Saturday, February 24, 2007

Guerlain's Vetiver

wood flow, originally uploaded by greenhem.

This is a vetiver that is seemingly simple and gives vetiver a clean, elegant and citrusy interpretation. But when noticing the unfolding of the different elements it reveals interesting layers of simple yet surprising combinations.

Citrus in the initial inhale turns into a peppery heart of nutmeg absolute, revealing the magic of this precious spice, which is the most supreme in this type of distillation, just as the freshly grated nuts. Pepper absolute is also present but to a lesser extend – it’s the luxury of nutmeg that is the star of the show.

A mysterious floral presence is secretly woven into the heart as well. It took me a while to place the jasminoidal floralcy and the almost candy-like fruitiness of orange blossom. It is only there to bond between the otherwise dry and somewhat eccentric notes, and you’ll notice it only if you lend an alert ear to it’s quite song.

The supporting base notes are of almost equal earthiness to that of vetiver – the infamous preciousness of aged patchouli, alluring as an adventure into closet full of clean woolen shawls. Cured tobacco leaves accentuate the dryness of vetiver, while tonka bean adds sweetness as well as a pipe tobacco suggestion. The base accord and dry down has a suave, elegant presence of palse suede leather and the smoothness of burnished woods along with that sweet and tart earthiness of vetiver that usually shows up only later into its dry down, once all the sharpness has dissipated.

These notes do not come one after the other in a procession; rather, they are dynamic and interactive, like a group of sea mammals surfacing out of the water for a breath in alternating moments, and at the end of only the vetiver sticks around and continues to play with the patchouli, tonka and tobacco which stays behind to keep it company.

Despite of its relative simplicity and innocent, almost non-ambitious treatment of vetiver. Vetiver by Guerlain is now a classic. It’s simplicity is both timeless and charming. If you love vetiver, you must try Guerlain’s interpretation. I haven’t tried all the vetiver fragrances there are, but this won my heart instantly.

Wearing Vetiver again reminded me of my former thrilled admiration for the artisty of Guerlain. I like being able to recognize the essences, they feel authentic and real. The classic Guerlain perfumes really do have an impressive amount of naturals and that's what always set them apart from most of the industry for me. The manner in which the essences intertwine and interact, reveal themselves gradually, disappear and reappear is nothing short of magical. Unfortunately, for the most part the tradition of this once glorious house is being maintained mostly on paper and not so much in fragrance, in my opinion. We can only pray and dream that even simple pleasures such as Vetiver will survive the perfume turmoil of our era and will be enjoyed over and over by ourselves and our successors…

Top notes: Orange, Bergamot, Lemon
Heart notes: Nutmeg absolute, Black Pepper Absolute, Orange Blossom Absolute
Base notes: Vetiver, Patchouli, Tonka Beans, Tobacco Leaf

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At February 25, 2007 6:32 AM, Blogger Gail S said...

Good Morning Ayala!

I believe I might make the effort to search this one out. You say the vetiver smells somewhat citrusy and light. Also, nutmeg and pepper....yum. And it's funny that you mention jasmine and orange blossom just barely making an appearance. I just posted a new entry a couple of days ago about how (in part) I only like those two when they are not the stars.

You had asked what I liked about vetiver previously. Maybe it was rhetorical, but I'll answer you here :) What I like most is the "green" smell. Perfumes generally make me think of color in addition to other things, and I love green! When vetiver doesn't work for me is when it smells somehow metallic. I haven't seen anyone use that description for it, but it's all that I can come up with. For instance, that new Querelle by Parfumerie Generale. I absolutely love the first hour or so of this, but then somehow it turns into a very metallic smell that I don't enjoy. There's an element of that in Miss Dior but it's not so overwhelming that I can't wear it.

Whoo..sorry about the book here. Thanks for listening!


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