A More Affordable Olfactionary
Amouage Interlude Man
Amouage Opus III
Amouage Opus VAmouage Opus VI
Amouage TributeAnnick Goutal Encens Flamboyant
Annick Goutal Heure ExquiseAnnick Goutal Petite Cherie
Annick Goutal Sables
April Aromatics Calling All Angels
April Aromatics Bohemian SpiceApril Aromatics Jasmina
At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)
At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante) At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)
Ava Luxe Café Noir
Carner Barcelona D600
Caron Aimez-MoiChantilly Dusting Powder
Clive Christian C for WomenComme des Garcons Daphne
Comme des Garcons LUXE ChampacaCostes by Costes
Creed Virgin Island WaterDeneuve
Gucci Eau de Parfum Gucci L'Arte di Gucci Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia Guerlain Samsara Parfum
How I Store Decants
Il Profumo Cannabis
Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant
Kenzo SummerLa Via del Profumo Hindu Kush
La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe
La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project
Montale Black AoudNeila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling
Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps
Nez a Nez Ambre a SadeOmar Sharif Pour Femme
Oriscent Pure Oud OilsParfum d'Empire Azemour
Parfum d'Empire Cuir OttomanParfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs Parfumerie Generale Indochine
Parfums de Nicolai SacrebleuParfums Retro Grand Cuir
Paris, je t'aime
Pascal Morabito Or Black
Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk
Robert Piguet Fracas
Serge Lutens Borneo 1834
Serge Lutens Boxeuses
Serge Lutens Un Lys Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette
Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)
SoOud Ouris Parfum NectarStone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)
Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric RainThe Diary of a Nose, Book Review
Tokyo Milk Ex Libris
Vero Profumo Mito Viktoria Minya Hedonist
Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb
The Vetiver Equivalent of Fine Threads: Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental
Because I intimated in last week’s post that I was trying to cultivate a certain air of refinement, naturally, this week’s post is threatening to take the form of a setback. Isn’t that the way it always is?
I’m blaming this on a certain someone (why, hellooo Karen from British Columbia!) who sent me a package containing all manner of perfume fabulosity, half of which is still unexplored because of this little catnip number she tossed in the bag that goes by the name of Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental.
It hardly matters that Vetiver Oriental doesn’t have a single dirty note; when you smell it you will spend the next day and a half thinking about the sexiest man or woman you know dressed up, British rockstar-style, in a velvet suit. And if, by day three, you haven’t had the common sense to change fragrances and snap out of it, you might just find yourself resembling a character out of Seinfeld and (no longer caring whether it is or is not socially acceptable) draping yourself in velvet.
(Or you might just find yourself writing a perfume review which reveals that anything previously cultivated in terms of refinement has just been torn asunder and you have to start over from scratch.)
Now that you’ve been warned, let’s get on with the review, shall we?
Vetiver is a note which taunts me so! Its grassy-woody-earthy greenness usually cuts a stern figure in a fragrance—something I find irresistible, as its sleekness has a sexual energy to it, and its historic use as a signature note in many pour homme fragrances sends up an association of everything “male.” When vetiver is good, it is very, very good: it sizzles, it slinks, and then again … sometimes it just marches straight in the door, nails your back to the wall and puts a whole new spin on the words “Daddy’s home.” But there are times when vetiver cuts too stern a figure, and then all fun and games are off; in certain fragrances, vetiver is so astringent it’s the olfactory equivalent of alum to my nose. I don’t mind a bracing vetiver every now and again (in fact, I rather like it), but a dry and sour vetiver is not appealing at all.
The wonderful thing about Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental is that, not only is it at farthest remove from anything astringent, it is strikingly sexy precisely because its vetiver note doesn’t cut a stern figure—in fact, it refuses to—and that is what makes this scent unique. Here is vetiver gone baroque; here is vetiver gone Vegas or, more likely, LA, Paris, and London Town. Here is vetiver that is loose-limbed and able to move, but which is decked out in all kinds of plush finery such that it has a very androgynous quality to it. Groove with me baby, Vetiver Oriental seems to say but doesn’t try too hard to get your attention, as if it has the easy awareness that there is nowhere else for your attention to go. In the same way that a rock star who has made the scene knows he is the scene—and acts and dresses accordingly—Vetiver Oriental has an opulence it wears like a second skin, in a way that’s natural and organic rather than stilted.
The list of fragrance notes for Vetiver Oriental include: sap, iris pallida, undergrowth notes, vetiver, gaiac wood, chocolate, musk, amber, mosses, sandalwood and labdanum. Though not forceful, the vetiver note in Vetiver Oriental is the first thing I smell and is most prominent in the top notes stage of the fragrance and during the first half-hour of wear. It is sleek when it arrives on the scene—there is that sense of “maleness” about it, enhanced by the green sap notes and the way it entwines with rooty iris—but even so, it’s far more pretty boy than macho. Beneath the surface of that green sleekness, there is a dark, bittersweet note that at first I thought was an espresso note (but which I would later learn is chocolate), producing a sooty, sultry undertone that has the effect of giving this vetiver bedroom-eyes. Depending on what the weather is like when I wear Vetiver Oriental, this stage lasts for either quite a while or hardly at all before the oriental base notes begin to swirl about and swaddle vetiver’s lean frame in a cloak of softly billowing creaminess. Amber and sandalwood are two of the most prominent aspects of this fragrance; they provide a sweet and golden olfactory hue, a sense of cushiness, and a nice amount of sillage. At the same time (perhaps because they are counterbalanced by vetiver), they don’t weigh the scent down but are suave and fluid accoutrements. As the scent enters the far drydown stage, the iris in it becomes very lightly powdery and the chocolate note becomes sweeter and creamier, though you might have to wear your fragrance under the covers to detect it, as it’s a nuanced facet of the scent rather than an overt one.
It always seems to me that the sexiest rock stars are androgynous creatures, and Vetiver Oriental balances masculine and feminine elements in such a way that you can imagine it swinging both ways (in terms of its wearability, dear reader.) This is one of the easiest vetiver fragrances I’ve ever worn, but also the most luxurious and sensual. I can’t imagine a woman who wouldn’t want to wear it or, at the very least, to smell it on her partner. And I think that any man who knows how to dress in more than jeans and a t-shirt would enjoy having a bottle of this in his wardrobe.
Naturally, those expecting a stronger, more traditional version of vetiver will be left wanting, but to them I say, there are plenty of those scents around. Enjoy them, but if you really want to take a walk on the wild side, try putting on something a little more velvety and soft. True, the vetiver in Vetiver Oriental won’t throw anyone up against a wall, but it’s smart enough to know that they don’t call it “gender bending” for nothing.
Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental can be purchased at LuckyScent.com; $140 for a 50-ml bottle. My review is based on a decant of Vetiver Oriental sent to me by a lovely reader (thanks, Karen!).
Photo of Mick Jagger is from Theswingingsixtiestumblr.com; bottle photo is from LuckyScent.com.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 3/7/2012.
All I Am - A Redhead
A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)
Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)
Australian Perfume Junkies
Beauty on the Outside
Bois de Jasmin
Bonkers About Perfume
Ca Fleure Bon
Eyeliner on a Cat
From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter
Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog
Grain de Musc
I Smell Therefore I Am
Katie Puckrik Smells
Memory of Scent
Muse in Wooden Shoes
Natural Perfumery by Salaam
Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume
Notes From Josephine
Notes From the Ledge
Now Smell This
Oh, True Apothecary!
Purple Paper Planes
Redolent of Spices
Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic
Scents of Place
Scents of Self
Sorcery of Scent
The Alembicated Genie
The Candy Perfume Boy
The Fragrant Man
The French Exit
The Perfume Magpie
The Scented Hound
The Sounds of Scent
The Vintage Perfume Vault
This Blog Really Stinks
Undina's Looking Glass
WAFT by Carol