Under the Radar: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver- The Beginnings of Niche

Now that I’ve been writing about perfume for over a decade, I’ve accepted brands come and go. Most of the time if it is one I’ve written about I am a little melancholy. If a brand has made the effort, I am hopeful it can find its audience. It is especially tragic when it is a brand which taught me a lot about niche perfumery in my early days of exploring everything that smelled good. This was the case when Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier sharply contracted their distribution a few years ago. They weren’t discontinued but they might as well have been. What was important about the brand was the founder and perfumer Jean-Francois Laporte was creating his second independent brand ten years after founding L’Artisan Parfumeur. M. Laporte is one of the fathers of niche/independent perfumery. As any perfume lover understands L’Artisan is still well-known today. Now the Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier collection is getting a second chance. I’ll focus on one of my favorite summer vetivers from the brand Maitre Parfumeuer et Gantier Route du Vetiver.

Route du Vetiver was a part of the debut collection in 1988. After reading about these perfumes online in the early 2000’s I sought them out on a trip to NYC. I spent an entire day trying all that was there in the little shop. It was summertime and the one which I wanted to take home in the heat and humidity was Route du Vetiver. It has been a part of every summer since for almost twenty years.

Jean-Francois Laporte

This perfume is a celebration of the green freshness of vetiver. It begins with a vegetal green top accord as leafy green ingredients are combined with blackcurrant buds. This creates a sticky sap-like effect. A set of aldehydes lighten things up. It reminds me of a breeze through a dense set of vines.

The vetiver used here is a gorgeous grassy version. It has a citrus-tinted freshness which is what makes vetiver such a natural for warm weather. M. Laporte entwines strands of slightly indolic jasmine through the vetiver. It adds a bit of rough texture and floral depth. This rests upon a base accord of creamy sandalwood and animalic musks. The latter twins to the indoles in the jasmine.

Route du Vetiver has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I tried a sample of the recent formulation and compared to my older one. The most significant difference is in the sandalwood. Back then it was a different source than it is now. To me it adds a sharper focus on the base accord in the 2021 version over the older bottle. The current version is still amazing.

To my mind Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier remains one of the great perfume brands, even today. In these resurrections Bahiana and Iris Bleu Gris are also fantastic examples of the beginnings of niche. I am thrilled that the brand is back in the air so any perfume lover can find it on their radar. When you do be prepared for a treat.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased, and a sample of the current formulation provided by Neiman-Marcus.

Mark Behnke

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