Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Experience with the Fragrance Underworld

Now before you read on thinking I have a dark association with the black market underbelly of the perfume world. I don't. (What would I know about that? I am a scrawny actor). I mean my experience with the cologne adeptly named Underworld by Liz Zorn. (Creator of Rivertown Road cologne, a favorite of mine.) When I read the name of the fragrance Underworld I was intrigued. My mind conjuring up the inspiration for the scent being mythological images of Anubis, the Jackal-headed Egyptian god bringing condemned souls into the underworld.
So I ordered a sample. Thinking of a haunting scent shrouded in darkness.

Jackal headed Anubis reads the scales
Is Underworld the Perfumer's Interpretation of Eternal Damnation in a Bottle? 

The ingredient list includes "vetivers from around the globe." Having not yet fully grasped what exactly vetiver smells like on it's own. I research it. Here's what I find...

What Vetiver Is

Vetiver Chrysopogon zizanioides is a type of perennial grass closely related to lemon grass. Unlike most grass root systems which grow in a clumped vertical system, vetiver roots grow into the ground horizontally. Much more like a tree's root system than a grass one. This is also where the essential oil for vetiver is gathered, from it's roots. Major cultivators of vetiver are India and Haiti. Vetiver not only has a unique scent, it also has excellent chemically related fixative qualities. Which is one of the reasons it's found in countless perfume and colognes around the globe.

Harvesting Vetiver Video

The Aroma Recipe of Underworld

In addition to vetiver, Underworld also includes rich notes of cinnamon, ginger lily, clove, roasted coffee, cocoa, rose,  leather and balsams. It is very helpful that Liz lists all the ingredients of a cologne on the packaging. Especially for those allergic to some essential oils. But just like a cooking recipe to me,  I can't really tell how it will be from only reading the ingredients.

Smelling Brings a Different Story

I crack open the small glass vial of Underworld and pour some onto my skin. As the scent molecules waft to my nostrils, the Anubis imagery vaporizes out of mind. I was mistaken. This fragrance isn't the underworld of condemned souls. Nope. This is the underworld of a forest floor. Of roots & leaves. Of dirt not disturbed for years. The scent of darkness absorbing light. I mean that in a fanciful way as well as literally. Which makes perfect sense to me now, knowing that vetiver is from a root buried in the dirt.

A Journey Into The Underside

The scent reminds me of the Summer days spent out in the dense forest around my house. When I'd be raking up decaying leaves and mulch. (I was a kid that liked to work out in the yard building gardens...I still like that actually.) Raking, sweating, wiping some pine sap from the knee of my tree-climbing torn jeans. Moist dirt caked beneath fingernails. The deep aroma of earth being opened that hasn't breathed for years. Not unpleasant. A bit dirty. Musty, loamy, yet far from stale. A small heap of dried pine needles burning a few yards away.

Would I Wear It

I imagine someone wearing this would like wearing black eyeliner, paint their nails dark tones of black cherry, and read mostly macabre themed books.  I just may have to order a whole bottle.

If you like the scent of Vetiver also try: 
  • Vetiver Dance by Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer

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