Vetiver by Alessio

I’d like to get started by discussing one of my favourite ingredients VETIVER.

I have a vial of pure, intoxicating, exotic, Vetiver oil and when I take a deep sniff of it, I immediately get transported to British occupied Burma… I am sprawled on a day bed, in a humid, thatched military outpost. A white robed Burmese servant wafts cool
vetiver-scented-air across my sweat-drenched Victorian uniform with his palm-leaf-fan. Vetiver originates in India, not too far from Burma (modern day Myanmar), so this recollection of what must be my past life is not too inaccurate.

I would like to discuss two of my favourite Vetivers:

Vetiver by Guerlain (created in 1959 by Jean-Paul Guerlain) and Grey Vetiver (created in 2009 by Tom Ford) are very similar as you would expect them to be and they are both masterpieces in my opinion.

Guerlain’s Vetiver Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver
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Top Notes: Bergamot, Coriander, Lemon, Mandarin, Nutmeg and Neroli

Heart Notes: Vetiver, Cedarwood, Orris root and Sage;

Base Notes: Some more Vetiver, Tobacco, Walnuts, Pepper, Amber, Myrrh and Tonka bean.

 Top Notes: Grapefruit, orange blossom and sage

Heart Notes:  Pimento, Orris root and Nutmeg;

Base Notes: Vetiver, Woods, Amber and Oak moss.


Prominent ingredients:  Vetiver, Tobacco and Bergamot Prominent ingredients:  Vetiver, Woods and Citrus



Both fragrances share many ingredients, hence their strong similarity.

So which is better?

Well it depends on what is important to you.

TF’s GV is saltier and more coastal. so we have left the military outpost and are now sitting in the shade of a palm tree, watching gold medallions shimmering on the still water. I am still being delicately fanned, but this time it is a gentle, salty sea breeze.

TF’s GV is much stronger and much longer lasting than Guerlain’s. Also, it has a more distinct woody note, whereas, Guerlain’s is more subtly blended. TF’s GV developes wonderfully on your skin, becoming more a part of you as the day goes by. There are moments in the beginning that the scent can be a bit cloying, with too much pencil-shaving interrupting the Vetiver. But when the woody notes, citrus and vetiver get used to each other’s company, it is glorious and irresistible – it is very similar to Guerlain’s Vetiver BUT, with a sexy body and a youthful joy in its heart. The beautiful journey comes to an enduring end 24 hours later after a sweaty set of tennis and a shower while still evoking a beach sunset.

Guerlain’s Vetiver is more elaborately composed yet offers simplicity. And in this case less is certainly more. It smells exotic and authentic. It’s the smell of the Burmese outpost: thatch, humidity, sweat and jungle. It does not evolve that much which is confusing as it has almost double the amount of ingredients than TF’s. Perhaps this is due to the mastery by Jean-Paul Guerlain. it starts off manly and ends (all-be-it much too soon) manly. Its longevity is way too short and disappointing. Or maybe that is its allure? It, I suppose, epitomises my Burmese day-dream. It is a short clip of a movie. The reason we watch the movie at all. It’s a warm space. It’s a personal space. Only for me and the dreams I have on my divan.