June 10, 2007

Vetiver

Vetiver is fashionable these days, and has always been used in wide array of perfumes, because it is so intensely aromatic and it blends so well with many other of the classic natural elements. The plant is a tall grass in the same family as bamboo; long lived (50 years if kept cut before flowering) with many virtues and practical applications. In India, its place of origin, vetiver is used to combat soil erosion because the roots grow like tree roots do, reaching into the soil very deeply. I found an an interesting site by an Indian who is trying to restore a tiny corner of his country to its traditional plants and ecology, using vetiver as one of the many elements. It is grown in over 80 countries now for this reason. Good thing, since we are all experiencing more extreme weather lately, and if the inconvenient truth we hear of unfolds as predicted we will need the aid of such plants as vetiver to help us deal with the effect of extensive climate changes. As a raw material for fragrance it has an earthy, forest-floor smokey quality; it is extracted by steam distillation from the roots. In the tropics the grass and straw is often woven into shades and awnings, thatch roofs, sunshades and mats. The aroma is released into the warm sun and the air as the breezes pass through it. It also keeps insects away. It is antiseptic, sedative, tonic, moisturizing and toning for the skin. In old Russia it was a custom to sew sachets of vetiver into the linings of coats to help retain warmth. This summer I found a nice site that offers handbags made of woven vetiver straw, that retain the herbal scent. Different qualities and sources for the essence and its blending with other elements bring out the different shades and nuances of the material. There are so many wonderful vetiver fragrances, such as Creed's Original Vetiver, using the leaves as well as the roots in a blend that is fresh, green and uplifting; Guerlain's Vetiver, so highly regarded by the perfumista brigade; Etro's masculine Vetiver eau de cologne (do we care whether a scent is designed for men or for women? no we do not) and The Different Company's Sel de Vetiver. Of course the essence itself can be obtained from Liberty Natural Products or White Lotus Aromatics (I love their wonderfully informative articles in their online newsletters) if you care to have an unalloyed full strength direct experience...
Image above is from an article called Vetiver, the Wonderful Grass by Biolcom

4 comments:

chayaruchama said...

One of my favorite notes, since early years.

Have you worn CSP's Vetiver d'Haiti, or SL's Un Bois Sepia ?

I'd be happy to send you bits and pieces of vetiver done many ways...

Lucy said...

C, how kind. How can I resist?

Jeanne said...

Lucy,

Thank you for this information. I love reading your descriptions, complete with historical info. as well!

Vetiver is a gorgeous, healing scent for me.

I am saving up for Guerlain's Vetiver. So much beauty in this natural world of ours!

Jeanne

Lucy said...

Jeanne -- the Guerlain Vetiver is certainly worth saving for!
L