Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Sycomore (new) by Chanel

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
I am beginning to wonder if the vast tester bottles of the Les Exclusifs range which they have in airports are deliberately diluted. It may be that they want to give an impression of the scent, but don't want the whole departures lounge to be overpowered by perfume. There may be some strategy along those lines.

One thing I do know: the Sycamore that I tried at Heathrow terminal 2 last week was so dilute as to be almost imperceptible, either on a card or on skin. It required 10 sprays to be able to formulate an opinion. All trace was gone by the end of my 1 hour flight.

The much revered vetiver is almost absent. The vestige is of an over-refined vetivert, where all trace of dirt, earth, frisson,and pique have been eliminated, leaving something rather pasty and synthetic-smelling.

Draped over this flimsy structure is a heavy, cloying, invert sugar note, not unlike Aunt Jemima maple flavoured pancake syrup.

In the end, I resented the opportunity cost: I could have tried on something much better.
29th May, 2015
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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
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
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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

You walk into the luxurious Paris apartment of Coco Chanel, fragrant flowers arranged in Lalique vases, and a waft of illicit smoke rises to tantalize your senses.

Becomes very subtle on my skin within an hour or two. Wish it would linger longer.
26th October, 2012 (last edited: 27th October, 2012)
Smokey citrus. Nice mellow smoke unlike some that are over powering and remind you of your flannel shirt after a night in front of a bonfire!
26th October, 2012
from all the exclusifs line this one stood out by beeing most natural and unique one.
smells modern, refined, unisex,strong yet calming, sick no more :)...with perfect longevity,for me best vetiver based scent!

this one is easy, simply perfect :)
09th October, 2012
Having purchased Sycomore, I am delighted to be reviewing it.

'A woody fire on the beach' is how this has been described before and it is definitely what drew me to sample it in the first place. I like woody scents, in fact I think now that my nose is more trained, I can safely say that I like vetiver, patchouli, cedarwood and sandalwood. This fragrance has all of the above and without a doubt vetiver is in the heart, in the opening and the base.

Based on past experiences, vetiver is often blended with citruses and to a lesser extent with other less-common notes such as tobacco. Sycomore goes against both of these trends and blends with other woods and juniper berries. The result is an unbelievably luscious dry-down and a very smoky opening. I am not too keen on the opening but it is still reminiscent of that wood fire on the beach - a picture that reminds me of corn on the cob roasted on coal just by the beach, being enjoyed right after a barbecue. Very nicely done and much more bearable than other smoky scents. A wonderful faint woody scent remains on your clothes even a day after wearing it, which seems to call out to you 'wear me again today!'.

Finally, I a brief word about the packaging (and I rarely do this): this is just what 'exclusive' should mean. Everything from the elegant box to the magnetic cap on top, to the sleek, straight lines of the bottle and the simplistic labelling make this a unique and refined fragrance to own. Expensive to get hold of (you can only get it in the boutiques), this is easily my favourite Chanel (it's also my only Chanel) and puts to shame all those other cheap attempts at 'doing' a vetiver scent. Simple, refined, perfection!
12th September, 2012 (last edited: 31st October, 2012)
Not so much to add, Sycomore is an uncompromising clean (immediately starring) and elegant vetiver whose journey is embellished by coniferous notes, a well calibrated touch of smoke at distance and a peppery dose of incense. The floral patterns of the heart (probably a duo iris-violet) are obscure, lymphatic, softly "laundry" and slightly metallic being able to preserve the general cool, angular and subtle atmosphere of the  olfactory work. The dry down is warmer bacause of the encompassing action from sandalwood and musk but the juice still turns out basically pure, sharp, dark of smoke and cool due to cypress and fir.  The balance is extreme and a touch, but just a minimal touch, of tobacco rounds endly the  smell, imprinting a more masculine undertone. Effectively similar to  Encre Noir, Sycomore is a finally more rounded and complex fragrance  with its womanly side that comes out at distance by its softly musky and aldehydic ( the Chanel landmark) floral  nuances. A perfect scent for the lovers of the aqueous and slightly dusty kind of coniferous vetivers.
17th August, 2012 (last edited: 16th January, 2013)
More subtle wholesome and refined than Encre Noir. Opinion of this fragrance will always be divided between those who really like Vetiver based fragrances (and those people need to pick this up) and those who don't love Vetiver enough to want a whole fragrance based on it (not recommended for those people).
16th August, 2012
Wow is all I have to say. This fragrance is magnificent, I wouldn't consider Sycomore a female fragrance by any means. I'm not sure as to why this isn't promoted under the Chanel pour homme products, I guess they're like to keep it a hidden gem amongst the Exlusifs line.

Imagine a cypress forest that was stuck by lightning. A small fire sets in a small portion of the forest. Where the ash of the slightly burnt trees lies is new grass and vegetation that's begun to grow in the now slightly damp forest. This smell wafts though the forest from miles away and finds your nose.

Great longevity and amazing woody frag..very light smoky hint with a very very clean crisp vetiver. No dirty quality here. I guess what surprised me most about this scent is the versatility in that I could easily see this being worn in any situation, any time of the year.
28th July, 2012 (last edited: 08th September, 2015)