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February 23, 2006

Perfume Review: Annick Goutal Vetiver


The first time I smelled Vétiver by Annick Goutal (1981), I was struck by the brilliance of the affinity between vetiver and marine notes. The earthy richness of the former, marked by the grapefruit bitterness complements the iodine smell of the seashore resulting in the aroma of driftwood covered with the wet shreds of seaweed.

The vetiver focused fragrances have a devout following among both men and women, with Guerlain Vétiver (1961) setting the gold standard with its elegant rendition of the balsamic root suspended between the transparent citrusy top accord and the spiced tobacco base. It maintains the Guerlinesque refinement with a glimpse of its seductive smile. ...

Contrary to the classical tradition, Annick Goutal Vétiver avoids tempering the rooty vetiver with the spicy sweetness or brightening its cantankerous balsamic side. It does not move with a nonchalant gait of a dandy tilting hat at the acquaintances encountered along the way, but with a sailor’s swagger, and the salty and sweaty aspect of the composition vividly conjures such an image. The roughhewn and windblown character of Vétiver is tamed somewhat by Annick Goutal’s characteristic subtle take on the theme, but it does not detract from its unexpectedly appealing brashness.

"There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only one you," tells Manolin to Santiago in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and this quote can be applied to Vétiver. It is hard to argue for its superiority over Guerlain Vétiver or some other vetiver renditions, however it stands out for being daring and unconventional, and these qualities are to be treasured.

A masculine fragrance, Vétiver can be easily worn by a woman, especially by those who enjoy this note without its feminine accoutrement. Annick Goutal Vetiver includes notes of Java vetiver, woods, Burmese spices, and sea salt aroma. Available from Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks5thAvenue.

Please see other Annick Goutal reviews:

Eau d'Hadrien
Petite Cherie (brief description)

Photo: Grayton Beach State Park, "Driftwood." Photo by Colleen Braun from



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