Monday, March 12, 2007

Le Labo's Vetiver 46

smoke, originally uploaded by Silent Image.

Le Labo is a relatively new (2006) independent perfume house that commissions different perfumers to design their fragrances. I am not familiar with other scents from this line, nor do I know who is the nose behind this particular scent - but what I do know about about Le Labo’s perfumes is that they all bear names of building blocks followed by a number to indicate how many other building blocks went into the formula.

In the case of Vetiver 46, I can smell the other 45 ingredients far more than building block that gave its name. To be more precise, I smell labdanum and incense. The Le Labo website describes Vetiver 46 as the most masculine of the line, and themed around Haitian vetiver. I find this quite surprising, given the woody, incensey, at times almost smoky quality of the perfume that pervades most of its life on the skin.

Opening with labdanum, cistus oil, olibanum (AKA frankincense) and smoky notes of guiacwood and burning cedarwood, the scent gradually softens but remains rather linear and unchanging. Its aroma is rich, nevertheless; yet while I find the combination of notes appealing on its own, I find the persistence of the labdanum and oakmoss here to be leaving more to be desired.

However, I am quite certain that if the name hinted the promise of incense I would have not been disappointed, even if I found out at the end that there is an underlining mossy, musky quality to the perfume (which gives it its “masculine” nuance). Given that it is called Vetiver 46, I find it difficult to assess the scent based on its performance in an objective manner. If you are looking for a vetiver scent, you won't find it here. If incense is what your heart desires, look no further, it's here in a juice form. Not a joss stick as pictured, but the resins thrown on a hot charcoal in a censer.

While Villoresi’s Vetiver was quite far from being a single-note vetiver, and also, like Le Labo's, plays up the cistus notes - it still was able to derive certain qualities from vetiver (i.e.: the dryness, the astringent freshness) and come back to it in the end. This perfume from Le Labo is the most remotely related to the building block that is its namesake that I’ve smelled of the genre. If it was called Cistus 45 I couldn’t have found this more fitting as a name. The 46th ingredient, Vetiver, got lost in the smoke and was left behind.

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