Does anyone remember the original Kate Spade fragrance, Beauty? (I think we just called it Kate Spade, because that was in 2003 before every brand had umpteen flankers.) Man, how I wish I had stocked up when Beauty was on final clearance at Macy’s, or before it hit $300 a bottle on eBay. It was a powerful white flower bomb – sort of an Estee Lauder Tuberose Gardenia with the volume up – and infinitely more interesting than the gooey sweet numbers Kate Spade has now, which might as well be one fragrance poured from the same vat and called Twirl on Air Colorfully. More to the point, Kate Spade Beauty smelled (to me) very much in keeping with the brand’s image. I think Kate Spade the actual human liked white florals, and Beauty smelled strong and bright and witty.
When I smell a designer-clothes-or-handbag fragrance, it’s always fun for me to mull how well it seems to fit with the brand. Bottega Veneta has the perfect suede-soft luxe leather vibe. Michael Kors the original (I’ve lost track of how many they have now) is not a favorite of mine, but it too seems to match the brand – attainable luxe in another loud floral, a little sharp-elbowed and overstated, a fragrance I didn’t care for much on myself but (oddly) is one of the fragrances I often end up complimenting random strangers on, along with Dior J’Adore, so clearly I like big white flowers.
When Tory Burch came out a couple years ago I’m one of the minority who didn’t hate it, in part because it seems like a solid fit for the brand with its bright, clean citrus top and fancy-hand-soap fruits and florals, like a Clinique Happy for the monogrammed-bag-and-flats set.
Then there are fragrances I like, although I can’t really match them with my idea of the brand behind them – mostly because the fragrances seem so young. I really like Prada Candy, with its sweet, trashy hairspray aesthetic, although what that has to do with Prada clothes (fashion forward and fairly spendy) is beyond me… would a woman who can afford Prada wear this? Maybe I’m missing the point.
To this second list I’m going to add the new Valentino, Donna, which showed up in our neck of the woods a couple of months ago, although I think it was released last fall. Valentino the fashion house has expressed itself historically with some of the most stunning evening-wear I have ever had the pleasure of seeing, and more recently with a slew of fragrance inanities – Valentina, V, Rock ‘n Rose… even the bottles are depressing and naff. Donna, on the other hand, sits like an old-fashioned, heavy cut-glass lighter in my hand, which is a step in the right direction.
The fragrance itself? Well, it’s less Joan Crawford and more Betty Boop, but I just can’t be irritated at it, because it’s too much fun. Donna (done by Sonia Constant and Antoine Maisondieu) is a giggly, girly vixen in a pink mohair sweater, from its powderpuff-iris top to its vanilla-suede drydown. If you were looking for a more femme Bottega Veneta, this might be it. I’ve read complaints of toooooo sweeeeet but it doesn’t seem so to me, particularly once the top notes fade. I think it’s fun and office appropriate (assuming you’re putting it on at home and letting it settle), and it’s got that toasty-radiator thing going on in the base that I can never match with any particular note or fragrance style but am an absolute sucker for. I made myself a to-go sample from the bowl of empty atomizers provided (can I mention again how much I love Nordstrom?) and it’s brought me several days of pink, fizzy cheer during what I hope is the last stretch of dismal weather before spring settles in.