Some days my nose seeks "scent quiet." I'm not speaking of a "quiet scent" but a simple one — nothing complex. It always helps to have single-note colognes (or ones with just a few ingredients) handy, fragrances made with high-quality materials that take simplicity into luxury-land. Last week, I visited the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, and I started my day there at Nitobe Memorial Garden. The Zen garden was fresh, washed by a recent rain shower; the beds of moss, evergreens, azaleas, maples, and new blades of iris provided many shades of green. The damp, dim space was made even more romantic by the sounds of birds, streams, and a small waterfall. Only a few "specks" of non-green caught the eye, courtesy of rough stones, bark, weathered wood, cherry blossoms and orange koi. Whenever I visit this garden, I don't want to leave...I want to linger and experience it at night, imagining the stone lanterns glowing from within, the areas around them golden with the light from oil lamps or candles.
After this contemplative beginning to my day, it was off to noisy downtown Vancouver for lunch and some retail exercise. I visited with Nazrin at The Perfume Shoppe, bought a bottle of Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette (not available in the U.S.) and while browsing at Holt Renfrew's men's cologne boutique I smelled something wonderful in the air. My nose shouted, in recognition, "VETIVER!" and my eyes zeroed in on the fragrance counter where I saw a stout bottle of Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze Haitian Vetiver. Sure enough, that's what I was smelling.
Vetiver is one of my favorite notes in perfumery and I was lucky to be shopping with a friend who also loves vetiver; in India, my friend's mother wore unadulterated khus (vetiver) oil — it was her signature scent, worn especially on furnace-hot days in Delhi. My friend and I smiled as we sniffed my Haitian Vetiver-doused arm.
Haitian Vetiver is the sixth fragrance in the Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze collection, six perfumes based on six "star" ingredients (Italian Bergamot, Florentine Iris, Indonesian Oud, Javanese Patchouli, Sicilian Mandarin) and all contain a dose of "Zegna bergamot" (from a bergamot orchard whose output is controlled by Zegna). Haitian Vetiver starts off with a wave of bergamot, followed closely by rich vetiver, vetiver that's accented with even more rootiness (thanks to carrot seed/orris) than it possesses on its own. Subtly twinkling, and enlivening the vetiver, is a touch of neroli. The focus of Haitian Vetiver IS vetiver: vetiver enshrined amidst "blurred" aromatic offerings. The moment I wore Haitian Vetiver I knew it would be perfect for a "scent-quiet" day; it's a "Zen garden" perfume.
I love Haitian Vetiver and am considering buying a bottle — at the moment I have "only" three vetivers in-house: Frédéric Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire, Lalique Encre Noir and Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver (my all-time favorite vetiver). Like those vetiver scents, Haitian Vetiver feels dressy but relaxed..."dressy-casual?"; its character is somewhere between vintage Guerlain Vetiver and Vetiver Extraordinaire, but it has more buoyancy and sparkle than either of those perfumes. If your perfume cabinet is full of vetiver fragrances, you may not need Haitian Vetiver; sniff before you buy. If you "know" vetiver inside-out, adore it, and need a great vetiver scent: I recommend Haitian Vetiver.
Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze Haitian Vetiver has good lasting power and close-to-the-body sillage; it's $195 for 125 ml and is available at select Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York stores, or at Bloomingdales and Ermenegildo Zegna boutiques. Watch the very Italian (slightly sentimental/theatrical) video for the Essenze collection here.
Note: top image is Nitobe Memorial Garden via Wikimedia Commons.