„It is with vetiver!“ - this announcement is what you hear first both from sales agents and from your friends. So what – vetiver was also in last years' variant “Pininfarina Collector”. And what kind of vetiver is it then? From some PR text found on the net, it should be “Indian” vetiver, which of course has never been used before. Thierry Wasser is supposed to have it discovered in India on one of his numerous sacrificial expeditions for the house of Guerlain! And what about the name “Boisée”? Aren't all Guerlain Homme's so far quite woody?
Guerlain make excellent perfumes, but this LVMH brand has never been good at sincerity towards customers. One simply should not take their stories too seriously, they are told to make their perfume sell better. I am far from believing them, yet, I get curious about what is really behind these tales.
With Guerlain Homme, they have a perfume with an extraordinarily good base note. It is woody, but not in a very direct way. It does not cover the wearer in scents of woods, instead, it points at the wearers own bodily odour, his very presence, and transforms it to something beautiful. In that way it is simply sexy, although at the same time, it is so discreet, almost at the brink of boredom. For a men's fragrance that is supposed to be an everyday fragrance for the global market, I cannot imagine a better way to make a base note.
Unfortunately, all got spoiled by the so called “Mojito” accord that was apparently imposed on the original scent by their art director Sylvaine Delacourte (if you believe the story she tells): sweet, candy-like and simply not good. The original Guerlain Homme is not recommendable IMHO. Also with the intense version, Guerlain kept the “Cuban” concept, this time with rum, and it wasn't much better. Finally, with Homme L'Eau, Thierry Wasser got the chance to make something less experimental. The combination with the rather conventional but excellent citric note is perfect, and it is so much better than the original.
With last years Pininfarina Collector, Guerlain combined the Homme base note with warmer and a bit unusual, almost gourmand notes, letting a good portion of tart Vetiver balance the fragrance.
And now, it's L'Eau Boisée! This time, Mr. Wasser has created a fragrance that focusses much more on the wonderful Homme base note than its predecessors. Top and hard notes are not contrasting or opposing the Homme style, they simply fit in. The citric note in the top is beautiful but fleeting. It is the heart notes that we should draw our attention to. They are quite fougère! I smell herbal spiciness: You could think of juniper and pepper, but it also has the licorice appeal that notes like fennel seed, absinthe, grass, carrot seed, parsley, celery and even lovage can provide. If you call that woody, then definitely not in the usual way that this denomination is used.
The niche brand Odori once invented a story about beautiful walks through the marketplace of Florence to promote their celery perfume Gli Odori. But Guerlain is not niche, and I see why they can't do anything similar!
And the vetiver? Well yes, I wouldn't deny that some might be there, but it is far from being dominant. You simply cannot refer to L'Eau Boisée as a vetiver fragrance, and all comparisons to Guerlain's original Vetiver perfume are out of place. Actually, since the overall character of L'Eau Boisée is herbal, any vetiver just fits in, it is much less present than in Pininfarina Collector, where it stands out among completely contrasting notes.
Guerlain subsequently tries to hide Thierry Wassers intentions – which is probably understandable under an economical point of view. However strange such herbaceous kitchen notes may appear to readers and customers, the result is convincing. Thierry Wasser by now has earned his status as successor of J.P. Guerlain.