I sometimes get a little obsessed with things, completely out of the blue and for reasons that I don’t always understand. Trying out the new Valentino fragrance, Valentina Assoluto Eau de Parfum Intense, became one of those things. It is supposed to be an entirely new take on Valentino’s popular Valentina perfume but, according to its creator, the well-known Olivier Cresp, it is not a flanker. (Yes, actually it is.) Instead, it’s supposed to be a new, smoldering “seductive” and “nocturnal” take on a chypre with only some of the original Valentina‘s facets and supposedly, none of the latter’s strawberry heart.
Valentina Assoluto was first launched in 2012 in Europe and the Middle East, but it is only now, in April 2013, being officially released in the U.S. The description on the little manufacturer’s sample that I bought states as follows:
The alluring fruitness of a sensual smeggia peach enhanced with white Alba truffle.
The magnetism of a precious white flower bouquet, touched by delicate vanilla.
The mystery of a voluptuous chypre signature, fusion of patchouli, oakmoss and vibrant cedar wood.
The notes, as compiled from Fragrantica and Nordstrom, seem to be:
Key notes: bergamot, peach, white truffle, jasmine, tuberose, cedarwood, patchouli, oakmoss, Madagascar vanilla.
I should note that the text copy for Nordstrom mentions orange blossom too, which I think is also in the perfume. The more important thing, however, is what no-one mentions: strawberries. It is the key note of the original Valentina and, to my nose, is also a big part of the Assoluto sequel.
Fragrantica classifies the perfume as a “Chypre Floral.” I think that is following the ad copy far too slavishly. Valentina Assoluto is a fruity floral scent, first and foremost, with a heavy emphasis on “fruity;” it is an oakmoss or chypre fragrance only by the very loosest possible definition.
Valentina Assoluto opens on my skin with a forceful sweetness that strongly calls to mind those candies like a Jolly Rancher or something similar. There is a note of heavy, over-ripe, lush peaches which almost immediately turns to strawberries. The fruit is macerated with sugar, almost like a syrup that you see on some desserts. Its sweetness just barely falls short of strawberry jam. Seconds later, there is a dry undertone of some vaguely abstract, amorphous “chypre” element, but it is extremely faint. Much stronger is the patchouli and an undertone of vanilla. Minutes later, a very muted sort of earthiness appears, and it feels like white truffle — except it’s buried under piles of strawberry syrup. There is also a vague hint of something citrusy but it’s minimal. The strawberries turn even sweeter and, though they occasionally have ripe peaches as an undertone, they are the main star of the show at this stage.
I haven’t the faintest idea how any of this is supposed to be “nocturnal.” I feel quite ready for a summer picnic with strawberry desserts in the bright, cheerful sun. I think those who love sugar bombs like Victor & Rolf‘s Flowerbomb will love this part of the perfume because it’s very exuberant and happy. Those who prefer more modulated, more well-balanced and less sugared florals will find this to be excessive.
Exactly fifteen minutes after the start, Valentina Assoluto turns dry and woody. It happened almost on the dot on both occasions that I tested the perfume. There is smoky cedar which appears and which slowly starts to muscle the strawberries to the side. There are subtle elements of jasmine, but like the patchouli and vanilla of the opening minutes, it’s merely flickering at the outside edges. Instead, the perfume turns a smoky, lightly peppered cedar fragrance on the base of some amorphously abstract fruity elements. At its final moments, Valentino Assoluto became a simple, light mix of woods with tiny touches of vanilla, patchouli and musk.
I have to admit, I find the whole thing incredibly odd. For one thing, I’m not familiar with a plethora of strawberry fragrances. For another, the rapidity of the abrupt and very sharp change is quite unusual. To go from a candy-sweet fruity fragrance to a very dry, peppered, smoky cedar one is quite a contrast. And in fifteen minutes?! Odder still is the unusual juxtaposition of notes. Cedar and strawberries? I have to give points for huge originality.
I suspect the sharp transition would have been made smoother if I’d smelled the actual Alba truffle in the opening; its earthiness might have provided a bridge between stages, as would some of the floral elements. To my sadness, there was no tuberose on my skin. In the same vein, some freshness from the citrus notes would have helped alleviate the incredible sweetness of the scent. But, on my skin, none of those things happened on both occasions that I tested the perfume. Valentina Assoluto is barely floral and has little to no earthy truffle, fresh citrus, or pungent oakmoss.
The whole thing is extremely light and surprisingly sheer given the heaviness of the initial sugary notes. The perfume is strong for about five minutes but then quickly drops in sillage, hovering mere inches above the skin for about forty minutes, until turning into a skin scent. The first time I tested the perfume, I applied about 4 sprays and it lasted just over two and a half hours on my skin. The second time, I applied 2 sprays, and the perfume died after an hour and thirty minutes. Yes, I have perfume-consuming skin but, looking at Fragrantica, I was not the only one who had troubles with longevity.
I suspect fans of the original Valentina might like this one, since a few comments on Fragrantica lead me to believe they are extremely similar for the most part. Interestingly, a number of people seem to have experience a lot of tuberose in the scent — which I did not. The overall reviews on the site seem to be quite mixed, with people expressing everything from huge love, to those less enamoured of its “sweet, sweet, sweet” nature and a few being bewildered by how it turns “very woody.” Some simply couldn’t bear the heavy tuberose/patchouli combination.
Personally, I was disappointed by just how unremarkable it was; it’s not complex, nuanced, well-balanced, or long-lasting. And, even by the standards of mass-market fragrances, it’s a little boring. But if you like extraordinarily sweet perfumes with a suddenly dry twist, if you prefer sugared skin scents, or if you loved the original, then you may want to give this one a try. For everyone else, you may enjoy Valentino’s short “behind the scenes” clip for the campaign shot by David Sims and featuring the model, Freja Beha Erichsen, in a gorgeous backless Valentino dress.
A chypre? Oakmoss? I WANT!!!!
There was a Valentino that came out in the early 90s which I adored..was it the original?
Sweetpea, there is about as much oakmoss in this as there is in my cup of coffee….
As for the 1990s Valentino, looking on Fragrantica’s list for the house, I see “Vendetta Donna” in 1991 and “Very Valentino” in 1998. Does either name ring a bell?
No it was just called Valentino and it came in a bright red box and if I remember correctly the bottle was fluted. I can’t find any info on it but I remember really liking it (and it was a bit sweet)
Aah, sounds like that was the original Valentino from the late ’70s. I liked that one too! Check out this link, scroll down and see the red box: http://www.fragrantica.com/designers/Valentino.html
You are amazing…that is it! but by the time I bought it I think the bottle was slightly altered.
Never mind…just read the “it is an oakmoss or chypre by only the loosest possible definition” hopes shattered 😦
Yeah, technically, a “chypre” doesn’t *have* to have oakmoss and can have patchouli in its base. Here, the perfume theoretically has oakmoss but, honestly, no. No, no, no. Perhaps the merest sliver of some synthetic version but if so, it’s in microscopic amounts. The patchouli is the dominant thing in the base and, so, I suppose they could call it a chypre, given the theoretical structure and the supposed bergamot of the opening. But, let’s not kid ourselves, this is a fruity-woody perfume with some very minor (on my skin) floral elements. And it is sugared in that opening to a degree that only people who like really sweet commercial perfumes would appreciate. Oakmoss chypre my foot!
Time to head on over to Eden Botanicals and get me some oakmoss, apply neat and layer commercial perfumes over it…… and there is my chypre-LOL
This one sounds quite strange. Not particularly tempted by it, as you might imagine!
Oh, and I read “Smeggia peach” as smegma peach. BARF. Thankfully, it seems the smeggia peach is less nefarious than I originally envisioned. I think the bottle actually looks pretty, but if indeed it’s a big plastic flower, I can see it looking uglier in person than it appears in photos. Eeek!
I prefer my strawberry jam on my toast! I got a sniff of this at Neiman’s and well you know me. Too too sweet for my nose. I really enjoyed reading your take on the perfume.
So, did you get strawberry too? That relieves me a little, since the perfume is not supposed to have strawberry (I don’t think) and yet, there it was in endless abundance!! And, I agree, it is painfully sweet for people like you and I. xoxox
Yes there was a great big old Smucker’s strawberry in that bottle.
What, pray tell, is a smeggia peach? It sounds kind of dirty.
It does sound rather dirty, doesn’t it? I think it’s a type of peach from Sicily. I believe the perfume is meant to have all locally-sourced ingredients from Italy but I don’t know about the accuracy of that.
Where do I start? Oh, I know!
First of all I don’t like this perfume at all, smells cheap.
Secondly the bottle is ugly
Thirdly that plastic rose attached to the bottle looks like it was made by a few-years-old girl during art classes at kindergarten.
Meh, I’m not gonna waste more words on this one.
LOL! You sound positively disgusted. *grin* Is the rose really a big plastic thing? Really?? If so, oh dear….. I thought Marc Jacob’s Lola had the monopoly on giant plastic roses. The bottle, at least, looked somewhat interesting to me until I read your words. Now, not at all.
It looks a little bit worse in press materials than on a perfume shelf but still it’s a plastic thing…
Your enthusiasm, or lack thereof, shines through your review. Not something that I would try, but I have to admit, that bottle is fantastic!
Haha, I wondered about the smeggia peach – it conjured up images somewhere between taleggio cheese and something unmentionable. I must say I was deeply disappointed by the strawberry-white chocolate-musky original – though the bottle scores very highly on the haptics and “dressing table-ready” front. I must confess that your review doesn’t endear its successor to me particularly.
My review wasn’t really intended to endear the perfume to any but those who like Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb. *grin* 😉 It’s an odd perfume that I can’t imagine most of the readers here wearing and which I certainly wouldn’t myself. I still have no idea why I became so obsessed with trying it! As for the bottle’s haptics, are you referring to the old one or the new one? Lucas says the rose on this one is some big, plastic thing which…. ugh.
I thought that same thing! What the heck is a smeggia peach? Suddenly I want that more than the fragrance …
I have just one question: is the original Valentina really popular? Wow…
I do not follow mainstream perfumes launches so I had no idea there was a flanker already (why, why would anyone release a perfume named as a sequel to the existing one in a similarly decorated bottle but still insist it wasn’t a flanker??!). Now I am aware but thanks to your review I won’t even get the idea of testing it the next time I’m at a perfume counter. Thank you 🙂
ROFL. Your tone of utter disbelief over the original, combined with your complete bewilderment over the claim that this is not a flanker, is really making me laugh. Yes, the original Valentina is VERY loved! Granted, it’s by those whose tastes veer towards very sweet perfumes like Flowerbomb, but it is definitely very popular.
I was surprised to hear that because I had a feeling that Valentina wasn’t youthfull enough for the Juicy Couture crowd but not mature enough for their mothers. But maybe I was wrong.
I don’t think I could have even muscled through the opening since sugared red berries are my least favorite thing in perfumery. You are super brave, my friend!
It was NOT my cup of tea. At all. I could tolerate the strawberries to a small degree but then, there was all that sugar. And let’s not even start on the schizophrenic change which subsequently occurred. And so rapidly too! In general, and in theory, I’d like to review more mainstream perfumes but this one wasn’t exactly an encouragement. LOL.
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