Grey Vetiver, Tom Ford's 2009 masculine release, is an attractive and intelligent scent. It had to be, since it was launched into a market that already has several vetiver perfumes that are considered classic. Most vetiver fans own more than one (or six) of them, so seducing us isn't that simple. We've already experienced the bracing (Vetiver Extraordinaire, Route du Vetiver, Turtle Vetiver), the light and uplifting (Guerlain, Racine), the dark (Sycomore, Encre Noire) and the unusual compositions (Vetiver Oriental, Vetiver Dance). Tom Ford had to offer us something that was still missing.
And he did.
While the opening notes are familiarly citrusy and bright and you can't miss the grapefruit , this is not a new variation on the classic Guerlain theme. The scent quickly takes new direction, first with spicy and herbal notes (most noticeably sage), playing the warm and cool game vetivers often do. From green to wood and back, but Grey Vetiver has a certain mellowness, making the ride smoother and more calculated. But to me the big story here is the orris. It's not quite powdery and not earthy carrot-like as some can be. It feels like the orris note fills the gaps and spaces between the green and woody patches, giving the scent incredibly soft. It makes you listen and pay careful attention.
The drydown is also not your average vetiver. The official notes speak of oakmoss, but as much as I try, I can't smell any. I doubt any perfume from the last couple of years that is intended for mainstream retail has enough oakmoss in it to make a difference. What I do smell here is an incredible dry amber. The salty resinous kind, not the garden variety powdery vanilla.
Tom Ford's interpretation might be the easiest to wear among the vetiver colognes in my (well, the husband's) collection. It has no jagged edges or any semi-objectional notes. It's clean and modern enough to befriend the younger (but discerning) crowd, just as it has what it should appeal to those familiar with the classics, men and women alike. I bought a bottle for my father after testing it myself a couple of times. Got a mini which the husband and I used for a while before going for a full bottle.
Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford ($85, 1.7 oz EDP) is available from most department stores- basically you can find it everywhere Black Orchid is sold, including Sephora, which is probably your best bet for a free sample.
Photo of Anderson Cooper: cnn.net