Monday, February 21, 2011

Guerlain Vetiver: Three-dux
Given that this is third go round with this tropic, I couldn't resist the photo above. The others, however, might take some explaining...
But first, go check out Suzanne's take on the vintage Guerlain Vetiver over at her Perfume Journal.  For Suzanne, this vetiver came off as more roaring lion than purring kitten. And now, since she's found a 1950s Quadrilobe bottle  with a label that looks nearly identical to my so-called 'ancient' vetiver, there may be good reason to doubt the age and provenance of Guerlain Vetiver's ancien.
Does it still deserve the tag ancien? Maybe, maybe not...

 Una and the Lion
In defense of the question still being a valid one, I'll throw this out there: What about the Guerlain New Mown Hay? Since the bottles and labels for the Vetiver and New Mown Hay are identical, if the Guerlain Vetiver is a 1950s vintage then the Guerlain New Mown Hay would also have to be a 1950s thing. Is it? Do we know or can we find out if Guerlain made or reissued New Mown Hay during the 1950s?

I will further stoke the imagination, and fill in additional details, to also say that the bottle has an applied top with no mold marks, which fade at the neck, as you'd expect on an older bottle. Now what I know about glass I learned crash course style, when we inherited a large lot of antique bottles several years back. The oldest piece we had was a Connecticut flask from the 1750s (the glass looked plenty ripply!), and we had several 1800s bitter's and poison bottles, and plenty of 1900s drug store, medicine, food and whiskey bottles. In the process of identifying, cataloging and selling quite a few of those bottles -- and whew! let me interject, that most of that old glass stuff was way too valuable and way, way too fragile to hang on to! -- I definitely only scratched the surface on the practice of dating old glass, labels and the like; but...

I picked up enough experience to say that the labels on the Guerlain New Mown Hay and Vetiver are really old looking. The paper has aged to a color of weak tea when you examine the labels under 10X, and you can see the extent of extreme wear, the little chips, the eveness and diffuse nature of the wear etc... which you can't see from a photograph. They really look much, much older than any of the labels on my other older perfumes in my collection (mostly 1950s-1930s) and look more similar to other early 1920s-1880's bottles I've examined.

On the other hand, and moving somewhat more out into left field, I think I may have also mentioned in the original blog on this topic, that I was bothered that the look and quality of the glass used for the New Mown Hay and Vetiver bottles. It just wasn't as fine as I might have expected. The glass on those bottles has an almost rippled quality, and it does not match the quality of glass used (for example) on the Kadine bottle (1911-1930s), which is the oldest Guerlain bottle I have to compare these with. The Kadine bottle was obviously hand cut, polished etc... and I see no signs of cut and polish on the vetiver/nmh. The label on the Kadine bottle also looks much fresher, the clay coating on the paper is still intact and there is far less oxidation than what I see on the Vetiver and New Mown Hay labels.
So has the question been answered? In the end, I don't suppose it much matters. Not only did I find a vintage vetiver that pleases me nearly as much as Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire, which I didn't think was possible, but I'm also quite happy to have found a perfume friend like Suzanne. And after reading her amazing ode to Guerlain's Vetiver, it might even be turning into a perfume crush:)


image notes: I'm not really sure about what captured me about the theme of the lion and the girl, other than picturing myself, wearing a manly thing like Guerlain's Vetiver and finding it 'fits' me better than most of the stuff I sniff! My husband got a kick out these pictures, and deemed them OK to use... so putting my concerns for all the poor lions aside, I hope you see the humor there, too. Site credits for the pictures are pasted just below the photos.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.


Suzanne said...


Your bottle certainly is a mystery! I'm hoping that a knowledgeable perfume sleuth will happen along to help solve it. One thing I forgot to mention in my post is that the fragrance really matches up in memory to a bottle of Guerlain Vetiver that I purchased for my father in the early 70s. I purchased it blind and he absolutely loved it and wore it a lot. I remember thinking back then that it was rather fierce and having the same reaction to it that I did to your sample: So gorgeous in so many ways, and yet a little too fierce for me! Wish I could tame this lion a bit. :)

Even so, it was an honor to get to sample it -- thank you so much!


P.S. As you can guess, I love these photos. And the crush, my dear, is definitely mutual.

Amelia said...

Sd_keller: I'll confess that I've never even smelled Guerlain's vetiver before! So I must be very brash to make any assumptions about it at all. But treating it as a mystery and making guesses has been great fun in any case, and I must say you've been an excellent sport. Thanks for playing along:)

Amelia said...

Just to clarify- I've never smelled the seriously vintage Guerlain vetiver; which is of the type in the Quardilobe and maybe that which you've smelled before...