One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who Are You: Bois 1920 Vetiver Ambrato

I think nowadays most people like to know what the notes to a scent are so they have an idea of what they're getting themselves into, so here they are:


Top notes are bergamot, lemon, petit grain, cloves, geranium and artemisia; middle notes are patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, cedar and lavender; base notes are tobacco, vanilla, amber, musk, benzoin, french labdanum and galbanum.


Sure, whatever. Here's what Vetiver Ambrato smells like to me: a very brief whiff of vetiver cologne, and then a massive heap of sweet powder. It isn't bad — it calls to mind a number of other ambery-sweet men's scent's like Lagerfeld and Stetson — but it is very sweet, and it is very powdery, and that's practically all there is to it. The list of ingredients sounds like a men's scent, and at first, when those citrus-green notes are still in the air, it suggests being freshly shaven and powdered in a barbershop; but then the volatile notes disappear and all you're left with is sweet powder, though from time to time, not often enough, I thought I detected a bit of tobacco. At the end — a long time coming, since it's almost entirely base notes — there's a bit of that sourishness you sometimes get with ambers, and some vanilla.

Luckyscent, echoing the packaging of my sample, says that "Vetiver Ambrato is a decidedly masculine fragrance that embodies all the power and mystery of modern man," which is hilarious, because if you added a few drops of violet water after the top notes burn off, you would smell like a little old lady crocheting an antimacassar. The sample's text also calls it "virile" and "provocative", and I can't understand why the company is so obviously desperate to promote it as something it is not: it is as virile and provocative as a desk lamp.

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