Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guerlain Vetiver

I have a very beautiful friend who loves Jo Malone Vetiver cologne. I had never known any woman who claimed vetiver as her signature, and became interested in discovering more vetiver-based colognes and perfumes. Although I never settled on a predominantly vetiver-centric fragrance (or a vetiver soliflore / single note scent), Guerlain Vetiver, an eau de toilette for Men, is among my very favorites. Vetiver on its own can smell dark and woody, like a linear plank of wood (Chanel Sycomore) in its most concentrated form, or it can smell softer, like grassy weed (Guerlain Vetiver). I have several favorites in the vetiver-based family, such as Pierre Balmain Ivoire with its significantly weedy base, and Serge Lutens Vétiver Oriental which is much heavier with ample servings of benzoin and labdanum to give it a more resinous feel.

According to Perfume Intelligence, Guerlain Vetiver was created in 1959, although it wasn't launched in the USA till 1961. Created by Jean-Paul Guerlain, it is described as a classical woody spicy. The bulk of vetiver fragrances born in the same era were mostly marketed to Men. Today, there are many shared versions, even a vetiver for Women (Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle (2004), which I still need to try), available on the market.

I would describe Guerlain Vetiver as a citric, spicy, powdery, grassy and weedy scent, with pleasant lemon-lime top notes making it a most appealing, well-mannered vintage sport fragrance. Basenotes lists coriander, nutmeg and Capiscum among the spice notes; the spiciness is sharp and austere, but not so piercingly sharp, at least not enough to overpower the more delicate citric top notes. It's not too sweet, but it doesn't singe the nosehairs in an effort to be macho (no flowers or sweets!) or too cerebral (nothing vulgar, like vanilla!), either. Overall, this Spicy Oriental has the easy wearability of a traditional lime, with well-tempered spices and a whole lot of genteel, powdery charm.

Read more about Guerlain Vetiver at The Vintage Perfume Vault.