This could easily have been named "Certainly Cedar," as it is to my nose a quite linear and solitary exploration of Lutens' favorite wood note. This despite the translation of its name meaning "Oak."
There is an odd combination of sweet and bitter here, which could be the result of the birch tar and sap working against the beeswax and tonka. An interesting balance is thus achieved between two different olfactory exposures to freshly sawn wood, as in a lumber mill.
In any case it would certainly prove attractive to lovers of wood scents, but taken on its own, it is not complex or interesting enough of a composition to appeal to the general public.
I'm so disappointed. I was really hoping to love Chene. I typically love wood scents, and I had hoped this would be a wonderful new discovery, but my hope was in vain. Chene smells awful to me. If this is what oak smells like, then I don't care for it. This smells of urine in carpet that's been seeping into the pad from repeated dousing. A sour smell to be sure. There is a hint of sweetness that appears in the dry down, but it doesn't take away the sour aspect. I'll try it again sometime in the future to see if my opinion of this pungent brew changes with time.
The opening of Chene is remarkable, even memorable in my opinion. It's a surprisingly vibrant, realistic woody accord, the woodiest of them all, with a lot of nuances; fresh, sweet, radiant, balsamic, much spicy and with a nice green-herbal accord which increases the "green-balsamic-aromatic" factor - a "culinary" type of herbal notes as in some other Lutens' scents (here is thyme). The wood accord is different from pretty much any other I've ever smelled so far: it's really, really aromatic and rich, on the cedar-oak side with a hint of warm sweetness provided by sandalwood. Overall it has a peculiar sort of lively and vibrant freshness, like the invigorating smell of a freshly cut trunk of wood. So no smoky, dark, dry or "aged" woods, just real pure wood. A subtle pollen-resinous breeze (almost caramelised, with rooty and sweet nuances of licorice and honey - I guess this is all due to immortelle) completes the "landscape" of coniferous woods. Pretty much it, I think I smell only a couple of other slight notes that enhance different facets of the woody accord – green notes on one side, spices on the other (cardamom, but to me also juniper and a light cloves note). A really simple scent yet complex and cleverly composed, fascinating and powerful, evocative and sharp, incredibly natural yet incredibly "clean" somehow. And totally refined. Perhaps its martial linearity can turn into monotone staticity, but its "basic" and organic coziness is pure class and charme.
It has honestly taken me a long time to fall for Chêne. I usually like wood scents, but Chêne has a weird sweetness and not-so-subtle funk that never really spoke to me until recently. Perhaps I just needed to wear it on a particularly nice day, but now I’m enjoying it.
So what does it smell like? Oak, mostly. There’s a standard oak note in niche perfumes (especially the Duchoufour L’Artisans) that’s almost exaggeratedly dry and very dusty – this isn’t that. Instead, it’s more like moist tree bark. There are undertones of maple syrup, moss, and fresh earth, with a fairly strong leathery sweaty note in there as well. There’s a hard-to-place red sweetness (maybe berries or cedar) that hints at red wine, though Chêne smells to me more like a grove of trees than a winery.
This boozy woody fragrance is one you have to try. Reminds me a lot of Gucci Pour Homme I. Wood and tree sap mixed with a cognac drink is what I get from this. Sounds strange, but that's what I get.8.5/10