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On vacation in Los Angeles last summer, Monsieur and I visited Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills one hot July day.

Little did I know things were about to get steamy.

Rodeo Drive is known as the epicentre of luxury fashion. Three city blocks contain more than 100 world-renowned boutiques and hotels. The wide sidewalks and grand storefronts ooze engineered elegance. Palm trees line the streets like perfectly-placed dominos.

My flirtation began innocently enough at Valentino. As soon as I walked in, I was fussed over by two sales associates who looked like they had stepped off the cover of a Harlequin romance novel — albeit fully clothed — in beautiful crisp, black suits.

I wandered around, toyed with an animal print bag, and tried to glance nonchalantly at the $4000 price tag.  We chatted a little, but they could tell I was just there to play. Our exchange touched on the topic of fragrance and suddenly I ended up with a wonderful elixir — a sample of the newly-launched Valentina Assoluto Eau de Parfum.

God is in the details….the bottle is exquisite, not one of those generic samples thrown in as an afterthought, but a tiny replica of the full size product — adorned with one large flower, the emblem of Valentino couture.

If that wasn’t enough, they packaged it with care in a shiny red Valentino bag and tied it “just so” with black satin ribbon.

A perfectly exquisite sample

Eau de Parfum – Valentina Assoluto.

Slipping me the sample was quite a seductive move on their part — catnip to me — given my weakness for perfume in general, and for a chypre accord, in particular.

The top notes tease with Italian bergamot, Smeggia peach from Sicily and white Alba truffle from Piedmont. The heart exudes intoxicating tuberose flowers from the Mediterranean; jasmine and soft vanilla from Madagascar. The base smoulders of silky cedar, oak moss and patchouli….

Language like that makes me melt. I was in Beverly Hills Heaven.

Sitll woozy from my encounter with Valentino, I cool off by the fountain.

Sitll woozy from my encounter with Valentino, I cooled off by the fountain, my precious prize in hand.

(Taking a page from a fashion blogger, here’s who I’m wearing: Cami and jacket from White House Black Market in LaJolla, CA;  White denim jeans from Anthropologie in Toronto, ON; Nude patent leather slingbacks from Pretty-Small-Shoes, London, UK)

208 Rodeo Drive

We stopped for lunch on the patio dotted with red umbrellas —  208 Rodeo Drive.

How do you know if you're in Beverly Hills unless lunch consists of a couple of drinks, two side salads and a handful of sliders for $100!

You know you’re in Beverly Hills when you drop $100 on lunch for a couple of drinks,  salad and two tiny sliders!!

To be fair, what happened next wasn’t entirely my fault.

Versace was partly to blame.  He was staring at me all through lunch. I swear.

His grand stature disarmed me, beckoned me with quiet confidence and relentless whispers to ‘just take a look.’

Versace, Beverly Hills

Versace, Beverly Hills

I succumbed to the call but resolved that nothing would happen between us.

I was mistaken.

It could only be described as love at first sight. I was totally smitten the instant I laid eyes on Versace couture!  Was it cornflower blue? Periwinkle perhaps?

The color and design details of this limited edition clutch made me swoon. Rich patent leather, precise, intricate stitching and — my favorite — a shoulder strap of gleaming chain intertwined with leather……oh, ti adoro!

Going home with Versace

Going home with Versace

I knew we belonged together and I dove in with all my heart.

Mio amore, Versace.

(I rationalized the purchase by dipping into a stash I reserve for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities)

Satisfied and unapologetic, I left Beverly Hills that afternoon with Monsieur on one arm  and Versace on the other.

– 30 –

Upcoming Post:  Scene on Queen (April 2013)