1. Winter is hardly the time to properly consider Vent Vert, so let's not regard this as anything approaching a "review". Still, here's the thing. Here is A thing, anyway. I smell some of these Spring and Summer old reliables best during the Winter. Caps on those seasons, please, as they all do major things to the way I perceive certain fragrances or any fragrance at all. Summer stifles many a scent for this oh so delicate nose. For me, Vent Vert breathes freshest and most meticulously of Spring during the colder months of the year, when its stages and subtleties play out in stop motion detail.
2. No one I remember from my childhood wore Vent Vert--that I recollect. I'm not sure I would have remembered. Though it smells familiar (Ma Griffe, anyone?), Vent Vert also smells quintessentially ubiquitous: it doesn't smell like perfume as much as nature in general. What breathes such a breath of fresh air into this fragrance dating back to 1947?
3. Notes. According to Osmoz.com: galbanum, lemon, basil, peach. Those are the top notes. In the heart: jasmine, rose, hyacinth, lily of the valley. At base: vetiver, oakmoss, sandal, styrax.
4. The opening smuggles in that lily of the valley and hyacinth bouquet under more forceful impressions (i.e. a "gust") of galbanum and basil. It's a weird little movement, in its way; strangely herbal, where you expect dewy and grassy. Don't assume that Vent Vert, being fresh as spring air, is vastly less strange than that other legendary oddity by its perfumer Germaine Cellier, Piguet's Bandit. Both reveal themselves in unexpected juxtapositions. Bandit is simply a bit more declarative.
5. I haven't smelled the most recent formulation of Vent Vert. In 1991, it was reformulated by Calice Becker; rendered, I would guess, fresher, with more sunlit brilliance shining through the reeds. Becker was an interesting choice. Apparently, the formula for Vent Vert was quite complicated. She narrowed it down considerably, aiming for its essence. What, though, if its essence was simply over-complication? I own the Becker version--and appreciate it's lime-like zest, a quality it maintains throughout its development, even into the otherwise mossy base, which reminds me of that bitter musky smell you get from grass-stains on denim. Who better than the nose behind J'Adore, Beyond Paradise, and Tommy Girl to emphasize the sunny facets of Vent Vert?
6. Pity Nathalie Feisthauer. In 1999, she was enlisted to reformulate again; or, as Luca Turin put it, to "deface". As I said, I haven't smelled this version. Balmain did better reconstructing Miss Balmain--which smells shockingly similar to the original. They did an at least respectable job with the Jolie Madam redo. I've smelled original and update side by side and there are considerable differences; however, they share the basic idea, differing in approach. Jolie new is far greener. It lacks that musky density restrictions removed from so many older fragrances. Apparently, no such luck with the new Vent Vert, which, defaced or not, is agreed to be a far cry from even the idea of the original.
7. Vent Vert is a soft thing. I wouldn't say it has a lot of presence. I wouldn't call it a skin scent, either, but it's no screamer. It's contemplative, out looking at the view in the middle of a grassy field somewhere. It lasts decently, if not amazingly. Osmoz classifies it as a "heritage perfume". It is said to evoke the post war era. I would say that's true, in terms of what I consider that period of time. Osmoz also remarks that the use of galbanum in Vent Vert is generous. I find other galbanum fragrances to be much headier on the astringent side of the material. Think Aliage, for instance. Nevertheless, Vent Vert is beautiful and bold in a softly stated way, an interesting contradiction.
I have a 1ml bottle of the Calice Becker reformulation. In order to be eligible, please leave a comment telling me the perfume which reminds you more than any of a person from the past, bringing them to life when you sniff it. I'll draw a name on Tuesday.