooo unremarkable!

    if you want to smell like the olfactory equivalent of wallpaper, or off-white paint, wear this.

    interesting how the marketing campaign was so much more interesting than the product itself. but perhaps not surprising. May 23, 2012 at 7:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 That would make for a short and sweet review. May 23, 2012 at 11:10pm Reply

      • minette: but not nearly as poetic as yours! May 24, 2012 at 6:53pm Reply

  • joyanto: I like this soundtrack for the ad! That I could listen to again and again. May 1, 2013 at 12:28am Reply

  • Adriana Galani: A plastic flower on the bottle! Yes! That is something I personally don’t go by either. For me, unfortunately, this is as unexciting as “Organza” or “La Vie est Belle” and after a half an hour is as if never there on my skin. The spraying is strange, agree, and I do have a friend who has happened to break it looking for something in her hand bag so this one is down in my view on practicality as well. But it sells good here and I love smelling it on my much younger collegs. January 18, 2014 at 4:48am Reply

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