Fragrance Reviews Vetyver Nicolaï Parfumeur Créateur: An Eau de Toilette with Character

Vetyver Nicolaï Parfumeur Créateur: An Eau de Toilette with Character

02/13/17 10:50:00

by: Sergey Borisov

The official Nicolai Parfumeur Createur website describes the fragrance Vetyver as modestly as the other fragrances in their range, with just two sentences: “A spicy woody fragrance created with a combination of vetiver, galbanum and lemon petit grain. An Eau de Toilette with character”. Woody notes at the heart and amber notes in the base are added to these notes.

Vetyver Nicolai 250 ml bottle

Maybe, we at Fragrantica are a little behind, and in the meantime the fragrance formula has been changed? However, I can not believe that Patricia de Nicolai has started changing the compositions of her perfumes – this behavior is so far from her, especially since she is the chairwoman of the Osmotheque.

I checked on the notes in my own records – the list of notes in the Fragrantica database matches the official fragrance description of 2004, when Vetyver Nicolai was created. Previously, the list of notes was much longer due to the mentioned spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper) and flowers (jasmine, ylang-ylang); vetiver and tonka beans can be attributed to the woody-ambery notes. So it’s just the brand's decision to shorten the description on their current website. Well then, what can I say about the fragrance?

There’s a competition between the cold, aldehydic-soapy citrus purity and the spicy hot, sweaty cumin in Vetyver. Like a European gentleman vs. an Asian farmer. It seems that vetiver stands above the fight, as a neutral arbiter, who is ready to lift the winning fighter’s arm at any minute. It's either the green grassy vetiver hand of the petitgrain-galbanum green gentleman with some attached transparent Hedione light or the brown woody hand of thick and hot peasant sweat, smelling of Central and South-East Asia spices, with attached bright sun, dry earth and hot spicy fragrant food. I am not to say that vetiver helps the spices to win, but cumin wins in the ten minute fight.

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds

Cumin beats the vetiver-referee as well, gradually including vetiver in his triumphant team. So, vetiver with a serious wooden face carries after Cumin The Winner his spicy woody banner, painted in hot and tropical, thick, and earthy tones. The triumphal procession of Cumin The Winner has the power to drag on for the whole day – Vetyver is pretty long-lasting – to be completed by the metal moss Evernyl and musks. In the deep base it recalls Un Air du Java Decleor created by the legendary Pierre Bourdon and my beloved old Vetiver Annick Goutal, in a very subdued drydown.

The fragrance is not the easiest to wear – the cumin (jeera) note by itself recalls some hot working sweat and also certain food preferences, so it might alienate many office workers. Tell them – the fragrance smells of pilaf, curry and garam-masala, and quite a lot of people will permanently eliminate the perfume from their to-try lists. People are so different, and their habits and biases are different as well.
As for me, the cumin flavor creates more character – it’s like a man with a biography, who fought all his life upward, rising from the bottom.

Vetyver Nicolai 30 ml, 100 ml and 250 ml bottles

Vetyver Nicolai is quiet, not for showing off, in contrast to the sweet resinous FAREB Huitieme Art Parfums, where cumin is harmoniously complemented by the sweetness of immortelle, plum, cedar and amber. I believe the Vetyver Nicolai cologne could have been created instead of Eau d’Hermes, if the house at that time had decided to choose muted green instead of bright orange as the brand's color. Vetyver Nicolai Parfumeur Createur is a controversial and bold cologne, but I think that it’s good. Patricia de Nicolai has proven again that some new and interesting combinations can still be found in perfume creations, even in such an overpopulated genre as vetiver colognes. And that proves again that niche perfumery still has a role to perform.

Vetyver Nicolai Parfumeur Createur

Notes: galbanum, coriander, petitgrain, cumin, cloves, black pepper, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vetiver, woody accord, tonka bean, amber notes.

Sergey Borisov has been involved in perfumery since the early 90`s when he had his own perfume-devoted program “Close to Body” on Krasnoyarsk radio (1993). As a perfume enthusiast (known as moon_fish), he became famous in Russia for his translation of  Luca Turin's Perfume: Le Guide. He made a career as a fragrance journalist and contributed to distinguished magazines such as GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Interview, Forbes, Allure, Robb Report, Flacon, Departure, RBC-Style, TSUM-Magazine (2008-2016). His own online columns for,, and (2006-2015) have earned him international recognition and an invitation to be an editor for the Russian edition of “The Little Book of Perfumes” by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.  Sergey Borisov was invited as a speaker at Esxence 2012 (Milano) and Intercharm 2015 (Moscow). In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team.

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