If there were ever to be a Perfumista Parade in Paris and Now Smell This were invited to attend, I visualize our long float thus:
Front — Angie, dressed in Ziegfield showgirl style, wearing a feather headdress in the shape of a classic Shalimar parfum bottle, wafting aldehydes and oak moss for blocks, her area adorned with sparkling, large-scale vintage perfume bottles;
Next, on the highest platform — Robin, gardenias in her hair, holding tall sprigs of blossoming tuberose like scepters, sitting amidst a green-and-white extravaganza, created with banks of crisp, shiny green leaves interspersed with jasmine flowers;
Followed by — Jessica, spinning round and round, only her head showing atop a mountain of trembling rose blossoms in every color and variety...and
Bringing up the rear — moi, sitting "cowboy style" on bales of vetiver roots.
Vetiver is one of my favorite perfume materials, and it's presented in all shades and styles: rough/tough and dark (Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver), "sweaty" (Kenzo Air), woody (Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire), sophisticated/classic (Guerlain Vetiver), pale/scrubbed clean (Prada Infusion de Vétiver) or "basic" unadorned vetiver (I could go on and on...so many wonderful vetiver perfumes exist). After wearing Carven Pour Homme, I was anxious to try the new(ish) 2014 version of Carven Vétiver.1
Carven (and its license holder Groupe Jacques Bogart) claims Carven Vétiver2 is an exact reissue of its 1957 fragrance of the same name; supposedly, that Vétiver was created by perfumer Edouard Hache working alongside Carven's founder Carmen de Tommaso ("Madame Carven"...who died at age 105 on Monday.) Carven Vétiver 2014 is most definitely NOT Carven Vétiver 1957. I've worn the 1957 version of Vétiver and new Carven Vétiver smells nothing like it. As Robin noted recently, beauty editors rarely engage in research (an unglamorous and tiresome activity); Carven (or any other powerful advertiser) speaks and beauty editors take dictation, or copy and paste press materials into their articles.
New Carven Vétiver opens "green" with a tropical accord that smells of yuzu-grapefruit with a tingle of tomato leaf...or what Carven may be calling "lemongrass." A rich rose geranium leaf note appears next and lasts for the duration of the perfume: the floral "rose" aspect of geranium leaf is noticeable and becomes a bit soapy as the fragrance dries down. In the heart notes, a smooth, tender/clean vetiver aroma joins the pungent rose geranium; the vetiver slowly intensifies and melds with geranium leaf to produce an almost-smoky rose-vetiver accord. Only in the extreme dry down did I detect almost-solo, light-as-air vetiver mixing with barely-there sandalwood.
Carven Vétiver could have easily been (should have been?) called Carven Géranium (and might have garnered more interest with that name). I tried Carven Pour Homme and Carven Vétiver the same day and...almost...bought a bottle of Carven Vétiver on the spot. I love rose geranium and use it often in food: I make rose geranium syrup and add it to berry jams and jellies; glaze pound cakes with it; add it to cocktails. You can also make tea from rose geranium leaves or scent black tea with them. I don't own a rose geranium perfume, so Carven Vétiver went on my to-buy list (where it will no doubt be lost amidst the other hundred or so perfumes noted there).
Carven Vétiver smells sunny, fresh and summery; it has great lasting power and good sillage (if generously applied).
Carven's two 2014 men's fragrances deserve some attention, but they seem lost and ignored on perfume counters (maybe Americans are not very familiar with the brand?)
The quick poll: what interesting perfumes of the last year do you feel are "hidden in plain sight"...deserving respect and brisk sales, but languishing instead?
Carven Vétiver Eau de Toilette is available in 50 ml ($80) and 100 ml ($102); in the US it can currently be found at Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.
1. Perfumer unknown (unfair!); listed notes of grapefruit, lemongrass, bergamot, orange, lavender, geranium, sandalwood, cedar, benzoin, vetiver.
2. To make things even more confusing, Carven Le Vétiver (2009) was a reinterpretation of the 1957 Carven Vétiver; Le Vétiver has been discontinued.