Sycomore by CHANEL 2008.

Hello Posse! Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies hoping that your year is shaping up to be lovely already. Fingers crossed. Sycomore? The first time I heard the word was watching Pocahontas, the Disney film, where they sing the lines, “How high does a sycamore grow? If you cut it down, you’ll never know.”

So when I first tried Sycomore I was a bit disappointed because I expected it to be woods, woods, woods. No it’s not so simple. This is a complex and lovely look at one of my favourite notes, vetiver….

Sycomore by Jacques Polge + Christopher Sheldrake CHANEL 2008

Chanel Sycomore Chanel FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Vetiver, sandalwood, aldehydes, tobacco, violet

So my skin makes vetiver smell like the feeling of a salt rim on a margarita cocktail! It’s a grimy and crusty, end of the day at the beach, tired and happy smell. Though yes I get the woodsy, earthy, watery grassiness of it all what I really feel like doing is going home to dinner prepared by my Mum. That’s right, what a WUSS I am but for me vetiver often brings forth a yearning to be with my Mum and the comforts of home. It is also one of my favourite notes for other associations. I love that vetiver is being used around the world to leach toxic chemicals from waterways, to hold banks that are unstable, to create a stable beach environment, for turning human waste into fertiliser in eco houses. It is a very versatile plant, in life as well as perfumery.

Sycomore CHANEL Beach Horses Mike Baird FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Jacques Polge + Christopher Sheldrake homage to vetiver for CHANEL opens salty, sweet and slightly metallic for me, a little oily even. It is a luscious fragrance so magically blended that most notes completely pass me by in a haze of sheer intoxicating, eye rolling, deep sniffing, pleasure. After the initial rush Sycomore dries out noticeably and a very earthy, incense note flows through. It’s much like the incense in the box before its burned, a cool and dark incense but here it is treated with such finesse that it wears sheer with loads of air between the notes. Calming and still captivating it’s at this point that Sycomore becomes a softer version of itself. A soft warm & woodsy wash that comes and goes from my ability to smell. Every now and then surprising me with a small intimate huff. I can see how CHANEL wanted this to smell like being under a huge trees shade and maybe the salty tinge could be the briny water of an oasis.

From WikTionary:
sycomore (sycamore is the American Plane Tree)
Circa 1350, from Old French sicamor, from Latin sycomorus
 1. A type of fig, Ficus sycomorus, native to the Middle East; the sycomore tree of the Bible.


I love how a couple of hours in Sycamore seems to sink into my skin and become a part of it. Clearly my skin doesn’t really smell like this but if I didn’t know that then I would think me the loveliest smelling person naturally. Once the levels sink this low I find it very hard to tell when I’ve completely lost the scent or if I have just become anosmic to it.

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and What Men Should Smell Like
From CHANEL counters in larger retailers, CHANEL Fashion or Beauty stores
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/ml

Have you spent time with CHANEL Sycomore? Do you love the Les Exclusives line or noy? Why?
Portia xx


  • Sounds great and I need to try. Interesting fact about vetiver helping clean up waterways too. I have mixed success with Chanel sometimes they’re for me, sometimes they don’t really work. I do love Egoiste, Antaeus, No 22, Coromandel and Coco though. I have recently got hold of a decent sized sample of No 5 so am going to test it more thoroughly. The one I most want to try is Cuir de Russie like Sun Mi above. PS very jealous of those of you who are in summer – perhaps that’s just Portia! Really could do with some of that heat right now!

  • Sun Mi says:

    Hi Portia!

    I’ve never tried Sycamore… But you make it sound lovely, which makes me want to try it. I’ve actually tried very very few Chanels on skin. It’s probably my amateur nose, but whenever I sniff them I just think old lady. Is that terrible? It makes me feel ashamed. I did recently try Bois des Iles, but it also felt a little older and decidedly not me. Someone also recently gifted me a small sample of vintage no. 5 so I will definitely give that a go and see if I can turn things around! Even if that doesn’t work for me I am really interested to try this and Cuir de Russie. Thanks for the review!

  • Bobbie says:

    Like Dina C., I wore No. 19 for many years before the hobby. Last spring, I bought 31 Rue Cambon at a Chanel boutique in Las Vegas, after stopping in to test twice a day for close to a week. The SA’s were very patient and threw in lots of samples of Les Exclusifs. Thinking about the Eau de Cologne next. On a different note, I’m still upset to have missed you, Portia, in New York – just couldn’t get away that weekend!

    • Portia says:

      Hey Bobby,
      CHANEL No 19 is one of my standbys too. The SAs knew they were investing in you as a customer Bobbie, and so they should. I too love the Eau de Cologne because it’s a really clean and crisp version of the genre, and I love to uber spritz, but to be honest the Guerlain Eau series has much better longevity and if you can deal with the more intricate story the price is below half.
      One day we will get to hang out. This year we have called a travel moratorium (except to see Jin’s parents) but we’ll be back in the air in 2016, landing somewhere nearby. Next time you MUST come hang out.
      Portia xx

  • eldarwen22 says:

    There is something that I haven’t worn in a while. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I wore Sycomore and I have the huge 6.8 ounce bottle that I got back before Chanel had the 2.5 ounce bottle. I keep shaking my head and wonder why Chanel offer smaller bottles of the Les Exclusif line from the get go instead of the family sized versions. Maybe I should take it out and wear it today.

    • Portia says:

      WOW Eldarwen22! 200ml of Sycomore, yes you probably should get it out and spritz the shit out of it. Leave a blazing sillage as you wander through your life.
      Do you have any of the others?
      Portia xx

      • eldarwen22 says:

        I have a 6.8 once bottle of Cuir de Russie (before there was a 2.5 ounce offering) and a 2.5 ounce bottle of no 22 and the parfum version of both. I’ve tried a few others of the Les Exclusifs line but they seemed pretty wimpy compared to the Chanel classics.

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, Portia! Hope your New Year is off to a smashing start as well. I may be the lone dissenter here today: I wanted so much to love Sycomore but one spritz on my skin and wham! All day long I felt as if I reeked of pot, so obviously a no-go for me. But on the whole, I enjoy the Le Exclusifs, particularly Coromandel, Bois des Iles and the cologne (especially on a hot day). Thanks for the info about vetiver’s many other uses — fascinating!

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Ann,
      OH NOOOO! How embarrassing. Clearly you can’t wear Sycomore for leaving the house. HA! I am mortified for you but laughing too. How funny would it be to just smell like a dirty ole dope smoker, but NOT be one. You could wear it to the Police station, or court.
      Coromandel. BLISS.
      Yes, vetiver is quickly becoming a wonder plant in my estimation.
      Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    I’m delighted that you wrote about Sycomore today — I love it! It’s one of my very favorites for fall. Each year as summer winds down, I look forward to cool, crisp days when I can wear Sycomore. To me I get smokey vetiver. It reminds me of the tang of dried leaves and nearby chimney smoke, plus some incense and green notes, too. I’m another big Chanel fan; it’s my favorite house by far. I’ve worn No. 19 edt and edp for decades. It was my signature scent before I started my perfume hobby and collected many lovelies. Other Chanels I love: 31 Rue Cambon, 28 La Pausa, Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie, Cristalle eau Verte, and #5 eau Premiere.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there DinaC,
      MMMMM Smokey vetiver, it sounds like a CD title. We don’t get much chimney smoke here in Sydney, sadly. Even overseas I don’t smell it as much as we used to on winter travels. I think most people have gone gas or electric, sad because I really love that smell as you walk down an evening street.
      You are QUITE the CHANEL fangirl, did you ever try the 19 parfum? Oooooh, it is a dry, cool, creamy green like no other.
      Portia xx

  • Julie L says:

    And Happy New Year to you as well! Mine is going fine, I suppose 🙂 I really think I’m a Chanel Girl as said also by Tatiana! Although I’ve not tried all of them, the Chanels I HAVE tried are just wonderful. I adore Coromandel, #5, and Bois de isles, and when I was in college, haha, I stumbles upon a mini of #19 at a garage sale and wore that til gone…recently I found at an antique stand a 30 ml etched glass tester of vintage Crystalle parfum (for $8!!) It is a light golden color and very deep smelling…not sure how well that sits on me but sometimes its beautiful! I appreciate #22 but it’s a tad bit too sweet. Sycomore is one I’m not familiar with yet. There are so many yet to try….. Thank you for the review !

    • Portia says:

      Hi there JulieL,
      OMG! Crystal Parfum for $8!!! You ever want to sell that sucker I’ll give you 12.5x what you paid plus postage. WOW!
      Portia xx

  • Tatiana says:

    Dear Portia, I hope your new year is going well. Sycomore is one of those scents that both my daughter and I love, so we share a bottle. Well she actually has possession of the bottle. I get decants from it whenever I like. I’m very much a Chanel girl and really love quite a few of Les Exclusives. I’m not sure what it is about them but they suit me very well.
    We’re supposed to have rather warm weather this weekend (where did our winter go?). I think I’ll pull out my decant of Sycomore to wear.

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Tatiana!
      Lovely to see you as always. New Year is going swimmingly, fingers crossed yours is the same.
      I think that CHANEL have a less trumpeted base mixture than the Guerlainade, nevertheless it seems to be there and if it matches your chemistry you are cool but otherwise….. I too am a lucky skin winner with it.
      I hope you enjoy your Sycomore spritzing, how cool that you and your daughter share, I’m a terrible sharer.
      Portia xx

  • solanace says:

    Hope your year had a great start too, Portia! I love Sycomore. Delicious stuff. And whenever I wear it to work, it makes me feel distinctively more assertive and confident. The first time I heard the word Sycomore was in the final episode of Twin Peaks. Agent Cooper. 🙂 This tree picture you chose is gorgeous.

    • Ann says:

      Solanace, thanks for the fun reminder of Agent Cooper and “Twin Peaks.” DH and I were addicted to that show back in the day and got a tad grumpy if somehow we missed it. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Solanace!
      Twin Peaks went completely over my head when it was released. EVERYONE was talking about it in the dressing rooms we were working in, it was THE thing all were watching but maybe my mind was elsewhere. I didn’t even see an episode.
      Thanks for noticing the pic, one of my favourite bits about blogging is searching the images to match the story and it never gets noticed. You’ve made my day.
      BTW Check the Giveaway Winners page.
      Portia xx