Perfume Review: Guerlain Vetiver, Vetiver Frozen and Vetiver Pour Elle
Those, like yours truly, obsessed with vetiver, might want to try every and eventually own almost every vetiver fragrance ever produced. And yet one’s need for vetiver can easily be satisfied by Guerlain’s Vetiver. Created in 1959, this scent showcases all the best features of vetiver, the aromatic verdancy, the fragrant rootiness [the name for vetiver in Java is akar wangi, “fragrant root”], the subtle, refreshing citrusiness, the enjoyable earthiness, a wonderful hint of woodiness, and a certain Guerlainesque leathery-ambery darkness in the drydown. There is not a single thing I would change, take away or add to this wonderful scent, this Golden Standard of Vetiver. To quote Shakira, baby, this is perfection.
Vetiver Frozen, also known as Vetiver Eau Glacée, was created in 2004; it emphasizes the refreshing, bracing side of vetiver with the aid of the cooling agents (whatever those might be). Vetiver Frozen has a delightful, unexpectedly nutty, woody top accord that, to my nose, also carries a hint of patchouli. And then, I assume, the mysterious cooling agents kick in, because the fragrance acquires a quite literally chilly, mentholated quality on my skin. Fun and revitalizing as that stage might be, at that point Frozen stops being a vetiver scent, since the star note becomes overwhelmed by that menthol-camphor-like “cooling” accord. Only in the drydown does vetiver manage to gain strength again, and when it does, the scent becomes gloriously rooty, green, aromatic…all the things I love in vetiver scents. “Mint” is still apparent in the drydown, but it is not as obnoxious as in the middle stage. If I could take the nutty beginning and the wonderful intense vetiver of the drydown and skip the cooling agents…this would be a great scent indeed, but it would not be Frozen.
Vetiver Pour Elle (also 2004) is a scent built on the assumption that Elle cannot possibly wear the original (“men’s”) Vetiver. It is a lovely fragrance but, to my nose, it is not about vetiver. Vetiver Pour Elle is a floral scent with a note of vetiver as opposed to a vetiver scent with a couple of discreet floral accords. The beginning of the fragrance is beautiful; the orange blossom, brightened by bergamot and spiced up by nutmeg, has the same striking, almost indolic quality as the one I adored in Mona di Orio’s Nuit Noire. After the glorious start, however, the scent more or less goes downhill on my skin. In the middle stage it becomes a rather indistinct, though very pleasant and delightfully fresh floral with a rather more subdued orange blossom and lily of the valley being most prominent notes. Vetiver? Does not show up till the late drydown, when the flowers fade and the title note finally gets a chance to show off its marvelous grassy earthiness. Taken at its own merit, Vetiver Pour Elle is an enjoyable, tasteful floral scent. As a vetiver fragrance…as I already grumbled above, this really is not a vetiver fragrance.
Vetiver is available…everywhere and cheap; for example, Scentiments offer 4.2oz testers for $21.89. Vetiver Frozen is much harder to find. Recently I saw it being sold at Bytheplanet.com, $42.58 for 2.5oz. Vetiver Pour Elle seems to only be available at duty free shops, and perhaps not even there anymore since, I believe, it was supposed to be a limited edition.