Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Among artisanal lines, Etro stands out for its innovative twists on classical themes. In a sense, it is the Victorian aesthetic turned rock-n-roll. Thus, Messe de Minuit is a blend of exoticism and peculiar familiarity—old books, mildewy stones and ecclesiastic incense motifs. In Royal Pavillion, the ornate opulence of floral and green notes conjuring the atmosphere of a green house is wrapped into a warm animalic breath. The brightness of citrusy notes in Shaal Nur is dimmed by resinous herbal notes and the truffled facet of opopanax. Although Vetiver (1989) is not as daring and unusual as other Etro fragrances, it is nevertheless compelling. The vetiver is layered with herbs and woods, accentuating the fresh hazelnut aspects of the note. …
To speak generally, the aromatic roots of grass native to tropical Asia are among the most commonly encountered perfume notes and have a fascinating olfactory profile—earthy and rooty, with a grapefruit like brightness and a violet sweetness. Etro’s treatment of vetiver lies between the gossamer lightness of The Different Company Sel de Vétiver and the gourmand sweetness of Hermès Vétiver Tonka. It opens up on a bright green note, which barely conceals the sweet, resinous warmth.
Although the composition does not change dramatically, the accenting notes are interesting enough to add some excitement to this otherwise simple cologne. While the vetiver note retains much of its character, the nutty bitterness is softened, allowing for the milky hazelnut to dominate. This effect reminds me of picking green hazelnuts from the grove surrounding my grandparents’ garden. The taste of the silky meat with a pronounced verdancy is still vivid in my mind. As Vetiver dries down, the woody base notes become more pronounced, and yet the warm, green hazelnut remains in the background, lending a dose of sweetness to the finished result. Not a masterpiece of perfumery, but exceedingly pleasing.
Light but persistent, Etro Vetiver is a perfect unisex composition with notes of artemisia, clary sage, tobacco, cypress, and vetiver. Etro fragrances are available at Aedes, Beauty.com or Neiman Aarcus, UK-based Escentual in the UK, and Belgium-based Senteurs d’Ailleurs.
Photo of green hazelnuts from Discover the Taste.