Friday, 8 June 2012

Persolaise Review: Vetiver from Roja Parfums (2012) + Pour Femme, Pour Homme & Jaïpur Homme from Boucheron (2012)

Do we really need another vetivert? Well, of course, the answer to that is No, but then, if perfumery were an art form driven by nothing more than need, it wouldn't have evolved beyond the point at which an amorous caveman decided to cover himself with the pungent secretions of a wild cat. We certainly don't need another vetivert, but we're always on the lookout for one which might shed new light on what is very familiar territory.

Most self-respecting scentusiasts are clear about what they consider their favourite khus fragrances. Guerlain's Vetiver still has many fans, although the general view is that the current formulation is nowhere near as complex and profound as the original. Chanel's Sycomore generates fervent loyalty too, as do Lubin's Vetiver, Lalique's Encre Noir and The Different Company's truly exceptional Sel De Vetiver.

Although it's a crowded field, I dare say Roja Dove has found a way to muscle into it with considerable conviction. When I first heard he was planning to use the fragrant root as the main ingredient in a new perfume, my thoughts immediately turned to his Vetiver candle: leathery, smoky and woody, it is always a joy to burn, filling its surroundings with equal measures of sunshine and primal, volcanic heat. To my delight, Dove clearly agreed that this was a smell worth bottling, because his new Vetiver perfume is essentially the scent of his candle, fleshed out and made more complex.

Naturally, the eponymous material forms the heart of the composition, which means that its prevailing smell is as layered and hard to describe as that of vetivert essential oil itself; Tony Curtis and David Williams go for "sweet", "earthy" and "heavy" in their Introduction To Perfumery, and that's as accurate a set of descriptors as you're likely to find anywhere. But of course it's the flourishes and the decorative touches that set a vetivert scent apart from the competition. Here, Dove has decided to start proceedings with a citrus facet - hardly an original move - but instead of focussing on the usual bergamot, he makes a riskier decision and opts for something that, to my nose, smells decidedly lemon-like. In recent years, the note has fallen out of favour thanks to its overuse in cheaper scents and detergents. However, when employed skilfully, it lends a blue-sky cleanliness that few other materials seem to achieve (check out YSL's Pour Homme Haute Concentration and Boucheron's current formulation of Pour Homme and you'll see what I mean.)

As hinted earlier, beneath all this lies the spirit of the earth: flames, lava, ashes, leather and wood. They form an immovable bedrock which never diverts attention from the vetivert, but manages to attenuate its sweatier, more bitter aspects, the presence of which sometimes spoils other creations in this particular olfactory family.

Dove's masculines often reflect his love of 70s/80s scents for men, to the extent that some younger chaps have claimed to find them slightly uncomfortable to wear. There's a definite hairy-chested feel to Vetiver too, but it never comes across as old-fashioned. If anything, it strikes a note of pretty radical opposition to the pale, depilated, almost feminised torsos which the fashion world tries to inflict on today's men. And what's more, it comes in extrait concentration, thereby driving the point home that this is masculine virility in its most potent form. Only time will tell if it attains the status of the aforementioned classics, but I reckon it's got an excellent chance of being one of Dove's most successful releases... and it's certainly an extraordinary compliment-winner. Seek it out at your earliest opportunity.

In brief... Speaking of the Boucheron, it's worth mentioning that the brand's new management seems to have brought its classic perfumes back into line with their former greatness. In recent years, Pour Femme (1988) and Pour Homme (1991) had tipped over onto the wrong side of the natural/synthetic divide; the former had become screechy and insubstantial, whereas the latter had almost sunk to the level of a KFC wet wipe. In their current guises, they're still large and loud, but they've managed to ditch their trashiness. The ladies' scent is as gigantic an 80s floral as you could ever hope to find, and the gents' is back on form as an authoritative statement on 'man of a certain age' refinement. Jaïpur Homme (1997) had remained in pretty decent shape throughout the L'Oréal years, and it's still wonderful: a sweet, powdery, resinous attempt to add genuine sensuality to masculine orientals. The EDP concentration is worth travelling some distance to sample.

[Review of Vetiver based on a sample of extrait provided by Roja Parfums in 2012; reviews of Boucheron scents based on samples of eau de parfum and eau de toilette provided by Boucheron in 2012.]



  1. I left a comment on another post but do not know if it successfully posted.

    You may remember me as the writer on several pieces on Basenotes particulary "Emily Lucrezia and Zelda" which you were kind enough to note.I no longer write my blog as the day job world and demands of my husbands recent surgeries have consumed most of my time.

    However, I am delighted to see you here and writing as I love your insights, intelligent approach to your writing and the obvious passion you have for all things fragrance related. Your knowledge is impressive and I am sure to be one of your most devoted fans!

    Your kind comments on my modest writing skills were such a wonderful gift to me during a most difficult time of my life and I regretted not having been in better contact with you. I was elated to see you have a blog as I think you will become an important scent blogger, your style and passion stand out from the hordes of others who cannot capture the heart and joy that you have about perfume.

    In honor of you I have donned Nuit de Noel today at the heighth of a hot summer day...a wonderful contrast to the light and airy scents others have chosen and a tribute to you and the dear words you sent regarding a piece I had written "Christmas Eve 1922"

    Have a wonderful Holiday and love from the states, from me my husband and our two rescued and now horridly spoile boxers...Vito and Mannie.

    best regards to youand yours dear Persolaise!

    1. Michelle, your other comment was published. Once again, thanks for writing.


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