I made my first blind-buy in almost a year, picking up a bottle of Ramon Monegal Umbra. The listed notes are vetiver root, tree moss, black pepper, bourbon geranium leaves, fir balsam, tonka haricot.
Umbra hasn't yet arrived but I already know what you're thinking: "Dan doesn't like vetiver, he constantly complains about it and even about people who love it (there's always a touch of misanthropy in everything Dan says), and yet like a dummy, he keeps trying new vetiver fragrances."
Let me answer those charges, KP.
First of all, yes, people who go on about vetiver bug me, because their evaluations are almost always glowing. They seem to want to reward every single fragrance that features vetiver: "this one is smoky, five stars!"; "this one is very dry, five stars!"; "this one smells like every other one...five stars!" Which is exactly what I do with anise fragrances, so I'm not trustworthy on this topic. Let's move on.
I currently own only one full bottle of vetiver perfume: Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire, which is somehow more nimble and complex than most vetivers. And still it smells pretty much the same as most vetivers.
But my girlfriend Susan likes it. She rarely says anything about what I'm wearing, at least not without solicitation, but I've noticed that the two times I've worn VE, she's come right out and told me I smell great. I sound like I'm very close to starting a "Chicks Dig Vetiver!" thread on Basenotes. Let's move on.
Umbra gets good reviews (meaningless, I know) and many of them say it's a unisex vetiver, they talk about the geranium, the tonka (as if you can ever smell anything but vetiver in a vetiver fragrance), and this is promising to me.
What isn't promising is this Ramon Monegal, who simultaneously released a million different perfumes, which makes no sense at all. It's not like The Beatles could've put out their entire catalog at once. But you know who could have? Nickelback. So I'm afraid I'm buying into the Nickelback of perfume. Let's move on.
The bottom line is this: I'm back to making impulsive purchases of things I probably won't like. And it feels like home.
Read Dan's Umbra findings here in Part Two.