Sunday, 2 June 2013

Salty sea dogs, a review of Miller Harris, Fleurs de Sel and Comme de Garcons, Series 4 Vettiveru Cologne.

With the sun finally breaking through Manchester’s semi-permanent cloud cover my thoughts have turned to the seaside. Being entirely landlocked, I’m using scent as way to travel beachwards until I get the opportunity to turn my face to the salty spray. Two fragrances are aiding my olfactory trip, Fleurs de Sel and Vettiveru.

New from Miller Harris, Fleurs de Sel is said to be inspired by “the herbs and flowers that surround the famous salt fields of the Cote Sauvage”. It also claims to have “astringent salt at it’s heart”. How do we interpret a salt note? I’ve smelt both my bog standard cooking salt and my chef partner’s posh sea crystals, they don’t exude much of a whiff, giving off more of a sensation than a smell. Upon inhaling the aroma, the salt hits the back of my throat and exudes a recognisably salty, savoury feeling. I’m not sure that I can literally smell salt in Fleurs de Sel but what I do experience is a summery ozonic vibe that’s amplified by a beautiful herbal hit of thyme, clary sage and rosemary. Although rose and iris are listed as notes they are virtually undetectable underneath the herb garden posy, perhaps only serving to balance the composition with a little ‘perfumy-ness’.

This is an intensely aromatic perfume with a great emphasis on the concept of nature. With oakmoss and vetiver creating an additional base layer of bitter greenery, Fleurs de Sel could most certainly take you on a coastal camping trip (if only in your imagination).

As you would expect from the highly conceptual Comme de Garcons, Series 4 Cologne: Vettiveru is a contemporary interpretation of a summer holiday scent. As a committed lover of Colognes, I was keen to have this one in my collection as it projects an alternative take on the standard neroli/bergamot/citrus composition of the genre. Yes, these notes are all in there but they feature as a backdrop to a strident vetiver.

I adore vetiver, particularly how it seems to shape-shift in every composition. It’s recognisably there but displays a greatly differing character in the vast number of scents that lead with this note. Vettiveru introduces a quirky vetiver, made vibrant rather than traditional.
Upon the initial spritz, you are hit with a gargantuan burst of fresh floral and citrus vivacity, typical of a cologne’s uplifting sensation. The floral aspect is composed of neroli and jasmin, although neither shout out their presence, they simply contribute a little smoothness to what would otherwise be a spiky scent. After a few minutes the vetiver appears in abundance, gifting a grassy, earthy and indeed salty presence. In this fragrance I can most definitely smell the ocean, or specifically the way that your skin smells after a dip in the waves: savoury, iodine, seaweed and perhaps even a hint of Piz Buin sun tan cream.

At it progresses through it’s wear, Vettiveru becomes very ‘Comme de Garcons’, giving you a few surprise associations. I first wore this in bed on the day after an operation. Having been woken up by the postman delivering this thing of wonder, I quickly spritzed my wrists and returned bedwards to sleep off the dizzying effects of the surgery. Upon waking, I could smell both a faintly TCP antiseptic and one of my childhood favourite sweets – Floral Gums. I wrote it off as a sleepy post-anaesthetic olfactory trip until after several sober wears when I ascertained that yes, it indeed smells of faintly of TCP (from the clove and cardamom note?) and Floral Gums (which remains unfathomable).

Quirkiness aside, it is a shockingly good take on a traditional product, bending the concept of ‘cologne’ and ‘vetiver’ into a refreshingly pungent juice for the hot summer months. Happily it retails at a price that allows you to literally bathe in the stuff..

Original photo by Sarah Waite

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