It should be no secret at this point how impressed I am by independent perfumer Shawn Maher. Over the last year, or so, I have found each new release by him to be a joy to experience. Looking back I think there are two significant parts to his vision. One of them comes from where he lives. All his perfumes have come from the local history surrounding his home of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Maher has taken the classic tropes of modern perfumery and translated them through a Midwestern prism. The other component is his knowledge, and use of, his perfume ingredients. With each new release Mr. Maher allows anyone who is interested to understand the interaction and purpose of the pieces within the fragrance they have in their hand. In Chatillon Lux La Petite Prairie vetiver is given the chance to be re-conceptualized by Mr. Maher.
My first encounter with vetiver as a perfume had me swooning over the green grassy piece of the multi-faceted ingredient. It is an ingredient that also carries a specific profile due to where it comes from. It is also surrounded with a number of synthetic alternatives. It allows for a perfumer willing to experiment the opportunity to create a vetiver accord which carries a singular effect.
La Petite Prairie is named for a piece of rolling farmland and grasslands on the edge of the city. When I visited the great prairie on my cross-country drives, I was struck at how the grass smelled different. There was a sharper edge to the green along with a flintier earthiness. As I was thinking about La Petite Prairie, vetiver is an ideal ingredient to capture this quality of terroir indigenous to St. Louis. I again provide the link to Mr. Maher’s Scent Notes on this perfume for those who want to know more about its construction.
Mr. Maher constructs a vetiver base accord of Haitian and Javanese natural vetiver. He then titrates in precise amounts of synthetic vetiver sources. It creates what I would dub a “prairie accord”. More grassy then woody. It is evident from the first moments. In the top accord a citrusy rhubarb picks out the same quality in the natural vetivers. It acts like the reflection of sunlight off the prairie grass. The green is picked up by two green florals in geranium and carnation. I adored the contrast. It reminded me of the classic vetiver perfumes that define this style of fragrance. In the later stages that flinty earth is represented by Iso E Super over a resinous trio of elemi, myrrh, and styrax.
La Petite Prairie has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
For anyone who loves the classic vetiver perfumes of the past this is a must try. You will find aspects of many of them given a new perspective. It is a gift Mr. Maher has, to achieve this time and again. I also want to speak to the community of wetshavers out there, too. This is a fantastically bracing vetiver. The shaving line of this scent will be coming soon. I will definitely be adding it to my shaving cabinet. It is just the tonic I crave after shaving. It provides the scent of wide-open spaces.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Chatillon Lux.