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Bombay Duck London

Diptyque Vetyverio

Perfumer Jean Kerleo – for years the resident ‘nose’ at Jean Patou – once shared with me a trick for conjuring up vetiver, in your memory.  ‘Close your eyes,’ he said, ‘and imagine opening a sack of potatoes.’  Earthy.  Slightly damp.  Even a little dirty, maybe.  Since then, I’ve never smelled a sack of potatoes without, in a Pavlovian way, being reminded of the great vetiver fragrances through history:  Guerlain’s Vetiver (the greatest-ever vetiver scent, notwithstanding its reformulation), Azzaro’s Pure Vetiver, Etro’s version.  (I once smelled Vetiver de Carven, meanwhile, and went into such a deep swoon I almost needed CPR.)  What’s more, since my encounter with Monsieur Kerleo,  I’ve never got a whiff of a vetiver fragrance without – well, thinking of spuds.  Until now.

So:  a warning to fellow vetiveraholics:  Vetyverio, from cult fragrance brand Diptyque, is not quite what it says on the tin.  (Or rather, the nicely chunky spray bottle.)  Not as earthy.  Not as, well, sack-of-potato-y.  Created by Olivier Pescheux, it’s perfectly nice.  Airy. Zesty and radiant, upon first spritz:  the Italian mandarin, the Florida grapefruit, Sicilian lemon and bergamot are all pleasantly present, for a minute or two.

Diptyque, to be fair, do call this a ‘floral vetiver’, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to encounter elements of rose and sweet ylang-ylang, which take it through a sort of fleeting soapy phase (at least on my skin).  And then later, much later, after you’ve almost forgotten you’re wearing it, the vetivers – yes, plural – do finally emerge from their deep, dark hidey-hole.  Distilled from vetiver root, rather than synthesised, there’s Indonesian vetiver (even Diptyque call it ‘rough and splendidly reminiscent of nature unspoilt’), as well as its more delicate cousin, from Haiti.

Allegedly, the vetivers in Vetyverio make up 25% of the formula – but no way do they overpower their fellow base notes:  a dash of nutmeg, a shaving of cedarwood, a breath of clove.  (The clove may be why it reminds me of long-lost Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.)  The bottom line is that the ‘dry-down’ couldn’t be drier if it tried.  More desert than rainforest.  More light than dark. And definitely, more paper bag than damp hessian sack. Allegedly for women and men, I’d go for masculine, no question.  Those with a true fetish for vetiver may want to rootle on the forest floor elsewhere.  But on the other hand, if you aren’t a vetiver junkie, desperate for your next fix, you might just find this very wearable and easy to like.



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