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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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.

24 Comments:

Blogger andy said...

Wonderful description of Guerlain's vetiver that I also like very, very much. As you said: It is all in there. I did not now the glacier version. I have to try that one...It sounds like a combination that I will have my troubles with. For me, Vetiver is a very warm scent. I like my vetiver warm, not frozen ;-)

5:43 AM EDT  
Anonymous timam said...

although I am as far from a "devoted vetiver admirer" as possible, I find guerlain's Vetiver very beautiful but couldn't possibly wear it myself, at least not now. I wish you to eventually own all the vetivers out there ;).

9:10 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Andy,
I think of vetiver as of having a certain warm earthy quality, but i do get a cool, bracing effect too. However, I don't think that it needs to be exagerrated like they have done with Vetiver Frozen.

9:40 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
You are very kind. I wish you wish for me came true :-D

Do you find Vetiver too masculine? Or..?

9:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous timam said...

M, too "masculine" sounds almost like a discrimination, but yes, you are right. I'm just not there yet, there seem to be too many astonishing "feminine" fragrances to wear at the moment :). I also find vetiver as a note very cold and "metallic" and these are two features that I normally dislike in a fragrance.

10:21 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
Some things just *are* too masculine even for me, and it is all a matter of personal skin chemistry and taste. Metallic...that's not good, I wouldn't like that either.

10:27 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Although vetiver is not my favorite accord, I have to say hats off to Guerlain Vetiver. It'is truly the gold standard.

As far as anyone considereing it "masculine", I know at least two very feminine ladies who use it as a signature scent. So there.

12:52 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I read lukewarm comments on Vetiver pour Elle before, but when I tried it myself I was absolutely enchanted with it. I agree with you that it is light on vetiver, but the accords are arranged in such a graceful manner that I cannot help but be completely smitten with it. I also adore Vetiver, the original and the current version, which is quite modernized.

1:14 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
So there! :-)

By the way, following your advice, I tried Habit Rouge...oh mamma...that is one hot scent, especially in the drydown, where there was this unexpectedly dirty, musky thing going on. Me likey! :-)

1:39 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

V,
I absolutely agree that Vetiver Pour Elle is very nicely done, it is "graceful", as you said. It is just that I wanted more vetiver. *sigh*

1:40 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Glad you liked the Habit Rouge- your reminder of the slightly dirty dry down (and link to scentiments) made me log on and buy a bottle- along with Vetiver- my high-school years are back!

Thanks for the link- I got both for a little more than half the price of one bottle of Vetiver at Neimans! Whoo hoo!

7:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous sybil said...

Thank you for these reviews! I can't wait to try the original Guerlain Vetiver! I'm definitely developing my own vetiver obsession, so I thank you for all the fuel.

8:05 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
Always happy to enable! :-) I've got to get myself a bottle of Habit Rouge. It is swoon-worthy. thank you again for recommending it.

9:12 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Sybil,
I have a bag-ful of vetiver samples. People might be bored, but I hope you would be interested in reading about them :-)

9:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Cait Shortell said...

On one hand, these sound a cut above all the versions of scents (as in Allure Sensuelle) but on the other hand it sounds like they do not improve on the stunning original.

10:44 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Cait,
They really don't improve. You can't imrove perfection :-) They do bring a little something different to it, but it is not necessarily an improvement :-)

11:17 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I got the Habit Rouge- the EDC, which is tamer that I remember it (but then I have been exposed to MKK) nut still luscious, and the divine Gerlain Vetiver: so pervasive, and in such a good way. Such sillage; I sprayed it onto a card in my office and people walking in the corridor stopped to asked what smelled so good.

Thank you for reminding me how much I liked this one- someone I didn't care for wore it and now I am determined to reclaim its glory.

12:22 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
Congratulations with your purchases!!
I will be reviewing Habit Rouge next week along with 4 other "men's" scents. "Men's" scents - all next week.

8:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Veronica said...

Vetiver Eau Glacée (Vetiver Frozen) was a limited edition for the summer of 2004.

Try Vetiver Sport - new for 2006!

6:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous neal said...

Guerlain's Vetiver is probably the fragrance I reach for more than any other. My own vetiver fragrance that I composed is inspired by theirs, with perhaps just a bit more earthiness.
Vetiver in its pure form (the essential oil, I mean) has a rather dark, "rooty", earthiness that doesn't promise much until it is diluted and combined with other fragrance notes. The oil itself is said to improve in quality if it's allowed to age for several years, just as oudh does.
Incidentally, "coolness" in fragrances is nearly always suggested by notes of mint (menthol normally) and camphor (or their synthetic counterparts). Honestly I don't know of any others that are currently used. The infamous "Cool Water"'s major feature was a citric topnote combined with "cooling" notes.
However, to me, pure oakmoss absolute has a certain earthy/green "coolness" as well.

2:30 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Neal,
The "coolness" in Vetiver Frozen does smell minty. Amd gosh, how I dislike Cool Water, masculine or feminine. :-)

9:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous neal said...

Not a Cool Water fan here, either. But I have to admit that I actually did buy a bottle of it a long time ago, and 3/4 of said bottle is still on a shelf, someplace.
Just for fun, I think I'm going to play around with adding some "cooling" notes to my own vetiver concoction, to see what happens. I have some cornmint essential oil. Cornmint must be the mildest mint of all. I love the stuff. I also have camphor crystals and borneol camphor crystals. Ever smelled borneol camphor?

My last thoughts on the vetiver subject, and Guerlain's Vetiver specifically: I smell much more citrus, spice, and balsams (specifically myrrh) in Guerlain's Vetiver than I do vetiver itself.
Vetivert is an excellent fixative and base note in fragrances, but in its pure form, you probably wouldn't want to spray yourself with it.

6:44 PM EDT  
Anonymous Edward said...

I'm mad for Guerlain Vetiver but am having trouble finding a new bottle of EDT pour, all I can find is spray bottles. Any suggestions where to look?

11:45 AM EST  
Blogger Maggie said...

im absolutely in love with any fragrence that is predominantly vetiver. So earthy and it smells like "warm sensual body" something that you want to lay next to and breath deeply for ever. You need to try Vetiver by Elizabeth W. Its cheap but intoxicating. I can only find it at a quaint little store called the Chandlrey. You can find the Chandlrey online to order it. How do you get samples of vetiver colognes? I have been searching for years at retail store and they cant seem to help me.

6:16 PM EDT  

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