I was seven or eight years old when I sat down in the living room to watch a movie on television with my dad. He enjoyed gangster movies and detective movies. I could tell he was excited about what was coming up. I asked what we were going to watch. He replied, “The Maltese Falcon”. A couple hours later when Sam Spade says, “the stuff that dreams are made of.” I was hooked. It has been one of my favorite movies ever since. The actor who played Sam Spade, Humphrey Bogart was also another early favorite. As I began to explore fragrance my mind wandered to what these stars would wear. There were times when I would wear something, and it would just bring that actor to mind. This is what happened when I tried Hiram Green Vetiver.
Vetiver is Mr. Green’s eleventh release. I also have to mention his press release nudged my thinking towards actors of Hollywood yesteryear. The first line says Vetiver “is what we imagine heartthrobs of Hollywood’s golden era smelled like”. Once I read that and smelled the sample Mr. Bogart came to life.
Mr. Bogart would make a career of portraying tough men with consciences. He could threaten and console in successive scenes. He had a ruggedness to his look. He wasn’t matinee idol handsome. He was watchable because he felt more approachable. A less idealized sense of manliness.
This is how Mr. Green approaches his keynote. Vetiver is a classic biphasic ingredient. One part grassy green and another part earthy woodiness. it is a versatile workhorse especially in fragrances designed to a masculine audience. The thing you learn about vetiver is it depends where it is from as to what part of the scent profile dominates. Two sources of it are at the heart of Vetiver.
Javanese vetiver is the one which is woodier in effect. It also carries an appealing smokiness. The Haitian version of vetiver is the greener antithesis of this. It has a freshness as there is a citrus equivalent to the smoke from the other vetiver used. Together they form an uber-accord of vetiver with each one’s strengths allowed the chance to be seen. The hardness of the wood with the softness of the green.
This accord of vetiver is there from beginning to end. In the early going it is given brightness through some citrus, mostly lime. It also gets some verve from ginger. These pick up the Hatian greenness and elevate it to the forefront. This is a swaggeringly confident beginning, full of bravado.
The second half calls to the Javanese piece. Using cedar to refocus on the woodiness it modulates the energy of the early moments. The use of the botanical musk of ambrette is inspired. It adds just the right amount of muskiness to swirl around the woodier vetiver. Together with the smokiness it feels like Mr. Bogart smoking a cigarette underneath the light of a lamp.
Vetiver has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
To anyone who is a fan of vetiver this should be on your list to try. In a field of so many different vetivers Mr. Green has found some space which seems all his own. On one of the nights I wore this I cued up “To Have and Have Not” I kept waiting for Lauren Bacall to tell Bogie how good he smelled.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Hiram Green.