Blog post by Gwen

Vetiver – rooty and earthy and camphourous

“I smell vetiver” I said to her over drinks on a late autumn afternoon. Sniffing the air again, I asked, “What is that fragrance you are wearing?”

“It’s Vetiver by Etro,” she said, smiling coyly.

“Tell me all about it”, I said as I inhaled the scent that was on her wrist.

“Ha! This is rich. You’re usually the one who introduces me to fragrances, and now I’m, introducing you to….”

“Yes, yes, you are,” I said, rushing her along, “Get to the good part.”

“OK, OK. Remember when we had that perfume evening with a group of friends a few months ago and we all sampled some vetiver fragrances you brought?”

“Yes, yes,” I said. “That was so much fun.”

“Right. Well, remember how I was totally taken with Route du Vétiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier?”

“Yes, yes, I do. I also remember how hard a time you had finding a bottle of it.”

“Right, well, desperation made me abandon my search for Route du Vétiver and begin a search for a substitute vetiver fragrance and that’s how I found Vetiver by Etro.”

“Hold on a minute,” I said. “There is no substitute for Route du Vétiver…..”

“I agree, which is why I now have two favourite vetiver fragrances.”

Soon after I had bought a bottle of Vetiver by Etro, we met up for drinks again.

“My nose tells me you have a new vetiver fragrance,” she said.

“I do,” I replied.

“What do you think of the opening?” she asked as she settled deeper into her chair.

“The way it opens with a bitter bite from bergamot and artemisia, that’s backed with green, herbaceous clary sage….”

“Yeah, the artemisia threads through it and gives the opening a vodka/vermouth booziness,” she chimed in proudly.

“It’s pretty potent, it’s a good thing there’s some petitgrain in it to soften it a bit with its floral-woody aspect,” I said, as she nodded in agreement.

“That’s where it differs from Route du Vétiver, which has blackcurrant at the top and no citrus,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said, “but when that vetiver opens up at the heart of the Etro perfume…”

“On, I know!” she said. “It’s vetiver joy! It smells damp and woody and earthy. Like damp leaves on a day like today.”

I leaned forward, on the edge of my seat. We were deep into it now.

“I get a hint of iris. It adds to the earthy, rootiness. And, did you know there is both Haitian and Bourbon vetiver used here?”

“No,” she said.

“Oh, yes. The Haitian is cooler and cleaner, I think, while the Bourbon is warmer and has a smoky facet,” I said. “I think that together they give the fragrance some elegance and refinement without compromising the dirtiness of the vetiver”

“Just the way that Guaiac wood adds a soft floral note to the vetiver,” she added.

“And the base! I smell amber sweetness,” she said, bringing her wrist closer to her nose, “and hay.”

“That’s from tobacco flower,” I said.  

A few sips and a lot of discussion later….

“OK, the drydown,” I said. “It’s woody, rooty and camphourous…but not coarse or rough.”

“I still smell the artemsia,” she said. “You know, to me this is a perfect fall fragrance, maybe a little on the masculine side, but I wear it and get tons of compliments, so I’ll say it’s unisex.”

“So, I have a question for you,” I said, “Why just two favourite vetiver fragrances? I mean there’s Vétiver by Annink Goutal, Vétiver pour Elle and Vetiver from Guerlain, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré from L’Artisan, Vétiver Oriental from Serge Lutens, Vetiver Extraordinaire from Frédéric Malle…

“I think I’m gonna need a bigger perfume shelf,” she said, and we both laughed.

Check out Vetiver in our store.