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Vetiver Velours – A smooth , smooth vetiver – July 16, 2017


Hot humid and sunny makes me want cool green and mossy. It’s just what happens every summer. It’s vetiver season.

Gwen describes herself as a vetiverivore, I think I’m more of a vetiverivist. Frankly, I don’t know if there is much of a difference, I think we’re just having fun with words, but the fact of the matter is that way back when we first fell into the perfume world, the vetiver note cast a powerful spell on both of us, and over the past few years we’ve purchased many many beautiful vetiver fragrances.

Vetiver is a magical note. The oil is distilled from a tall perennial grass grown in the hot climates of East Asia and the West Indies, and is used in perfumes not only for its distinctive scent but also for its fixative properties which “set” more volatile compounds. Used in heavy concentrations, its scent profile skews masculine, strong and clear, but used more sparingly vetiver becomes more feminine, sweeter and darker when blended with floral, spice, or wood notes. But vetiver in truth is gender-less. It transcends the whole yin/yang discussion, and should simply be called sublime.

What does vetiver smell like? It’s usually described as green and cool, but that’s like describing Chris Hemsworth as a tall Australian. This is a very unique and complex green, which can be aromatic, citrusy, rooty, mossy, earthy, woody, smoky, leathery, licoricey as it moves through a dry-down. Guerlain Vetiver is considered the benchmark vetiver scent, introduced for men in 1959 but immediately claimed by women as their own and worn happily by everyone in the world since then. Encre Noire by Lalique is a more modern interpretation which spotlights the vetiver note to perfection - dry, earthy, pungent at the top with a twist of turpentine, a hint of salty-sweet licorice at the bottom. Our favourite vetivers are listed below – click on the names to read our stories about them.

I have an addition to our Vetiver list.  Vetiver Velours by Keiko Mecheri, part of her Bespoke Collection from 2012, which has been re-issued as a collection of thirteen fragrances, Les Merveilles. These fragrances were created by the California perfumer as an homage to the great vintage perfumes, made with high concentrations from the best of materials, a glamorous gift for herself and perfume lovers seeking fragrances beyond the norm, “niche within niche”. I’ve fallen in love with all seven of the original Bespoke Collection, and have listed Sousanne, and Canyon Dreams in the Decant Store.

Vetiver Velours, or Vetiver Velvet, is a smooth smooth vetiver. Grassy vetiver is at the top, earthy and damp, but the note is soft, not strident. A cloud of delicate spices with hints of sweet tobacco, licorice, and toffee floats through the vetiver, sweetening it slightly but highlighting the green richness. In the dry-down, the sweet spices and powdery oud wood and musk form a velvet blanket around the vetiver note, so that Vetiver Velours feels dark and quietly exotic.

Vetiver Velours is a luxurious vision of vetiver, and absolutely unique. If you expect to experience a classic vetiver, you will experience an olfactory epiphany instead. Keiko Mecheri’s vision of this distinct note removes the sharp edges and wraps it in cool silky smooth velvet, creating an elegant and quietly opulent vetiver to wear on a summer day. Loving the heat, it does magic on skin, and you will fall under its vetiver spell.

A word of caution, though - you must be on guard with Vetiver Velours. Don't over-spritz or use too frequently. You might become a vetiverivore, or a vetiverivist.

Vetiver Velours is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Vetiver scents listed in our Decant Store:

Guerlain Vetiver and Vetiver pour Elle, Vetiver Extraordinaire by Frédéric Malle, Vetiver by Etro,  Encre Noire by Lalique, Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens, Route du Vetiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, Vetiver Incenso by Farmacia SS Annunziata, Couer de Vetiver Sacre by L’Artisan Parfumeur, Vetiver Dance by Tauer Perfumes.