Of all my summer fragrances, only one takes me straight to France. The whimsical, white columns and sculptures of Paris are only done justice by sartorial elegance with a bit of flair, which is exactly what Creed does best. Look no further than Creed’s Original Vetiver, which (contrary to popular opinion) is both heavy on the vetiver and quite original.
Based solely on the opening, Original Vetiver does smell similar to Mugler’s Cologne, a fragrance that is sometimes heralded as the “original” Original Vetiver merely because it was released a few years earlier. But while there is a similarity of style and genre, these fragrances are quite different. Original Vetiver is significantly more expensive, but is worth the premium if you like the style. Where Mugler Cologne is extremely heavy on the musks and fresh citruses/neroli, Original Vetiver has more complexity since it incorporates several textures at once.
For example, Original Vetiver opens with juicy mandarin and bergamot. The citric sour aspects are highlighted here, as are the damp, moist elements of the fruit. Gradually, over the course of the dry down, a ginger note starts to emerge, followed by a strong (yet fresh) green vetiver. In the mid it can smell almost floral and soapy due to the ginger, but in the base, the vetiver and woods produce a dryness that sharply contrast the moist elements in the opening. Though it is conceptually a simple scent, Original Vetiver is extremely complex and does indeed produce significant evolution on the skin.
In contrast, Mugler Cologne is and will always be a musky citrus. It’s great of course, and certainly an excellent value for the money, but this category is a large one, and there are niche fragrances—such as Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Aqua Universalis (and Forte)—that can reproduce this style in a more elegant way.It makes a great work fragrance, but is never quite so serious and businesslike as Guerlain’s Vetiver or Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire.
Neither is a great performer on the skin, but I find that Original Vetiver slightly edges out Mugler Cologne in the longevity department. Sillage and projection, unfortunately, are below average with this Creed, and in very hot weather, Mugler Cologne might even project better. For both fragrances, I tend to apply heavily except on the hottest days of summer, when I will indulge with 4 sprays and a top up every 6 hours or so.
But the magic here, that X factor, is captured differently in each fragrance. I will cover Mugler Cologne in more detail on another day, but for Original Vetiver, the X factor is in its contrasts. Many fresh fragrances are simple, lazy, and yes… Boring. You know what I’m talking about. And with Original Vetiver, you are in for a ride that includes more than mere citruses.
Vetiver is a favored note in many French hotel products, and some of the greatest French men’s fragrances (think Guerlain’s Vetiver) are based entirely on this grass. When I smell Original Vetiver, I think of Paris and the French aesthetic. It smells best when sniffed on the breeze, downwind from a squeaky clean and well dressed gentleman. It does make a great work fragrance, but is never quite so serious and businesslike as Guerlain’s Vetiver or Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire.
For the traditional gentleman who enjoys clean and professional fragrances, Original Vetiver may become a staple in your collection. It is a staple in mine.