Longtime readers know I'm a vetiver fiend, so I was excited when I heard about the new Vetiver Attars from Los Angeles based aromatherapist and perfumer Persephenie. They're attars in which the florals (and other notes) are hydro-distilled into a base of vetiver oil instead of the more traditional sandalwood. And those of you who read the original announcement might remember that they're expensive — $64 each for 4 ml — as is generally the case when a small indie brand is doing their own distilling (Strange Invisible Perfumes being another example).* I tried all five; here are brief reviews of three: Blue Lotus, Parijata and Tuberose.
The blue lotus flower is considered sacred, representing clarity, devotion, and prosperity. The Blue Lotus Vetiver Attar is the exquisitely scented blue lotus flower hydro-distilled into vetiver essential oil.
This is the mildest of the five fragrances, and the cleanest, although it does have a slightly spicy, slightly fruity undertone, especially in the early stages. I don't know if this is the same blue lotus as Nymphaea caerulea, but it smells a lot like water lily, or at least, like the water lily note commonly found in perfumes. The top notes are simply lovely, but it gets milder and fainter as it wears on skin. Within the hour, vetiver is the prominent note, with just a tinge of something vaguely floral — if you don't particularly like vetiver to begin with, Blue Lotus may not have enough floral oomph to tempt you. Even "plain" vetiver oil smells great to me so I found this one enjoyable, but it didn't really capture my heart.
The parijata flower (also known as Coral Jasmine) is a night blooming blossom that grows on a small tree. Its scent has been compared to a combination of orange flower and jasmine. Ethereal and narcotic, parijata is considered a wish fulfilling gem. The fallen aromatic flowers are collected from the ground and placed on altars as an offering in India.
The description is accurate: Parijata smells like orange blossom and jasmine, although I'd reverse the order: the opening is a like a gorgeously rich (and yes, narcotic) jasmine, then as it warms on skin, it slowly gets brighter, cleaner, and closer to something like orange blossom, with its typically soapy edge. A couple drops of Parijata lasts for ages, and the florals stay strong and deep throughout, with a beautifully spicy undertone. My favorite of the five: lovely, and highly recommended.
The tuberose flower is picked immediately before the buds open. It's powerful fragrant flowers continue to exhale their mesmerizing scent long after they have been plucked.
Tuberose is another one of my favorite notes, and the Persephenie version has the typical odd-but-satisfying opening of a tuberose-heavy fragrance: almost wintergreen, with a touch of Bandaid. When that fades, it comes closer to the exotic hothouse flower. I loved this one for an hour or so, but over time, it doesn't maintain its floral depth as well as the Parijata, so that the vetiver takes over. I kept reapplying to amp up the intensity of the tuberose.
Verdict: These are interesting and nicely done, although if you don't like vetiver, you may not find it worth your while to sample. Although they're expensive, as a general rule you really do need only a few drops at a time, so the 4 ml bottle would probably last longer than you might think. If money were no object, I'd buy the Parijata and Tuberose. If I could have just one, I'd take the Parijata. Since money is very much an object, I won't buy either, but I'm going to use every drop of my samples and miss them when they're gone.
The other two fragrances in the group simply did not work for me. Kewda promised "bright hypnotic notes of hyacinth and honey" but smelled oddly unpleasant (and nothing like hyacinth) on my skin. Persephenie says Hina "has all the nuances of a well rounded perfume", and that's true, but the blend of sweet and earthy notes wasn't "me" — still, I wouldn't be surprised if this one was a general favorite, and it was definitely the longest lasting of the five. If your tastes run more to orientals than florals, Hina is probably your best bet.
Persephenie makes some other products I'd love to try, including Rose & Frankincense pastilles, Nanu Lei butter scented with gardenia, Neroli Body Oil and several perfumes. Please comment if you've tried anything from the brand!
The Persephenie Vetiver Attars can be found at Beautyhabit in $64 each for 4 ml.
* As nozknoz points out in the comments, it's not really clear from the website whether the brand is actually doing their own distilling or purchasing the finished product elsewhere, so I should not have used the wording "doing their own distilling".