Sycomore and Encre Noire : vetiver versus vetiver

Sycomore created by : Jacques Polge

Date : 1930/2008

Genre : Classy vetiver

Concentration : Eau de toilette

I’m new to vetiver in a sense because when I wanted that distinctive green woodsy scent, I simply wore Guerlain’s Vetiver.  I thought it was the ultimate vetiver with its clove note until I tried Lalique’s Encre Noire and then I got stuck on Encre Noire… for awhile.

Chanel’s Sycomore and Encre Noire are similar with Encre Noire being more bitter and more angular.  If you’re not a fan of a bitter vetiver, you should try Sycomore because it is rounder, slightly sweeter and more balanced.  It also smells richer and I suspect this is coming from iris butter.  I compared it to Chanel’s 28 La Pausa and the two share some DNA.

Sycomore is clearly the more refined of the two.  It’s what you expect from Chanel.  Encre Noire is slightly rough around the edges but lasts longer.  After 6 hours, Sycomore dries down to a musk while Encre Noire is bottomless… its heart hangs in there so much so that I wash it off before going to bed because I find it too invigorating.

Of the two, I prefer Sycomore (but only very slightly) although I wish it would last longer.  Both Sycomore and Encre Noire share the same heart or rather, like the Fridas, the same circulatory system.  Both are suitable for both men and women.

While rereading this post before publication, I realize that I’m not very passionate about vetiver.  It’s beautiful and I wear it often but it’s not a scent I get very excited about.  It’s kind of like a favourite sweater.  It goes anywhere and I never regret having put it on but it doesn’t make much of a statement for me.  It’s like a fallback scent.

Have a nice week everyone.

P.S.  Thanks to FiveOaks from Perfume of Life for this great post idea!

Image : Las Dos Fridas (1939) by Frida Kahlo

Leave a comment


  1. Encre Noir is clearly a step-up when it comes to fragrance selection on the man-wall at Sephora, but the synthetics used int he drydown ruin it for me…good thing Chanel started offering Sycomore et al. in smaller bottles. Still not exactly a “good deal”, but relatively more affordable.

    • I removed the paragraph about Encre Noire using synthetic materials just before publishing it because it is a “step up”, as you say, and I didn’t want to turn people off a great fragrance. It would have to be synthetic for a fragrance to give off that one EXACT note for all those many hours. It might be better suited for hot, humid and breezy summer evenings when longevity is an issue. Thanks for the comment!

  2. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  October 31, 2011

    Delicious vs delicious! Normand, I really enjoyed reading the comparison of these two vetivers and ITA vetiver is quite energizing. I do wear Sycomore but have only briefly tested Encre Noire and it’s great to read your direct experience. I get a powdery drydown in Sycomore and in fact most Chanel perfumes dry down powdery on me. I think I’ll go put on a little Sycomore…

    • Yes, definitely, Sycomore’s drydown is powdery and you can smell Chanel’s nod to traditional perfumery in just about everything that they do… real topnotes and proper drydowns. I was getting a floral note in Sycomore’s opening… it IS delicious, as you say.

  3. Both are great.I believe the synthetics in EN are totally justified because EN is an avant garde vetiver, it is supposed to be weird, both sticky and transparent at the same time. I am not an expert but I do not think one get strange textures like this with natural ingredients.

    • I wouldn’t know about strange textures and natural ingredients either… but don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind that Encre Noire has synthetics in it. On a very hot and humid evening, I suspect that Sycomore will wilt long before EN. And, if I was going for weirdness, EN is the better of the two. If I’m looking for classic structure and beauty… Sycomore seems to fit the bill.

      Great comment!

  1. Mugler : Les Exceptions – Chyprissime | The Perfume Chronicles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: