Yves Cassar: “If vetiver were a character, it would be Indiana Jones”

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A perfumer for IFF in New York since 1998, he has created a host of successful fragrances, alone or as part of a team: Pure White Linen and Intuition for Men for Estée Lauder; Tom Ford for Men,Cashmere Mist Essence and Fog for Henry Rose; and Knock on Wood for Tory Burch.

Interview from the chapter dedicated to the vetiver, in the book From Plant to Essence – A World Tour of Fragrant Raw Material (see below)

What does this raw material call to mind for you?
I associate vetiver with African countries and the desert, perhaps because I was born in North Africa. Landscapes of dry land, dust, ochre colors… Vetiver evokes exotic places for me. If it were a character, it would be Indiana Jones.

Can you describe the smell of the fresh root and of vetiver essence?
When you lightly scratch a root that has just been dug up, first you get a fresh smell, a little like grapefruit, almost gingery. Then comes a very earthy, leathery side. The essence is much darker, with a smoky, peanut, leathery, woody, earthy facet. These days, we also have refined essences, obtained after the molecular distillation of the essential oil in our Grasse laboratories. This removes the smoky, roasted peanut aspect of the raw essence and produces a cleaner, fresher, more modern note. Finally, we also use fractional distillation in Grasse to obtain a vetiver heart, a quality that brings out the fresh, grapefruit aspect.

Which ingredients do you like to pair it with?
Vetiver goes very well with citrus fruits– its citrusy side links it to them. It also goes well with woody notes, such as cedar or woody ambers. They complement each other, as the woody ingredients give vetiver a more modern and invigorating aspect. For feminine fragrances, I like to combine it with ingredients based on rose and peony. It gets along perfectly with flowers: I recently produced a tuberose and vetiver pairing and it worked very well. It can also be interesting with musks, which give it roundness and comfort. It’s a fairly versatile ingredient, which can bring structure to a formula. The only difficulty is taming its wild side.

This interview is from:
De la plante à l’essence – Un tour du monde des matières à parfums
From Plant to Essence – A World Tour of Fragrant Raw Material
(Français-English), Nez éditions, Collectif, 2021, 45$/30€


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