Skip to main content

Vetiver Insolent – spicy and woody and green

Vetiver grass used as windbreak

Regular readers of this blog know that vetiver is a favourite fragrance note of mine. The roots of that aromatic grass that grow in Haiti and India is the star attraction in many of the scents that I own: Vétiver pour Elle by Guerlain, Vétiver by Annick Goutal, Vétiver Oriental by Serge Lutens, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré by L’Artisan, Vetiver Dance by Andy Tauer and Route du Vétiver by  Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. So, why did it take so long for me to discover Vetiver Insolent by British perfume house Miller Harris, I wonder? I could come up with dozens of excuses on my part, most of them involving work and family, but part of the reason was the way the brand was handled.

Miller Harris was founded by perfumer Lyn Harris in 2000. She built a home business into a global one and sold it to London-based global investment outfit Neo Capital in 2012. After Harris left in 2014, the brand seemed to shift in to idle for a while and was often overlooked despite producing some outstanding fragrances that are vegan and contain no phthalates, artificial colorants, parabens and formaldehydes.

Then, in 2016, Miller Harris went through a rebrand. Perfumers like Julie Pluchet and Bertrand Duchaufour created fragrances for them, and they changed the packaging and presentation of the scents. This was also the year nose Mathieu Nardin, of Robertet, created Vetiver Insolent.

Vetiver Insolent opens with a note of fresh, bright nose-tingling bergamot, joined by earthy, woody black pepper, sweet cardamom and smoky, resinous elemi. It is fresh, rich and spicy and could easily go to the dark side if not for a floral heart of earthy, powdery iris and fresh, herbal, aromatic lavender rounded out by resinous, balsamy amber. As it evolves, vetiver at the base starts to rise up through the fragrance. Truth is, the vetiver had been lurking there right from the top, but now it blooms rich, deep and dense, each facet highlighted by what came before so that all its aspects – woody, green, earthy, smoky - are on display. Even oakmoss evokes the forest floor, while tonka bean gives it warmth and sweetness.

The drydown is balsamy, resinous, woody and earthy, but not dark and heavy. Vetiver Insolent is so well designed that the vetiver has enough space in it to allow the other notes to lift it while still keeping the fragrance vetiver-centric, making it smooth and alluring and giving it a vintage vibe that draws people in. It is simply a superb piece of perfumery.

The Miller Harris website says that Vetiver Insolent ‘conjures the summertime tradition of weaving vetiver roots into a curtain, placed at a window and drenched in water to cool and scent the air.’ This is precisely the experience I get from wearing Vetiver Insolent.

Some vetiver fragrances are best worn during cool/cold temperatures, a few are better suited to warmer days, but Vetiver Insolent can be worn all year long. I think this is one of the things I like most about it, cause now that I’ve found it, I want to wear it all the time.

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

Image - wikimedia commons - Vetiver grass windbreak at Pono Grown Farm Centre, Maui , Hawaii, Forest and Kim Starr, Nov. 23, 2015