Carven make one of the better known vetiver fragrances. It’s been around since 1957 and has stood shoulder to shoulder over the years with the other ‘classic’ vetivers that followed on its heels, namely Guerlain Vetiver (1961), Givenchy Vetyver (1959). Reformulations aside, these are Paris’s masculine Big Three of from the era.
In 1988 Carven released a new fragrance called Vetiver Dry. The name of the perfume denotes 1980s-styled overachieving sensibility. Vetiver itself, the botanical substance, is as dry as a bone, and typically keeps most vetiver compositions at the far end of the spectrum of dryness. The name, though. It's just two words, but they suggest something out of whack. Is it overachievement? Is its competitiveness? Is it simply a misunderstanding of the material? Maybe it's an ironic tautology, as in water is wet.
Unfortunately, smelling the perfume doesn't answer any of the questions. Vetiver Dry, despite the name, is an aromatic fougère. Oh, there's some vetiver in there. More’s the pity, though. Vetiver and the fougère accord don't enhance each other, the point reinforced by the dearth of vetiver fougères available.
The top notes are recognizable and are characteristically herbal/soapy in the fougère manner. But where the other late 80s aromatic Fougères seem bright, sharp, inventive, Vetiver Dry seems muddy and blurred. Whether or not it is the vetiver that muddies the perfume, Vetiver Dry feels like it was composed with a dull pencil.
There’s a struggle within this bottle, and it makes for a confusing progression. Conflicting notes vie for precedence, and the topnotes, though blurry, are strong. The dry-down is murky, suggestion the conflict of notes ends in an unsatisfying draw. But to reach drydown, there’s no avoiding the heart notes, which are more unpleasant than vague, with a scent of rising dough that makes me want to open a window.
There is a reason perfume wearers who ‘layer’ perfumes have never suggested the combination of Drakkar Noir and Bois de Farine. Vetiver Dry serves as the cautionary tale.
A direct, straight-up vetiver greets me from the first second. Quite bright but with a touch of dark earthiness, with a herbal undertone without being a truly earthy vetiver. In the drydown at times impression of seaweed and spicy dried fruit are in the background, and a whiff of sandalwood too. This is more direct and somewhat rougher scent, much less smooth than the L'Artisan take on vetiver, and without even a hint of a Guerlainade-like elegance. Satisfactory development on my skin. Adequate silage and projection are combined with a longevity of nearly four hours on my skin. A very good take on vetiver; this one will be nice in spring.
The Baron de Charlus once told me: "Curiously enough, it was on a motoring tour of the Appalachian Mountains that i first encountered Carven Vetiver Dry, the rarely seen cousin of Carven Vetiver, at one or two removes.
Pausing for refreshment at a rundown store, apparently on the road to nowhere in particular, the owner, an elderly hillbilly with scarcely any teeth and faintly inbred attributes, made me the following proposition:
'Wellhyar'syersquirrelncolanahkinsellyersumpuntorelieveyersweatnstink. FellerleftacrateofthishyarVetiverDrymebbetwennyyargonebutnaryabodyroundhyarabouts'lltouchun. Figgermebbeyoubeinadoodyboyandfurrinwouldpreciatehermore. It'llhahdyersweatnstinknmebbepleasureyerdemoiselle. Yuhkinhevherferfowahdollar. Yuhkinsniffherfirstifyerinclined.'
'My dear sir,' I responded, inhaling deeply of the Carven Vetiver Dry, 'while I grant you that this scent does indeed improve on the aroma of squirrel and cola, I nevertheless feel that, compared to its far more distinguished cousin, Carven Vetiver, it is somewhat lacking. In spite of being called Vetiver Dry, it strikes me as altogether more bland, conventional and mellow than its illustrious cousin. Whilst the kinship is quite evident, what Carven Vetiver Dry lacks is the way that the acrid quality of Carven Vetiver matures to such a splendid note of pure distinction on the skin. Compared to that, Vetiver Dry, rather like your good self, seems slightly toothless and a trifle inbred, lacking that acrid, luxurious vigour. Nevertheless, I grant you that, compared to most of the perfumes that are being forced up our nostrils nowadays, Carven Vetiver Dry is a fine scent. I grant it my qualified approval.'
This is a very dry and mildly smoky rendition of vetiver. It smells nice although there are better vetivers out there (Grey Vetiver, Royall Vetiver for starters). For once, though, a fragrance fits its title. The bottle is firmly in the old school masculine tradition and the price is reasonable. Sillage and longevity are modest.
09th June, 2011 (last edited: 17th July, 2011)
i'm not a big fan of these vetiver scents. Vetiver Dry IMHO is suited well for someone 35+ yrs of age. It is definitely not a bad scent alltogether. It's initial blast is not offensive and the drydown is decent, but nothing too special. I'm in my mid- 20's so maybe I'll wear this when I'm 40, but since it's discontinued it probably wont be around. Neutral rating from me.