Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal : Perfume Review


When I first smelled the Atelier Cologne fragrances Rose Anonyme and Vetiver Fatal, I immediately fell for the sheer, smoky roses and left the vetiver to languish on my desk. Perhaps that day I craved more flamboyance and more glamour which Rose Anonyme amply delivered. But a week or so later, I absentmindedly dabbed Vetiver Fatal on my wrist–there was no other perfume around–and curled up with War and Peace. Well before Natasha Rostova appeared on the scene, I abandoned the book and sat with my wrist glued to my nose. The scent on my skin was bright but moody, rustic but sophisticated. It smelled of sliced oranges, damp earth and fallen leaves–a little vignette of late summer.

At first, Vetiver Fatal makes me think of green tangerines, complete with their leathery leaves–verdant, zesty and tart enough to make my mouth water. The vetiver takes form stealthily, until you distinctly smell its characteristic scent of earth covered roots and milky hazelnuts. Perfumer Jerome Epinette makes a seemingly simple choice by pairing vetiver with citrus (vetiver oil naturally has a  grapefruit-like accent in its top notes), but the harmony and the addition of other elements makes Vetiver Fatal stand out.

As I wore Vetiver Fatale longer, I discovered that it can be either uplifting and comforting, depending on my mood. This is thanks to the contrast between the exuberant orange accord–think Orange Sanguine!–and the somber darkness of vetiver.  It’s a pairing that also illustrates why Earl Grey tea is such perfection.  Just as the spicy bergamot cuts through the leathery, tannic richness of tea, the bitter citrus in Vetiver Fatal offsets the earthy, damp bite of vetiver. The violet gives vetiver an unexpected tenderness, and it is woven into the composition in different ways:  from the cucumber freshness of its leaves to the candy sweetness of its petals.

The nuanced beauty of vetiver inspires many perfumers; it’s the reason for the many great vetiver perfumes available today. The classical Vétiver de Guerlain, the chocolate toned Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinare, the salty Annick Goutal Vétiver, the marine KenzoAir. Annick Goutal’s perfumer Isabelle Doyen even created a fragrance based just on vetiver called Turtle Vetiver. But while Vetiver Fatal is a sibling of Vétiver de Guerlain, it holds its own for its effervescence and surprising contrasts–salty and sweet, bright and dark, green and smoky.

Vetiver Fatal is sheer and sparkling, but its light aura belies its good tenacity and excellent sillage. It was a refreshing choice during our brief spell of summer in Brussels, but these days when I wake up to cool, overcast mornings it gives me a pleasant jolt. By the time I get going with my day, the citrusy notes vanish, and it lingers on my skin as polished, violet scented woods. Perhaps it’s because I discovered Vetiver Fatal when reading War and Peace, but I can’t help associating this scent with Prince Andrei Bolonsky–a similarly complex and dashing character. Now, the question is what would Natasha Rostova wear?

Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal includes notes of bergamot, lemon, bitter orange, orange blossom, violet leaf, plum, haitian vetiver, cedar, and agarwood. Available from Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Luckyscent. 30ml/$70, 200ml/$185.

Sample: my own acquisition

Photography by Bois de Jasmin (1st image).



  • Barbara: The moment I looked at your photo, I craved some tea, so I am wearing Bulgari Green Tea today. 🙂
    I like Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine and Ambre Nue. If I had extra money, I would also get a bottle of Grand Neroli. Now I am curious about Vetiver Fatal. Great review, V! September 4, 2012 at 8:20am Reply

    • Barbara: I imagine Natasha Rostova wearing a light, powdery perfume like Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige. September 4, 2012 at 8:22am Reply

      • Victoria: I can just imagine her waltzing in her white gown and trailing Teint de Neige! 🙂 September 4, 2012 at 1:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bulgari is a great choice if you want something tea like! It’s one of my favorites too.

      If you liked Orange Sanguine and Grand Neroli, you will enjoy the citrusy freshness of Grand Neroli. It’s a more of a citrus at first, with vetiver coming in later. September 4, 2012 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Ines: Nice. Another vetiver for me to fall for. 🙂
    I don’t know why but I really enjoy vetiver perfumes. I find them very easy to love so I do. September 4, 2012 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I enjoy vetiver very much. It’s so complex, I can even wear some diluted oil and find that it’s nuanced enough. But a nicely done vetiver is always a pleasure to discover. September 4, 2012 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Oh i really really like The sound of that! Thanks Victoria. As autumn loomed I find myself wanted to smell more “earthy”. But I don’t like on me the fragrance to be too dry. I still need some sort of softness. This is why I am enjoying so much premier Figuier and crystalle at the moment. And I like the sound of vetiver fatal. Also I absolutely ADORE your china! So pretty!
    I though of you this morning as I went shopping. I walked pass the perfume shop and tried on Santal Majuscule which is your summer scent. It is very very pretty! But strangely after 45 mins, it reminded me hugely of Flowerbomb??? Do you see this or is my uneducated nose playing up again?? September 4, 2012 at 9:17am Reply

    • Barbara: Anne, I was going to mention V’s china too. It reminds me of my mom’s tea set. Sadly my sisters and I broke most of it when we played “coffee house” as kids. 🙁 September 4, 2012 at 9:35am Reply

      • Victoria: I can relate to your sadness, Barbara. This tea cup and the saucer are the only two pieces remaining from the set. The rest got shattered during shipment. Oh well… Now, it’s my cup of choice for the breakfast or my afternoon cup of tea. A little daily luxury. September 4, 2012 at 1:15pm Reply

        • Patt: Victoria, there’s always Replacements Ltd., a very reputable firm that carries discontinued china, sterling, crystal, etc. at
          I’ve used them in the past with success. September 4, 2012 at 8:11pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you very much, Patt! This set may not be worth replacing (that’s why I took a chance with shipping it), but my mom has a set that needs some work. I will send her the link. September 5, 2012 at 3:57am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s your fine-tuned nose, Anne! There is definitely the caramelized sweetness (+musk) in the drydown of Santal Majuscule. And I know that some people complained that it was too sweet on them.

      If you don’t want a vetiver that’s too earthy, Vetiver Fatal is a nice choice. It’s quite fresh, cologne-like all throughout.

      Thank you! This is all I have remaining from a set of Limoges cups. I’m disappointed they didn’t make it, but then again, as the Russians say when something breaks, “it’s for good luck.” September 4, 2012 at 1:12pm Reply

      • Anne Sheffield: We ( France) have the same saying for glass,,, it s good luck. I suspect it’s his saying has been created to ease heartache of people like me when breaking a special glass….. It s like walking in dog poo…. We say it s good luck!!!! Seriously how is that!!! Kiss September 5, 2012 at 2:18am Reply

        • Victoria: I was laughing so hard when I heard that one. Same as in Italy with the bird droppings. Well, one might as well look on the bright side, right? 🙂 Everything is in the attitude to life. September 5, 2012 at 4:10am Reply

  • Austenfan: This sounds gorgeous! I love vetiver and really liked their Orange Sanguine.
    It’s been a while since I last read War and Peace and if memory serves me right Natasha eventually married someone else and had lots of children? ( with Bolkonsky dying of his wounds).
    To fit her person I am thinking of an aldehydic floral? L’Ame Soeur perhaps?

    I envy you because I am assuming you can read Tolstoy in Russian. September 4, 2012 at 9:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Orange Sanguine is my favorite, and I really like citrusy vetivers. I like smoky, dark ones too, but this little number is such a charmer. Very easy to wear too.

      I once read Anna Karenina in French as part of one of my language classes, and it felt so wrong! But I think that there are some excellent translations available.

      BTW, I liked this article from Salon about reading Anna Karenina:
      I also saw a Mariinsky Ballet production of Anna Karenina last year, and it was mesmerizing. September 4, 2012 at 3:35pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Thanks for the link to that article, funny and quite insightful.
        I know loads of things get literally lost in translation but in this case I have no choice. Wouldn’t it be great though to be able to read 1001 nights in Arabic, Tolstoy in Russian, Decamerone and Dante in Italian and so on. September 4, 2012 at 4:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: That would be wonderful. I also read lots of works in translation, and you know, having read Shakespeare in Russian (in a wonderful translation by Boris Pasternak), I had a difficult time getting into it in the original! I did eventually, but even now as I read Hamlet, Pasternak’s cadences are still in my mind. September 4, 2012 at 6:42pm Reply

      • Daisy: I saw the Mariinsky Ballet when they came to New York last year. Amazing. So different from what I had seen before! I loved it. September 5, 2012 at 12:09am Reply

        • Victoria: That’s when I saw them perform. Amazing how each dancer in the troop is just exquisite, from head to toe. Did you see Anna Karenina with Ulyana Lopatkina in the lead?
          Also, I hope that Natalia Osipova will return to guest next season. If you have a chance, do see her perform. In my opinion, she’s the best classical dancer on stage today–artistic, musical, technically perfect. September 5, 2012 at 4:06am Reply

  • Mikael: Thank you for the review Victoria, I’m eagerly waiting for my samples to arrive, even though I haven’t really been impressed with the Atelier Cologne -line so far. About the perfumer: Isn’t it Jerome Epinette? I’ve read an interview with him where he talks about both VF and RA as his creations… September 4, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, Mikael, you’re right! It’s a Robertet fragrance.

      I think that if you don’t care for the style of Atelier Cologne, this fragrance won’t sway either. It has a similar aesthetic. But if you like citrusy, fresh scents with different twists, it might be something to discover. September 4, 2012 at 3:37pm Reply

  • Ari: Sounds fabulous, Victoria. I can’t wait for your review of the Rose one, too! Schweiger is so talented, isn’t he? He’s been very picky with his projects, and the result is that I love literally every perfume he’s done. September 4, 2012 at 10:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Sorry for the mix-up, Ari! The perfumer is Jerome Epinette. I realized my mistake as soon as I published the post, but due to the nature of my caching system, the changes don’t register right away.
      But anyway, yes, Ralf Schwieger’s work is very impressive. Hermes Eau des Merveilles, Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose and Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu are my favorites of his. September 4, 2012 at 3:40pm Reply

  • MB: “Somber darkness?” “Earthy damp bite?” V, you are truly the Nabokov of the Nose (w/ a respectful nod to Gogol)! The scent of vetiver is one of my earliest olfactory memories – my grandmother used to put ribboned bundles of it b/tw the sheets in her linen closet in Mississippi. And Barbara has sent me off on a whimsical train of thought. If Natasha Rostova were w/ us today (literally and figuratively), what perfumes would be in her collection? Hmmmmm… September 4, 2012 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Given my admiration of Nabokov’s writing, I could not have received a better compliment. Thank you so much for saying it, even though I feel that my writing definitely needs much more work.

      I love that your grandmother had bundles of vetiver in her linen closet. I have a small sachet that I keep in mine. It’s the best scent.

      Somehow I don’t see Natasha Rostova as a signature perfume kind of gal. She might be more inclined to change scents, at least in her younger, more impetious days. September 4, 2012 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Kristina: Victoria, this sounds great indeed! I LOVE vetiver – my favorite being probably Chanel’s Sycomore. How does it compare to Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire? September 4, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: A totally different beast, Kristina! It’s more of a fresh, citrusy cologne, whereas Vetiver Extraordinaire is dark, chocolate-like and rich. But I enjoy both, depending on my moods. September 4, 2012 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Alyssa: Sold! This sounds fabulous from beginning to end, V. Though one of your reviews could probably get me to dab on cider vinegar…

    I only hope it doesn’t have the same woody base that I seem to be hypernosmic to in the other Ateliers. Can’t wear Orange Sanguine at all. September 4, 2012 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a sweet thing to say, Alyssa. 🙂
      It’s different, for sure. The only thing that’s similar is the freshness. I would be curious what you think about it. September 4, 2012 at 3:51pm Reply

    • smellslikeroses: I also can’t wear Orange Sanguine. It smells like sour orange juice on me, and that’s not how I want to smell. September 4, 2012 at 5:48pm Reply

  • Alyssa: P.S. Speaking of your persuasive powers, I ordered samps of the Guerlain Desert trio and am completely smitten with them. Thanks, I think. September 4, 2012 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m happy that you’ve discovered and enjoyed them! For my part, I don’t think that I will splurge on the bottles anytime soon, because they are expensive and I don’t have room in my budget for that kind of purchase. I will just enjoy my decants for now. But I’m so glad that Guerlain made something so beautiful and memorable. September 4, 2012 at 3:52pm Reply

  • marsi: Vetiver Fatale sounds so me! I love citrusy colognes. And … Prince Andrey is my favorite War and Peace character. :))

    Have a nice day everyone! September 4, 2012 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s meant to be then, Marsi! Please let me know if Vetiver Fatal fits your idea of Prince Andrei’s character. 🙂 September 4, 2012 at 3:53pm Reply

      • marsi: I will, Victoria! War and Peace is my mom’s favorite book, but we read it only in Spanish. I’m sure it’s even more special in Russian. September 4, 2012 at 5:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: We have a Spanish family friend who ended up learning Russian to read the classics in the original. And he always encouraged me to learn Spanish to appreciate the beauty of Don Quixote. But at least, we read these books, in whatever language we can. September 4, 2012 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Lucas: Victoria, I’m so happy you like Vetiver Fatal. I samples it last week and as much as I don’t like vetiver I found this fragrance to be something I can wear peacefully.

    But Rose Anonyme caught my attention immediately and I’m buying this beauty as soon as my local niche perfumery will have it and they will soon (the owner told me)

    You can see my complimentary review on my blog so that you can know everything about the newest Atelier Cologne perfume duet.

    Victoria and I, we both provide news that complement each other 🙂 September 4, 2012 at 1:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Lucas!
      Do you like other Atelier Cologne fragrances? September 4, 2012 at 3:54pm Reply

      • Lucas: Yes, I fancy Grand Neroli and also Ambre Nue is a pretty nice scent I think. September 5, 2012 at 3:14am Reply

        • Victoria: Grand Neroli is such a nice orange blossom. When I run out of Annick Goutal Neroli, that might be my replacement for it. September 5, 2012 at 4:11am Reply

          • Lucas: That would be an excellent replacement, especially that Atelier Cologne really offers good prices for their fragrances. September 5, 2012 at 5:56am Reply

  • Erin: I’m wearing Vetiver Fatal as I read this. On me, it’s so orangey and tart, even in the drydown. I think I need a full bottle.
    Totally unrelated, but I love that Atelier Cologne offers the 30ml sizes. Why don’t more perfume houses do that? September 4, 2012 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love the orange notes in it too. Such a nice touch.

      I really wish that more perfume houses issues small bottles, but I think that for reasons of packaging and cost, it’s not also a feasible option. In this case, it’s perfect. I like having a wardrobe of these light scents and to throw one of the little bottles in my purse when I travel. September 4, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Suzy Q: Thanks for reviewing this! I have tried almost all the Atelier Colognes. My favorite is Grand Neroli, which I wear in the summer. Second best is Vanille Insensee, which I wear in the fall. Vetiver Fatal is a new favorite. Disclaimer: I like vetiver of any stripe, some more than others. At first sniff this one reminded me of Vetiver Tonka, however when I compared the two, VT was much raspier and VF was smoother and sweeter. I also love that VF never gets “sour” on me. Someone on Cafleurbon mentioned the same thing. This one stays very upbeat.

    Vetiver Fatal smells like a cocktail I would like to drink! September 4, 2012 at 7:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: “Vetiver Fatal smells like a cocktail I would like to drink!” This is a perfect description, Suzy. 🙂

      By the way, the first time I tried Vetiver Fatal, I immediately thought of Vetiver Tonka, but as I wore it longer, I found it easy to wear and more polished. Vetiver Tonka is a favorite, but it does have that heavier earthy note. September 5, 2012 at 3:56am Reply

  • Elena: I love your photo, as usual. The way you captured the light of late summer is truly wonderful. That is the perfume that I would most wish for: early autumn light which is so golden already, then filtered through the turning leaves. September 4, 2012 at 10:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Elena! It was taken in the morning. I put my book down, started making breakfast, and then I realized that the golden light was so unusual and grabbed my camera. These early fall mornings are the best part of the season. September 5, 2012 at 4:03am Reply

  • Daisy: When I first smelled the pair, I gravitated more to Rose Anonyme at first. But after a time, I found myself more and more drawn to Vetiver Fatal. Surprising since vetiver can be a little challenging for me!

    I just found it so edible. And wearable too, like the whole line. It might be my perfect fall scent. September 5, 2012 at 12:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly how I felt about it. As I wore Rose Anonyme longer, I realized that it’s not as exciting–it starts out as a rose and ends as a rose, whereas Vetiver Fatal is more prone to changing on skin. That’s my favorite part. I love when a perfume keeps me guessing, even if it’s something as simple as a citrus-vetiver cologne.

      I like Atelier Cologne line overall–decent prices for a niche line, good quality, varied collection. September 5, 2012 at 4:09am Reply

  • Lucas: Atelier Cologne’s facebook profile advertises your review! 🙂 September 6, 2012 at 10:58am Reply

  • Joan: I liked this one too. I thought it was very clear, unlike most vetivers. I guess the citrus is a better explanation. September 9, 2012 at 4:28pm Reply

  • Ferris: Never smelled a vetiver perfume before, I have to get a decant or sample of this to tery it out. October 23, 2012 at 7:50am Reply

  • Gohr: I recently bought some smaples from Atelier Cologne and Vetivier Fatal is a winner.
    For me the initial citrusy smell is so appealing but it changes into a very warm and comforting, but descreet smell. This is so much a me scent. I love it. October 30, 2013 at 8:52am Reply

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