Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vetiver: Two Ways

You don't have to be a Jungian or a Bettelheimian to admit the archetypal importance of basements in a child's fantasy life. Being beneath the earth in a cool, dry-damp place with the relative reminders of dirt, earthworms and decaying matter can be both comfort- and anxiety-inducing. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier's Route du Vetiver (1988) brings me there every time, in its super-charged moist, rooty stinkiness, which I love. It is the vetiver of torrid summer days and hot-weather eroticism. On the other hand, there is Etro's Vetiver (1989): sharp, stalky vetiver, unalloyed (at least at the front end) and unforgiving. That is the desert vetiver, the hermit-poet's scent. It reminds me of the eaves of my grandparents' house and the uppermost rooms of an ancient mas in the South of France. Both are deeply introverted scents. I first started wearing the Etro interpretation of this classic accord a year or so into my doctoral studies. Just now, I am finishing my second bottle purchased on Good Friday 2003 in Como, Italy. Even the color of the liquid––brass––takes me somewhere. It is the hue of a good Meursault.


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