More often than not one is tempted to associate vetiver with masculine fragrances. Fragrances that famously advertize vetiver the rooty, herby ingredient are the likes of Carven Vetiver, Givenchy Vetiver, Guerlain Vetiver, all meant for men. Notwithstanding this olfactory code and convention, we all know that Vétiver by Guerlain was high-jacked by women, signaling a popular protest against such entrenched positions.
In the 1910s-1920s, vetiver was to be found in a number of very feminine fragrances that played the liberated card of the garçonne, such as Caron Violette Précieuse, Tabac Blond, Chanel No.5, Cuir de Russie, Bois des Iles, Molinard Habanita, etc. Later of course Bandit offered a masterful feminine use of vetiver. In the very recent past a number of perfumes have demonstrated that vetiver can add femininity and sexiness to a fragrance and the trend is picking up as evidenced by a series of new releases in both niche and design lines........
Vetiver is in fact used to add, not a clean edge, but on the contrary a sexy one in feminine perfumes. It is the ingredient that will differentiate the women from the girls adding a connotation of lived life rather than childlike nostalgia though the added dryness and sobriety it gives a perfume. No more giggles please, but a pondering mind instead (no offense meant, we all go through a giggling stage - she who has not giggled throw the first stone). Vetiver in this manner can be showcased with its sexy smoky overtones that rather than just suggesting your dad's cologne will evoke the image of a seductress talking in a slightly raspy voice while blowing a cloud of smoke in the direction of her consenting victim. Its sometimes leathery intensity adds a suggestion of animality and sensuality that is more understated than that of patchouli.
Agent Provocateur used a significant proportion of Haitian vetiver in their debut fragrance and their latest Strip showcases an intense vetiver that is almost leathery (Bourbon vetiver?). Guerlain is re-launching a feminine version of their famous Vétiver, called Vétiver pour Elle. Prada Infusion d'Iris also relied on vetiver to add character to a classic feminine fragrance with a modernized feel. And P. Diddy, despite all his talk on submissive women, is all for vetiver in a women's fragrance as the latest Unforgivable for Woman is counting on a noticeable vetiver dry-down to leave a sexy trail behind the woman who will wear it.
(Photo of vetiver fan by Ayala Moriel)