Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Salt of the Earth


If Vero Kern's Onda were to be compared to a smoldering Alpine bonfire (a propos, Swiss National Day, August 1st), Céline Ellena's Sel de Vétiver (The Different Company, 2006) would be a beachside one (Berck-Plage, peut-être). I purchased a bottle of it blind last year after reading a short review in French men's fashion magazine L'Optimum, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a daily, warm-weather vetiver with just a bit more smooth complexity than my dear bottle of Annick Goutal Vétiver (1981) with its bracing Javanese vetiver and iodine notes. That said, Sel de Vétiver is a refreshing, consoling scent with a quiet power that it surely owes to its illusion of salt-air clinging to a beachcomber's skin; along with a mildly spicy layer of grapefruit and cardamom; and this married with sweet florals (geranium, ylang-ylang) to a scintillating, tangy accord of lovage and Bourbon vetiver. This is a fragrance which seriously kicks my scent-memory into gear: post-beach showers where the last vestiges of sunscreen blended with young suntanned skin, my towel afterwards carrying the salt-factor which infused practically everything near the ocean's limit, the smell and feel of the soft quilted velvet upholstery in my aunt's car, that slight chill that would come over my body after a few hours in the sun, and something vaguely tropical. Sel de Vétiver is suffused with sunlight and, for me, a hopeful adolescent yearning (Earth's yearning, too) that I continue to associate with high summer.

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