Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vetiver! Round Two

Thanks to Helg over at Perfume Shrine, and a spot of random drawing luck, I have in my possession three new vetiver samples: Hermes Vetiver Tonka, Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire, and Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental.

Before I begin sharing impressions, allow me a moment to speak universally. (ahem....)


And oy. I had just achieved a certain Zen-like acceptance that I would never experience all the scents in the world, that I need not bemoan the influence of fiscal realities, because physical realities were such that I actually enjoy spending a lot of time with a single scent, discovering the various facets it may have to offer, and the varieties of reception I might bring depending on weather, mood, time of day, whatnot. (Not to mention evolving scent storage issues in my home.)

But when I applied a drop of the Hermes on my wrist, realized one more probably was needed for full frontal experience, applied another from the vial, I found myself simultaneously thinking: "Oh, this is going to be fun!" and "Cr#!, I'm probably going to like this." Which means there will always be a "want" list (not so good for letting go), and always a need for good notetaking (not so good for cyclical writers like me).

Such are the vagaries of my scented life.  On to the scents themselves...

Vetiver Tonka: First, let me admit why I tried this one first--the idea of vetiver and vanilla together seemed extreme, and held the potential for fun or a headache. Hence, my delicate start to its application. The good news is that it is a good match, with the players interacting well, both taking turns and mingling nicely. If the vetiver and tonka were a dance pair, they'd be that football dude who moves across the floor with the ballerina so well. I love the earthy green interlaced with vanilla caramel. They really do take turns showing off, with happy overlappings as they take their turns.

I dunno; maybe this interplay could be related to recent research saying nobody really multitasks, but actually processes & performs in sequence. Perhaps Vetiver Tonka helps pull back the curtain ever so slightly to reveal the sequential process of "multitasking," while also helping to maintain the illusion. All I know is, first run, and I like it.

Vetiver Extraordinaire: And the accidental brilliance of my sampling order emerges, for Vetiver Extraordinaire takes me fully out of the warm blanket/kitchen comforts of the Hermes and thrusts me out of doors for an all-out vetiver smack down. Fortunately, I am a mature person, and I am not disturbed to discover I enjoy this turn of events. Ha--I so enjoy being arch...the reality is probably more along the lines of "it's a good thing I've dated Vetiver a few times before having today's experience." I feel kinda like I'm inside a vetiver reed, taking in the rest of the composition from my grassy sheath. Not a problem; I've enjoyed laying down in grass and hay with other scents. But vetiver does not come from the terra firma of my youth or experience, so this is like some very calm & comfortable yet clearly exotic acquaintance who is about to become one of my best friends. My world is opening up just a little more for knowing it. 

Vetiver Oriental: Who knew? This sampling order was genius. Vetiver Oriental brings me back around the bend and straight to a "traditional perfume." Whereas the other two register as "scents" or "constructions," my personal history with perfume means that orientals are what comes to mind if I read or hear the word "perfume." Let me be clear; a scent is a perfume, and I know that. But there is a primal register from my youth and young adulthood, and it doesn't include vetiver or woods. It does, however, firmly and directly include orientals. And, my friends, this is an oriental. I've been waiting for the vetiver, which after my first run a month ago, and this run just know, I trust I am capable of recognizing. I'm liking this in the same way I like...hey, wait a minute, I get it...Le Baiser du Dragon. Okay, so vetiver is a note inside. But it is INSIDE, one note among many. I am enjoying this, but if I were clustering by category and not house/nose, this would go oriental. Which, I guess, is the English language way of interpreting the name--the adjective "vetiver" describes what kind of "oriental" is inside the bottle. Just don't expect it to be a bold adjective.

Drydown verdicts:
Vetiver Tonka, good for low-key nights with friends, days off with books or crafts.  Cool-cold weather. "You smell good."
Vetiver Extraordinaire, good for work days or studying, cause it'll smell good and keep me sharp.  "mmm, You smell interesting."
Vetiver Oriental, one of those night out scents, or maybe something for a bit more daring day at work, since it isn't a heavy or resiny oriental. "You're all dressed up, aren't you?"

Budget awareness:
Hermes Vetiver Tonka, $55 for a 15ml decant (from manufacturer) at The Perfumed Court.
Vetiver Extraordinaire, $210 for 100ml at Barney's.
Vetiver Oriental, $140 for 50ml at LuckyScent.
Le Baiser du Dragon @$48 for 1oz at FragranceX.
Winning a sample, swapping, or sharing samples with a fellow perfume explorer, priceless.


Perfumeshrine said...

Makes me ever so glad I have shared these with you! You described them perfectly and we agree on the occassions upon which they're all wearable.
And the last line in your post is of course the one having me smiling the most. :-))

ScentScelf said...

It's always nice to bring a smile to someone... :)

Who knew? In September, I could have explained vetiver ever so sketchily in concept only. Now, as American Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself feeling like I can maybe work my way around a vetiver buffet. Next, maybe I'll crack the fougere...though I might prefer expanding my understanding of chypre first...

It's all good, and all fun!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Lucky you! Loved your vivid descriptions... especially the football player dancing with a ballerina :)

ScentScelf said...

I *have* been lucky, no? But then, this is such a great community, with people sharing one way or another.

And as for the dancers...that's some interesting stuff, that Vetiver Tonka. I'm still thinking about it.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

These all sound amazing. I may need to reappraise my fear of vetiver. hrmph!

Rose said...

I'm going to echo what everyone else says- great post and images.

Vetiver is such a great note isn't it, so constantly interesting and unisex.

Jenavira13 said...

You lucky woman; Vetiver Tonka is most definately on my to smell list, considering I am utterly intrigued by the idea of a gourmand vetiver.

ScentScelf said...

I must say, I entered reluctantly on this vetiver issue. But while not every one I've tried has brought happiness, enough have that I'm hooked.

C'mon in, the water's fine! :)

ScentScelf said...

Thanks. And yes, vetiver is interesting for its non-gender associations, its versatility, and now (surprisingly, but true) its ability to mix well with notes you might not think. (Of course, the talent of the perfumer has something to do with that, I imagine. ;) )

ScentScelf said...

Between the hint of the gourmand and the definite waft of vanilla, I think you'd like the VT very much.

I'm with you; I like a host of ambers, as well...if that affects things at all.

NathanB said...

Hooray! You dove into the Vetiver waters and came out thirsty for more. It is one of the more difficult essences to love, but once you get your chops whet, there's no turning back.

Glad you liked the Vetiver Oriental. I find it exceptionally beautiful, and yes, I agree -- it is very much a perfume with a capital P.

ScentScelf said...

Yes indeed...I came, I saw, I liked! Probably helps that I've been a few times around the block with different variations, but I've crossed the Rubicon as far as vetiver goes.

I can see you as a VO person...