Vetiver Wednesdays Sync: an invitation to a magical journey

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
As promised, thoughts on Encre Noire et al and Sycomore:

I'll admit, while they're not without flaws, almost everything about the Encre Noire line appeals to me. As Andy mentions, they each start with a central dark vetiver/cypress accord; they're all minimalistic, edgy, and focused around dry woods; and the pricing at discounters is ridiculous. If you like what they do, they're an insane value and all three versions are distinct enough to own (more on each in a moment). That said, none are particularly easy wearing and I understand why not everyone is enamored with these. They remind me of CdG fragrances in the way they feel overtly synthetic and seem to revel in a kind of "industrial" perfume aesthetic. Besides the core vetiver/cypress, all three Encre Noires go particularly heavy on ISO E, which lends the same unnaturally dry pencil shavings vibe of things like TdH and Wonderwood. As with other ISO E-heavy scents like these (plus Fahrenheit, Burberry London, and others), I can go nose blind to Encre Noire depending how close I spray to my face. If I apply too heavily, it can even give me the old ISO E headache. But if I apply just so, they actually perform quite well, and I'll catch wafts of glorious ink-black vetiver throughout the day.

As for the differences between the three: EN feels stripped down, almost entirely focused on the vetiver+cypress accord; when cast across that glimmering lake of ISO E, it feels pitch black, arid, maybe even acrid, but somehow fascinating. It's dark without being heavy, like a thin black film that doesn't completely block out the light but distorts it enough to warp your perception. Not for everyone but definitely for me. The original EN is still my favorite but I find it arguably the hardest to wear. EN Sport adds some citrus and lavender plus the faintest touch of barely-there aquatics, which sounds insane on paper but somehow rounds off the harshest edges of EN and comes out a bit easier to wear. EN a L'Extreme adds dark incense and bone-dry sandalwood, and I see why this gets compared to Sycomore EDP due to the vetiver+cypress+sandalwood combo, but its still a fairly linear, minimalistic, dry-woody-industrial thing that wears differently than the Chanel. I'm not sure what's responsible for the incense note, but there are days where it doesn't really work for me. It can come off as slightly musty to my nose, and I assume this is what folks mean when they talk about the "canned peas" accord. For what it's worth, my wife, who usually only comments on fragrances if I spray too heavily, said it smells like "an old man's coat packed in moth balls". Still, I love all of these! Just not as much as Sycomore.

Full disclosure: I've never tried Sycomore EDT. I assume it's as memorable as everyone says, though it sounds like it's a bit smoky and possibly harder to wear than the (purportedly) rounder, richer, less edgy EDP. I sampled the EDP after spending a lot of time with decants of the Encre Noire line and it felt like a revelation: a goldlocks vetiver that has the same dark woodsy character but more or less solves for every issue someone might have with Encre Noire (besides pricing). Whereas EN is edgy, harsh, and industrial, Sycomore sands off the rougher edges and delivers a much richer experience with the addition of classic Chanel aldehydes up front, some subtle florals in the heart, and the same creamy sandalwood base accord from Egoiste and BdC Parfum. I have no idea if Sycomore has any ISO E, but it doesn't wear like an ISO E heavy scent to my nose, and that makes a huge difference in performance and overall presentation. It lasts quite well on my skin, doesn't do the ISO E disappearing act, and I never seem to go nose blind. Meanwhile, the central vetiver/cypress accord still feels dark, distinct, and occasionally even dank (sometimes you get a waft of unsmoked ganja, not that I'd know what that smells like, of course). All in all, I find it more satisfying as an actual vetiver fragrance than the Laliques.

Is the current formulation of Sycomore EDP worth the drastic upcharge compared to Encre Noire or a L'Extreme? For most folks, probably not. For me, absolutely. It strikes the perfect balance of wearable and interesting, and it's up there among my all-time favorite fragrances. I wouldn't encourage blind buying given the pricing, but if you're even curious, you should definitely try a sample. I got a 5 ml decant on ebay for about $20, and I'm really glad I did.
Nothing more to add. Very detailed breakdown.

Sycomore is superior to ENE, but how much suprerior? How to quantify that? I see ENE as a lower def Sycomore, but that allows the movie to be seen and fully enjoyed nearly at the same level. Yesterday I shifted my Netflix UHD subscription to the standard HD one (in spite of owning a UHD tv), because it was just a 25% premium. So at a 1,000% premium for Sycomore, it was a no-go before for me, and even more so now that Chanel has (disgustingly) increased their pricing by ~20% in one shot. I'm done with them - just better bang-for-the-buck around, from other houses. Especially true when seeing Chanel's release of the last 5 years.
 

Cook.bot

Common Lackey
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
When you quote a post, yes, I see it. I think this thread is better as a non-stickie, though - I'm not really into stickies. I have the impulse to unstick some of the stuck threads, but never to stick one. If pushed, I would probably work on unsticking other threads instead of sticking this one.

So what is your anti-stickie argument, Bavard?
 

Toxicon

Well-known member
May 29, 2021
Nothing more to add. Very detailed breakdown.

Sycomore is superior to ENE, but how much suprerior? How to quantify that? I see ENE as a lower def Sycomore, but that allows the movie to be seen and fully enjoyed nearly at the same level. Yesterday I shifted my Netflix UHD subscription to the standard HD one (in spite of owning a UHD tv), because it was just a 25% premium. So at a 1,000% premium for Sycomore, it was a no-go before for me, and even more so now that Chanel has (disgustingly) increased their pricing by ~20% in one shot. I'm done with them - just better bang-for-the-buck around, from other houses. Especially true when seeing Chanel's release of the last 5 years.
Oof, the new price increases are pretty rough; I hadn’t seen that yet.

$250 for 75 ml with no possibility of a discount isn’t particularly appealing. I suspect we’ll see a lot more of that throughout the industry (just noticed L’Occitane jumped their fragrances up from $65 to $85 the other day, not long after shrinking the bottles to 75 ml), but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
 

Earlyn

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jun 14, 2019
Through some amazingly fast shipping I have received my lilliputian bottle of Sycomore today and it is in fact the EDP.
Of course it is very good 🙂😟, and having Encre Noire a L'Extreme on my other arm I can say I am in complete agreement with Toxicon's summary. Should I win the lottery I would gladly spend up for the Sycomore and the golden and buttery smoothness it has in comparison to the rougher chop of EN a L'Ex. For now I'll freely and appreciatively spray with my big guy and save the little guy for special times.
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IsoESuperman

People of Zee Wurl, Relax
Basenotes Plus
Dec 30, 2015
The vetiver is for sure dominant, but might be worth sampling Diptyque Vetyverio.

I've for sure got a sample of the EdP and probably one of the EdT, I'll have to look. Been a while since I wore it but while enjoyable, I didn't smell like it had anything approaching a rose note/accord in it. Thanks for the suggestion either way, it's a really nice vetiver I've been meaning to revisit.

I’ve never compared them, and I haven’t worn either in some time until now, so I can’t say at present. I will say that I find the vetiver in Ihram quite prominent, albeit well blended with pine, cedar, and rosewood. The patchouli here is laying down a camphorous base that mostly rounds out the pine but also helps to loop the vetiver in.

Thanks! Sounds nice. The more of his work I try, the more I find similarities in the "building blocks" of his scents. I pick up on the Muschio backbone in Seawood and Taliban Flower. The former goes in a very different direction overall but the latter smells kind of close, albeit more floral.

Amusing. I wonder if they got a Cease & Desist from the Rolling Stones?

Buxton changed the names of a bunch of them, many of which were song titles. Sexual Healing became Spiritual Healing, Sleeping with Ghosts became Dreaming with Ghosts, and so on. Why the change, I'm not sure but I bet Reddit or somewhere else knows. C&D isn't out of the question, given Guerlain and Metallica.

What a beauty. I find it stunning. Does that helps decide? ;)

You said it all. My suggestion: buy enough to hit the free shipping threshold :devilish:

It's rather excellent and distinctive among vetiver-centric stuff, it really surprised me. I'm guessing the free shipping threshold is up there so it might be years before I amass enough of a wishlist to make a big order there. The list is very small these days and I seldom buy anything but samples/minis/travel sprays.

Should you ever decide to put in an order that's just below the threshold, I'd spring for the Buxton for sure to push it over.

Sycomore EDP is great. The differences are small with the EDT. At least to my nose.

I'd agree that the differences may be small scent-wise (and maybe formula-wise although I'm not a perfumer, so I've no idea really) but however small that difference is, it makes a huge difference to some people in terms of level of enjoyment/appreciation. Same applies to many reformulations or even flanker scenarios - Antaeus/Antaeus Sport comes to mind.

Or like adding a pinch of salt to chocolate milk. For some it might evoke a barely perceptible enhancement in terms of enjoyment or maybe none at all, for others it might transform ordinary chocolate milk into something that induces eye-rolling pleasure and the uttering of profanity.

I'm somewhere in the middle as far as Sycomore goes, I think, but I do find that what made the EdT magical is gone from the EdP. They both smell great and overall, still clearly recognizable as Sycomore. That small change or single missing puzzle piece lessens the overall level of enjoyment for me. That's my two pennies anyway.

Now I'm curious to smell Encre Noire a L'Extreme next to Sycomore EdP. I certainly smell the overlap with Sycomore and the original EN and was pretty excited when the L'Extreme flanker came out - bought a rather pricey decant shortly after release - but have barely worn it since. Must investigate.
 

naylor

Well-known member
Oct 24, 2011
I've been offline for a few days, but I synced with O'driu Subercilium this week.

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Cook.bot

Common Lackey
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
I'm somewhere in the middle as far as Sycomore goes, I think, but I do find that what made the EdT magical is gone from the EdP. They both smell great and overall, still clearly recognizable as Sycomore. That small change or single missing puzzle piece lessens the overall level of enjoyment for me. That's my two pennies anyway.

For me that missing puzzle piece was the removal of the smoke element, which in the EDT really is magical in the way it weaves in and out of the fragrance for the whole time it's on my skin.

Like Toxicon, I also hadn't seen those Chanel price increases until I just now checked their site. My Sycomore 200ml (EDT) that cost $300 USD in 2016 is now $400. I'm hard pressed to think of anything else in my life that has seen a 33% jump in the past six years.
 
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Earlyn

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jun 14, 2019
Doing a little taste test of Eau de Calandre (not in directory) from a vintage splash with the wraparound gray plastic bumpers. I’m finding quite a large LOTV and rose presence and a touch of iris. This pastel floral blend is not my thing. I’m trying to suss out the vetiver in the base but mostly smelling faint musk and a little wood. There is also something a little sour there. I’ll pass on a rewear tomorrow and look for something else for sync.
 

Cook.bot

Common Lackey
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
Doing a little taste test of Eau de Calandre (not in directory) from a vintage splash with the wraparound gray plastic bumpers. I’m finding quite a large LOTV and rose presence and a touch of iris. This pastel floral blend is not my thing. I’m trying to suss out the vetiver in the base but mostly smelling faint musk and a little wood. There is also something a little sour there. I’ll pass on a rewear tomorrow and look for something else for sync.

Gosh, that sounds quite different from the original Calandre EDT, which is a very leafy green chypre whose floral heart is cut through with a fairly strong streak of bitterness, all resting on a pretty soft oakmoss and vetiver base. I'll have to remember not to bother with the eau.
 

Earlyn

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jun 14, 2019
Gosh, that sounds quite different from the original Calandre EDT, which is a very leafy green chypre whose floral heart is cut through with a fairly strong streak of bitterness, all resting on a pretty soft oakmoss and vetiver base. I'll have to remember not to bother with the eau.
Yeah I’d definitely think you would recoil at the LOTV. I actually bought this a couple years ago by mistake. It is interesting that the bottom has Eau de toilette embossed on it. So it is Eau de Calandre in Eau de toilette concentration. See why I was confused? Anyway, completely different from what I thought I was buying.
 

justfoxie

You smell nice
Basenotes Plus
Oct 23, 2018
I'm back in with Ffern's Winter 22 release. I'm really loving the link between the vetiver and the bright, astringent herbals in this one (tarragon, peppermint, lavender). There's something light and bright which is then not completely lost as it transitions into the stronger vetiver/labdanum in the base.

I remember when the first iteration of this came out (Winter 20) and I wasn't quite sold - the difference between the top and the bottom was too stark. But they've managed a beautiful transition in the current version which is both bracing and comforting at the same time.
 

Toxicon

Well-known member
May 29, 2021
Synced up with CdG 2 Man. Woodsy vetiver and incense with some light spice and white smoke. Definitely some ISO E and other synthetics swirling about, as is the CdG way. There's an off-putting note towards the top (cumin?) that I'm slowly coming around to, but once that settles down this is a quiet but satisfying wear, with a prominent vetiver note.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
I'm in with a bottle that I recently got in a swap, so it's my first wearing of

Vetiver Royal Bourbon by Oriza L. Legrand
First impressions: a very nice nutty/spicy vetiver, preceded by a green/minty opening, and laying on some soft spicy leather. I get some similarities with Theseus by Lorenzo Villoresi.

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Toxicon

Well-known member
May 29, 2021
Syncing with Encre Noire. Of all the vetivers I own, used to own or have sampled, it's probably still my favorite. I have two bottles from when it came out so I should be set for life.
I burned through a decant of Encre Noire awfully fast earlier this year. Surprisingly satisfying, and pretty versatile if applied lightly. I need to pick up a full bottle.
 

pandora22

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
May 11, 2016
I'm really loving the link between the vetiver and the bright, astringent herbals in this one (tarragon, peppermint, lavender). There's something light and bright which is then not completely lost as it transitions into the stronger vetiver/labdanum in the base.
This sounds lovely.

I'm syncing with Jo Malone London Nasturtium & Clover. It's grassy and herbaceous and I love it.
 

Ga.Peach

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2021
Sync-mode on with Rogue Vetifleur. I have to apply this quite sparingly and then only when I'm in the mood for some indolic jasmine and iris. One spray is plenty;and I'm thinking about an overspray of Encre Noire.
Syncing with Encre Noire. Of all the vetivers I own, used to own or have sampled, it's probably still my favorite. I have two bottles from when it came out so I should be set for life.
Do you know if therer's a significant difference in Encre Noire from when it first came out vs. current formulation?
 

du57in

Well-known member
Jun 21, 2014
I burned through a decant of Encre Noire awfully fast earlier this year. Surprisingly satisfying, and pretty versatile if applied lightly. I need to pick up a full bottle.
Have you tried the Sport and Extreme versions? Worth owning all three.

Sync-mode on with Rogue Vetifleur. I have to apply this quite sparingly and then only when I'm in the mood for some indolic jasmine and iris. One spray is plenty;and I'm thinking about an overspray of Encre Noire.

Do you know if therer's a significant difference in Encre Noire from when it first came out vs. current formulation?
I don't have a ton of experience with a newer bottle. Perhaps I should track down a decant and try it.
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
Never heard of that one, Ken. Tell us a little about it?
Thank you for asking. From a personal viewpoint alone, one of the cleanest and soapy vetivers do both not just own but actually know.
Along the lines of Mugler Cologne but even cleaner and with an even more crisp, bracing, refreshing quality to it while at the same time with a hint of almost old school barbershop style powderiness, however with less powdery stuffiness usually associated with more traditional barbershop scents.
 

Cook.bot

Common Lackey
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
Vetiverus by Oliver & Co. (aka Avant-Garden Lab)

This is kind of a hard one to get a handle on. It's extremely vegetal, but not dark and dank like Route du Vetiver or Encre Noir. It gets lifted by a powerful orange note, and spiced by some clove or carnation. One reviewer smells "tidal pool" in it, and I can see that too; the sort of oceanic scent of ambergris. Supposedly its floral component is osmanthus, but if so it's unlike any osmanthus I know, having neither the apricot nor suede nor tea aspects. I suspect that if you found the celery note in Yatagan objectionable, you wouldn't like Vetiverus either; I don't specifically smell celery, but its vegetal quality does remind me of Yatagan's affect.

I can't seem to make up my mind whether I like it or not. My opinion changes every ten minutes.
 

CuddleCat

It smells so good in here
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Aug 20, 2009
I feel like I need to tip toe in here and post then scoot quickly back out because I did wear a fragrance with a noticeable vetiver note but it was still only a supporting note....

I wore Narciso EDP by Narciso Rodriguez and I can usually smell a bit of vetiver in this scent mainly in the drydown. It was humid yesterday and it caused the vetiver note to amp up quite a lot this wearing. The humidity increased the sillage as well but the longevity was less overall.
  1. Top Notes​

  2. Heart Notes​

  3. Base Notes​

 

Ed Wardian

Well-known member
Oct 28, 2020
I'll have to squeeze that one in for sync soon. I absolutely love it, even though it feels a tad too masculine for me.

It's odd, because I have no use at all for the other Encre Noirs.
Haha... Ahh, peaty was so 'in' at one point; that 'swamp thing' vapour on the urban dance floor, so 2006... Probably a beautiful figment of my imagination!

Simply a gorgeous trifecta with l'extrême on repeat pour moi... So happy you love it too, Cook.bot!
 

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