Perfume Review: St. Vetyver by D.S. & DURGA

Vetiver is a fascinating material. It is, at once, entirely distinct, but also completely versatile, allowing itself to be pulled into various directions – each different, but each distinctly ‘vetiver’. It’s a chameleon in that way, noticeable in its bright greens, browns and yellows, but it has the ability to take on many forms to conceal itself. Vetiver’s versatility comes from its complexity – it has a wonderfully complex odour profile with facets of citrus, grapefruit, smoke, grass, hay, mineral, salt, earth, nut, malted sugar and more. Vetiver is remarkable.

For St. Vetyver, the latest fragrance from super cool indie brand D.S. & DURGA, we are whisked away to a balmy evening in the Caribbean with a vetiver that celebrates the golden, boozy and warm facets of this wonderful material. The brand calls this an “island vetyver” that “pays homage to the famous Caribbean colognes of sailors and lovers of the sea” that boasts a pure aged distillate of vetiver. It all sounds rather exciting and to be honest, they had me at ‘vetiver’, but when they threw some sailors into the mix, I was fully sold on the concept…

So is this a fantasy vetiver that transports us to tropical islands? Let’s find out.

Soft island grass, sunbaked citrus where the tradewinds blow. Panama hats, cane plants, and aged rhum over the finest Caribbean vetiver.


The Notes

Top: Sour Orange, Pink Pepper and Sea Grass
Heart: Cane, Clove Leaf and Taquilla Straw
Base: Vetyver, Breadnut and Rhum Agricole

The Perfumer

David Seth Moltz (D.S. & DURGA)

How Does it Smell?

There is a subtle freshness that greets you as you press the atomiser of St. Vetyver. It is tinged with the glowing amber of sunlight, represented by the juicy warmth of orange – sparkling, but muted. There is an airy, mineral quality to things that evokes the feeling of scent carried on summer winds, without being particularly aquatic in nature – it evokes warm air, but the ‘by the ocean’ part is all down to your imagination. This muted, ‘vaseline on the lense’ approach works well because it allows all of the facets to blur into each other, making for a seamless vetiver with many exciting nuances.

The central accord is vetiver (obv) and whilst there are many luminous, citrus-boosted vetivers out there, St. Vetyver is not one of them. No, St. Vetyver chooses to amplify the savoury, nutty characteristics of vetiver, pairing the note with straw and cereals to create a smooth, yet warming feel that is softly oat-like in a subtle way. And I do mean subtle – everything here is treated with a delicate hand, allowing for the vetiver to feel distinct and instantly recognisable, but also new and unusual.

The base is where the booze really comes in – the sun sets, the drinks are poured and the ambery liquor reflects the golden light blazing across the sky (that’s flowery perfume speak for ‘it smells as good as a summer sunset feels’, FYI). The booze (rum) follows the same measured approach as the rest of the fragrance, with just a small shot added to intensify the warmth of the vetiver, but also amplify the malted, sweet note of sugar cane. The result is a smooth, slightly creamy, slightly sweet veil to shroud the star material of vetiver. Noice.

I really, really like St. Vetyver. What I should tell you though, if you haven’t guessed already, is that vetiver is not really a tough sell for me. A quick collection count tells me that I have at least 18 vetiver-centric fragrances within reach – so I guess I’m always primed to love a vetiver! That said, this is a very lovely one indeed, and what I admire about it is it softness – the muted, glowing quality it possesses. Wearing St. Vetyver, one really does feel like they are catching whiffs of rum-soaked vetiver on the languid summer winds, warmed by the heat of sun-baked earth radiating up from the ground. It’s beautifully evocative but also calm and reassuring. Now do excuse me, I’m going to spritz some on and enjoy a glass of rum whilst staring out at the ocean…

Longevity & Projection

Projection is on the softer side. I wouldn’t say this is a skin scent, but it’s not an attention seeker – its balanced but still present. People will smell it on you. St. Vetyver sits on your skin like a subtle amber glow, enticing people closer with its warm and sweet vetiver tones. Longevity is good and I easily get a good eight hours of enjoyment on the skin.


St. Vetyver is available in 50ml (£148) and 100ml (£220) Eau de Parfum


Sample provided by D.S. & DURGA. Images are my own. I was not paid for this review.