Originally Posted by AlexbroPA
Could you explain in more detail exactly what vetiver is in regards to fragrances? I understand it's a plant, but that's about where my knowledge of it ends...
Well, I can't claim that I know that much myself. It's a plant as you say, with a marked harsh, raw, grassy, rooty smell. There are many varieties of vetiver depending on source but the two most common are bourbon vetiver and haitian vetiver. I find the former to have a more clean and slightly sour smell than the latter.
You find vetiver in something like 80% of all men perfumes but mixed up in the base notes. From what I've gathered, vetiver used to play a more prominent role in men's perfume, with special fame going to Guerlain Vetiver from 1961. I guess vetiver gradually became less popular over time and that's why some people associate vetiver with their parents and some younger people with their grandparents and some younger people still have no association at all. It appears, however, that vetiver scents have had something of a renaissance lately with many modern renditions of the note, some of which you'll find on the department store shelves (e.g. Prada Infusion de Vetiver). Encre Noire belongs here as well.
I personally find it far-fetched that people would associate these modern renditions with older people. I think most people just perceive a fragrance as a unified scent - if you wear something from the 60's, e.g. Guerlain Vetiver, people might get that overall impression "smells old" but I find it far-fetched that they would single out the note in a modern composition and get the same impression. Some people might be extra-sensitive to the note, so I guess it could happen. I personally wear a modern vetiver to work without any worries - rather the opposite, I think it's quite distinguished - it's elegant, reserved and perfectly non-offensive. I'd be much more worried wearing 80's powerhouses that are frequently recommended here because they really had a clear up-and-down trend that cements that "dated" feeling and they are also very aggressive in style.
So, in general, I don't think you can categorize vetivers easily and say that they're good for this or that venue - it very much depends on the whole composition. Something military grade like Route du Vetiver, I'm actually quite clueless as when to wear, something more exotic like Vetiver Oriental is best for evenings etc. As for Encre Noire, again, I think it's optimal for formal/semi-formal evenings, but I wear it casually both day and night, but I avoid daytime formal occasions (not because of the vetiver per se but because of the whole composition which is very dark).
Hope that helps.