The Different Sel de Vetiver : Perfume Review

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Reeds

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

With the newest fragrance from The Different Company, Sel de Vetiver, on my arm and a paper blotter, I am reflecting on whether a point ever comes when the world does not need another Vetiver, another tribute to the roots of grass native to tropical Asia that smell of earth and sweet woods. For devoted vetiver fans, there are dark roots that still have soil clinging to them, in case of Maitre Gantier et Parfumeur Route de Vétiver, or seaweed, in case of Annick Goutal Vétiver. Pale earthy whispers wrapped around flower petals in Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle would delight those who prefer their vetiver rendered in a lighter manner. Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire is quite true to its name, the smooth darkness resting on an ambery base. Etro Vetiver is a dry rendition, emphasizing the fresh hazelnut aspect of the root. Hermes Vétiver Tonka is a gourmand take on the vetiver theme.

Sel de Vetiver is an elegantly cut gem–a transparent veil of sweet spices over the layers of earthy vetiver. Created by Celine Ellena, it intricately folds the herbal and floral nuances into the bitter citrus punctuated sharpness, accenting the earthy, woody qualities of vetiver and lending it a delicate sparkle. …

These are not roots covered in wet soil, but the thin reeds swaying in the wind. The green heart conceals a tinge of warm skin element, which serves as a sensual touch in this crystalline composition. And then it suddenly begins to dim, with the drydown losing the initial precision and luminosity. After such a beautiful start, this development is slightly dissonant, like a song ending far too abruptly.

This warm skin/clean sweat aspect paired with the overall execution of the vetiver theme is reminiscent of Jean-Claude Ellena’s work, particularly Terre d’Hermès and Poivre Samarcande. Ellena’s characteristic transparency underscored by the woody-spicy accord is perhaps more pronounced in Sel de Vetiver than it is in Celine Ellena’s earlier creation, Jasmin de Nuit. In Jasmin de Nuit, the transparency of jasmine accord is likewise juxtaposed with the spicy-woody base, however the finished result has such a striking character than one is reluctant to draw any direct comparisons. On the other hand, although elegant, especially in the progression from the sharpness of the top notes to the floral softness of the heart, Sel de Vetiver leaves me craving more sparks.

To answer my own rhetorical question, yes, given intriguing qualities of vetiver, another Vetiver is always welcome. However, in light of the existing masterpieces, the next Vetiver might have to take a step into the uncharted waters. First, however, I would have loved for Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle to become available outside the duty-free stores…

Sel de Vetiver features notes of grapefruit, cardamom, geranium, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, iris and ylang ylang. The Different Company fragrances are available directly from The Different Company website, First-in-Fragrance and Senteurs d’Ailleurs. In the States, they will be available from Neiman Marcus stores located in Bocca Raton, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach.

For another opinion, please see a review of Sel de Vetiver by Robin of Nowsmellthis .

Reed in the Sunset from horizoncon.com.

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27 Comments

  • Mercedes Rey: Hello! I would love to try Sel de Vetiver, I´m wearing Vetiver Tonka today. Victoria, I have gone to the Barfumeria several times, they have many brands difficult to find in Spain, like Comptoir sud Pacifique and Serge Lutens. It´s a quite minimalistic boutique, but the staff really know their work. I mean, I usually know well what I want when I shop for perfume, but this people surprise me and make me try other things. I have also been there for a perfume workshop by L´Artisan. Well, I am much more used to Brit English, but now I understand you being so amused! May 9, 2006 at 4:49am Reply

  • Marina: This post is music to my vetiver-loving ears 🙂 May 9, 2006 at 10:04am Reply

  • N: Beautiful review!! I did not expect to like SdV but after trying it a few weeks ago – I do like it very much for the first twenty minutes or so. The drydown is nice but not exceptional on me.

    Hope all is well dear V.

    Hugs! May 9, 2006 at 10:19am Reply

  • violetnoir: Yes, I would like to test Vetiver Pour Elle, too, but this one just does not sound too interesting.

    Hugs! May 9, 2006 at 11:33am Reply

  • Anya: V, what would be the uncharted waters you’d like to see vetivers set sail in? I’m always so shy with it, it absolutely takes over my skin. For days! May 9, 2006 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Robin: V, do you like the Vetiver Pour Elle better than the regular Guerlain Vetiver? May 9, 2006 at 2:35pm Reply

  • patchamour: Lovely review. Can’t wait to try some of these vetivers. I think I tried one by Creed and liked it. What do you think about Black Vetiver Cafe by Jo Malone? I love to wear this one, but can’t distinguish a vetiver note in there, just coffee and something dark and sweet. Patchamour May 9, 2006 at 6:20pm Reply

  • victoriasown: I love grapefruit, and although not a true vetiver lover, you have made this sound inticing. Stictly on the name, I had no desire to check it out. Now I will. May 9, 2006 at 8:44pm Reply

  • mc: Oh well, it would be an awful world where we agreed on everything! I like this one, in fact to my mind it’s one of the better releases of the year. I do agree that the drydown is less than remarkable, but it seems to work quite nicely on my skin. Perhaps my hide has become so accustomed to vetivers that any scent with this ingredient featuring prominently will work well.

    In the Different Company boutique it’s possible to sample a variety of vetiver extracts Celine Ellena considered before choosing the one she did: There’s a lovely dark and heavy, even chocolately vetiver that reminds me of Etro’s, as well as a more astringent, lemony essence that ended up in Annick Goutal’s. Sel du Vetiver’s is more mineral – perhaps like Vetiver Extraordinaire, without being in quite the same league.

    I share your disappointment with Eau de Lierre, though, which I tried last week. Preparation Parfumée then Angeliques sous la Pluie… both perfumes I like very much but the world didn’t exactly need another version. Shame, I had high hopes that this would (finally) be the Diptyque for me. May 10, 2006 at 7:10am Reply

  • greeneyes: I’m new to the fragrance world (beyond the department stores, that is!), but this sounds like something to try. I’ve only sampled one vetiver so far, Il Profumo Vetiver de Java (after reading the review on Now Smell This), and while it smelled as intriguing as it sounded, it sadly didn’t last at all. I put it on in the morning before work, and it was gone by lunch. Is this user error, or has anyone else experienced this?
    I’m not giving up, though! I’ve ordered a sample of Anthousa Fig & Vetiver, and given all the vetiver fragrances mentioned here, I’ll have several more for the next order! May 10, 2006 at 11:42am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, you might enjoy Sel de Vetiver, if you like Vetiver Tonka, one of my favourite vetivers, along with Etro, Goutal, and FM’s vetivers. May 10, 2006 at 2:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I am very happy to hear this. 🙂 May 10, 2006 at 2:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, nice to see you! I do enjoy wearing Sel de Vetiver, and I admit that my expectations were quite high. May 10, 2006 at 2:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R (violetnoir), oh, it is very nice, and if you have a chance, definitely try it. I do not know if I prefer it to Vetiver pour Elle, but it is a quite an interesting composition. May 10, 2006 at 3:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I am not sure if this is necessarily the uncharted waters, but I keep dreaming of vetiver and jasmine sambac combination, where the jasmine is made vivid, rather than a mere accent. I will try making an accord and see how it goes. May 10, 2006 at 3:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I think that the original is much more interesting, but I find Vetiver pour elle very appealing. It is also easier for me to wear. May 10, 2006 at 3:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Patchamour, I do like Black Vetiver Cafe by Jo Malone, although it does not last for more than 20 min on my skin. I also love the coffee notes, which complement vetiver very well. May 10, 2006 at 3:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, the grapefruit note is not the most obvious one to me, but it adds a bittersweet touch, which is wonderful. I hope that you will have a chance to try it soon. May 10, 2006 at 3:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mike, yes, I cannot agree more. I just expected something with more presence and character, but overall, I agree it. Sel de Vetiver is very well-done, and it maintains the tradition of the TDC line. Have you sampled the fragrance from the tall glass? I love the TDC boutique in Paris and its fragrance bar elements.

    Yes, Eau de Lierre reminded me of a number of fragrance, from Preparation Parfumée to Navegar. I hope to see something exciting from Diptyque again… May 10, 2006 at 3:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Greeneyes, there is an incredible array of vetivers beyond what I mentioned here. I tried Il Profumo Vetiver de Java, but I was not impressed with it. It also does not last on me. I highly recommend trying Guerlain Vetiver for a classical, slighly masculine vetiver (but very sexy on a woman), Hermes Vetiver Tonka and Etro Vetiver. Those are my own favourites. Of course, do try Sel de Vetiver as well. May 10, 2006 at 3:50pm Reply

  • carol: I was trying not to order Sel de Vetiver unsniffed, but your review pushed me over the edge. I now have to buy at least a 48h refill! May 11, 2006 at 1:11am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I hope that you will enjoy it then! I love those tiny 48h refills, especially for travel. May 11, 2006 at 12:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I hope that you will enjoy it then! I love those tiny 48h refills, especially for travel. May 11, 2006 at 12:50pm Reply

  • greeneyes: Thank you Victoria. I will add these other vetivers to my ever-expanding list. I received my sample of the Anthousia last night, and it’s so fresh and different. I hope you or one of the other wonderful reviewers will have a review of it soon. –Priscilla May 11, 2006 at 3:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Priscilla, I am glad that it was helpful! I heard very good things about Anthousia fragrances, but I have not had a chance to sample it yet. I am looking forward to doing so. May 11, 2006 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    Funny you should discuss Vetiver – as I was running through Saks 5th Ave – NY “perfume Central” pre Mother’s Day. The perfume sales people were out enmasse en force! Vetiver was very much represented – however I was not “bowled over ” by most. Last week I visited Hermes- NY and bought the 4 in 1Hermessence -set-including your favorite Vetiver Tonka ! V- I must agree – Vetiver Tonka is enchanting – that infusion of noisette really warms the drydown. At irst I wasn’t crazy about it – but after a while I became intoxicated with my own scent ! It is ny favorite of tge group ! Thank you for the review of The Different Company. Their website is woth a visit- complete with music and photos of pur beloved perfumers :JC Ellena and Celine Ellena !
    Best Regards –
    Madelyn E May 15, 2006 at 12:59am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, thank you for sharing your impressions. I love Vetiver Tonka, and I credit it with influencing me to try other vetiver fragrances. It is quite special. May 16, 2006 at 1:17am Reply

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