Chêne is yet another Lutens perfume that doesn’t dare to smell like anything other than Atlas cedar (Lutens’ personal favorite note). As is the case of Lutens’ Feminite du Bois, the Atlas cedar aroma in Chêne is derived not from actual Atlas cedar (it has Virginia cedar, which is actually juniper wood) but rather by suggesting it through a clever accord, in this case comprised of oak, birch, and rum. The one albeit minor variation in Chêne is that the Atlas cedar effect is smoky—in fact, the finish is rather "church-ee."
Oh, how I wish that this perfume dared to be what it was meant to be (based on its supporting notes): a true dry/aromatic woody fragrance, not another sweet/cough drop-like Atlas cedar-type perfume. Toss out the rum, honey, and Tonka, and throw in some orris butter, a pinch of patchouli, and a smidge of vetiver. What a crisp, classy, alluring, and masculine fragrance that would make…an impeccably groomed gentleman in a tailor-made designer tuxedo.
In any event, if Atlas cedar is the note/accord that you’re after, then I suggest Lutens’ Cèdre or even Feminite du Bois instead.
18th January, 2013 (last edited: 19th January, 2013)
I wanted to like this, and I do.. but...
I just goes on oaky, smoky, and dry.. then that's it. However, by far, this is probably the most authentic conjuration of oak, but it just lacks the magic and charm I wanted it to have.
Altogether, will still buy if I see a reasonably priced bottle of it on the swap and sale boards.
Honeyed pencil shavings with few drops of sweet sap, this is a nice woody fragrance. However, from the first time I tested this, it felt just "nice", and it has been unable to rock my world ever since. I`ve sampled and woren this quite a few times, and the result has always been the same : "Nice".
It`s just not enough.
One of those fragrances which my brain tells me to be in love, but the heart knows better than that.
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I have to say, I've never had to work so hard to understand a fragrance before. I've read reviews of Chene here and on various blogs and had a very specific expectation which had been building for nearly a year. Now that I've been able to experience it, it's taken me a week of concentrated effort to figure out how to conform my experience of Chene into what Sheldrake and Lutens were telling me I was supposed to be seeing. I'll begin by saying that now I see freshly sawed wood and sap when I smell this, without a pause, without skipping the slightest beat. But the first time I smelled Chene I was shocked to smell sour fruit candy notes billowing off my skin for at least the first half hour of wear. Truth be told, that is ALL I could smell the FIRST time I wore it. I wanted to smell wooded paths, pine needles under foot, or be transported to a wood shop or even an antiques store like my fellow basenoters but I couldn't get past this purple/maroon/red nondescript fruit candy smell. I lent my wrist to family members who would respond with "very woody!" and slump shouldered, I wondered why I wasn't getting it.
I honestly can't tell you what happened but one day, it just clicked: the candy turned into the smell of sap: the smell of walking into a room where wood is being cut by a circular saw, the hot blade radiating the scent of sawdust and resins and sap into the air. There is a great moment in Chene where the image of the freshly cut wooden plank and heated sap comes into complete focus and it is a really fantastic effect, though it takes me a while to get there each time I wear it. I guess I've just never experienced a woody fragrance quite like this before. They've all been less sweet, less "freshly cut" and less sappy, I suppose, thus the reason my nose and brain were groping for words to describe what they were experiencing -- the reason for why they were telling me fruity candy. The great thing about Chene is that it seems so fixed in its intent, but my interpretation of it shifts as I wear it... newly cut wood, old wooden furniture, a walk in a pine forest -- it's all conjured by this fascinating fragrance which I'd actually not want to wear, but am happy to have a little bit of to sniff from time to time.
Of all the Serge Lutens I've tried, this one is the one that seems to fall firmly in the "masculine" for me. I say this because it's a wee bit too green and woodsy and never strays to far from those notes, making it as linear as most of the other men's department store scents that I don't care for. As I wore it, it did remind me of walking through a forest in the fall, smelling pine in the air and the fallen leaves and earth of the forest floor. Now, I'm not one of those girly girls, I'll wear a scent meant for a man in a minute, if I like it, but there are some things even I can't pull off. I imagine this would smell really great on some rugged outdoorsy man.
I just can't get past the mental picture of thick, rich, honeyed rum, funneled by some prankster into the classroom pencil trimmer. I mean, who's gonna clean up that mess??
I can't give it a thumbs down, though. The sweet richness brings Fumerie Turque to mind, and I suspect part of my Meh factor is just that its not going to be Fumerie Turque! Chene is guite a bit more masculine IMO.
Smells like powdered sweet tarts to me. Certainly not bad, but very different. It's a well crafted fragrance but I don't think it is for me.