Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, “the offering to the gods, the mystical journey, a basket filled with fruits, flowers, spices and incense, with balms and precious woods.” That is how L’Artisan describes this perfume, an ode to vétiver. The material is illuminated from all sides, every olfactory aspect of this complex root brought to light and polished, to be admired by the Gods as well as by us mere mortals.
Vétiver is not my favorite material, I’ll say that up front. I like the dark and mysterious Vétiver Extraordinaire by Malle, I like the foody-hazelnutty Vétiver Tonka by Hermes, I like the grassy-woody Timbuktu by l’Artisan, but there is a reason you won’t find them reviewed here (at least for now). They don’t particularly move me. For the most part vétiver fragrances are a bit too masculine, or too rooty-dusty for me, they are okay, but not earth shattering and I tend to review mostly things that move me, in either direction. Well, you see me reviewing Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, so that means it must have moved me somehow…
Coeur de Vétiver Sacré was created by Karine Vinchon in 2010 and includes notes of Vetiver Haiti, vetiver coeur, bergamot, orange, black tea, saffron, coriander, tarragon, ginger, pink bay, date accord, dried apricot accord, rose, iris, osmanthus, sandalwood, white cedar, gaiac wood, incense, amber, cistus, tonka bean, vanilla, musk, labdanum, castoreum and birch tar.
Upon spraying it I get hit by a melange of citrus notes and a marked tea note, tinged with spices and the first whiff of vétiver. For the first minutes it smells like herbal tea to me, a complex mixture of tea, oddly effervescent and calming at the same time. I find myself standing inside a tiny little shop that sells teas and chinese herbs, all those aromas converging around me an coalescing into something almost visible, almost touchable.
As the scent broadens into its heart, the apricot note of osmanthus drifts by, I smell dates for a second, green spices like bay and tarragon weave in and out, spicy, warm, cool, sweet, fruity, grassy, rooty, dusty and dry, all those impressions are there simultaneously, bringing to mind the basket of offerings L’Artisan describes.
It all sounds like a hot mess, like there is too much going on, like there is a convention of dozens of different and rivalling notes going on, every single one of them clamoring for attention.
That is how it sounds, but oddly it isn’t how it smells. Somehow it works. Somehow Karine Vinchon made this ragga-muffin’ band of notes behave like a well-trained orchestra.
They all play the same multi-faceted tune, solo parts passing from one to the other, but always retaining the common element, the piece of music they all play – a concert for violin and orchestra that is called All hail Monsieur Vétiver!
Like the name implies, like the notes suggests, vétiver is what it is all about, and all those notes do their best to bring it out to shine. Vétiver has many facets and each of those other notes is there in an effort to bring out those different facets. It succeds to elevate vétiver in my mind from boring, dusty grey root to a thing of wonder that is indeed worthy of reverence and adoration. A sacred plant, the heart of the sacred plant. It shines in this fragrance, it sings like I never heard it sing before and it convinces me of its beauty. And beauty is something that never fails to move me.