The vetiver root, a plant originating from the Bourbon Islands, surprises with its raw strength and its warm, wooded scent.
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier unveils it in its most authentic state.
Hyperbole is generally a given in fragrance ad copy — no matter how dull the juice, we’ll be told a perfume sparkles with dazzling radiance, that it is exquisite, daring, sensual, luxurious, sublime and intoxicating. Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s description of Route du Vetiver, quoted above, is that rare example of the opposite approach, “raw strength” being in this case something of an understatement.
I am a big fan of vetiver, but I’m not a purist about it. Almost any variation will please me, from the genial and summery (Paul Smith Story) to the buried-in-roots-and-damp-earth (Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire). I’ll even take my vetiver toasted with a little vanilla sugar (Hermes Vetiver Tonka). Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver (notes of Bourbon vetiver, black currant, green leaves, precious woods, jasmine, sandalwood and musk) is the wild beast of vetiver fragrances, and I haven’t quite come to terms with it.
The opening is all lighter fluid and medicated bandages, and it is far more palatable dabbed from a vial than sprayed on liberally, especially on a hot humid day in July. It calms into a rather deceptively light blend of blackcurrant and bitter greenery, and for a few moments, you might imagine that it will be easy going from here on in. Not so. The vetiver comes in strong, with its peppery earthiness laid over deep, dark woods, almost smoky-dry. There is the faintest tinge of mildew and dust, and it takes its own good time in mellowing into something that you could describe as merely earthy. I tend to think of Frederic Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire as representing the hardy, outdoors type, but next to Route du Vetiver, it smells like tea and crumpets in the parlour.
Route du Vetiver does mellow, eventually, and when it does it is lovely, a vetiver-lover’s vetiver, if you will, a vetiver with cojones. It is warm and slightly sweet, and far from timid, but if it would get to its final stage in less than 3 hours, I’d find it a lot easier to wear. As it is, I have the highest respect for Route du Vetiver and like to take it for a spin once in awhile, but it isn’t something I can imagine running through a whole bottle of.
I have mixed feelings about the packaging for Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s masculine line. I love the red-orange bottle and the simple label, and the glass has a nice heft. But the huge plastic ruby in the cap is a bit much for my tastes, and seems particularly inappropriate for Route du Vetiver. A hunk of granite might be a better fit.
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver is available in 90 ml Eau de Toilette or 500 ml refill. For buying information, see the listing for Maître Parfumeur et Gantier under Perfume Houses.