Daniela Andrier with Infusion de Vetiver by Prada, which just launched, manages to renew our expectations for a vetiver fragrance by making it smell like purity incarnate at first, then the very soul of vetiver descended upon earth. It is probably closer to home however to assume that Infusion de Vetiver is an illustration of the high-luxury belief which holds that even hidden details show on the outside. In fact, luxury, it could be argued, is all about accessing this essence: the sentiment of an experience which is traceable but not observable.
In this manner, the definition of authentic luxury, by relying on near-immateriality and a non-deictic relationship - it never shows off nor points in any obvious visible direction with its index - becomes more akin to the ideal immateriality and vague, invisible yet all-encompassing experience of perfume. Going back to my religious metaphor, I would say that a perfume created with this notion of luxury in mind is closer to its ancient religious and spiritual function when perfume addressed itself to the Invisible....
At first the fragrance seems to have been composed in that typical Prada-Infusion manner suggestive of a stretchable pellucid film material in the hands of perfumer Daniela Andrier who seems to be elongating her Infusions in an ever more refined direction over time. L'Eau Ambrée by Prada is not an Infusion but is visibly influenced by this overall process. Prada Infusion de Vetiver is the masculine counterpart to the equally new Infusion de Tubéreuse in the Ephemeral collection for 2010. Soon however it becomes obvious that this vetiver perfume was entrusted with a much more ambitious and revolutionary mission than its feminine counterpart: to make do with facile and ostentatious hedonistic expectations and remind us somehow of the reign of the immaterial.
Infusion de Vetiver evolves slowly but with distinct, well-delineated blocks of atmospheres which prevent me from saying that it is classically linear. The perfume opens on crystal-clear transparent citrusy and fruity notes. There is a fresh ginger nuance which appears but with a different sort of aroma. It is soft, rooty and fruity and I assume is the purple ginger; it smells a bit like water-chestnut. A subtle addition of orange blossom contributes to the softness and fruitiness. All of this is done in a very understated manner.
What strikes me most after a little while is a sense of incredible purity, like the luminous representations of near-death that are reported by those who have experienced it. The second main passage for me is when a slightly more material vetiver intervenes, warms up on the skin, paired with a minimalist powdery and rooty iris; the Ephemeral Infusions all usually quote the original Infusion d'Iris. Then, the third main state of the fragrance would be the drydown which brings out the black-coffee facet of vetiver while the scents of soft green banana leaves and doughy iris endure spiced up by black pepper. The green facet also rests on a green-violet note very similar to the one found in Violetta di Parma by Borsari 1870 which can be smelled escaping from the cap but is not obvious in the composition.
Infusion de Vetiver offers an absolute sense of purity. Attempting to compare it to the classical vetiver compositions like Vétiver by Guerlain (1961) would be misguided as it is defining its very own original style. The fragrance uses vetiver to offer almost only the faint smoke of it, the faint grassy hint of it, the faint rattan-woods nuance of it. It has nothing to do really with a classical perfumery showcasing the beauty of its ingredients in a rich and ostentatious manner. No, this is a perfumery of pure effect attempting to create a sensation of purity, hidden luxury and fervor and it succeeds superlatively at doing so.
Notes: tarragon, vetiver, Madagascan pepper and purple ginger.