Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Vétiver Oriental

Perhaps the title of this post should be “expectations” rather than the name of the perfume I am abouit to review. From a consumer’s point of view, expectations are perhaps one of the most dangerous things that can happen in the perfume world. Be it the posters, commercials, ad copy, reviews by fellow perfume addicts, or a simply stunning bottle – the final decision is in the juice, or as they say it “the proof is in the pudding”. However, this decision is often so wildly affected by the previous mentioned marketing maneuvers and peer pressure, that proportions are all lost once the moment of truth (i.e.: sniffing) arrives.

In my Vetiver Marathon, I was hoping to find interesting treatments of this unusual yet humble note. I started with what I thought was one of the classics – Guerlain’s Vetiver. Yes, it is citrusy. But it definitely smells like vetiver. I was hoping to find other perfumes that take vetiver to the forefront yet shed a new light, provide a refreshing angle. It seems that the more “adventurous” and “avant-garde” the vetiver I try – the further it is from the “truth” of vetiver. To my nose, anyways; so do feel free to disagree.

Vétiver Oriental starts up woody and peachy, with notes of Virginian cedarwood, Sandalwood, Atlas cedarwood and a hint of peach. This last note make it smell very much like a wooden-version of the plump, juicy oriental Asja by Fendi.

The heart develops a more powdery, dusted-sweet presence with orris and cocoa, which is quite similar to Dior Homme. But while Dior Homme offered a surprising, almost cutting-edge presence in a (recently) predictable and mostly uninspiring mainstream line, Vetiver Oriental pales like a shy speechless odour in comparison to the richness and bold statements of its peers (i.e.: Arabie, Fumerie Turque and Muscs Kublai Khan).

It is only in the late heart-notes phase that the aroma of vetiver emerges, still very subtly – it is nutty, roasted and sweet. It emerges for a very brief time, and is not particularly pronounced either, reminding me for a glimpse of grace f the roasted-sesame notes in Vetiver Tonka. I even thought for a second that I got a hint of roasted coffee (another hint for a vetiver I am biased towards, this time Jo Malone's Black Vetyver Cafe), but it puffed away and kept mumbling the same lame fake sandalwood tune, dusted with pleasant and agreeable woody sweetness like a rice-powder makeup in peach hues worn on cheeks suspended in an artificial smile.

I am sorry to say that as much as this scent is wearable and pleasant, it fails to excite me at all. I find myself disappointed over and over again by scents that have more vetiver in the name than in the formula. Whatever vetiver is left in Vétiver Oriental is so prettified and peached that it looses most of its appeal for me by the time the vetiver finally makes an appearance. It does so in the end, accentuating the sweetness of vetiver rather than its earthiness or the green freshness that the roots so brilliantly offer all at once in a harmonious contradiction that is reserved to Nature alone. In the dry down it is so similar to Dior Homme that I feel tempted to nickname it Dior Femme: a lacy garment weaved of bleached and peach-hued vetiver rootlets dusted with powdered sugar and makeup...

Top notes: Virginian Cedarwood, Peach
Heart notes: Atlas Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Orris, Cocoa
Base notes: Vetiver, Oakmoss

I’ve been longing to try Vétiver Oriental for a long time. From all I’ve read about it, it sounded like a scent that I had to try. Thanks to Lee who sent me a generous sample, I was able to taste this pudding; a peach pudding if to be precise. I hope the above review does not sound ungrateful, which I truly am. I could have never known it unless I tried it thanks to your generousity. May it serve as a reminder to us all to us all to always test before we buy, instead of relying on perfume reviews in SmellyBlog or otherwise!

If you want to read the complete opposite of my views of this fragrance, you can read this review.

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