The Sacred And Profane Scent Machine – Review: L’Artisan Parfumeur Coeur de Vétiver Sacré

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.

*Title adapted from Iris Murdoch: The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, I apologize for mutilating the title of this wonderful book, but I couldn’t resist.
Image source:, Nigel Kennedy and W. Lutosławski Philharmonic Orchestra from Wrocław conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk (photo by Jarosław Deluga-Góra)

About Olfactoria

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This entry was posted in Fragrance Reviews, Fruity, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Woods and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The Sacred And Profane Scent Machine – Review: L’Artisan Parfumeur Coeur de Vétiver Sacré

  1. deeHowe says:

    I really like CdVS! And I’m glad you do to, especially since it’s gotten a mediocre reception in the perfume world (not a single thumbs up review on Basenotes, until I added my piece!).

    Since I had no expectations, I didn’t feel let down by it— It feels like a sunny day on my skin. I drink tea and eat dates almost every day, and those notes in the fragrance feel comforting and luminous to me. There IS a lot going on, as you point out, but the notes are so perfectly balanced that it really works. Also, did you notice a similarity to Jardin Sur le Toit? That grassy aspect, and then later into the dry down I noticed kinship—though I do prefer the L’Artisan.

    To quote you, I find it “worthy of reverence and adoration”! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      I did not get a relationship with Toit at all, how interesting!
      For me they are in totally different realms, but that is probably why I did not think of ever comparing them, but that is what I shall do, because when you say it, it is definitely worth a side by side comparison.

  2. lady jane grey says:

    Here we go again: so you won’t steal my Vetivers – I only have to guide my V.Sacre ! Yesss, I’m a masculine type, permanently in pantsuit (or cargo pants if it’s for leisure…). I’m in a real trouble if it’s a black tie event and I’d need to wear a long evening dress (so I opt for a lady smoking plus high heels, in usual…).
    To be honest, I don’t get all that Ode to the Gods in V.S. – it’s rather pretty simple on me : a strong tea note, with lots of earth from Vetiver, tarragon, some osmathus – but there is no fruit on me. I bought my bottle at Liberty in London in last November and wore the scent a lot during the winter, becasue its simplicity was very reassuring, calming but warm and cosy the same time. This perfume is in my heart and I was sad about all those negative reviews – you made me happy with your positive one, thank you.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are very welcome! 🙂
      I was not eager to try this, since I thought I would not particularly like it, but it has convinced me with its great orchestration.

      Your bottle is safe, I have more than enough, thanks to the lovely Florian!

    • lady jane grey says:

      smoking is he german word – it’s “tuxedo” in eglish.

  3. Tara says:

    How intriguing, a vetiver that you don’t have to be a vetiver lover to appreciate or even be a fan of? Like you, I am not keen on vetiver prominant fragrances because the note conjures up a swamp for me, and it can be potent stuff. However this sounds like it’s far from straight up and down vetiver and the tea aspect does sound appealing. Many thanks for the review, I would have swerved it previously but now I will give it a try when I next get the chance.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Truth be told, I would not have sought this out either, but I am glad I tried it anyway. That’s the beauty of perfume, always surprising! 🙂

  4. Marla says:

    I crave vetiver, particularly in summer, and my favorites are Lalique’s Encre Noir, and some vetiver/floral coextractions from India, where an attar-making group is using vetiver instead of the traditional sandalwood. I like all kinds of vetiver from Surinamese (my favorite) to earthy Haitian, to just the fraction called vetiveryl acetate. I know CVS doesn’t get much love out there, but I really like it, it’s light yet complex, and extremely wearable. So glad you reviewed it!

    • Olfactoria says:

      You have such a broad knowledge, Marla, so impressive. I’d love to pick your brain some day. 🙂
      I like that CVS is so “consumer-friendly” yet complex.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Vetiver is one of those notes that I find I either love in the hugest way possible (Vero Profumo Onda) or have some difficulty with (Vintage Guerlain Vetiver). Your very beautifully written review of this one means that I’ll definitely seek out a sample.

    Changing subjects…I saw in your Twitter column that Absolue Pour Soir was too much cumin for you. Ahh, too bad! But it sounds like you gave it a good try. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Suzanne, I’ll send you some in my next package!

      Yeah, the cumin got to me. I sat it out and loved the drydown a lot, but the first hour is just too much for me, also that my husband almost suggested separate bedrooms if I insisted to wear it again, was no great help… 😦

  6. Julie says:

    I have a large sample of this and enjoyed it quite a lot in fall/winter. I get mostly ginger and tea – vetiver often hijacks perfumes so that is all I smell – here it is pretty tame. Last time I tried it, I noticed a faint gasoline smell – not sure where that came from, but it put me off it for a bit. Will have to try again to see if that was a one-time thing, as I think it is at least decant worthy!

  7. FearlessBG says:

    I think vetiver is one of those ingredients that tends to have a million faces in perfumery. It can be very salty, very earthy, very bright/citrusy, tea-like… I’ve never been sure which I like best but every now and then I find it a very calming note. Not something I can’t live without though.

    You’ve described Vétiver Sacré very well B! Like you I get the distinct tea note, the fruitiness and a rather woody drydown. But the funny thing is, similar to what deeHowe mentioned, I also pick up some bright apple-like note that reminds me a teeny bit of Sur le Toit (although it’s completely different..). Not sure what it is but it’s quite “L’Artisan” to me! Btw, another interesting vetiver is the one by Santa Maria Novella: completely serene 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Very true, Vetiver has many faces. Even an apple one, it appears… 😉
      Serene vetiver sound good, will remember to try the Santa Maria Novella one when I see it.

  8. vanessa says:

    I have recently discovered the existence of this perfumer, and am keen to try her other work, being a fan of L’Eau de Jatamansi. Like you, I am not a big vetiver lover either, but I will take each case on its merits. That new Diptyque – Vetyverio – was quite pretty, and I will definitely try this too when I see it, if it has elevated the note beyond its natural state of “dusty grey root”ness!

  9. iodine says:

    I had a forgotten sample of CVS and this morning, after having read your review I decided to give it a try. It didn’t impress me much, I’m afraid, but I noticed a couple of interesting things. The opening: I like it a lot, and I can detect quite frankly the tea note- why generally can’t I recognize tea in soi-disants tea scents? I love tea and I can tell the smell of oolong, green, white and black tea leaves but when it comes to perfumes, the note I pick is never satisfying, always quite cheap and “fake”! It also happened with Oolang Infini, which I was looking for eagerly (after having read your review, of course! ) and find it very disappointing…
    Even my beloved OG tea scents at L’Artisan, Thé pour un été and Tea for two, I appreciate them more for the atmosphere than for the tea note itself…
    The second thing about CVS that struck me is: am I the only one to find its drydown VERY- but really very!- similar to Tea for two? I was taking a nap and was conforted by a familiar scent… it was it, with its confy pain d’épices notes! Strange to have in catalogue such two similar fragrances…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Iodine,
      tastes and preferences are individual of course, seems this one is not for you. It is not my favorite perfume either, but I appreciate its construction and resulting beauty, even if there are scents that suit me better personally.
      About the tea note, for me it is there, also in the Atelier. Maybe it is harder for a real tea connoisseur to “accept” a tea note in perfume. As for Tea for Two, sadly I don’t know it well enough to compare the two. 😦

      • lady jane grey says:

        I’m a tea lover and was looking for a scent containing the true tea aroma – which so far I only found in CVS. Earthy, strong black tea – on me. Personally I don’t like Tea for Two, becasue it’s too sweet for me, and I found the tea there cheap & artificial. On me the drydown of TfT and CVS are very different.

  10. tpring says:

    When I tried Coeur de Vétiver Sacré a couple of weeks ago I liked it quite a lot. Very easy and upliftig scent (I also wrote down “apple-ish” in my notes). Then I read all the negative reviews and lamented my unrefined nose. Now I feel a little bit better. 😉

  11. I’m intrigued by this one and I’m almost out of my sample. One day I’ll wear it and want a FB, the next day I find it dull.
    Seems like you and I have the same impression. I’m working on my review and I also said it was like being in a Japanese apothecary! It reminds me of one here in town. It’s the “chewy” osmanthus that “gets” me. Oh, it’s good.
    Funny that the Internet ‘fume world isn’t loving it. We talked about this one in my perfume sniffing class and everyone loves it. Seems like real-life snobs like it 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Osmanthus is an incredibly beautiful note, as soon as I smell it somewhere I am usually smitten.
      You go to a perfume class? How interesting? Is this some sort of course, or just for fun? Either way, I’d love to be a part of this…

      • It’s a meet up once a month at a perfume shop. There’s a monthly theme. We go there, sniff, research, and discuss. I can’t believe how many “real life” fumeheads are out there!
        I’m working on organizing a “book club” or “open mic” style where we only go to talk/discuss instead of learn about a style or not.

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