Vettiveru (Comme des Garçons, Series 4)

I have a niggling, nagging, persistent issue with high-end vetiver fragrances. Most that I've encountered take the "traditional" road by rendering the note in a crisply rooty, papery manner. They tend to ensconce vetiver's dry linearity in a familiar variant of fresh, citrusy/soapy accords with subtle hints of kitchen spice. That's all fine and well, but quality of materials notwithstanding, it's a style culled directly from Guerlain Vetiver, the gold standard for all things vetiver. Sure, I can get a little extra dazzle out of Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire, and a heap of additional quality and complexity from Garner James' Nature Boy, but if I want a straight-up old-school vetiver, Guerlain's is nearly impossible to top, and Encre Noire has the market cornered for a good contemporary alternative. Guerlain and Lalique offer the added benefit of being about twenty dollars an ounce without smelling cheap, which is also nice.

My general personal preference is to be engaged by more than two demure notes, but to also limit the unpredictably changeable excitement of complex compositions by finding scents that inhabit a suitably interesting-but-comfortable middle ground. Vettiveru is too conservative for my taste, with a linear drydown that only lasts about ninety minutes before becoming a skin scent. At its price point, it's a tough sell for me. The bright citrusy top is fizzy, fresh, and five minutes later it's gone, the vetiver note having arrived to steal the show. It's a basic, dry, papery vetiver, not significantly different from Guerlain's. So I ask myself, for this sort of thing, why not just wear Guerlain's? In fairness, Comme des Garçons went ahead and switched up the accompanying accord, inserting a very good combo of black pepper and clove where Guerlain has tobacco and musk. It's not enough, really. In the end, the tobacco works better. This is labeled a cologne, so I guess I can't get too worked up over the poor longevity, but I don't see myself buying a bottle of Vettiveru anytime soon.

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