Sycomore, Les Exclusives de CHANEL
Sycomore is universally described as a vetiver and sandalwood combination. Imagine how vetiver smells. Now imagine the scent of sandalwood. Now mix those two in your imagination. Did that? Good. What you got probably smells nothing like Sycomore. Yes, Sycomore has a dominant vetiver note. And yes, the vetiver rests on a base of deep, creamy sandalwood, which is impossible to miss in this fragrance. But taking vetiver oil, and mixing it with some sandalwood (Australian or Mysore) will not give you anything close to the masterpiece that is Sycomore. What you will lack are: an enormous depth; a tasteful balance; a fleeting smokiness; an airy lightness; and loads of imagination provoking elements of the brand behind this perfume, not to mention the bottle … what a bottle.
Sycomore is best in the opening. The top notes are sharp, smoky, sweet, but most of all, clear. There is something urban and glamorous about it. The opening is a gust of cold wind on a Friday night in late November, giving you a refreshing slap on the face as you step out of the warmth of your car, and set on your way to wherever the celebration is tonight. It expands your lungs and makes you breath deep, with a full chest. You notice a sweetness to it, which reminds you that the holidays are coming. As you walk, you see the mannequins in the department store windows and pretty people on the streets.
While widely perceived to be linear, I have to say that Sycomore makes a big change about 15 minutes in, when it enters the mid notes. Specifically, the chest expanding burst of whatever aroma chemicals (aldehydes? Iso E Super?) dies down, and it feels like somewhere along the way you had a change of plans, and instead of an evening of alcohol and dancing, you spent the night in the comfort of someone’s home (your own?) and good company.
In the mid notes, vetiver comes out stronger, but never overpowers the creamy and sweet sandalwood base. At this point this scent is very well balanced, with a little smokiness, a little sweetness, a little freshness, and a little woods. It stays this way for the next 6 hours on my skin.
It is perfectly pleasant, and irresistible. There isn’t a single unpleasant element in it. Every molecule that enters your nose is aimed straight for the pleasure centers of your brain, and for the higher levels of your imagination. There is nothing carnal or wild about it. It makes you think of being a better man, and having a better, quieter, more meaningful life.
Overall, this is a staple in my wardrobe. It is terrifically composed, publicly accessible, and easy to wear. I deeply regret that the opening does not last forever – those top notes are indescribable.