Post by Liam
Do we love classics because we have to? Do I utter that Shalimar is the best oriental because of its luxuriously rich history? Do I really think Mitsouko is the greatest perfume ever? In my opinion, the answers don’t matter. I like to surf around ambivalence. I don’t think Vetiver is that great nowadays. Yes, I said it, but hear me out.
Vetiver by Jean-Paul Guerlain for Guerlain 1961/2000
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, coriander, lemon, mandarin, neroli
Heart: Vetiver, cedar wood
Base: Tobacco, walnuts, pepper, tonka bean
My post today draws attention to reformulation, former glory, and in some respects – moving on. For example, I refrain from saying Mitsouko is the greatest chypre in existence, but rather, it was. I own a parfum of Mitsouko dating from 2013. It is marvellous – it is a symphonic fragrance with movements so clear and so obvious it sings from the skin at a tight languid timbre. But I know that once upon a time it was better, and probably more dramatic and poising.
Photo Stolen WikiCommons
The same is true for Guerlain’s Vetiver. Vetiver is vetiver. It either smells smoky in the style of Chanel’s Sycomore, clean like Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver or in between the two. This falls in the middle, contrasting between both labellings pleasantly with a blurry and crunchy angular-ness.
A revivified lemon opens, with a peppery tobacco note swirling around the predominant root note of vetiver. It begs the question, can dirt be clean? This smells of rich fertile soil dampened with crisp rainwater. Like rich green grass seen through a misty glaze, then eventually cut by warm crepuscular rays from the sun. Our opening accord is dispersive and wet, matured with a base of vetiver and spice. This is unfussy; lax unlike much of Guerlain’s uptight feminine works. It is a still, and somewhat tranquil piece of work as it is neither overly rough or overly smooth. It is merely balanced masterfully.
Photo Stolen Wikipedia
But here’s my problem. Balance is great, but shock and awe is better. Chanel’s Sycomore excites me with its wood varnish quality. Terre D’Hermes presents a mineral flintiness unlike anything else. Do I have to love it? No. Rather, I should appreciate this scent for its historical importance and its reference value. On a critical level this is a linear perfume, spiced slowly and worn in with a dry cedar. The unctuousness is made refined, somewhat mellow in its progression; and yet despite this, it feels eternally thin, lacking a few features that cause great desire. Novel then (1959), and nowadays a traditionalist masterpiece that deserves nothing more than reverence. Guerlain paved the way for greats that have crafted vetiver masterpieces like Ellena, Ropion, Sheldrake, and Polge.
Photo Stolen Pixabay
All in all, Vetiver by Guerlain is solid and dependable; for the man who is comfortable in the background. This has an eternally redolent quality, reminding me of my grandfather who would come home smelling of lawn clippings and the industrial smell of fuel. Wear it throughout the working day and it will last all day long without any risk of offence or dangerous projection, as it should be.
What do you think of the Guerlain Vetiver? Masterpiece or Museum piece?