Valentino had a bit of a revamp of their fragrance collection last year and launched the astoundingly suave Uomo – an androgynous blend of iris and all sorts of delicious Italian treats such as coffee, myrtle liqueur and gianduia. It’s safe to say that with Uomo, Valentino hit the nail on the head, and seeing as I’m always up for anything that evokes handsome Italian gentleman in their finery, I was a big fan, unsurprisingly. Uomo manages to play to the masculine and feminine traits of the modern man, placing him as a sensitive and creative individual that wishes to look and smell dapper, and smell good it does.
But that’s enough about Uomo. What about Valentino Donna, Uomo’s newly launched feminine counterpart? Well, let’s just say that Donna and Uomo walk hand in hand as the ultimate, suave Italian couple. He wears a sharp suit in a soft shade of plum, whilst she wears a silk gown in the brightest baby pink – both rock Valentino, of course. They are dressed to the nines. They love to live life and party, whilst looking, and more importantly, smelling utterly fabulous. But where Uomo is a sensitive, introspective man with a keen eye for fashion, Donna feels bolder and appears as a free spirit – a beautiful muse that doesn’t take herself seriously.
Heart: Bulgarian Rose and Iris
Base: Patchouli, Leather and Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Donna dances out of the bottle in a haze of bergamot and bubblegum. The opening is soft and bubbly, with a gentle fizz of prosecco-like citrus to kick the party off nicely. After all, what’s a party without prosecco? Once that settles (and the guests have knocked back most of the fizz) Donna’s central accord of rose and iris comes through, showcasing sweetness and powder a plenty. The rose is dessert-like, evoking the image of neat rows of fuschia-coloured macarons decorated with small dollops of rose cream, whilst the iris is powdery and suede-like with an almost nutty warmth. Together they balance each other out, ensuring that Donna never becomes too cherry-sweet or makeup-powder-esque. The result is a subtle, lipstick-like fragrance that is as pretty as it is bold in colour.
Let’s talk a little bit more about iris for a second, because it’s the fine thread that links Uomo and Donna together. Iris is an intriguing little beast. Being one of perfumery’s most expensive ingredients it is often used with a dab hand and therefore, can come across as a touch aloof at times. It’s also astoundingly complex with a huge array of scented facets, with an odour profile that ranges from cold, rooty and earthy (think carrots and turnips freshly ripped from the soil) to warm and violet-y and powdery-suede. Grey is the colour of iris, in scented terms, and its neutral tones allow for it to change shade and form, and in Donna it absorbs the colour of rose to present a sweet and delicate powder in the brightest of pinks.
As Donna dries down that nutty, suede-like warmth starts to take centre stage. The suede turns to leather, dropping some rather large hints at Uomo’s latter stages, albeit in a warmer and more buxom manner, and blends with the rich texture of vanilla to create a plush bed of lactonic, powdery sweetness. From top to bottom Donna is a joy to wear and the warm weight of the base, which has just a touch of rugged patchouli sharpness for contrast, ensures that the scent never tips over into sickly sweet territory. In short: Donna may be fun and vibrant, but she’s still a classy dame.
Donna is a gorgeous and feminine perfume. It has all of the beauty and classic stylings of a Valentino gown but it also has a ton of colour too. In a world where mainstream fragrances shy away from having a personality, Donna dares to be vibrant and vivacious, whilst showcasing old-school perfumery notes such as rose and iris in a contemporary way. Trust me when I say that this fragrance is a worthy contender for the best mainstream feminine release this year (a race that already has several worthy contenders, including Azzedine Alaïa’s debut scent Alaïa Paris, but that’s another matter) and it should be worn with reckless abandon by those who really long for glamour with a capital ‘G’.