Very Valentino for Men by Valentino (1999)

Nose: Harry Fremont
Year: 1999

Very Valentino is an extremely compelling, refined and classic – almost old-school - fragrance for men, excelling both in quality and class. It is sadly discontinued and seems pricey these days, I won’t take the responsibility to encourage you to spend too much for this (it’s really good for me, but not a masterpiece) but if you happen to find some nice deals, then it’s worth it, even blind. At first it may resemble to many other masculine designers from the late 1990s-early 2000s, as the bolder initial notes are basically sandalwood, lavender, resins and something slightly floral on the “dark” greenish side (carnation), so think of a sort of sweet-aromatic Oriental blend mostly centered on woods and lavender – like many others, as I said. But at the same time, a couple of features make it clear there’s much more, and more unique, going on; first, the quality of the materials seems to me decidedly higher than in the average mainstreams. It’s hard to explain why, it’s a matter of richness, texture, nuances which are most of the times completely absent in cheaper concoctions. It’s that same fulfilling feel many vintages give you, contrary to the boring flatness of many contemporary scents. Then, I think the composition is really accurate and clever, if not almost outstanding: the notes smell clear, neat, quality, some of them are even contrasting yet the blend is impressively tight and consistent. Dark and refined, but also sweet and gentle. Discreetly safe, but unique. One of those (rare) scents you can wear and forget about them, or keep sniffing them to enjoy nuances and transitions – something you can’t really do with cheap stuff.

Sweet, almost “candied” ambery resins brilliantly give weight and warmth to a really enjoyable and breezy top accord of aromatic herbs, something minty-anisic, the bitter-floral greenness of carnation, the masculine whiff of classic lavender enhanced by sage. Dark and bright, classic but modern. Tobacco is a key note here, and for once it’s a really crisp and substantial “real” tobacco note, leafy and earthy, the mellow, dry, “virile” aroma of grounded tobacco (and not that idiotic, juvenile sweet nonsense so many “tobacco” fragrances are entirely based on). Probably the best mainstream tobacco note I’ve ever experienced. The drydown comprises an amazing transition towards a darker, earthier blend more centered on mellow amber, lavender, a (quite conventional) musky base, smooth dry woods (something really aromatic and slightly exotic, part sandalwood and part something else I can’t detect) and tobacco. Even if the notes are different, I keep thinking of Gérard Anthony style, especially Azzaro pour Homme and Cristobal Homme by Balenciaga, with also some connections with vintage Hermès Equipage. I think there’s quite something in common with all of them (probably tobacco and the masculine aromatic-anisic fougère notes of lavender and sage). By Man by D&G? Sure a bit of that too, incomparably better here. Full support, and shame on Valentino for discontinuing this. And now for the bad news... The persistence is a bit crap. It doesn’t last that long, and it is quite a skin scent. But this is sophisticated mature stuff to enjoy intimately, so that fits the style of the fragrance. Recommended!


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