Vétiver - Guerlain

Vétiver - Guerlain

Vétiver - Guerlain


by Jean-Paul Guerlain

for Guerlain

The diligent reader –and we know there are some amongst you- will assuredly ask himself where does our irrationnal attraction towards islands come from ? An old trauma ? An unquenched fantasy ? Could it not be the simple desire to rediscover the freedom of our childhood ?

Indeed. Indeed it is.

Some think of an isle as a prison. There is much to be afraid of, when standing forlorn at the end of an arid peak, resisting as the wuthering winds howl and whip up foam, blanching tremendous billows as they crash upon the rocky shores. Some would say one can’t escape from an island. There is nothing but the sea, the sea immense, the bittersea which knows no end, bearing the colour of sable or wine or bile. To a French eye, an isle is either Molène or Saint-Helen, barren or remote. For us, it is rather haven or shrine. Only there, in this solitude amidmost, confronted with the elements in their rawest form, bereft of any comfort whatsoever, can we remember how small we are and how good it is to be alive.

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Vétiver ? Vetigreen !

Too long have we glossed on this perfume, letting it fall into oblivion, deeming it worthy only of our grandparents the darkness of our cabinets, before seeing its return to favour. Lo ! We dust it, we give it back its brutality, its dryness, its utter sensuality ; erasing from our memories the image of a clean, sharp and downright posh perfume that we had given it. Vetiver renews itself whilst Guerlain remains.

He remains and God bless him because his vetiver is, in many respects, one of the most beautiful, if not the most, on the market. Few others compete with Vetiver, although it stands, in our nosinion, yet to be defeated. Because it smells nothing like the dainty bourgeois of South-Kensington people would like it to be. On the contrary. Vetiver, to us, smells like the isle of Bréhat, with its ragged shores of pink sandstone, its gardens bursting with flowers, with palm trees and azaleas, oleanders and hydrangeas.

Remember remember : the northern island come summer’s eve ? The host of tourists fell back whence it came, the isle’s deserted. The moor empties, russets the heath. The tree ferns and the muddy trail, the mills, the beacons, the tors and the waters – clear as a crystal.

Remember, remember the green in summer ? The slope behind the privateers’ mansions ? The chapels collapsed betwixt brambles and firths, the few cypresses that plunge into the silt, the outbursts of stone hauling out of a lawn – so green.

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Green, green, green, Vétigreen.

Remember, remember, the silence that reigns supreme over the scorching pebbles ? The scent of ocean spray combined with that of southern winds ? The blushing rock and the mother-of-pearl that covered the shells ?

Remember, remember the spinneys of fern that unveil, without notice, the surprise of a sea, sonorous and ferocious, crushing its waves against the cliffs, blushing agin the sun setting.

And the blooming geraniums, and the plumes of smoke rising from the chimneys, and the moss clinging onto the gables, and the scent of bulls in the meadow.

And the blooming orange trees, and the violets along the trail that follows the coast, leading the traveller to the edge of the isle, of the moor, of the world.


Remember, remember the sun and the laughs we shared as we looked for oysters in the shingles and how hastily we crossed the tombolo ere it was submerged by the rising tide.

Have you forgotten ? Has the memory faded already ?

Green, green, green Vetigreen.

It opens up on a bright orange mixed with a crisp bergamote but already and for a long time, one can notice the vetiver. It is fresh, warm, sensual. It vanishes, at night, in your sheets. Like a memory that holds onto you, that got under your skin.

On us, the citrus fruits fade away to reveal a perfect accord of vetiver and tonka bean. The first is dour, round’s the other; the vetiver is light, the second heavier ; one is smokey and the other silky. It never wanders, it remains vetiver. It is vetivisle : one can smell wafts of tobacco coming out of an ajar window, and hints of black pepper which zest remind us of the salty breeze that washes the drying steppe.

It lasts an interesting 12hrs on our skin, a tad linear but fulfilling its task with nobility and without mischief.

It is the scent of an upright soul indeed, because its roundess and generosity would turn sour on an onloving body. It is especially the scent of freedom at ease, of a milestone reached at last, of an epic. The scent of quietude, of a life well-lived. Of a live well carried on.

By a breath.
By a breeze.


The scent of an horizon - afar. Of a shore drawn and shattered and burnt at the break of dawn. Green, green, green.


Vétiver - Guerlain

50, 100, 250ml EDT - from 80$

For more informations, visit their website : www.guerlain.com