Some days call for vetiver perfumes and there are few more iconic vetivers than the classic Guerlain in any of its versions, past and present. The idea seems simple enough- a bright citrus opening, a crisp and dry vetiver-wood body and a peppery dry-down with a hint of unsmoked tobacco. Still, Guerlain's Vetiver is anything but simple or predictable. The secret, I think, is the perfect balance that allows the vetiver to shine without having to go to extremes- no bitterness or swampiness, only the best of its green qualities.
The older version (my bottle is an EDT from the early1990s or late 80s) seems less concerned about being clean. It's not murky by any means, but has a darker aura. I believe there might be more tobacco and less citrus, but this impression might be a result of the bottle's age. Guerlain purists claim the EDT is not as good as the EDC, but I never tried the latter. The eau de toilette is good enough to make me swoon and I'm glad I got it for the husband (and myself. I have yet to find a vetiver I can't wear). It's better dressed and less casual than the modern one, but just about anything designed in the 1960s feels this way, right?
The new EDT is bright and sunshiny at first, but becomes softer over time. It's like a cool breeze blowing through the grass, making it appear outdoorsy and light. The Blond likes to wear it on the hottest days of summer (apparently, he doesn't buy my theory about going in the other direction to cut the heat) and for easy weekends. I enjoy it year-round and like many other women find it genderless, as long as you love green scents. I wish Guerlain would bring back the body products. The shower gel (I think they labeled it an All-Over Shampoo, though I never tried it on my hair) was perfection in a tube. I bought the last one I could find a couple of years ago, and I think the husband might still be hoarding the last drops. I'd love to be able to indulge again.
While the original Guerlain Vetiver has all but disappeared (the aftershave and deodorant can still be found online, but the idea of a deodorant from eight or nine years ago isn't very appetizing), the new Vetiver is available from just about every fragrance department in the universe ($71, 2.5oz at Sephora, about half this price from various discounters).
Images of the two Guerlain Vetiver versions (from 1997 and 2002)- couleurparfum.com