Thursday, March 8, 2012

Les Nez Turtle Vetiver Front: fragrance review & draw

An anarchic perfume? Why not?

an outlaw perfume
that doesn't recognize any rules or regulations
it hasn't been tested on animals
but one Turtle with his kind consent

Matthew Stoned for Dazed & Confused Oct.2011

Thus is Turtle Vetiver Front, the second installment in the limited edition series that began in 2009 with Turtle Vetiver Exercise No. 1, being introduced to us by Swiss niche line Les Nez, uncompromising in its catering for individuality and art-concepts. The new fragrance is part of the Turtle Salon (if you don't know about it, here's your chance to discover), hence the Turtle referenced, and was composed by ISIPCA teacher and perfumer Isabelle Doyen.

According to the blurb "For Turtle Vetiver Front, the smoky and flinty facets of vetiver are brought to the fore, with carbon paper and freshly printed newspaper effects; an unexpected coconut note softens this austere blend and makes this iteration more easily wearable than the first, while preserving its raw power".

Indeed the new Les Nez fragrance opens intensely, with the swamp-like qualities of vetiver grass oil, which recall vast expanses of muddy waters where crocodiles might lurk, rather than techno-age associations; Creature of the Swamp more than 9 to 5 with its carbon papers, even though there is a hint of inkiness possibly due to quite a bit of oakmoss in the formula and a 3D quality thanks to a drop of natural ambergris. Les Nez doesn't really have to be IFRA compliant, nor is it cost-effective bound. The effect is overall flinty, inky, swampy, even phenolic from a certain angle when sprayed. Almost immediately Turtle Vetiver Front takes on a very discernible fig leaf facet with cedar wood, sweetened with the milky note that is inherent in the fruit's sack: the whiteish, coconutty-laced note we have come to get introduced to from Premier Figuier and really now find in Santal Massoia (Hermès) and Santal Blush by Tom Ford  (as well as in a woody butch iteration in Santal 33 by Le Labo). Coconut has a reputation to scare the horses, as it's been played to death by aroma-care companies that churn it out in devilish cones lurking at the back of Ukranian-driven taxis and overdoses that can turn rotten-sweet in suntan lotions and Pina Colada cocktails, but if those are your associations you need not worry: This is a new development in the industry we will be seeing more of, using coconut lactone to soften woody compositions and with the usual refinement of both Les Nez and Doyen the coconut facet is both subtle and delightful, merely giving a caress. If you liked that element in Santal Massoia, you will most definitely like it here too.

Compared to Turtle Vetiver Exercise 1 (the first edition), the original was rawer, more robust, with a pronounced salty true aspect to the vetiver, iodine-like and sea-reminiscent, with that "briny/marine" tonality in Goutal's Vetiver, also composed by Doyen; unique, delightfully bracing, for hard-core vetiver fans! In Turtle Vetiver Front, the greener and milky elements are that of the shore which solaces the wounded under the shadow of the fig trees, providing a softer turn which would make it very wearable for men and women alike.The inky top notes reminiscent of Lalique's Encre Noire swirl back and forth between rawness and the softness of fig/coconut, producing a lasting vetiver fragrance that will get discussed (and which I personally liked a lot). NB. When stocks run out, the third iteration, Turtle Vetiver Back will challenge us more with an edgier interpretation!

Notes for Les Nez Turtle Vetiver Front: vetiver, coconut lactone (synthetic coconut note), moss and ambergris.

LesNez Turtle Vetiver Front is available in Eau de Parfum, 50ml/1.7oz for $120 on the official Les Nez site. Profits are given to Turtle and there are only 90 splash bottles available. There are also samples available for purchase.

I have a deluxe sample atomiser for one lucky reader.
Please say what you like or not like in vetiver & coconut fragrances in the comments to enter. Draw remains open till Sunday midnight.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Vetiver Series, Les Nez fragrances.

In the interests of disclosure, I was sent 2 samples in the mail. 


  1. Anonymous09:01

    Nice review, but you didn't actually tell us whether you liked it or not!

  2. I liked it very much. I thought it was obvious. Guess not! (will now go and openly say it) ;-)

  3. Thank you very much for this excellent review, which really makes me want to try the new iteration!

    I like everything about Vetyver fragrances, and have quite a few to fall back upon in my collection, although not the first Turtle Vetyver, which I missed out on, sadly, apart from a sample. Smelling Vetyver to me is like coming home: my ultimate comfort scent. I cherish a high-quality vial of essential oil, beautiful stuff, and find that the first Turtle Vetyver came very close to this natural essence: very raw and true to the root.

    As to coconut fragrances, well, they couldn't miss either: are they not the essence of a gourmand, sun-filled summer, at least in my Northern European urban dweller's beach-craving fantasies?

    However, the fact that Turtle Vetyver Front seems to let those two notes mingles has me in throes of excitement: I can hardly imagine how this could work, but work it must, apparently!

    Apologies for this long post...I hope this will not disqualify me for the draw! ^_^

  4. Anonymous09:57

    Thank you for clarifying and editing your review. Your original review said 'for hard-core vetiver fans' and 'will get discussed', which I thought left some room for doubt. Anyway, I agree with those comments, but personally I didn't care for it.

  5. Stephan11:37

    Always interesting to get to know a new life of the vetiver material. Vetiver was the first scent that started my love for perfumes at a tender age.

  6. Laurinha,

    thanks for sharing your thoughts on vetiver/vetyver with us. "Like coming home" is such an emotionally-loaded feeling, how lovely.

    Of course you're included in the draw, thanks for commenting!

  7. Anon,

    just to clarify: the review was merely supplemented by a parenthesis, after your second quote cited, which defines beyond doubt my liking of TVF.
    The first quote however referred to the first version, as you can see if you read again a bit carefully: that one is the raw, robust, hard-core stuff (and very true to the root essential oil). Just to be 100% clear on this.

    I find the second version much softer after the first couple of minutes and mostly about fig-coconut. I like that iteration of fig leaves and green-woody notes, might have to do with them reminding me of childhood and geographical memories.

  8. Stephan,

    thanks for your comment. It's a lovely genre to be sure!!

  9. This scent intrigues me after reading several reviews, yours included. I generally prefer vetifer as a basenote grounding a lighter top (if that makes sense) and the mention of coconut used to make me run. Tastes change over time and now I enjoy both notes though I don't think I've smelled them together (hence the intrigue :) Thanks for the review and the draw!

  10. Coconut will always remind me of Hawaiian Tropic Suntan Oil, which we used by the quart in the 70's and 80's. But I love vetiver for it's confusing quality. Is it grass? Is it dirt? Is it smoke? Or all of them? It seems that each vetiver EO is different from the other. This sounds intriguing.

  11. Fernando13:48

    This sounds very interesting, but I sort of resent the approach of releasing things for short periods and then they're gone. But maybe if I get some, I'll feel differently... I never could find the first one.

  12. I like all aspects of vetiver, if I'm being honest - grassy, marine/salty, nutty and especially the rooty/earthy accord so well done in Vetiver Extraordinaire.

    I'm not as much of a fan of coconut in perfume, but like it usually when it comes through in a fig fragrance.


  13. I like coconut because it is an edibble exotic smell. So, I can take a lot of it in a mix.

    Vetivert is quite strange to me: I' ve smelt SL's Vetivert Oriental and liked it a lot! However, the essential oil alone is bitter and unpleasant. It takes great artisanship to incorporate this element in a perfume.

  14. I like vetiver quite a lot, also fig leaf & cedar. It's the coconut... Actually, if I don't know it's in there, I probably wouldn't mind it. But if this one is not, as you say, rotten-sweet, then I would love to be in the draw!

  15. I love rich vetiver fragrances--the earthy, mineral, and grassy qualities are wonderful. I'm not such a fan of coconut, but I hope to give this a try!

  16. This will be hard to find where I am, but as the most, I also love rich and beautiful vetiver, but dry vetiver also. As one we can find in Profvmum Roma Fumidus! ;)


  17. I love vetiver, but it can feel a bit harsh in some iterations. As for coconut, I really like the scent of the coconut oil I sometimes use as a hair conditioner, but in fragrances the note can be too sweet for my taste. I can imagine that the two notes combined could create a gorgeous balance. I'd love to try this.

  18. Ursula16:36

    I like vetiver. Am curious about the mix with a coconut scent. Please enter me into the Draw.

  19. I am a huge vetiver lover and enjoy testing vetiver fragrances paired with interesting notes ( vetiver + tuberose in Ego Facto's Me Myself and I).

  20. Vetyver is good when it's not boring, as it used to be in many fragrances. Nowadays more and more niche houses make an excellent use of it.

  21. Vetiver is deep, coconut is not,

  22. Great review, as usual. I love vetiver, in my opinion the only really long-lasting, natural smelling fresh material. I'm looking forward to smelling the series - though perhaps not this one - coconut is really not among my favorites - but perhaps, as you say, it is its overuse.


  23. Anonymous17:48

    I'm having trouble putting the scents of vetiver and coconut together in my head.

    I enjoy Vetiver scents (and only recently realised that I've used up 2 bottles of Vetiver when I haven't used up any other bottles of fragrance!).

    Could the "Les Nez Turtle Vetiver Front" work on me to that extent? Only way to find out is enter the draw! Please count me in.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  24. MAureen18:13

    I think of vetiver as a man's scent. Coconut always reminds me of suntan lotion, but I like it, especially in Bronze Goddess. I'd love to experience the 2 scents together. Please enter me in the draw.

  25. I love vetiver for it's earthiness and greenness. I like coconut for its smoothness and coolness, but if it's too strong it smells too much like sunscreen.

  26. I seem to like vetiver combined with everything! I think the coconut would be fabulous!

  27. I really like vetiver a lot, both in fragrances in which it is the centrepiece (surprised no one has mentioned Guerlain yet!) but also when it is integrated into more complex compositions in which it is not the dominant note. I'm thinking here of the most lovely Habanita, which I discovered in an epiphany at the Molinard factory in Grasse at the young age of 23.

    I LOVE the idea of this fragrance bringing together vetiver with coconut as it is geographically appropriate given vetiver's colonial history. The two seem to me like they should be remarkably compatible bedfellows.

    Thank you for the fabulous review and for entering me in the draw!

  28. I don't really know enough about vetiver to say whether I like or dislike it. As far as coconut, I've always disliked eating it, but I do like the scent. I think my reason is the same as Olfacta's. It reminds me of going to the beach and using coconut-scented suntan oil.

  29. I love coconut in fragrances and in general. I am not as familiar with vetiver and I have yet to find the vetiver I truly, truly love. I think the reason I love coconut so much is that it reminds me of the tropics... ahhhhh

  30. I do like Chantecaille's Vetyver. Coconut on the other hand is odd for me in a fragrance. I love eating it, I use coconut oil for lots of things including massage and cooking, but in a fragrance it just smells like suntan oil. I got a Pacifica coconut oil scent and it smells like a 14 year old girl to me. I would love to smell a grown up coconut!

  31. I am a vetiver fan. I can swim in the stuff and not find it overdosed. I was determined to purchase a full bottle of the current turtle vetiver but the price/quantity ratio is a deterent because I use vetiver fragrances with abandon. I've been known to go trigger-happy with Encre Noir and bring tears to other people's eyes.
    About the coconut note I won't know till I try it but when something becomes more "wearable" it is usualy not a good thing in my book. To me massoia has this very pronounced coconut/fig leaf aspect but on skin it can smell disgusting like some sort of secretion. In general over-lactonic fragrances (like I believe Channel Egoiste is) nauseate me.

  32. This scent sounds so intriguing. At first, coconut and vetiver sounds like a unlikely marriage but the more I imagaine it, the more I like it. Especially as the coconut accord sounds more subtle than what is found in mass produces coconut scented products. When I think of the scent of real coconuts, it has an earthy edge to it (hidden beneath the sweet and cool notes) and that could blend well with the vetiver. I'm curious!

  33. Zazie11:29

    Coconut is one of the few fruity notes I like...maybe because it goes naturally with white flowers and I am so in love with the genre.

    Vetiver is a note I like in smoky settings: à la Sycomore....

  34. i like vetiver perfumes cause there is a more masculine side to them, an idea that not everything is sweet and la la la. coconut: reminds of summer. a bit obvious but hey it is raining here all the time.

  35. Cheryl15:48

    I love vetiver and use coconut oil
    every day in cooking. What an interesting combination.

    Thank you, and please enter me in the draw.

  36. As I read your review, I am transported back to a childhood summer on an island in the caribbean. I envision sitting on the back stairs of a beach house scooping out the white, milky flesh of a young green coconut as the salty sea breeze carries the scent of rain drenched reeds, dirt and palm trees. I have always been facinated with vetyver as I find it to be so multifaceted. I would love a sample!

  37. I'm a big fan of vetivier in fragrances, for example Guerlain Vetivier and Vetivier Tonka. I thought I disliked coconut, but I really like the coconut note in Santal Massioa, so this sounds very interesting!

  38. vetiver is one of my favourite notes in a perfume and i owe quite a few that are vetiver based (sycomore, encre noire, itasca plus the classics, guerlain and givenchy) but the coconut note i'm afraid is a major turn off for me, too foody, sweet and most times artificial, sort of plastic like. the only fragrance where i liked the coconut note, well, more like stand it, was eldo's fils de dieu du riz et des agrumes, and even that didn't convince me that it's fbw.

  39. Anonymous04:16

    Vetiver smells like deep dark earth to me-it keeps me grounded, and smells clean, with a mineral aspect. It was your review of FM VE that got me started! Also, Guerlain's Vetiver makes me happy-but only the vintage mens.:)
    Have a good weekend, and I hope you are well,

    Carole MacLeod

  40. It's been a long time now I haven't been lurking here. Glad to read you again.
    I'm an absolute fan of the Exercice 1, for me Isabelle doyen is a real rock and roll witch!
    I'd be curious to smell the new variation, would it be the coconut note which frighten me a bit. (The only coconut I can stand is Love coco)
    I use to layer Turtle 1 with Vamp a NY on hot summer days to add a creamy lactonic effect to the rooty sweety back from the beach vetiver, so maybe exercice 2 could be perfect.
    Can I be entered in the draw if it isn't too late?

  41. rosiegreen18:45

    I love the smell of vetiver and would very much like to smell Turtle Vetiver Front. I was too late to try the the first Turtle Vetiver. I am also very fond of the scent of coconut and fig so this one sounds like it is made just for me. Thanks for the great review.

  42. Merlin11:05

    Vetiver is a note I used to hate and now find myself irresistibly attracted towards. I like fig frags very much and am fond of the coconut in Philosykos, but the coconut in Bronze Goddess is suffocating on my skin...


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