Vetiver (Guerlain)

Ever wonder what the perfect signature scent for a man should smell like? We hear the term tossed around all the time, a "signature scent" is something the sturdy and reliable guy uses in lieu of (or despite) having a wardrobe of multiple EDTs. It's the smell most associated with this guy, something people automatically associate with him. As such, it's best to go find your own signature, as you do not want to be caught in the embarrassing male version of two socialites showing up to a charity dinner in the same dress. A signature is something to be proud of; there are thousands of perfumes in the world, and you have picked one, and only one, to represent you. Perhaps it isn't much of an achievement, considering the thousands of other guys out there who have very likely chosen the exact same scent, but still. It feels like an accomplishment.

Rich or poor, young or old, a man wants something that is well made, masculine, elegant, practical but never utilitarian, of the earth, yet firmly above it in every way. Men of prior generations often chose wet shaver (otherwise known as barbershop) scents to fill the signature slot, stuff like Old Spice, Clubman, Skin Bracer, Brut. Modern orientals and fougères with touches of antiquity, conveying masculinity via reference. Smell Clubman and you think "Mmm, that reminds me of getting my hair cut when I was twelve." Smell Old Spice, and it's "Wow, you must be someone's father." Smell Brut, and "look out for the hippie-turned-yuppie, turned retiree." They're all admirable in their own right, but are they perfect? Nah, probably not.

For perfect, one must find something that is as appropriate with pajamas as it is with a tuxedo. A scent that captures the very soul of a man with two or three basic accords. The references should be in there, but should never trump the sheer brilliance of its parts, or the vanity of the fragrance as a whole. This sort of pristine masculinity is still readily found in the ultimate masculine fragrance by Guerlain, which is simply called Vetiver.

The pyramid is easy to smell, and very smooth. Vetiver opens with a bracingly bitter citrus accord, which is of equal parts bergamot, lemon, and lime. After five minutes the fruitiness lifts, leaving a scorched green vetiver root that smells so crisp you can almost hear the blades of grass snapping in the wind. An hour from there brings a mellow tobacco note, very simple and bittersweet, only hinting at smoke. The dry smoky quality of vetiver is thus amplified enough to last all day, with the shadow of lemon still tinging the periphery in shades of pale yellow-green.

Is Vetiver the most exciting fragrance on the face of the earth? Absolutely not, nor should it be, as excitement is only fun in small doses. This scent is crafted to be a daily wearer, the sort of thing you take from Monday thru Sunday, and then on again through the very next week. You can wear it every day and appreciate its rugged charm without getting tired of it. There are no bombastic herbs to cause olfactory fatigue, and Vetiver works in warm or cold weather. It smells casual enough for a picnic, yet formal enough for a business meeting. There is no monster sillage to be had, and its legs pace pretty close to the wearer, so you won't gas the neighbors if you get carried away with the trigger finger. It's fine stuff.

If you should ever find yourself hunting for a good summer signature, or just something that works year-round without fuss, and are tired of the sugary orientals and weirdo Mugler-esque concoctions that plague the current masculine scene, check this one out. Ladies, this would work on you, too. It is utterly unisex, and feminine skin is reputed to bring out the citrus notes with better clarity. Guys, you'll like it, which is a sure sign that you're finally becoming that reliable, responsible, mature man that all the right ladies fantasize about meeting. If you're already that guy, and have been wearing Vetiver for years, I salute you sir. If you're already that guy, and have not been wearing Vetiver, I encourage you to seal the deal on your manhood, while the reformulations are still good.

1 comment:

  1. A nice piece... Some reviews seem to get so caught up in charting GV's 'reference'-ness in relation to this or that more modern product that there is not much time spent actually describing the scent (or sketching out a portrait of its social character, something I think you explore quite well in your writing.)

    I have been struck by the way that Guerlain Vetiver somehow manages to be (for me, anyway), both relatively linear and very addictive. Oddly, this is also one of the few things that, if I dose myself a little more heavily than I ought to, I feel no shame in heavily projecting (unless I'm just becoming a terrible person in my old age, but also I've never seen it generate an adverse reaction...)

    One question -- have you tried the 'Extreme' flanker? I love the regular version, but find (on the basis of limited sampling, admittedly) that it doesn't seem to last all that long on me. I was curious if the Extreme had more legs (also curious about that tarragon, seeing as how the liquorice-ish aspects of vetiver notes appeal to me a lot.)


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