The fragrance industry suffered during lockdown, since staying two metres apart made dabbing something aromatic on your wrist pointless. Happily, it’s now set for a golden age with a backlog of new scents, many of which feature soothing, calming vetiver.
Common in traditional men’s colognes, it was unfashionable at the turn of the millennium but is back on top. Derived from the roots of a tropical grass – Haiti supplies a lot – it has a dry, earthy, almost smoky flavour that brings class to any scent; imagine the mid-summer sun beating down on hay.
Jean-Paul Guerlain’s simply named Vetiver, launched at the turn of the 1960s, is acknowledged as definitive. A mix of citrus, nutmeg, tobacco and earthy vetiver, it is alpha male but very elegant. Hermes’ Bel Ami from the mid-1980s, with its warm spices and leathery, mossy facets, and Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver are other foolproof winners.
But unorthodox combinations are causing the most interest. Amazingreen by Comme des Garçons fuses botanical notes of ivy, coriander, vetiver and orris root with a kick of green pepper and gunpowder. Calvin Klein’s latest launch for men, Defy, couples vetiver with lavender and bergamot.
Newest of all is Prada’s Luna Rossa Ocean eau-de-toilette, launched last week. Using molecular distillation the perfumers Anne Flipo and Carlos Benaim were able to extract the bits of the vetiver oil that they did not want, resulting in a clean, woody vetiver without the earthy, sometimes overpowering signature.
12 of the best
Defy eau de toilette from (£33 for 30ml by Calvin Klein, available at Boots)
Amazingreen eau de parfum (from £59.50 for 50ml by Comme Des Garcons, available at Escentual)
Cèdre Vetiver eau de parfum (£32.80 for 30ml by Typology)
Light Blue Forever Pour Homme eau de parfum (from £46.75 for 50ml by Dolce & Gabbana at Look Fantastic)
Vetiver & Golden Vanilla cologne intense (from £86 for 50ml by Jo Malone London)
Vetiver Pamplemousse eau de parfum (from £15.89 for 40ml by Zara)
Vetiver Fatal cologne absolute (from £55 for 30ml by Atelier Cologne at John Lewis)
Grey Vetiver eau de toilette (from £57 for 50ml by Tom Ford, available at The Fragrance Shop)
Bel Ami eau de toilette (£98 for 100ml by Hermes, available at Selfridges)
Luna Rossa Ocean eau de toilette (from £54 for 50ml by Prada, available at Boots)
Vetiver eau de toilette (from £55 for 50ml by Guerlain)
Dark Spice & Vetiver eau de toilette (£12.50 for 100ml by M&S Fragrance Collection)