Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Guerlain Vetiver- An Attractive, Charming Disappointment
I know I promised a steady stream of Hermes reviews for the next few weeks, but I feel compelled to blog about one of the many (many many!) samples I recently received in the mail from BitterGrace. I’ve already tried a handful of the twenty or so she’s sent me over the last couple of weeks, and each will get its turn at being reviewed. But today I want to focus on Guerlain’s Vetiver, a scent that so narrowly missed finding a place in my heart, it makes me feel kind of wistful.
The opening notes of Vetiver are incredibly pleasant – green and spring-like, with just the slightest bite to give it some interest. It has an astringent, almost mentholated, quality that made my nose tingle and light up. As soon as that passes, Vetiver settles into a melodiously smooth phase that’s reminiscent of rosewater. Wearing it last night, I kept sniffing my wrist and thinking it was far too pretty to be a masculine fragrance. My tastes run more toward unisex and lighter masculine scents, though, so that isn’t necessarily a strike against Vetiver.
Before I could fall in love with this fragrance, though, the drydown brought out a nagging, bitter note that first left me with an unsettled feeling, then a touch of nausea. At first, I wondered if it was the vetiver note, itself, that was bothering me. I haven’t tried enough perfumes containing vetiver to know whether or not I like the smell of it, though it’s listed as a base note in Terre d’Hermes, which I love. Besides, whatever was bothering me smelled familiar, like something I’d encountered a lot outside the world of perfumery. A quick look at the fragrance notes list on Basenotes, coupled with some sniffs at my wrist for confirmation, helped me to finger the culprit: tobacco.
Tobacco is a common note in many masculine fragrances, and one I didn’t really expect to dislike. I used to smoke, though I never became addicted, and I still appreciate the smell of a good pipe blend. But that strong, unmistakable tobacco twang at the bottom of Vetiver just bothered the hell out of me. I didn’t end up scrubbing this one, at least. Vetiver is so light, overall, that I was able to ignore it until it faded away on its own.
Too bad. We’d gotten off to such a promising start. Sampling Guerlain’s Vetiver was a lot like having a wonderful conversation with a charming, interesting, articulate new friend, only to discover later that he voted for George W. Bush. The flaw isn’t enough to make you dislike him, exactly, but you’re forced to acknowledge, with a tinge of regret, that the two of you will never quite see eye to eye.
Image note: Tobacco. Pretty, no?