I didn't think it possible, but this stuff makes even Maître Parfumeur et Gantier's Route du Vétiver look tame! The opening explodes violently with a harsh, green vetiver that's hot enough to singe your eyebrows. And while the scent quiets down quite a bit, it never goes so far as to mellow.
Where the vetiver in Route du Vétiver is moist, earthy, and somehow fecund, this vetiver is dry, pungent, and acidic. There's nothing sweet in this blend to dull the vetiver's knife-like edge, and the few accompanying notes I can detect only enhance its potency. There are some very dry herbs, an odd, tart, acidic note, plus some crisp cedar in the base, and that's about it. Simple really, and almost brutal, but in a streamlined, even graceful way. Kind of like a shark.
Etro's Vetiver stays close to the body, which could be a good thing, since not everyone you meet is liable to enjoy anything this radical. It will be too much for many, but for those who like their vetiver, sharp, raw, and pungent this will be a must-try scent.
Update (September, 2009):
With Maître Parfumeur et Gantier's Route du Vétiver tamed in reformulation, Etro's Vetiver is left standing alongside Vétiver Extraordinaire as one of the finest essays in vetiver-based olfactory brutalism. Revised to a thumbs-up by attrition.
What an incredible vetiver. A salty, incredibly earthy, slightly humid vetiver note, warm and mysterious, with fascinating nuances of coffee, tobacco, incense, rich woods, a rarefied and captivating fog of smells and a thin sheet of old tanning leather. Utterly elegant, pleasant, refined, an oriental elusive potion with a bold modern personality, there is a slight contemporary feel (the salty note, the transparent incense) which brilliantly and silently flows among the timeless and romantic mysticism of the more "traditional" ingredients. While the very first opening reminded me of Annick Goutal's vetiver because of its humid and raw earthiness, the evolution is one of a kind, peculiar and superb, opulent and nondescript, with all these nuances brilliantly melting together. What fascinates me most is a veil of dusty, smoky and dense sweetness, somehow tobacco and somehow talcum, really noble and melancholic, narcotic and romantic, filled with the same Oriental elegance of Etro's patterns (at least, back then). Beautiful mineral/salty and discreet drydown. A solid scent, with a clear inspiration and great materials. Straight on the top of my favourite vetivers ever!
(my review is based on a vintage EDC bottle)
I liked EV and bought it. Once the opening rapidly dissipates, it becomes a warm, almost creamy interpretation of the vetiver idea. Somehow the warmth and "cream" offsets what could have been animalistic and aggressive like Route du Vetiver (which I also like). It is linear in that it morphs very little once it enters drydown. Woody and spicey without a trace of citrus, I find it honest and sophisticated. The vetiver is there in the background seemingly preventing it from being too subdued.
When your mood is serious but gentle, EV will reinforce that.
Etro's Vetiver smells dry and earthy rounded by some florals. That's a nice take on vetiver, very different from actual releases within this theme.
Etro Vetiver EDC
A woodsy vetiver with a strong opening but a pretty subtle, even thin, dry down. This gave me an interesting lesson in skin chemistry. I got the missus to try it first and the woods (ostensibly cedar and cypress) on her are sweet and smooth - I could have sworn sandalwood. On me on the other hand they're much more tannic and harsh. Not necessarily in a bad way, but a real astringency that just doesn't seem to surface on her skin. After the initial alchoholic and slightly medicinal opening it was like licking a freshly roughsawn oak board.
That said, there is something tantalising about the way these austere woods blend with the supportive cradle of vetiver. The vetiver isn't always very perceptible but it's always there subliminally and becomes more clear in the drydown. It's almost architectural, with the woods providing a soaring, vertical element and the vetiver fleshing it out with a supportive and soft base.
The problem for me was that this dry down, with the EDC version at least, was very short lived. I'm hoping the EDT I aim to track down on my next trip to London will be a little more full and a little longer lived.
Initially, the thinness and lack of endurance would have made me tend to a neutral review, but hey, it's only a Cologne and there's something very moreish here that I find myself coming back to pretty often. It needs a liberal application on me though, and that, given Etro's prices, is not a very economic prospect.
Still, thumbs up.
16th August, 2012 (last edited: 17th August, 2012)