It's January, and this morning we had our first snow-related school delay — it must be time for the winter vetiver list (I've already covered summer and fall). For all of these lists, the line between the seasons is perhaps a bit arbitrary and/or personal, but in general, today's selections are heavier variations on the theme. If you are a woman who sometimes finds vetiver too masculine to wear, you might want to stick with the summer recommendations, or come back for the spring list. And as always, do add your own picks in the comments!
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vétiver: Arguably the granddaddy of them all; when I reviewed it, I called it "the wild beast of vetiver fragrances" (that was almost 10 years ago now, so I hope it has not been reformulated in the meantime, but the brand still calls it "brutal and savage" on their website). Route du Vetiver admittedly challenges my usually laissez-faire ideas of gender when it comes to fragrance. It doesn't smell like a lady, that is for sure, but I take heart in the fact that it does not really smell like a gentleman either. It is a nice thing to have on hand, but a small decant lasts me for years.
Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire: Luckily, Marie Kondo has no sway over my perfume collecting (or any other) activities, but if she were to insist I pare back on vetiver, this one (by perfumer Dominique Ropion) would definitely make the cut. It's hard to describe other than to say that it smells like real vetiver, but better...and bigger. At one time, it was said to have one of the highest concentrations of vetiver of any fragrance on the market. That probably isn't true anymore, but I don't think any other vetiver has bested it. If you don't really like the smell of vetiver straight up, it's not likely you'll love Vétiver Extraordinaire. If you do, get the body products too, they're fantastic.
Hermès Vétiver Tonka: This one, from the Hermessence collection, is probably the first on today's list that might tempt a vetiver doubter. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena turns vetiver into an offbeat gourmand with dried fruits, grilled hazelnuts, tonka bean and burnt sugar. He keeps the calories under control for the most part, but it's delicious enough to provide comfort and warmth when you need it. Also very much worth a try: Hermès Bel Ami Vétiver.
Serge Lutens Vétiver Oriental: It is not my favorite vetiver, and it is not my favorite by Serge Lutens, in fact, I had not smelled it in so long that I had to get another sample just to remember why I didn't love it. Like Vétiver Tonka, you might call it an offbeat gourmand, in this case, with a woody amber-y chocolate dusted with iris powder. It is both bitter and sweet, and smells vaguely like licorice and vaguely like rubber or plastic. The people who love it (and many do) call it mysterious and exotic.
Vero Onda: An offbeat vetiver, period, and it's worth reading Angela's review in detail before you do anything so crazy as to buy it unsniffed. I never have been able to really make up my mind about it, but it's worth a try if you're looking for an unusual vetiver with some presence.
Plus a few more, for anyone willing to go looking for discontinued fragrances: the three fantastic Turtle Vetivers from LesNEZ were also in the "like vetiver but better" category. In the "I didn't love it but many others (including Angela) did" category, I'd add L'Artisan Parfumeur Coeur de Vétiver Sacré.
Note: top image shows Striped Vetiver Fiber Table Linen Collection, $19.96 - $24.99 at World Market.