Thursday 23 January 2020

VETYVER VANILLE by Le Jardin Retrouvé

One of the most common questions that I get asked by perfume companies that I work with is, “What do we do with our end of line products?” By this they usually mean last year’s limited edition or a fragrance that has been discontinued. Many end up in discount stores, or heavily reduced during those regular online sales, but this wasn’t the route that Le Jardin Retrouvé decided to go down. With many fragrance fans now despite to get their hands on vintage perfumes, the company started a “by request” service called La Collection Historique and, because of that, Vetyver Vanille is just waiting to be rediscovered.

When Yuri Gutsatz founded Le Jardin Retrouvé back in 1975 it was out of a desire to return to the more traditional style of perfumery. It’s important to realise that the marketing machines were by then in full swing, and the days of the perfumer having control over what would be released were starting to come to an end, but Yuri believed that this wasn’t the only way that the industry could develop. What if it was possible to launch what the creator wanted and also use the finest materials available without any limitation on cost? Does it sound familiar?

Yuri Gutsatz is considered to be the father of “niche” perfumery and his belief that quality shouldn’t be compromised due to cost has formed the core of every true “niche” company ever since. He was famously quoted as saying “Perfumers should not let themselves be permanently deprived of their creative initiative - this was the prerogative of French perfumery during several generations, and the origin of its renown and greatness.” Le Jardin Retrouvé was revived in October 2016 under the direction of Yuri’s son, Michel, and his wife Clara. A selection of the original scents were revived but there was something lurking in the basement.

When Le Jardin Retrouvé originally went quiet, except for the occasional repeat order, all of the stock had been boxed up and put into storage. There was no heat and no light which is, for perfume, the perfect conditions. Now, the vintage versions of the 2016 reissued fragrances were disposed of but, because it wasn’t one of the seven chosen for rerelease, Vetyver Vanille was left alone. The fragrance was originally released in 1977 and followed in the footsteps of Guerlain and Carven, arguably two of the finest interpretations of vetiver, because every perfume house simply had to have a version of their own.

Vetyver Vanille opens with an interesting blend of bergamot and lemon with the slightly herbal touches from the former linking almost immediately down to the earthy vetiver. Within this expanse is where the playfulness happens in the form of a black pepper mixing with, what smells like, the slightest touch of rose. However, slinking into view, the arrival of the tonka-touched vanilla feels like a gear change and a tobacco note reinvigorates the vetiver into a new lease of life. There’s almost a whisper of sensuous labdanum and oakmoss in the distance but at no point do we lose those exquisitely captured central characters of the title.

Vetyver Vanille is available by request through the Le Jardin Retrouvé website at, where they will also let you know the current price, or in person at their Paris boutique. [Sample provided by Michel Gutsatz]

* I worked freelance for Le Jardin Retrouvé in 2017 but all opinions in this article are my own.


  1. I remember that I loved the original quite a few years ago....about 18.

    1. Hello Barry, this will probably be one of those nineties batches and so should bring back some memories for you. Best wishes, Stephan