Vetiver Extraordinaire (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle)

Vetiver Extraordinaire is easily my favorite from Malle. Special education workers use the phrase "mainstreamed" when referring to youngsters who possess skills that allow them to function socially and productively in normal society. In VE, Ropion took the limitations of a very dry, rooty, "niche-like" vetiver, and mainstreamed them. From initial application to the far drydown, his clever combination of saffron, bergamot, neroli, pink pepper, cedar, and vetiver is a pleasure to wear, always easy on the nose, and quite fertile in quality and complexity. It is detailed, enough to yield variables in its balance between dominant and subordinate notes per wear. It is also dimensional; VE does not just sit on skin. Ropion managed to make his vetiver fizz, as if the dew between fronds was carbonated. The effect is "in your face" and alive.

Last summer I wrote about the term "soapy" as it applies to perfume, and described the effect in a few notable fragrances. Soapiness is a personal preference of mine when it comes to fragrances, especially masculines, as it's a sort of style that always smells at least somewhat clean and fresh. It doesn't matter what notes are used. If they're representative of something in nature, closely and smoothly blended, and evocative of cleanliness, they're going to come across as "soapy" to me. Vetiver Extraordinaire reads as being noticeably sudsy, with a brightness and freshness commonly found in any one of your better bar soaps. Still, its close blending of spicy-green notes is surprisingly legible. The smooth, almost transparent quality found in many soapy frags is absent here, with a finely textured woodiness (vetiver, saffron, cedar, myrrh) stealing the show instead. It's truly lovely.

Perhaps the only thing I could cite as a possible flaw is also, ironically, the very thing that makes VE enjoyable - its easiness. There are no fun challenges to be had in deciphering VE, no unique "niche" characteristics beyond its obviously catering to worshippers of all things vetiver (and perhaps all things Safranal). Its pencil-shaving cedar note is reminiscent of a slew of woody designer scents, including Gucci PH, and yeah, I'd say this is another example of Iso E Super used brilliantly, but at its niche price, I could understand hesitating a little to put your good money down on this pearl. Ultimately though, VE is head and shoulders above many of the woody designer fragrances I've worn and owned over the years, and I definitely prefer it to Guerlain Vetiver, which is still a great scent, and the enduring standard for vetiver.


  1. Dear Brian,
    I always enjoy the morning surprise stopping by here.
    Rumor has it that Ropion used quite a bit of Cashmeran in VE as he did in nearly all his scents. I could smell the pure molecule once in a dilluted form and it had this destinct wet concrete/wet paint note the crowd is talking about. (The top and middle notes especially of Kenzo Jungle Elephant & the Etro scents "Musk" and "Magot" are very much about this material.) So things like "fizzy", "high-end-soapy", "dimensional" and "finely textured woodiness" could be circumstantial evidence. Sice I find Cashmeran simpatico I seem to detect it in many other scents like L'Artisan "Timbuktu", many Comme des Garcons, the Mugler Cologne (definitely) and maybe even in the new Fougère Royal (have a sample of the Parfum-version). So well, it doesn`t really matter, just as a suggestion ...
    Have a nice day!

  2. Cashmeran - that would explain why it reminds me of Encre Noire as well! Thanks Tim!

  3. I just happen to be wearing Vetiver Spice by Bella Bellissima (who indeed?) while reading your post, and I must say I am enjoying the kick said spice delivers to this otherwise smooth green mellifluous ride.

    1. Adding spices to vetiver is a risky business, but as you point out, when it works, it works.


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