Sycomore is the work of Jacques Polge and Christopher Shedrake who wanted to recreate a 1930s formula by Ernest Beaux, Chanel’s original in-house perfumer. Polge is a modern perfume legend with over 30 years of experience with Chanel. Sheldrake returned to the luxury fashion house in 2005 after 22 years at Quest and now reports to Polge as the Director of Research & Development. Sycomore is a wonderful collaboration between these two perfumers and should not be overlooked by any vetiver fan. Sheldrake, who created most of the Serge Lutens, has a deep understanding of working with vetiver and few understand how to capture luxury and sophistication in scent like Polge. Vetiver is complex and can provide the perfumer with many facets to work with. Sycomore uses Haitian vetiver known for its smoky earthiness. Polge wanted to create a fragrance that centered around but was not overtaken by the scent of vetiver. It is certainly a powerful ingredient in perfume; so much so, many fragrances that contain it will employ the use of its name in the perfume title. Sycomore is the 11th release in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs range of larger 200ml bottles that are available exclusively from Chanel boutiques and selected department stores in the world’s major cities such as Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
Although Polge didn’t intend for the vetiver to dominate his creation it is hard to go past it. If you don’t like vetiver then this one is not for you. If you do like vetiver and haven’t sampled Sycomore you are in for a treat. If you are unsure whether you like vetiver I recommend a visit to Chanel. Sycomore is unusual in the way it’s notes unfold. Like a linear style perfume all elements of the composition are there for you to experience when the bottle is freshly discharged. Gradually parts begin to disappear until you are left only with the stoic smell of green vetiver grass. The citrus notes are short-lived giving way to smoke, hazelnut and an abstract composition of green florals. The bitterness of vetiver is tempered by the presence of vanilla and peppery spices making this creation a cousin to Bois des Iles.
Wearing a Chanel fragrance is similar to wearing a Chanel suit. Their perfumes smell of money just as women in a Chanel suit look like money. Very few fragrance houses can pinpoint their demographic through their fragrance lines and this is something I think Chanel and Hermes do very well. Sycomore is a bourgeois fragrance and is not something I wear when I’m out and about in jeans, tee and sneakers. It’s a sophisticated scent and deserves a sophisticated audience. Reserve it for dinners, special occasions or events. With it’s sober vetiver notes, look elsewhere if you are looking for a ‘fun night out’ scent. Within the Chanel family I would suggest either of the Egoistes, Allure or Coromandel for the more adventurous male.
Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire, The Different Company Sel De Vetiver, Lalique Encre Noire Pour Homme, Etro Vetiver, Guerlain Vetiver Extreme, Hermes Vetiver Tonka, Maitre Parfumeur Et Gantier Route Du Vetiver.
Perfumer: Jacques Polge
Bottle designer: Jacques Helleu
Release date: 2008 (1930)
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods