Givenchy recently launched a new collection of fragrances called Les Parfums Mythiques (Mythical Fragrances), which includes a library of ten perfumes that were recalled from the prestigious past of the house. They are for the men's fragrances, Vetyver (the first Givenchy masculine scent), Monsieur de Givenchy, Xeryus, Insensé; women's scents are: L'Interdit, Le De, Givenchy III, Eau de Givenchy, Extravagance d'Amarige, and Organza Indécence. Certain perfumes had become true rarities. Vetyver is one of them; it comes enshrouded with the aura of legend as one of the best vetiver fragrances ever made.
Hubert de Givenchy recently explained in an interview with L'Express that he would wear at the time a vetiver fragrance by Mary Chess, but always thought it to be at the same time a bit too strong. Therefore the project started off with the notion of bringing an improvement to an already existing fragrance.
Mary Chess was a small company established in 1932 by Grace Mary Chess Robinson, an American natural perfumer living in London who made all her fragrances herself using only natural ingredients. The house had a reputation for high-quality perfumes.* It is noteworthy to point out - although Givenchy does not mention it in the interview - that the original Givenchy Eau de Vétiver (1959) came two years after the trend-setting Vétiver by Carven created in 1957. In 1961 Guerlain would take up the challenge of offering their own vetiver perfume simply called Vétiver as well and now a classic.
The recreation of Eau de Vétiver as the new Vetyver lives up to its reputation as an exceptional vetiver fragrance. It is a very pure vetiver fragrance whose composition is all subtlety and refinement offering a contrast between the earthy character of the vetiver, attentively polished here, an enlivening yet discreet hesperidic facet, and more unexpectedly, a perfectly balanced creamy texture redolent of a coffee-like smell and dark leafy, rooty, and woodsy nuances.
It is very pure because the vetiver note has been included at all stages of development of the fragrance and gives the main cue. In other compositions the vetiver seems to be more part of a bouquet of sensations. According to Givenchy's ad copy," Eau de Vétyver is in line with the current trend of refined, niche, fragrances built around one single ingredient." Elegance, economy, and restraint are the key words here while a certain rich feel, more often found in design fragrances, is also present in this case.
The potentially rougher facets of the vetiver appear as if sifted through a silk handkerchief and are very restrained. Citrus-y touches entering fashionably late liven up the scent and are fragrant enough to approximate the sensation of crushed fresh citronella stems. All this is wrapped up in a sumptuous cashmere-like texture, both dry and creamy, with coffee and nutty nuances and a savory undercurrent that borders on the smell of coconut. The dry-down lets the refined piquancy of sandalwood come to the fore and there are also, it seems, certain discreet aldehydic nuances reminiscent of Givenchy III or L'Interdit. It sometimes feels like a chypre when one forgets one is wearing Vétyver.
Vetyver is a superbly elegant fragrance and one would think a must-have for vetiver lovers as well as seekers of refined, high-brow, elitist perfumes. The scent although marketed as a men's fragrance is very much a unisex perfume and simply uniquely attractive.
Top notes are bergamot, vetyver; heart notes are coriander leaves, vetyver; base notes are sandalwood, vetyver.
Givenchy has recently opened a commercial website called Parfums Givenchy and Les Parfums Mythiques are available through it. You can also read an article in French about the novel online marketing strategy of Givenchy on Le Journal du Net.
Les Parfums mythiques are also available at Harrods and Nordstrom.
(Source: The Perfume Handbook by Nigel Groom; image of cuffs from Rare Splendors)