L’Artisan Parfumeur Coeur de Vetiver Sacre : Perfume Review

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Monetstacks

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.

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14 Comments

  • Mark: Aha! Reading your review was helpful, because I felt something was unbalanced in this fragrance but I couldnt put my finger on it. I wished that the vetiver was stronger. Thanks, V! November 15, 2010 at 10:23am Reply

  • sweetlife: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this and by how much vetiver I could smell given all the lackluster reviews. To me it correlates pretty exactly with the smell of the vetiver tea I make in the summertime, plus some extra citrus and sweetener up top. To be sure the whole is quite lightweight, but I felt like it might be one of those things that sneaks up on me in the summertime. Is that balsam in the drydown and not vetiver, V? It is entirely possible that my mind produced the note through power of suggestion! November 15, 2010 at 12:36pm Reply

  • March: Hm. It really does sound delicious, but tragically mis-named, and thus a disappointment to anyone who might try it looking for tons of vetiver (which is, after all, detectable in all sorts of scents not called “vetiver.”) So shame on L’Artisan, I say, setting people up for a let-down. You’d have liked it better called something else, I think?

    So if you were going to rename this something that fits it more accurately, any ideas? (Pretend it’s a working title and copyright isn’t an issue at all.) Osmanthus Tea? Bois et Fruits? November 15, 2010 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mark, I wish it were stronger overall, because it just feels so limpid. But the structure on the whole is very nice. November 15, 2010 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, please tell me more about this vetiver tea! I actually just bought some organic vetiver roots, so I am going to experiment. In India, they tend to soak roots in water, which is a simple and very refreshing beverage.

    It is not just that it is vetiver light, but it is too thin for my tastes. The fragrance has all of these really interesting elements, but somehow in the drydown they are not held together. Still, I am glad to see yet another take on this complex note. November 15, 2010 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: March, Thé au Vétiver would work well! Actually, I wonder if anyone has this name copyrighted. 🙂
    I like many elements of the composition–that boozy davana top note is so appealing!–but in the end, it just does not seem balanced. I like it, but I am not as taken with it as I am with Traversée du Bosphore. November 15, 2010 at 1:56pm Reply

  • Eve: Even though you were mixed about it, I loved your review because I could visualize the fragrance in my mind. I think that I would like it because I like sweet, smoky notes. A light oriental sounds nice! November 15, 2010 at 4:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: Eve, do let me know what you think after you smell it. It is a nice fragrance, just not exactly what I hoped it would be. November 15, 2010 at 5:14pm Reply

  • violetnoir: I loved this one from first sniff, V! I think it is beautiful.

    I tried to really like Traversee du Bosphore, but I am thinking it may be better sprayed, rather than dabbed from a sample vial. The dabbing did nothing for me.

    Hugs! November 15, 2010 at 6:01pm Reply

  • Victoria: R, I am so glad that it works for you. I ended up transferring my little sample of Traversee du Bosphore into a spray vial, because I want to experience it true sillage better. In general, I find that most fragrances are better sprayed. This way, you can definitely cover a larger surface of skin and study the evaporation better. November 15, 2010 at 6:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: I should add though that spraying vs dabbing did not really change the essential character of the fragrance, so maybe you found your love in Coeur de Vetiver Sacre. 🙂 November 15, 2010 at 6:13pm Reply

  • sweetlife: V, I had to go look at my box of tea to remember what was in it–they list green tea, vetiver and mint. I assume they mean vetiver root, though I can’t be sure. It’s from a local company, so alas I cannot point you towards a website. They used to have one, but it appears to have lapsed. I’d be happy to send you some, though! November 15, 2010 at 7:13pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, it sounds wonderful, but I really do not want to trouble you in sending it to me. I may experiment by adding mint and vetiver to green tea. Robin of NST gave me some green tea recommendations recently, so I have lots of new teas to sample. November 15, 2010 at 8:56pm Reply

  • AK: Have L’artisan P discontinued this? I can’t find it on their website. If not, where would you buy it (in London)? Are there any close seconds to it other than Hermes Vetiver Tonka (given this was written in 2010.

    I absolutely LOVE this perfume. I grew up in a dry part of India where every summer involved using coolers which blew air through wet vetiver woven sheets. Clearly wet vetiver smells of summer holidays to me. Couer de vetiver sacre is my perfect hot weather scent. Perfumed, but not heavy enough (on me) to warrant being restricted to winter. June 30, 2015 at 7:02am Reply

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