Testing the six new Bottega Veneta fragrances is like a walk in the park. Literally.
The Italian luxury firm has hinged its family of scents dubbed “Parco Palladiano [Palladian Park]” on the herbs, plants, flowers and fruits that organically grow in the Vicenza area of Italy. With its licensee, Coty Inc., Bottega Veneta unveiled the collection this month through an olfactory path in the park of the 16th-century Villa La Rotonda by Andrea Palladio, outside Vicenza, which is billed as the architect’s most famous design. Six customized corners were set up to present the ingredients for each fragrance, such as a composition of azaleas running up an antique statue outside the villa to refer to the main ingredient of the fifth scent.
“Palladio has always been my favorite architect also because my father, who was himself an architect, favored him,” explained creative director Tomas Maier of the story behind the project. “His floor plans were the best. I was thinking of the set-up of a Palladian villa, how integrated the structure is with the garden, the natural transition from the man-made structure to the environment and the landscape. I looked into the idea of specimens that grew naturally in the environment, and compiled a list of trees, spices, fruits, flowers [that existed at the time] and how they could be interpreted differently depending on the time of day.” The designer realized how strong Palladio’s influence was and continues to be in Vicenza. “I started thinking about a story and I wrote it for the noses. It’s not one story for one scent, but it’s a scent [perceived] in many different ways, so there’s a wider opening. it offers the opportunity to be creative and imagine different stories,” continued Maier. The perfumers who developed the scents are: Michel Almairac and Daniela Andrier, who also worked with the company on the previous Bottega Veneta fragrances, and Alexis Dadier.
The six scents, labeled with Roman numbers — also a link to Palladio’s Neo-classic inspiration — allow the family to be “unlimited,” and have “a longer lifespan. This is just the beginning,” observed Maier, pointing to fragrances that in the future could be inspired by different seasons. The scents are also unisex. “I really like the idea of gender-neuter fragrances, so that everyone has the opportunity to choose whatever they are attracted to, and there are no barriers. Also there are different reactions on different skins and at different times,” he mused. He admitted to wearing Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist for years, but to having now developed a deeper appreciation of different fragrances, through his research and work with the perfumers.
Thomas Lalague, vice president of global marketing for Bottega Veneta at Coty, said “the noses had all the freedom to experiment, within the frame of only those ingredients that were existing naturally in the park to preserve an olfactory unicity. Tomas made research on the trees, aromatic plants, flowers and fruits endemic 400 years ago.”
Bottega Veneta chief executive officer Carlo Beretta underscored the link between the collection and its concept with the identity of the company, which is “extremely connected to the territory.”
He also highlighted the genderless quality of the scents. “It’s an innovative concept. Tomas has a strong respect for individuality, he proposes a strong style without imposing a logo, and anyone is free to choose,” said Beretta during an interview at the company’s headquarters, the stately 18th-century Villa Schroeder-Da Porto, ensconced in a park about 16 miles from Vicenza, in the Veneto region of northern Italy.
Parco Palladiano I is designed to evoke a magnolia tree under the morning dew; II is meant to capture the aroma of cypress leaves; III was conceived to re-create a moment in the fall passing by a pear tree in a garden’s orchard, with the addition of fresh mint leaves; IV centers around the scent of azaleas in a summer afternoon; V is formulated to evoke a walk in an aromatic herb garden in mid-afternoon; VI is an intense combination of wood and roses that have been in the sun all day.
Each 100-ml. eau-de-parfum flacon will retail at 265 euros, or $295. Parco Palladiano will be available starting May 6 at Bottega Veneta’s new Maison in Beverly Hills, the brand’s second store in Los Angeles, and in Milan. Parco Palladiano is designed to be sold exclusively in the most luxurious locations. Fifty selected Bottega Veneta boutiques and a total of 100 points of sale will carry Parco Palladiano. Among these: Harrods, London, Italy’s La Rinascente and El Corte Ingles, Spain, all starting May 15; Bergdorf Goodman in New York and Paris Gallery, Dubai Mall from June, and KaDeWe, Berlin from July.
“We are still in an initial phase and Parco Palladiano completes us in the highest, exclusive positioning,” Beretta said. The other three existing brand fragrances are priced from $115 to $160. While leather goods and apparel remain the brand’s core business, Beretta said fragrances are a “fundamental category,” which allows to reach out to new customers. “They complete Bottega Veneta’s lifestyle and offer an access to the brand.”
Coty Global Markets president Edgar Huber concurred, pointing to a strategic launch of the Parco Palladiano scents. “They help to build the image, moving into a higher and more artisanal production. This is the right time for us to go into hand-crafted, tailor-made fragrances.” He highlighted that the scents marry into the “new concept of layering.” Declining to provide sales projections, Huber said that this project does “not see a big marketing push, but rather the development of the fragrances in the stores, so that relevant customers can get to know the product.” Coty will be investing in “education and training in stores,” he added.
The company is foregoing traditional advertising and is focusing on “dedicated, merchandising specific presentations and experiences with dedicated sales associates that will help develop a personalized relation to discover the fragrance,” explained Lalague. Communication will be digital on social media starting May 15 and there will be visuals in points of sale, with beautiful images reproducing Bottega Veneta’s headquarters by Dean Kaufmann. The photos of the flacon and the cap, which feature the brand’s intrecciato staple motif and are inspired by Murano glass works are by Robin Broadbent. All is under the artistic direction of Maier and Doug Lloyd.
Beretta said the colors of the scents, which are visible from the outside of the bottle and reflect the ingredients, are those that Maier favors, “that he uses for stones and jewelry and fashion,” and the silver cap is a link to his jewels in the same material.
Maier in 2016 celebrates 15 years at Bottega Veneta, which also marks its 50 anniversary this year.