Etro Vetiver : Perfume Review


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, or Neiman Aarcus, UK-based Escentual in the UK, and Belgium-based Senteurs d’Ailleurs.

Photo of green hazelnuts from Discover the Taste.



  • Linda: Dear Victoria,
    Many thanks for the two lovely reviews of Etro perfumes this week. I almost fell off my chair yesterday when I saw the photo of the baths at Aquae Sulis! Well known indeed as it features in the Latin textbooks at the school where I teach: and I read that the large stone in the foreground was used, probably, for jumping (or diving). Immediately I looked at Escentual, only to find that they don’t have any Etro products at the moment… But they’re on my list: today’s sounds beautiful for early spring, and yesterday’s “Messe de Minuit” a definite. There is something about melancholy sounding fragrances that really appeals to me. Again, with great admiration for your wonderful writing, warmest wishes, February 13, 2007 at 7:34am Reply

  • Elle: Am not a huge vetiver fan, but you’ve convinced me I need to go find one of my samples of this (for a while there I seemed to receive an Etro Vetiver sample w/ almost everything I ordered) and retry it. I have to confess I probably never gave it much of a chance, but the peaceful imagery of being in a grove and picking green hazelnuts is irresistible. February 13, 2007 at 8:26am Reply

  • Karthik: Victoria,
    Your review tempts me to sample Etro’s take on Vetiver; thank you for the introduction.
    Have you sampled the Fragonard Vetiver yet? I’m curious to know your opinion if you have, and would appreciate a review.
    On the same note, assuming you haven’t sampled it yet, I’d like to bring Puig’s Vetiver to your attention. I found the Puig rendering both distinctive and masterly, and it hopefully will fascinate you too.
    Karthik. February 13, 2007 at 8:37am Reply

  • newproducts: I have yet to get into vetiver scents, but you have inspired me to. 🙂 February 13, 2007 at 9:23am Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    I have not yet explored this line .. but I will now. Loved the photo of the Roman baths – indeed I used it as my background yesterday ! I do like Hermes – Vetiver Tonka . Guerlain Vetiver also . I tend to avor scents with a strong sillage . I did succumb to the charms of Guerlain’s new scent La Nuit D’amour . I really was seduced , i think, into buying it by the lovely uS fragrance manager ! However, upon reading the reviews afterwards, I I was surprised that it was so uninspired. I do like this scent – alot – I wish it had stronger sillage, shall we say ! The parfum , which I would have considered was a whopping $2,000 ! in Baccarat crystal . So. no go ..
    What perfume are you planning to wear for Valentine’s Day ,dear V, just curious —
    wishing you a romantic, fulfilling Valentine’s Day — and to all your readers as well ! February 13, 2007 at 12:30pm Reply

  • Marina: I can’t remember anything about this one, and I yet I know I have seen a sample of it my sample boxes. Must go, find, and sniff 🙂 February 13, 2007 at 8:48am Reply

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