Monday, June 12, 2006

Today’s Sample: Guerlain Vetiver

This week, I’ll be exploring vetiver fragrances. I hear these are ideal to wear in hot summer weather. My curiosity was piqued when I read the review of Lanvin’s Vetiver at Scentzilla! I asked Katie what other vetiver fragrances I should try, and she pointed me to one I haven’t gotten my hands on yet—Provence Sante’s Vetiver—and also the Guerlain.

According to Wikipedia, vetiver is a clump-forming grass that’s closely related to the lemongrass family and grown primarily in India, Java, Haiti, and Réunion. The roots, not the grass itself, are steam-distilled for the essential oil. It also says that this oil is used in aromatherapy to relieve stress.

Guerlain Vetiver seems to be the quintessential classic, and (lucky for me) it was part of the vetiver sample pack I ordered off eBay. Classified by Guerlain as a men’s fragrance but worn by many women, this Vetiver contains the following notes:
Top: Citrus notes, orange, bergamot, lemon, vetiver
Heart: pepper, nutmeg
Base: tobacco, tonka bean

The opening was the best part, a bright green citrus with no sweetness. I must admit, I missed a little bit of a floral note, but it was refreshing and slightly bitter, like sparkling water with a twist. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way. The citrus quickly gave over to pepper, something like green peppercorns accompanied by faint lemon. I could not detect the nutmeg, which would have added a little spicy warmth to this fragrance. The tobacco and tonka bean seem to leave what’s left of the citrus (mainly lemon) very dry.

After all the reading I’ve done lately, I realize that the classification of women’s and men’s fragrances is often quite arbitrary. I’ve known many women who could wear men’s fragrances successfully, but generally I am not one of them. (Although Ormonde Jayne Isfarkand isn’t too bad on me, but not nearly as wonderful as it is on Bob! I think the Terre d’Hermes might also work, but I let Bob have the sample. Grr.) On me, this Vetiver simply smells…How to put this delicately? It smells a little bit like I went to the gym at lunch, forgot my antiperspirant, and put this on to cover up any smell that might develop in the afternoon. Yes, sad but true: I smell like I am trying to cover up BO.

I’m disappointed because I was SO READY to love this. Sadly, three out of four Guerlain fragrances I have tried have not done well on me: Shalimar, Mitsuoko, and now Vetiver—all stink bombs on my skin. Really, there’s no other way to put it. So far, the only Guerlain that smells good on me is Attrape-Couer, that wonderful smoky violet. Mmmmm! And so I bequeath the Vetiver to Bob. Maybe it’ll do for him.

Check back tomorrow, when I try another vetiver. In the meantime, what’s your favorite vetiver scent?

Read a (positive) review of Guerlain Vetiver at Legerdenez.
*photo from Wikipedia