Vetiver and I have a difficult relationship. I blame this on a tragic first meeting with Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, one of … how do I put this delicately? One of the most heinous fragrances on the planet. Vetiver Tonka is the fragrance equivalent of avocado ice cream – no, make that Brussels sprouts ice cream – and every bit as hard to choke down. (I concede my problem may in fact be with tonka, since I tried Patricia de Nicolai´s Vanille Tonka with similarly dismaying results.)
I´ve been trying to undo the leaf damage with a slow reintroduction to the wimpiest vetivers I can find. I was charmed by Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle, and then worked my way up to regular ol´ Guerlain Vetiver, which I am pretty sure is now at the top of my to-buy list for The Big Cheese this spring. Le Labo Vetiver I like, but it´s not really vetiver, is it? Anyway, when Louise offered up a sniff of Lubin Vetiver recently, I turned her down. Couldn´t care less. I only tried it because she kept shoving it at me, and if you´ve met Louise … well, anyway, it´s gorgeous. Clearly I still like my vetiver on the cleaner end of things, and with a little additional company – notes are: mandarin orange, grapefruit, Guinea orange, orange flower oil, cloves, whole nutmeg, pepper, Java vetiver, Eastern red cedar, myrrh, frankincense, tobacco. If you are feeling blue and would like to wet yourself laughing, read the description on LuckyScent (“… the freshly torn from the earth richness of vetiver and the otherworldly airiness of frankincense circle each other warily, a truce between the sacred and the pagan….”) But what a wonderful, cheerful pleasure: citrus and spice opening, but layered with the vetiver from the start – so the whole effect is that bright, sparkling, leafy earthiness rather than dirty rootiness. Trot in the woods and incense and tobacco, and you´ve presented vetiver on a perfect platter of notes. I doubt vetiver purists will find this satisfying, but gosh, it´s pretty – I hate to use that word, because really, it´s unisex heading toward masculine on me, but it´s one of those colognes I´d ask about if I smelled it standing behind someone. Have you smelled it? If I say, I´ve come around to vetiver, and then cite Guerlain and Lubin as examples, does that give me all the street cred of someone who talks about how much they´ve learned to love Mexican cuisine based on their meals at Taco Bell?
L´Atelier Boheme Immortelle — Wow. What a … stunning disconnect between my nose and the online reviews. Perfect if you would like to smell like baby lotion and amber. None for me, thanks.
L´Atelier Boheme Helianthe – green notes, pear, exotic flowers, ylang ylang, sunflower, sandalwood. I cannot think of the last time I experienced such a profound gap between my feelings about the opening and drydown of a scent. The opening of this is such a fruity, green atrocity – like taking a can of Glade Spring Meadow and shooting it straight up your nose – that I refused to scrub it only because I was curious whether it could possibly get more awful. Then I got distracted by my maternal duties (dinner or something) and – you guessed it – eventually realized Helianthe had morphed into a delicious scent. Now, let me clarify that I like pear. I like Petite Cherie. If you do not like pear, you will really feel the full flower (fruit?) of your hate for this. I still can´t recommend this, based on the hideousness of the opening. Has anyone else tried this?
Prada Cuir Ambre parfum – this is one of those obscure LE things that I think is available at the Roja Dove boutique at Harrods in London, at some Prada boutiques (Milan? Moscow?), and on alternate Tuesdays on Mars. Here´s my review: heh heh heh. Okay, first a big note of powdery amber, a cross between Anne Pliska and POTL, and I say: bleah. Then: big big BIG (cue music from Jaws) leather – leatherleatherleatherrrrrr, dark tanned boot leather, but expensive. Not soft handbag leather. If I do my weird huffing thing (we need a better name for that: I breathe softly in and out through my nose and mouth pressed softly against the scent on my skin in the drydown, and I feel like my hot breath gets me maximum feedback, including almost tasting it)… there is something else in there, spicy, like carnation or iris? But I only get the spice while huffing it. What I don´t get – that sort of fresh/aquatic note I sometimes get with leather, that I don´t care for. This is custom-quality leather, all the way, no vinyl here. I´m not even a leather freak, and yum.
Lubin Idole – okay, fine. I give up. Do you hear me? I give up on this. I get: 45 seconds of warm, woody wonder, a la Feminite du Bois. Then I get something doughy and wan. Then I get poof! nothing. Then I get some lame wisp of something indistinct and ambery. Notes of saffron, bitter orange, rum absolute, black cumin and bitter orange peel, doum palm, smoked ebony, sugar cane, leather, red sandalwood. Yeah, read that list and weep. This was made for me (by Olivia Giacobetti, no less.) Where are those notes? Not on my skin, that´s for sure.
Demeter Incense – this is new. Their blurb: “Demeter´s incense is a warm, deep, rich blend of exotic notes, inviting and enveloping, the kind of scent that is both simple and complex at the same time, centered on a unique core of Copal. Copal is a type of resin produced by plant or tree secretions, particularly identified with the forms of aromatic tree resins used by the cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as a ceremonially burned incense, as well as for a number of other purposes” etc. You know I love incense, and I like a lot of Demeter scents – not the sugary sweet ones, but their more offbeat ones (Holy Smoke, Beetroot, Coriander Tea, Bonfire, Greenhouse, off the top of my head, are pretty great, as is Eggnog, and yes, I know that sounds disgusting.) They don´t last forever, but they´re inexpensive and they come in those giant mini sizes (1/2 oz. for $5), which I love. So. This doesn´t smell at all churchy, like frankincense – Armani, Avignon, etc. This is definitely on the warm, resiny end of things. Its fragrance is mild and sweet, and there´s some extra stuff in there – a dry vanilla, maybe some amber, spice and pine? It´s soft and warm, smooth but velvety rather than creamy, a resiny comfort scent. To me, a nice Demeter is like putting on a favorite tee shirt. Two thumbs up.
Lubin images: LuckyScent