One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drowning in Opulence: Chanel Sycomore

I try to post more often than I've been doing recently, but Jim had a couple of weeks off work so he was around the house a lot, and I can't really wear any scents around him except tiny amounts of harmless, inoffensive things like some Demeters or the occasional shot of a CSP vanilla. Certainly nothing like Sycomore.

I wanted to like Chanel's Sycomore. It sounded on paper like the kind of thing I would like: vetiver. There are other ingredients, but most of the reviewers were in agreement that it was all about vetiver.

Well, not to my apparently freakish nose it isn't. There's vetiver in there, all right, but it's blanketed--swamped, in fact--by a massive cloud of creamy wood. The whole scent seems to be composed of some amorphous cedar-sandalwood-rosewood object poached in a bath of heavy cream, with a thin core of vetiver, and it's suffocating: thick, lush, rich in a way that, to my surprise, I find almost revolting. Eventually the heaviness subsides and the vetiver becomes more evident, but by then it's much, much too late. I want out long before that's happened.

In fact, the second time I wore Sycomore, a thought came out of nowhere, one I'd never had before: "I wish I were wearing Mitsouko." I didn't consciously stop and think, gee, I hate what I'm wearing, it should be something good; my brain just kind of said to me, hey, dude, something's not right here, get rid of it and put on something you like.

Weirdly, the creamy-wood aspect of the scent made me think of Le Feu D'Issey, which marries a milky-woody accord to large quantities of rose, so of course I wore them both simultaneously to compare them. They aren't really that similar, as it turns out, and Le Feu, despite the fact that I think my bottle is starting to turn, is by far the better scent; milkiness instead of creaminess makes a huge difference, and the rose adds a freshness that even a Chanel vetiver can't match.

Sycomore may actually be a good, well-made fragrance, and I know some people love it, but on me it could hardly be worse. Almost anything you could think of doing to it--add a citrus top, give it a floral core, dose it with pomegranate and litchee, for god's sake--would make it less oppressive than it is.

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