Vetiver has been one of my favourite perfume notes for many years. Personal highlights from my collection include Chanel’s smoky Sycomore, The Different Company’s salty Sel de Vetiver, Christian Dior’s coffee-infused Vetiver, Frederic Malle’s Parisian Vetiver Extraordinaire and Guerlain’s archetypal Vetiver. I could go on listing more. When I heard Creed was launching a new vetiver fragrance to join its existing Original Vetiver, my interest was perked. Vetiver Geranium is part of Creed’s recently launched Acqua Originale collection, a series of five fragrances that have the freshness and radiance of eau de cologne with the tenacity of a more concentrated eau de parfum. Each fragrance is a short and focused essay, exploring raw materials gathered from around the world by Master Perfumer, Oliver Creed. The island of Java, one of the perfumer’s favourite destinations in Indonesia, inspired Vetiver Geranium. I was introduced to the Acqua Originale fragrances by Erwin Creed who was in Sydney for the collection’s Australian launch in December. As the son of Oliver Creed, Erwin is pegged to take over the family business when his father retires, placing him seventh in a family line of perfumers since Creed was established in 1760. Although his training to become a Master Perfumer continues, Erwin has already created fragrances for the house, which includes Original Vetiver. Discussing the family business and his father’s work, I could understand Creed’s obsession with sourcing the best natural raw materials for their perfumes. It is a common tagline that many perfume houses preach in order to validate their price position but speaking with Erwin, I sensed his genuine passion for raw materials and his understanding that in today’s crowded and competitive market, maintaining the integrity of Creed’s perfume formulas is a business strategy that will help the family continue their success. I was curious about Vetiver Geranium’s structure, since the perfume notes did not list vetiver as a key ingredient. Erwin talked about his father’s desire to create a woody-green vetiver accord using alternative raw materials, which included cedar and patchouli. In essence, this is vetiver without any vetiver. For me it was an interesting creative decision. Vetiver oil, as beautiful as it is, is not rare, nor is it costly when you compare the cost with rose or sandalwood oil. The choice to create a vetiver fragrance without vetiver was a creative decision, and with an overdose of natural geranium and a juicy green apple accord, Oliver Creed succeeded in creating something very unique for fans of the vetiver genre.
Although perfumers can combine thousands of raw materials in infinite ways, their palette is still finite. What keeps the art form interesting is how these artists approach the same raw material from their unique perspectives. The scent of geranium, distilled from the leaves and flowers of Pelargonium x asperum is a marvellous and complex scent. It presents ample opportunity for creativity. To create Frederic Malle’s Geranium Pour Monsieur, perfumer Dominique Ropion enhanced the fresh-mint facet of geranium using a molecular distillation of mint absolute. For Miller Harris’ Geranium Bourbon, perfumer Lyn Harris portrayed geranium’s rosy facets; her eau de parfum smelled of an English rose garden after the rain. To create Vetiver Geranium, Oliver Creed amplified the juiciness of geranium’s green foliage. Within a zesty cloud of lemon and bergamot it’s as though you smell geraniums only seconds after they have been cut from the garden. Their scent is cold, metallic, rosy and green. Creed’s Granny Smith apple accord is ingenious, giving even more life and vitality to the geranium note. As the fragrance settles, woody notes begin to build their strength. Creed’s vetiver accord is a generous layer of patchouli with flecks of cedar. Transparent woods allow the fragrance to remain buoyant and even in its final hours of life, Vetiver Geranium still feels weightless and radiant with the glow of tart apples and green foliage. Notes of cinnamon, amber and musk give the fragrance warmth and depth. Without vetiver oil, Oliver Creed’s vetiver does not have the green, earthy core of other vetiver fragrances but it’s a clever cover. As a self-confessed vetiver perfume and coffee junkie, Vetiver Geranium is my equivalent to a well-made decaf latte.
Vetiver Geranium has been one of my favourite fragrances this summer. The successful marriage of light and fresh with the rich complexity of woody notes makes it something lighthearted and summery whilst still retaining a level of mystery in the dry down. It is a good workday scent because it is not obtrusive but it still has longevity. Like other fragrances in the Acqua Originale collection, the non-classical structure makes it ambiguous in terms of gender and age. As a result, I imagine Vetiver Geranium will find fans across many demographics. If, like me, you are a fan of vetiver fragrances, you may also enjoy Creed’s vetiver trompe-l’œil.
Alternatives: Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli, Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur, Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon
Creative Direction: Oliver Creed
Perfumer: Oliver Creed
Bottle Designer: Oliver Creed and Pochet et du Courval
Release Date: 2014
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods