Friday, June 16, 2006

Today’s Sample: Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental, and the Vetiver Sample Wrap-Up

When I sniffed all my little vials o’ vetiver, I was most intrigued by Vetiver Oriental. According to Osmoz, the notes in this fragrance are:
Top: Sap notes, Padilla iris, undergrowth notes
Heart: Vetiver root, gaiac wood, woody-accord, chocolate
Base: Musk, ambered mosses, sandalwood, rockrose ladanum (I think they have a typo, and this is actually rockrose labdanum)

Two favorite fragrances, Calvin Klein’s Obsession (I wore this through high school) and YSL’s Opium (which I graduated to in college), are both typically categorized as Oriental, so I suppose a precedent was set. Both of those fragrances are spicy but also somewhat more floral than Vetiver Oriental.

To be honest, I cannot begin to guess what “undergrowth notes” are, but it doesn’t matter so much. The iris is very clear in the opening, and comes through with a musty rather than candied sweetness (just the word “sap“ makes me think sticky sweet, but it isn't). I personally don’t catch any chocolate, and the soft woods do have a slight sharpness underneath. Although it made me laugh, I thought it was interesting when I asked Bob to sniff, and he said I smelled sharp, like cheddar cheese. Cheese? But then he explained that musky, subtle sharpness that some cheeses have, and that he could smell that underneath the spice of the scent.

And while I don’t smell cheese, I see what he means. Not unlike the Guerlain Vetiver, there’s a musty quality underneath the sandalwood and the mild vanilla-like smell of the amber. But here that sharp salt, which is like the scent of skin not covered by soap or perfume, is well-balanced with the spicy sweetness, instead of amplified by an overly earthy accord.

I sound so fancy.

And so to wrap up my week of vetiver sampling: I failed to appreciate the classic vetiver, the vetiver, I suppose, against which all other vetivers must be measured: Guerlain Vetiver. While I don’t care for this scent, I’m happy to have it as a basis from which to work, and I can appreciate it. The Vetiver de Puig was intriguing, and I liked its woody darkness. It’s a fragrance I might reach for in a very specific mood, and only in winter!

As for Comptoir Sud Pacifique’s Vetiver Haiti, well…If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, right?

Not only was Laura Tonatto Iss my favorite of the week, but it’s currently at the top of my overall list. I love it that much! (This weekend, I may post my Amateur Sampler’s List of Favorites, just for a little fun.) Vetiver Oriental is not in my top ten, but it’s not far from it. I think, though, that it doesn’t quite stand far enough apart from other “Oriental” fragrances with which I’m familiar. But if I wanted to purchase that type of fragrance specifically, I would buy it.

Read a review of Vetiver Oriental at Legerdenez.

*photo from Osmoz