In my ongoing perfume quest, experience keeps teaching me that a single note may possess multiple personalities. Vetiver, for instance, presents two contradictory faces, each reflecting a different level of civility. One, watery and pale, hand-knots its own bowtie and enjoys a super-chilled martini before dinner. The other, smoky and feral, drinks its whisky neat from a Mexican silver hip flask and sports permanent squint lines from staring into the sun. Occasionally, as with today's scent, there's a bit of each to be found in the same bottle-- concealed behind a poker face.
Attempting to judge which kind of vetiver you're going to get by the notes that surround it can get a perfumista into trouble. My pre-purchase skim-over of Etro Vetiver's scent elements suggested a scent rigged out for a Sergio Leone-style bandolero. Instead, I found Bret Maverick dressed in his gentlemanly best, prepared to overturn all my preconceptions with one winning hand.
Did he succeed? Or was he bluffing?
Etro Vetiver begins with quite a striking burnt-brown note that puts me in mind of boot leather imbued with Brazil nut oil. (Yes please!) This is quickly replaced (Wait... what?!) with a vetiver as pale and metallic as pump water in a tin cup. It's an interesting segue, if also confusing, rather like a song that switches tempo from polka to waltz mid-verse. If you don't see the change coming, you end up in a tangle on the dance floor. As the main accord dries down, it becomes grassier, fresher. Then an apple-tobacco note peeks in-- never fully entering the room before it fades out with all the rest. As I watch Etro Vetiver ride into the sunset, I'm left with many pleasant impressions... but I feel as if I never knew him, and fleeting impressions don't make for a clear remembrance.
Though it ain't too durn bad, Etro Vetiver is just... not all that. I won't go so far as to say this outlaw's made of straw. But he doesn't quite rate a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster, either.
Scent Elements: Artemisia, clary sage, cypress, cedar, tobacco, Bourbon vetiver