Vétiver Tonka by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermès 2004

Heya APJ Frag Family,

You might remember that I bought an Hermès 4 x 15ml Travel Set while on holidays. Vetiver is one of my favourite notes, not just for its amazingly versatile scent profile but also because the grass is so useful in many different ways, anyway here is one of the clever ways Jean-Claude Ellena sees vetiver.

Vétiver Tonka by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermès 2004

Vetiver Tonka Hermes FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Parfumo gives these featured accords in one line:
Hazelnut, Lily-of-the-valley, Praliné, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Tonka bean, Vetiver

I really enjoy the melange that Vétiver Tonka offers up while still wet on your skin; it’s like the whole note list wants to meet you all at once. In the first 10 seconds I smell quite distinctly the austere, dry yet fresh greenness of vetiver, the sweetness of sugared lollies and nutty sweets, creamy sandalwood and a whisper of the dewy fresh prim white floral that is lily of the valley. They all pop out in succession as if you are meeting them on a conveyor belt.

Then something interesting happens on my skin, at about the two minute mark they all decide it’s time to get friendly and create a fragrance. The beautiful slightly salty, little bit bitter green smoky dryness of vetiver is front and center but everything else then becomes a fragrant cushion that surrounds and bolsters the star.

vertiver-tonka HermesPhoto Stolen Hermès

As we go further into the heart of Vétiver Tonka the sweetness starts to really shine through. A lovely shiny patina of creamy caramel with the slightly dry bite of nuts waltz through and around the vetiver creating some very interesting fragrant formations that keep my nose fresh to the scent and my wrist lifted permanently in front of my face. Thank goodness I’m home and not out, it would be embarrassing.

It’s interesting wearing Vétiver Tonka to review rather than as my scent of the day. I am much more able to detect subtle differences in its moods, during a regular wear I get occasional wafts of sweet creamy woods that make me smile through the day but in my room on close inspection the heart is caramelised and smoky, the nuttiness shines through more too. A sweet dryness prevails to the end, very elegant and totally unisex.

Longevity is really good most days but some days I spray on Vétiver Tonka and it seems to disappear before the two hour mark. No I can’t work out why, there seems to be no defining circumstances but I have only worn a 3ml sample in the past and now this is my fourth wear since buying my 15ml four pack.

Vetiver Tonka Hermes Bamboo_forest WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Further reading: What Men Should Smell Like and Olfactoria’s Travels
Hermessence are available only in Hermès stores or onlineSurrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/.5ml

How do you like your vetiver? Dry and stark or warm and delicious?
Portia xx


16 thoughts on “Vétiver Tonka by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermès 2004

  1. Portia, I doubt I will ever be able to get on board with vetiver myself (I like it on guys mind you) however I love the way you write about it here.

    Like you, I love how it’s a fantastically versatile raw material.


    • Oh Tara,
      What a bummer. It’s in SO MUCH! Do you have to steer clear of vetiver completely or is it just as a central note that it bothers you?
      Yes, I am thinking of building a small set of Tiny Houses, like a miniature Row House precinct. Vetiver features heavily in my plan for the grey water, sucking all the bad out and creating viable garden water. Still in planning stages.
      Portia xx


      • Oh wow, your plan sounds amazing Portia. What a great idea.

        I only avoid vetiver focused frags, otherwise it would be a nightmare!


  2. My favourite vetiver hands down is ELdO’s Fat Electrician. Warm, sweet, slightly metallic. Hits all the right spots. In saying that, today I’ve been wearing Sycomore and positively loving Chanels’ salty, woody, and green take on vetiver.


    • Aelfrik, I love Fat Electrician. Originally I bought it for my partner Jin who is a fat electrician but then I adored it so much that I kept it for myself.
      Portia xx


  3. Well I love Onda of coure. Vetiver for hardcore junkies. But Tonka Vetiver is beautiful. I wish the caramellised hazelnut beginning would last forever. Just off for a spritz. xxx


    • Val,that’s reminded me. I tried Onda Voile on paper in Bloom and was really impressed. The smokiness is amazing. I admired it a lot and think it would be knock-out on a guy. Although really I should give it a go myself. It doesn’t have that swamp water thing I can’t tolerate about vetiver normally.


      • I have the Extrait. I cannot even pick out the vetiver in it to be honest. And I don’t have the Voile. I want it though. Vero was wearing it in Florence. Absolutely fabulous on a woman. We’ll go and spritz it together. xxx


  4. Hi Portia,
    I love vetiver but it doesn’t always love me. I actually like the swamp water thing that Tara refers to and the dry smokey aspect as well. That being said here are two vetivers that stand out in my mind, one is Bourbon French Perfumes Kus Kus. This fragrance formula is described as created by the founder of the house in 1843. The other is a super grassy green, wet -but still smokey – perfume oil, simply named Ruh Khus (wild vetiver) from Aloes of Ish. I have considered growing vetiver to stabilize (and purify?) some of the wet soggy land near the house but the winters are just a little bit too cold around here. Maybe global warming will solve that …
    Azar xx


  5. I like Vétiver Tonka a lot but when I wear it sometimes I get tired of it. Then it takes some time before I want to wear it again… So I suspect my 15 ml bottle will serve me for years.


    • Hi Undina,
      WOW! I can’t remember ever having a frag on a being tired of it, interesting.
      I’m not sure how often I’ll wear it but I think it will be a really good bag frag, not too many things it would jar badly with.
      Portia xx


  6. I just LOVE Vétiver Tonka, it’s so beautiful. The photo of the bamboo woods you chose, that’s exactly how I feel about this lovely scent. I haven’t worn this for a while but now I’m going to!


    • Hi there Thinking Magpie,
      Are you well?
      Me too. When I saw that picture I was so excited to put it in.
      Enjoy your day in Vetiver Tonka.
      Portia xx


  7. I just agreed to a swap for this – I’m so excited to try it! I’m worried that it might be a bit too sweet or gourmandy, but you never know until you try 🙂 Thanks for piquing my interest in this one Portia!


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