Bois de Vétiver by Karl Lagerfeld is the masculine entry in his debut launch of a duo in Les Parfums Matières. It is much more interesting than the feminine counterpart. We wrote a review about Fleur de Pêcher yesterday, which attempted to understand the thrust of the fragrance. On a sensory and sensual level however, Bois de Vétiver is much more a simply satisfying proposition...
This is a good vetiver perfume composition by Christophe Raynaud of Firmenich. You will tell me that good vetivers are a dime a dozen. True. But what makes this scent here stand out from the competition is in how enveloping its musky sillage is. "Enveloping" is the key operating word here. It's also a musky vetiver.
If you think of "sillage", you might visualize something like a lasso or a serpentine trail. With Bois de Vétiver, the sillage is like an egg-shaped invisible cubicle which surrounds you close and high while blowing back felicitous puffs of perfume for hours of enjoyment. It won't surprise you with an unpredictable development, nor plumbs the depths of your psyche, but it will be all vetiver to you like someone giving you an arm to lean on when you need vetiver-ship to traverse a few hours of the day or night. It behaves like a companion or a favorite book, whose presence and shape is familiar, but not stolid - on the contrary, always witty and on-point, as far as vetiver perfume is concerned.
Its opening is bright thanks to a range of perky and rather luminous notes: pink grapefruit, blood orange, crushed mint leaves, discreetly rosy geranium. Then, the fragrance becomes also suave, warm and evocative of skin, with Ambrox, patchouli, vetiver - but also the effect described as a "warm musky accord," which on paper sounds inoffensive enough, but which on skin is what makes - and doesn't break - the fragrance composition, lifting it above the mundane level of the blahs and the yet-another-vetiver-for-men utterances. It includes touches of almondy tonka bean - and how could it be otherwise with Raynaud, who is one of the authors of 1 Million by Paco Rabanne - now an icon of masculine perfumery. But the tonka is really subordinated to that extremely well-designed "warm musky accord."
Bois de Vétiver eau de toilette, while originally destined to men, is eminently borrowable by women, just like the classic Vétiver de Guerlain was and is, which taught women how to disregard gender labels.
The scent's trademark is that it performs great. We've noted before that the notion of "performance" seems to guide the creation of men's perfumes more than for women's scents due to cultural biases on gender opposing, say, tin cars to porcelain dolls. Well, what women will get from a vetiver for men hushed down yet ever-present due to Karl Lagerfeld's preference for restrained perfumes, is an elegantly dynamic vetiver, which is predictable, reliable but most of all, enjoyable, thanks to a sophisticated work on contained, durable, sensual diffusion. If this sounds too much like just a cold technological advantage, just rest assured that Bois de Vétiver smells simply good.