Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Like tuberose, incense, oud, jasmine and leather, vetiver is a note with amazing possibilities. It can assume a variety of forms, from gossamer and sheer to dense and rich. This woody material derived from the roots of vetiver grass has such a range of nuances–licorice, grapefruit, earth, peanut shells—that it can function as the perfect chameleon. Coeur de Vétiver Sacré from L’Artisan straddles the airy and smoldering spectra by pairing vetiver with leathery birch tar and candied fruit notes. It uses vetiver to anchor the smoky and the gourmand in a woody oriental composition that is quite interesting, even if it ultimately strikes me as too tame.
Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, which means “Heart of the Sacred Vetiver,” is composed by perfumer Karine Vinchon, also responsible for L’Artisan L’Eau de Jatamansi, a bright, herbal composition. Vinchon’s treatment of vetiver is quite refined and elegant, with the core of this complex note rendered quite nicely. It is not the damp, dark, rooty vetiver of Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire, nor is it the fresh breeze of Diptyque Vetyverio. The closest reference for me is Hermès Vétiver Tonka, albeit even more delicate and limpid than Ellena’s creation. The vetiver note of Coeur de Vétiver Sacré is a rather pastel toned, crisp and polished woody note. It reminds me of a beautiful material from Laboratoire Monique Rémy called Vetivert Coeur, which is a suave, luminous vetiver with all of its darker, smokier facets removed.
In the context of Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, a clean, crisp vetiver makes me wish for something edgier, especially since the defining features of the main accord—sweet, smoky, leathery—ultimately overwhelm this delicately etched note. From the top note with its luscious fruity accents to the musk and balsam laden drydown, the presence of vetiver is almost ephemeral. It fleets now and then like a curl of dissipating smoke, only to dissolve completely in the oriental base of the composition. Overall, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré is definitely appealing in its androgynous elegance, but I really wish for a bolder statement and deeper character.
Coeur de Vétiver Sacré includes notes of bergamot, orange, black tea, date, apricot, pepper, ginger, coriander, saffron, incense, birch, rose, osmanthus, iris, vanilla, vetiver, tarragon, sandalwood, white cedar, guaiac wood, amber, tonka beans, labdanum, castoreum, and musk. L’Artisan line is available from Aedes, Beautycafe, Beautyhabit, and Luckyscent, as well as Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus.
Image: Claude Monet, Wheatstacks, End of Summer, 1890-1891.