Monday, July 20, 2009

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver (Old And New)

Route du Vetiver is one of those perfumes that make me wonder if I like it because it smells good or because it's so interesting, bold and unlike anything you'd find in the wardrobe of most women my age. Of course, this MPG creation is part of their masculine line and the bottle I have actually belongs to my husband (who smells much better in it than I do, if I'm being completely honest).

Route du Vetiver is sharp and medicinal from start to finish. One needs to really like vetiver on all its aspects in order to appreciate it. It has everything: the green, the earthiness and the dry blades of grass. And then some. If you think Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extrodinaire is on the extreme side (I don't. It softens considerably on my skin), RdV would teach you an unforgettable lesson in vetiver.

That isn't to say that Route du Vetiver is linear. It isn't. The perfume develops and unfolds, the heart is even darker with the wet, just-dug roots, and the base is a bit more mellow, showing signs of wood. I could swear I smell oud, especially in the older version. Speaking of which, the original RdV, before Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier repackaged and reformulated it was even edgier. I happen to think that in this case the reformulation, while taking away from the perfume's originality (and probably also quality of the raw materials), might have done this scent a favor in terms of wearability (and definitely marketability). I have a small amount of the original (I can't call it "vintage", as it's only a few years old) and it's absolutely stunning in its complex top notes. It has more sweetness and an additional medicinal note that might or might not come from oud. After the opening wears off, the two versions start to smell very similar, and the drydown is the same (I tested this by dabbing from the new bottle the same way as from the older samples).

The new version is the one in the 100 ml (3.3 oz) bottles. If you're punched in the face by an evil vetiver in a slightly smaller, 90ml (3 oz) bottles, that's the original Route du Vetiver. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier made the change about two years ago, which was probably when they started having serious financial problems. It's quite evident that things haven't improved there. This year they've closed at least one of their beautiful Paris boutiques and the most recent blow was losing their North American distributor. It's not clear what exactly has happened. I've heard all kinds of rumors. Some said the American distributor went out of business, others said MPG can no longer afford to produce the required volume to stay on American shelves. Since it looks like other major retail venues in the UK are dropping this line, I suspect the problem is rather serious. I have no idea how much truth there's in either story, but the bottom line is that none of the stores is getting any new shipments, though there are plenty of bottles around, online and offline. I was at Henri Bendel in NYC, where the entire range was still available three weeks ago. Things might have changed since then.

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver retails around $110. I bought my (husband's) bottle online from BeautyHabit about a year ago (they're already out of stock). It's worth seeking a sample, but please don't buy blind. It might end in tears.

photo of vetiver and its roots:


  1. I believe I have an older bottle; but I just LOVE it so, along with Racine.

    It's SO redolent of the earth, I feel positively primal ;)

  2. Word to the wise: MPG is quite likely going bust, or so goes the rumor mill here in Paris... I guess it's stocking up time.

  3. I., primal is a great description for the older RdV. I also have and love Racine. Much easier to wear and very beautiful.

  4. Denyse, I'm sad but not surprised. I guess it's time to get those bottles of Centaure and Parfum d'Habit before it's too late.


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