How many scents do you know that rely on or revolve around the herbaceous notes of vetiver? Nobody, someone, or a myriad? I know many of them. Vetiver is a note that I have always appreciated. I love it in all its expressions, green, citrusy, herbaceous, earthy, creamy, dry, woody, leathery, and smoky. It is a special note of its kind, has no equal, unmistakable. It is instantly recognizable when used in a fragrance—everything except vetiver.
Vetiver Pamplemousse is the first of eight pieces belonging to Zara's Emotions collection, signed by Jo Loves (Jo Malone). It's a potent citrus blend, which takes ripe summer grapefruits and reduces them to bitter, spicy nectar paired with apathetic vetiver that's sure to do the trick. They should have called the fragrance "Pamplemousse Vetiver," the grapefruit note is more pronounced than vetiver, or better still, "Velvet Pamplemousse" as the vetiver softens and smoothes a domineering and bitter grapefruit. The scent is deceptive but fatally attractive. It offers us a surprising blend of bitter citrus and grassy, but not too earthy, accords.
On me, it opens with an explosion of a citrus mix. I get the sweet citrus zest with a touch of pure mandarin and lots of bitter grapefruit. And I wouldn't rule out a bit of lemon or even lime. What I perceive is a grapefruit, perhaps pink, ripe, juicy, and very fragrant. The overall scent makes me think of the white sponge just below the rind. Together with the grapefruit, the mandarin peeps out; both fruits seem authentic and not very synthetic. The bitterness fades a little after a few minutes. However, it doesn't disappear entirely but stays in the background until the very end. Wow, the bittersweet citrus fruits are real, I can smell both the outside yellow, smooth peel, and the inside white, spongy portion. Bitter grapefruit has a protagonist role in the opening compared to harsh sweet mandarin orange. Although I smell the two of them clearly, the former is more prominent.
A sweet peppery note exudes in the heart, blends with rosy, green, and metallic hues as if there were undeclared geranium leaves. I do not catch too many changes between the initial and final stages. This citrus scent sticks on its own for a while before its partner in crime, vetiver, joins. It's a gradual process, almost as if the citrus note stays wet, and the vetiver only enters when it dries and fades away a bit. The vetiver appears to be tasked with taming the sharp grapefruit flavor, but it's not very good at it, which is welcome news for grapefruit lovers.
Drying has a crisp, transparent, yet fragile vetiver, perceptible but not dominant as in other vetiver-based fragrances, Uomo Vetyver Eau de Toilette
to name one. Paradoxically, citrus fruit leftovers from the opening are more penetrating than the herbaceous root; there is green but without earthiness. Sometimes bursts of smoke come to me. Instead, I get a clean moss if I bring my nose close to the skin. Hence, the last stage is more musky than earthy. To some extent, it smells like watered-down Terre d'Hermès Eau Très Fraîche
, with grapefruit replacing the bitter orange, and simple vetiver feels and a touch of soapy.
Vetiver Pamplemousse is fleeting, but grapefruit at first is the most accurate and realistic grapefruit I've ever experienced in a perfume. Many other scents that claim to have that note never seem to make it so real or confuse it with too many additional citrus notes to appreciate it. The sour and sweet aspects are pleasant and balanced. The fragrance evolves little during the day. However, it's an agreeable smell, so I didn't tire of it. The projection is relatively minimal and is a skin scent after half an hour. I would say it is suitable for spring and summer days and evenings, not a nocturnal scent, undoubtedly. If you prefer your fragrance to last all day, it requires maintenance and reapplication.
I based the review on a 100ml bottle that I have owned since June 2020.