An emerging trend for 2016 has been the return of the soliflore collection. In particular for the upcoming fall releases I have two other soliflore collections which will be released soon. One thing that I always value is when I get a lot of the same thing is it allows me to clarify my thoughts on what it takes to make something compelling in these most simply constructed of fragrances. The new Bottega Veneta Parco Palladiano collection really brought home one lesson very clearly; your focal note needs support to carry interest for an entire day.
The Bottega Veneta designer line of perfumes has been one of the better collections in the department store category. Creative director Tomas Maier has managed to carry the luxury leather goods aesthetic successfully into fragrance. For Parco Palladiano he was inspired by the Palladian style of architecture. Andrea Palladio was a 16th century architect who did most of his work in and around Vicenza, Italy. In Vicenza one of his most famous is the Villa Capra aka La Rotonda. Sig. Palladio designed his structures to harmonize with the surrounding landscape. To that end specific styles of gardens were designed to surround his designs. Hr. Maier visited La Rotonda and was taken with the different plants and flowers growing there which in turn lead to a collection of perfumes based on those plants. The result is the six fragrance Parco Palladiano collection.
Each of these perfumes are meant to be a single scent representing one of the growing things around La Rotonda. Working with four different perfumers the choices were: Parco Palladiano I is magnolia. Parco Palladiano II is cypress. Parco Palladiano III is pear. Parco Palladiano IV is azalea. Parco Palladiano V is sage. Parco Palladiano VI is rose. After smelling these together with the other soliflore collections I have I realized that this collection took the term too literally. Most of the Parco Palladiano fragrances are just what I wrote above. There is little to no other notes present which means that central note needs to be able to be enchanting throughout an entire day of wearing it. This is where all but one of the Parco Palladiano releases fell apart for me. They were just simply azalea or rose with no addition of notes to help enhance or contrast except for Parco Palladiano V.
Parco Palladiano V was composed by Daniela Andrier. Mme Andrier uses sage as her focal point but there are two other near equal intensity notes in laurel and rosemary which allow the sage to interact off of them creating a much richer effect. These kind of perfumes usually go on with everything in them to be detected right from the start and that is true here. A very green clary sage is matched with a lively rosemary and a stolid laurel. I have a little herb garden which smells of stem and aromatics so does Parco Palladiano V. The laurel provides that stemmy quality to allow the sage to attach to. The rosemary acts as green modulator adding intensity early on and then as it fades it allows the sage to be more on its own. Over the course of hours these three ingredients present different facets of the sage which is what sets it apart from the rest of the Parco Palladiano perfumes.
Parco Palladiano V has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I am not sure why the sudden interest in soliflores but if there is one critical component to making a successful one is the choice of a few well-chosen supporting notes is critical for it standing out as something other than just the single note. Which means these simplest of constructs are not that easy to do successfully. When it is done well as in Parco Palladiano V it can be beautiful.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples from Bottega Veneta.