Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Sycomore (new) by Chanel

Total Reviews: 97
Yesterday I finally tested a Sycomore EdT sample gifted me by a kind and generous fellow fragrance lover (thank you again!), and I wanted to share my impressions which may be more helpful to the ladies than they will be to the gentlemen, but who knows? The gentlemen may also find what I have to say useful.

Upon initial application, the top notes were quite strong and projected quite well. I think they were helped in this respect by a soupçon of aldehydes. They were very green and woody; however, the woodiness was not the woodiness I expected. Instead of the woody trunks of the cypress and sandalwood trees I expected, I smelt the green foliage of the cypress and what must have been the vetiver note, but I detected no sandalwood whatsoever. I also detected a lot of smokiness and possibly pink pepper. I am not familiar enough with the pink pepper note to be sure if I smelt it or not. The top notes dried down quite quickly as one might expect. Within thirty minutes, insofar as I could tell, as there was no one around to ask, Sycomore dried down to a complete skin scent on me. Overall, I found it quite linear.

Sycomore's greenness and smokiness persisted into the deep dry down, but I was never able to perceive any floral note(s) in it whatsoever. About three hours later, I reapplied it and had the same experience as the first time. I continued to press my nose against my wrists every so often over the next four to five hours to see if I could detect anything else, but I was unable to discern anything else. Sycomore EdT persisted on my skin for a solid four to five hours but only as a skin scent. Again, I wished I had had someone nearby who could have offered me some input on the longevity and projection. In the end, I found I liked the deep, deep dry down of Sycomore best as the greenness finally began to fade away a bit.

Now, as to the question of whether or not Sycomore is a "masculine" scent or not, I would argue that it is not a masculine scent per se. However, if I had not known anything about Sycomore in advance of smelling it, and if I had closed my eyes and smelt it on someone near me, I would have guessed I was smelling it on a man. I think it would definitely be attractive on a man. Yet, it is nevertheless "unisex" as I could see a woman wearing it as well, but I cannot conceive of a venue/occasion where I personally would wear Sycomore except perhaps if I were camping in the woods and wanted to blend in with the natural ambience of my surroundings.

I spent a lot of time yesterday smelling and thinking about Sycomore EdT, and in my humble opinion, Sycomore has Sheldrake's signature all over it. It smells much, much more like a Lutens's fragrance than a Chanel fragrance, and I had to wonder what did Polge contribute to it? I do not detect any influence from Polge aside perhaps from the fleeting, light aldehydes in the top notes. If I smelt Sycomore at random and did not know that it came from Chanel and had to guess from which house it had come, I would have guessed Serge Lutens.

Mind you, I still consider myself to be a beginner in this hobby, but these were my impressions of Sycomore, and I can see why out of all the Les Exclusifs Sycomore is the one most beloved by men. Would I enjoy this on the men around me? Yes, I believe I would do. Would I wear Sycomore? Well, I think I might wear it once in a while if I had it in my collection, but I doubt I would reach for it very often.

Many people describe Sycomore as an Autumnal fragrance, but I would not associate it with any season in particular. I think it could be worn all year. I read one review in which the reviewer said she initially smelt both No. 22 and Sycomore and opted for No. 22, but years later, she tired of No. 22 and fell in love with Sycomore. For me, it would be the other way around. I cannot conceive of ever growing weary of the gorgeous No. 22, and equally, I cannot conceive of ever falling in love with Sycomore EdT. That being said, I have yet to test the new EdP which according to one commentator is vastly different from the EdT and is more "feminine." I may like the EdP much more. It remains to be seen, but I plan to test the EdP at the soonest opportunity.

05th October, 2016
Uh-huh. Recently purchased this, as the word from the rep is Exclusifs are going slowly to Eau de Parfum refab.
A 2010 Vintage, I have procured, to my delight.
As usual, our ClaireV offers us the Epicurean, Bon Bon review that tantalizes our senses.
How can one not at least try this treasure.
ClaireV's review. Just read it!

Then open up your purse and send a few shekels to become a BN+ member. Just realized it's my 1 year Birthday and I can easily say it's an inexpensive ride.
05th June, 2016
I’m a freelance writer-slash-odd-jobber, which means that I write articles and blog posts about all sorts of things, like retinoic acid, how to sell your own home without a real estate agent, and the top ten things you can learn about social media dominance from Don Draper. Seriously. Those are all articles I have written. You will not find me half as ridiculous as I find myself, believe me.

Freelance writing is soul-destroying work for the most part, because most clients don’t value writing and they are always pissed off that they have to pay someone to do it. Plus, nobody feels bad about being mean or rude to a freelance writer. The one thing I do like about it, though, is that you get to learn things you didn’t know before.

For example, I recently started work translating the content of a vaping website from German into English. Now, I know nothing about vaporizers and vaping, but after translating the advantages of several models as avoiding the risk of burning “your precious plant material”, I began to be curious as to the nature of this precious plant material they kept referring to. I have my head so stuck in the fragrance clouds, I kind of thought precious plant material meant a rare variety of vetiver root or something.

Well, turns out it’s not vetiver!

You know, it’s funny, but ever since I found this out, I get a powerful urge to smoke a little something something when I’m translating this website’s content. And then I get the munchies. It’s not good either for my concentration or my waistline, this job. It’s been a long time since I’ve, um, indulged in this particular activity and I don’t know why it’s come upon me. But what can I say? Ich habe hunger, as they put it in German.

Sycomore also sparks a kind of hunger in me for all the unhealthy, unwise things. It’s not in the least bit sweet or gourmand. But like all very, very dry things – salted plums, vermouth, etc – Sycomore makes my mouth water. It’s an involuntary reflex – monkey smell, monkey do.

Sycomore opens as cool, damp green woods and then segues quickly into a dry, smoky vetiver that smells to me very much like the smoke from a joint. It smells sweet and grassy and oh so good. Damn, now I wish I were 18 again, living in digs and with absolutely none of the respect for law enforcement I now have.

The pot note jives nicely with the juniper berry, creating what I think of as the “gin-and-tonic” note. If No. 18 reminds me of a martini, complete with bitter vermouth and juicy olives – pitched high enough to suck your mouth dry, then Sycomore definitely smells like gin and tonic, infused with smoke from a joint.

Damn, now I want a cocktail.

My mouth waters when I wear Sycomore. Yes, yes – it is cool, crisp, and as elegant as everyone says. But don’t confuse clarity (or linearity) with simple-mindedness – Sycomore has a rich, velvety depth to it. Peel back the smoke and the woods, and you find a creamy sandalwood, which merges with the nutty vetiver to create the fine-grained, melting texture of the finest torta gianduia you’ve ever tasted.

Damn, now I want cake.

Luca Turin, in his review of Sycomore in The Guide, said that, “If putting it on does not make you shiver with pleasure, see a doctor.” I think that sentence perfectly captures the sheer sensory, tactile, gustatory pleasure of wearing Sycomore – the same satisfaction you get from a good cocktail. Or cake. Or…you know.
04th June, 2016
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A creation of the utmost elegance, executed in the grand classical manner. Forged from the most luxurious materials, yet infused with an almost monastic austerity.

This is Coco's high class miserablism wonderfully transposed into scent; shades of dark green, touched off by anise and aldehydes, rounded by woods, resin and smoke.

What rescues Sycomore's tightly bound chic from the sterility of other minimalist ventures - of the sans fleurs, sans sucré, sans vie variety - is the underlying human warmth hidden behind every detail.

It's as devastating as any Little Black Dress, and what's more - its for men.

A landmark.

27th May, 2016 (last edited: 10th June, 2016)
Nice, standard vetiver mixed with quite a bit of geranium, made woody and smoky by a generous dollop of iso e super. It's also a bit salty and has a lemony black pepper piquancy that balances out the vetiver's metallic iodine quality.

In terms of "the good vetiver perfumes", Sycomore sits closest to Encre Noire, sharing its smoky woody geranium skeleton. But Sycomore plays up the salty bright medicinal aspects of its vetiver, while Encre Noire uses a very similar structure but focuses more on the inky darkness and hidden florals of the geranium.

Is Sycomore great? Of course it is! But I could never pay $200 for Sycomore while small bottles of Encre Noire are widely available online for $30. But I'd never think ill of anyone who picked Sycomore - it is quite good.
28th April, 2016
This is a comfort scent for me. It makes me feel calm, warm and comforted. On my skin it is fairly quiet. Doesn't project much, especially after the first hour or so, but it does linger most of the day.

As others have noted, the vetiver is front and center from beginning to end. To my nose this vetiver is dry and smokey, almost incense-like. It brings to mind smoldering bundles of dried vetiver grass on parched earth, smoke rising into the air. But this smoldering vetiver is softened with the other notes that are blended such that I can't really make them out individually (but I'm also new to fragrances so my nose is partly to blame). But this softness makes the overall scent more plush and pulls the fragrance into unisex territory.

To me it seems better suited to spring and fall than the more extreme seasons, but I think it could be worn all year (with some care in summer). In fact, I live on the equator, so it is always summer here, and I wear it without any issues.
02nd March, 2016

As if you needed it, this is another review saying that Sycomore is pretty near perfect… and that it’s similar to Lalique’s Encre Noire but much more refined. I can see the refinement as a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t value the rawness of Encre Noire. Encre Noire is excellent and fulfilling just as it is… its roughness is part of its character. I own Encre Noire and I wear it often, and plan to continue with that program.

Sycomore is pretty near the perfect smoked vetiver fragrance. As perfect as it is, I don’t see my wearing it very often, and there are other Exclusifs that are calling out to me to fill some empty spaces in my fragrance wardrobe... I already have more than enough vetivers.

But there’s no way I can get away from it: Sycomore is truly, truly beautiful and certainly worth every penny.
07th February, 2016
This is a very recent purchase, following on the heels of my quest for a specific kind of pine scent. It was a blind buy, which for me is generally a safe proposition when it comes to Chanel - and this is no exception, though my expectations exceeded Sycomore's performance on my skin. Still, I can't give it less than a thumbs-up rating, because it's a very well constructed, seamless, smoky vetiver, evocative as all get-out with notes that carry one deep into the heart of a pine forest redolent of campfires and dark earth. Stunning. However, contrary to the experience of most reviewers, Sycomore lasts only 2-3 hours on my skin, has almost zero sillage, and - to my nose - is very linear, ending exactly as it began.

I recommend obtaining a sample or decant of Sycomore before commiting to a bottle of the EDT (as of 2015, there's no parfum version) so that you can see how it performs on your skin.
14th November, 2015 (last edited: 15th November, 2015)
My second try from Les Exclusifs line, Sycomore is one of the best vetiver/woods fragrances I can recall trying. It hits the mark far better than Le Labo's Vetiver or Gaiac entries, with a hearty balance between vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood. Neither too earthy nor too smoky, Sycomore plays each note rather subtly without anything taking over too much. Certainly the vetiver is strongest but not doesn't overwhelm, as it's not a terribly fresh vetiver but rather works in concert with the other element. It's not terribly bright either--there is hardly any citrus or florals to sharpen the opening and give way to a more subdued drydown---rather, it's quite consistent.

I wouldn't give it high marks in the realm of uniqueness (as with Coromandel) but Sycomore scores high as far as style. I haven't tried Encre Noire, which appears to be its doppelganger based on other reviews, but I have a hard time imagining it would be more refined or sophisticated than this.

My typical criticism of fragrances with strong contributions from vetiver (top to bottom, as opposed to just a heart or base) is that they're usually unpalatable to being too dirty or earthy, but Sycomore rings sophisticated.

Definitely a worthy try that is also strong on projection and longevity (and so also justifying the Exclusif cost), I'd have to recommend this to all, for vetiver fans and non-fans (like me) alike.

8 out of 1
03rd November, 2015
I think I'm becoming a bit of a vetiver addict. I've also tried Encre Noir (like many) recently, also Guerlain Vetiver. Of course there are strong similarities. For me this hasn't the clean, honest, freshness of Guerlain, and it hasn't the dark, sinister drama of the Lalique. But this is mellow, subtle, refined, tentative, fleeting, delicate. Beautiful, in fact. I get the soft spiciness at the start and of course full-on lovely vertiver throughout. For me rather soft sillage (although I was wearing Polo yesterday, so I might revise that comment later!) and soft to moderate longevity. Someone else I read said "otherworldly" - I agree, and in fact the scent of vetiver is always like that for me. But whereas Encre Noir, for me, is a malevolent, cold and dramatic spirit, Sycomore is an intelligent, refined and absolutely benevolent alien being. Someone I read said that the character from the film Avatar would wear this. Yes, bravo, perfect! I so wish I'd thought of that image, but it's completely right. A benevolent, intelligent, otherworldly, beautiful, forest dweller.
I've just noticed it's listed as a feminine fragrance too. Yes! (lightbulb moment....) of course it would be lovely on a woman, but I'm also claiming it too. In fact this scent is not about sex at all for me.
No doubt at some point in the future I will be surrounded by far too many bottles on the theme of vetiver. Heaven! Of course Sycomore is on my "want" list. I'd wear this when I felt I needed support and kindness not of this world. Lovely.

27th June, 2015
One of the finest vetivers on the market. A re-thinking of the original 1930 masterpiece, revisited for the 2008 market.

This, along with the two other vetiver masterpieces, the Givenchy Vetyver and the Guerlain Vetiver, comprise the trio of greats in my opinion.

Here Chanel combines vetiver with sandalwood, tobacco, violet, cypress and juniper to give us a fragrant, light, dry scent that is both sophisticated and long-lasting.

Quite marvelous and along with Cuir de Russie, Coromandel, Bois des Iles and Misia, Sycomore stands as one of the great hits of the Exclusif line.
13th May, 2015
2 bottles of this i have used up since the 75ML was launched. Why don't i learn my lesson and buy the 200ML? Buy 10 of the 200ML??

The one of the most intoxicating perfumes i've ever smelled. I makes my eyes roll into the back of my head! The sweet woodiness, with that dry airy vetiver.....It takes me somewhere!

Longevity is excellent! Projection is average, it will not kill people!

I need a 55 gallon drum of this please!
08th March, 2015
This scent, the 2008 version of Sycomore, is a legend on this site, and typically singled out as one of the best for men from the Chanel Exclusives, including by me.

I have a 5 ml decant which has given me many chances to wear it, and it's an artistic achievement, but it feels like a lost day of wearing something I would enjoy more. It's jarring to work it into a routine with my other fragrances.

I can say that it smells good, but I'm reticent to wear it.
03rd March, 2015
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Now this is a nice surprise. Great vetiver on par with Encre Noire but at the same time it's less harsh. This could be used year-round but most would like it for the late summer/fall/winter periods. The vetiver is very clear at the beginning but the nice juniper and cypress soften the experience. Very elegant. Think of Baie de Genievre by Creed mixed with Lalique Encre Noire. The pepper spices it up just a little and it trails off in a smoky drydown. Anyways it all blends so well. Definitely recommended, especially for those who already like Encre Noire.
22nd November, 2014
This is a wonderful fragrance. Sophisticated and dynamic, it goes through a series of metamorphoses before settling down to its warm sandalwood-forward base with vetiver backdrop. Until now I have never been a sandalwood fan, but Chanel has done something to take the cloy out of it for me, leaving me to make a fool out of myself sniffing my arm repeatedly. There are hints of other pleasantries that I can't place, perhaps a fleeting hint of orange is there? But the package is too harmonious for me to identify components confidently. I am impressed with how this scent changes but is always harmonious, and the vetiver is always there.

The marketers at Chanel must know what they are doing but to me there is nothing feminine about it. Nor is it boisterously masculine laden with musk and earth. It is just different.

Expensive, of course. The price structure is set so that you really do have to invest in the 6.8 oz size. I make it as 36% less per ounce relative to the 2.5 oz bottle. If you get swing it, get it.

20th November, 2014
Light, breezy, woodsy on the open, dries down to a nice, slightly rich vetiver. Points off for price. 4 out of 5
01st September, 2014
Genre: Woods

Sycomore is the Chanel Les Exclusifs essay on vetiver, and after several wearings I’m ready to place it among the best of the current vetivers, right next to Vétiver Extraordinaire, Givenchy Vetyver, Route du Vétiver, and Encre Noire. Sycomore is a dry vetiver, and like the Givenchy it has a touch of licorice and nutmeat about it. It is a clean scent, without the earthy quality of Route du Vétiver or the harsh vegetal profile of Vétiver Extraordinaire. Like Encre Noire, it is smoky, but where Encre Noire is gaunt and austere, Sycomore’s structure is softened and rounded by a generous amount of iris root. If a vetiver scent can be said to be plush, this one is.

Sycomore’s iris and vetiver are accompanied by a particularly rich, smooth sandalwood, which adds yet another degree of luxury to the scent’s enveloping texture. Sycomore evolves very slowly once its central smoky-soft structure establishes itself. The iris/vetiver/sandalwood axis tilts slightly from time to time, nudged in one direction by dry spices, and in another by some very discreet incense. Components fall away one by one over a span of about six hours, and Sycomore’s drydown belongs primarily to the persistent vetiver and sandalwood, but there’s also a bit of moss at the foundation; not much, but just enough to allude to the classical chypre style. The overall impression is one of luxurious comfort without a trace of stuffiness or blandness, so if you’re seeking a vetiver scent with depth, sophistication, and ease of wear, Sycomore should probably be on your short list.

05th July, 2014
It opens with a very dry and smoky vetiver with tobacco. After a while a lovely soft sandalwood takes over mixed in with cypress. The sour like vetiver note though still shines within the blend.

A very good quality vetiver scent!
12th June, 2014
Sycomore is a perfume that smells good from start to finish to me.It's dark,but not heavy.Surprisingly it works really well in hot weather.There is a fresh top note,possibly citrus, but it's not piercing.
Shortly after the top notes are gone,I get a creamy nutty warmness which is slightly sweet.I adore this phase.Later the nuttiness subsides and the drydown is woody and quiet and easy to wear.
This is a perfume that works great year around and on all occasions.I love to wear it on difficult days at work because it smells professional to me and still comforting
16th January, 2014
Birds singing in the sycamore tree...

An incredibly elegant and sophisticated smoky vetiver, Sycomore represents a pinnacle of confident refinement in this remarkably crowded fragrance category. Sycomore is a very dry scent, woody and hay-like, but it features little of the earthy or harsh aspects of vetiver, opting instead for a brighter and more uplifting experience. With intriguing subtlety, it achieves a very fine balance between heavy smoke, woods, dry grass and roots on the one hand and an ethereal spicy-green leafiness and lightness on the other. Its apparent simplicity and spontaneous elegance notwithstanding, Sycomore is actually a very complex fragrance seamlessly mixing vetiver roots, creamy sandalwood and dried tobacco with greens, spices and the Chanel hallmark aldehydes, the latter adding air and lightness to the composition and inscribing Sycomore securely into both the Chanel heritage and the Exclusifs collection. The result is a very distinct and versatile fragrance, impeccably formal and cool yet curiously edgy and charismatic, integrating the best of classic perfume tradition with the more poetic side of postmodern niche quirkiness. "Stars shining bright above you…"

27th September, 2013
Nefret Show all reviews
United States
A clean, dry wood

This vetiver/woods perfume seems spare, handsome, and beyond gender (to me). Most seem to classify it as masculine, but I can wear it without a second thought. As it dries down, there is a curl of smoke, maybe a little thickness of something nutty, but it's still a classy wood at heart. Next, I should try Encre Noir, I know.

Pros: Quite good longevity, versatile
Cons: Some weirdos think it smells like weed"

25th August, 2013
Interesting bold fragrance

I'll start by saying the luca turin review of this fragrance made me buy it. I love it, it lasts all day and with only one spray, but there are some draw backs.

Others think I sometimes smell like marijuana, it happens. I think the dry down really smells like a leaf drying out. It smells great! But I guess it does have simliar characteristics to marijuana.

Test this frag out first before you buy!

Pros: green, hemp?
Cons: hemp?"

18th August, 2013
Gary F Show all reviews
United States
Finally - A Vetiver I Can Believe In!

I have not had good luck with vetiver scents so far, but Sycomore is wonderful. There is no harshness here - the vetiver actually comes off as being soft. Perhaps this will give me more of an appreciation of this note. Great stuff!

Pros: Breathable Vetiver

30th June, 2013
Sycamore is the driest Chanel fragrance I have had the pleasure to smell, and it is among the driest complex fragrances I have encountered. Sycamore gives me the impression of an almost monolithic sandalwood crossed with vetiver in notes of extreme subtlety.

Monolithic is important as a description for this exclusive and expensive fragrance. It is monolithic first, more so than its various expressions of subtlety. Although I smell the citrus hints, and perhaps very low key floral hints, this invention by one of my favorite perfume designers, Jacques Polge, never opens up and expresses itself beyond its initial dry, discreet, woody and grassy effusion. Also, this fragrance is not unreservedly beautiful to my taste. Antaeus, for example, never fails to please me greatly, and bring a smile to my lips (and my nose).

Had I a choice, I would prefer to pay the same very high price for a pure sandalwood in all its creamy and dry but delicious purity: Forget the vetiver; forget the citrus; and forget whatever other subtle notes waft through,

Chanel still has access to the finest classical and traditional Indian, Mysore, sandalwood on the planet. I am told they bought up sections of forests many decades ago. In any case, now more than ever before, what an opportunity for Chanel to bring out a fragrance for men and women that is an expression of sure, healing, and sacred sandalwood? Deep within the heart of Sycamore is the promise of the perfect Chanel Sandalwood fragrance. I prefer Antaeus in all its splendor to Sycamore. It is a richer recipe that is more perfectly beautiful to my mind and sense of smell.
23rd April, 2013
What a great fragrance. I think it's definitely different enough from Encre Noire to justify owning both. It's one of the smoothest, most versatile scents I own. A great vetiver scent, and I'm actually surprised this is "for women"'s definitely something a man could feel comfortable wearing. Close to a perfect fragrance.
17th April, 2013
Comparisons with Encre Noire are inevitable.

While Encre Noire smells much more a raw and earty vetiver, Sycomore is brighter and lighter.

I guess the main difference is about the supporting

While sandalwood turns this into a creamy fragrance, the cashmere wood makes Encre Noire darker and heavier.

If you have enough money it's worth having both them. Actually if you dont, i'd stay with Encre Noire.
20th March, 2013
Sycomore has been given great reviews by many people and I think it is a light, masculine fragrance that has no weight and not as great as I was expecting. It would be a nice fragrance for spring and summer because of it's light vetiver. However, I like my fragrance to be able to stand on their own and shout a bit, but Sycomore just lays there and hovers above the skin.
The opening is the best part of this frag with the abundant smell of Vetiver and the undertones of Pink Pepper. After about 15 minutes the pink Pepper is dying down, but the vetiver is still center stage with the scent of Juniper and Cypress making there way forward. After 30 minutes in the vetiver, cypress and juniper conspire to give of a tobacco accord even though it's not noted i the pyramid.
After an hour, I finally start to get the aroma of smoking woods, but they are faint.
The sillage is at it's best on me in the first 30 minutes. After that the sillage and longevity start to die off. It lasted at best 2 hours on me. Not very well compared to the reviews I have read.
Sycomore is a light, lovely, masculine frag for someone else, but just not for me. Unisex in every way.
18th March, 2013
Sycomore.. I wanted this scent and waited for a long time before I could afford it. And now I had to discover that this is not for me. A very green and overpowering smell, I get vertiver and smoke, and roots, greens of all sorts. I juts cannot wear this, I keep running away from myself. It is so un-Chanel - and I do own most of the others, including the Exclusifs. I do see that it is very well-made but do women really war this?
29th January, 2013
This is heaven in Winter. I get a delicate blend of pine, lemon, and cypress. The sensation of catching a whiff is like walking through an elegant well kept garden in Spain, Florida, or Italy in January. The lemons are ripe on the trees and the wind is rustling through the pines, firs and cypress. The air is moist with chill and the sun is warm.
I do not detect any smoke at all. I do detect a bright resinous quality that may be the smokiness on someone else's skin. Amazing quality and more lasting than other Chanel fragrances.
16th December, 2012
kida2007 Show all reviews
United Kingdom
This is something i wasnt expecting and its not really my typical scent but its a beautiful fragrance.
The quality of it is ridiculous and its very smooth, strong and long lasting.
If you have no idea what to expect then get your hands on Encre Noire and your 95% there, a trained nose can obviously tell the little differences but for what this costs its worth getting an idea what to expect.
I'd call it a true Genderless scent, my mom likes it and guys too.
Still having a hard time finding a slot for it to wear, i think on a very early summers morning when the air is cool but warm and the suns just come up its pretty amazing.

27th October, 2012