Sycomore by CHANEL

Sycomore by CHANEL

Hey Crew. CHANEL is one of the worlds most iconic brands. The marketing team is second to none. It’s hard to stay current and afloat in the world of fashion. Let alone doing it in the 21st century. With the historic stories of Gabrielle Chanel and her personal and political choices, any other brand would have been cancelled or censured. For more information read Hal Vaughan’s book Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War. She wasn’t alone according to this article. There has been some extra hype with No 5 turning 100 years old in 2021 and the release of the homewares inspired collectable Factory 5 Collection. They also manage to pump out some impressive fragrance in their Les Exclusif line. If you’re new to the perfume craving they are a good place to smell some beautifully crafted fragrance, accessible in most large department stores.

Sycomore by CHANEL EdP (2016)

Sycamore by CHANEL

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Aldehydes, Spices, Pink pepper, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Violet, Vetiver, Juniper, Cypress

Grassy greenness, the sweet shiver of pink pepper, the warm enveloping and silky smooth pairing of tobacco and sandalwood are all front and centre at the opening of Sycomore EdP. Less brilliant and sparkling than its EdT predecessor but warmer and more wearable by far. This feels more luxurious without the razza mattaz, showbiz style entrance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the EdT but there is a place in my heart for the EdP. Also, as more proof I own this small bottle of EdP and it wasn’t even on my list as an EdT.

The heart becomes a lightly spiced fresh hewn wood. Not a chest thumping, crackly, modern niche experience of woods. Here there is air between the notes. You aren’t in the sawmill, or even the lumberyard. It’s more like you’ve had a wood delivery at home and you can smell it as you enter and leave the house. I don’t know what it is but I also smell wood polish, like those lovely waxes that feed and nourish your wood table.

Dry down gets woodsier and woodsier as it fades over hours. Interestingly people around me can smell this long after I become nose blind. A perfect scent for those times you need to be softly fragrant for long periods of time.

Sycamore by CHANEL EdP

Sycomore is a modern, unisex fragrance. No matter that it was originally created in 1930. I never smelled the Ernest Beaux version but Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake have done a beautiful job of revamping the EdT.

Have you spent time with any of the CHANEL Sycomores?
Portia x

(EDIT: I spelled Sycomore as SycAmore through the whole post and then was pulled up. It is in fact SycOmore. Fixed now)

Saturday Question: Are You Tempted by the Chanel Factory 5 Collection?

To mark the centennial anniversary of THE perfume, Chanel produced seventeen new N°5-scented bath and body products with black and white utilitarian packaging inspired by everyday objects – refill stand-up pouch, tea tin, water bottle, gouache tubes, paint can and so forth. All these are limited edition, some are available online, some in pop-up boutiques only, some are already sold out. Which brings us to today’s question.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #71:

Are You Tempted by the Chanel Factory 5 Collection?

Have you bought any of the objects? Do you plan to? Are you tempted?

Bonus questions: Do you have N°5 in your collection already? Do you like it?

My Answer

For years I tried Chanel No 5 again and again hoping I would “grow up” to like it. I still don’t. I learned to appreciate it, and I even enjoy smelling it from others. But whenever I try it on my skin, I end up slightly disappointed that it keeps leaving me cold. I tried both modern and vintage versions, EdT and EdP, the original one and all the flankers. I kind of could wear No 5 L’Eau, but I do not love it.

Chanel No5

And still, I’m tempted by this extremely strange collection. Luckily for me, the item that I wanted the most – the tea tin – isn’t available online, and none of the designated boutiques that are supposed to carry this collection is around where I live (I was surprised that not all Chanel boutiques got it!). Paint can is also not available. So, I’m looking at the soap in a tin, but for a small tin $45 seems too much (I don’t really care for the soap, I’m attracted to the tin). From the practical side, shower gel is the best product for me: using in the shower the scent that I do not mind but do not wear as perfume is perfect (otherwise the scent gets to mundane, and I somehow value perfume less), and it is still available online. But for me a dish soap bottle is one of the least attractive objects in that collection.

And then I started thinking… Maybe I should buy a bottle of actual perfume? It’s a new redesigned and, if I understand it correctly, limited edition bottle. And maybe – just maybe, I have absolutely no knowledge that it is or even could be the case – since it’s a special and limited edition, they’ve used a better quality ingredients (it’s wishful thinking, I know). So, should I finally get No 5 or L’Eau into my collection?

Of course, if I keep thinking for two long, the decision will be made for me: I expect the collection to sell out soon. Will I regret missing this collection? I wish it was No 19 or Coco – I would have pounced already, on the first day of the release. But on the other hand, No 5 is such an iconic perfume…

 

Are You Tempted by the Chanel Factory 5 Collection?

 

Image: from the brand’s site

Chanel Paris – Edimbourg

Last weekend, as I stopped by the perfume counter at my local Nordstrom to quickly pick up a birthday gift for my friend (a nice Diptyque candle, if you’re curious), I experienced a light shock: I discovered a new addition to Les Eaux de Chanel collection.

Of course, it wasn’t the fact of its release itself that surprised me (after all, it’s the fifth installment in the series in less than that many years). What startled me and even made a little sad was that I was completely unaware of this release happening. Yes, I’ve been busy with work and spent even less than usual time on NST or other perfume-related platforms. But still… It shows how fragmented this world has become since the number of blogs and both people writing and reading them declined. Can you imagine missing a new release from Chanel (or, let’s say, Serge Lutens) five-six years ago?

I asked the friendly SA O., from whom I usually buy those rare perfume-related items that I buy at Nordstrom, if she could give me a vial so that I could make myself a sample (since they are not allowed to do it any more), and she conspiratorially told me that she had a real sample for me; but that, probably, it would be more to my vSO’s liking (who patiently waited not too far away for me to finish purchasing the gift and talking to O.) than to my. Than she stopped herself (probably remembering all the trainings they are getting these days) and said (without much conviction though): “Or you might like it…” That was how I got to try Paris – Edimbourg sample.

Chanel Paris-Edimbourg

She was right on both accounts. I kind of like it. And it is quite masculine.

I have to correct myself. Paris – Edimbourg is not masculine-masculine cologne that would be classified as such unequivocally. But compared even just to perfumes in that collection, not even talking about other Chanel perfumes, Paris – Edimbourg is the most masculine one. Had you smelled it blindly, you would have thought Atelier Cologne before thinking Chanel.

Notes (according to Fragrantica): juniper berries, cypress, lavender, cedar, vetiver, vanilla and musk.

Perfumer: Olivier Polge

I can clearly smell juniper. Lavender in Paris – Edimbourg isn’t as prominent as it is in several other Chanel perfumes. And vetiver is much tamer than it usually is in masculine perfumes. It is fresh, uplifting, slightly woody (very slightly) and quite naturally smelling, which these days pleasantly surprises me since more and more perfume brands seem to have discovered financial joys of creating escentric-molecules-style perfumes. In addition to that, it is reasonably priced compared to many other modern offerings.

All in all, I’m not disappointed. I like Paris – Edimbourg, and I could wear something like that in summer, but I prefer other, more feminine numbers from that collection. So, I’ll pass the sample to my vSO, but I do recommend checking it out the next time you find yourself close to Chanel counter.

 

Image: my own

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Hi ULG, Coco is one of my long term faves. It’s also a very close friends signature. There are so many happy memories associated with this perfectly poised far east dream inspired perfume. Since the mid 1980s Coco has surrounded me. Back then it was friends Mums and sometimes an adventurous young woman. It’s the fragrance I associate with smelling a lot of in the department stores for a couple of decades. In Australia CHANEL counters are mostly at the front of the beauty section and until Coco Mademoiselle came along it was like a thick miasma around the squirt bitches (men and women). Today is Monday and I’m cleaning the house. My friend Kerri B noted on a FaceBook SOTD post that she was wearing Coco so I decided to join her in glamour. Sometimes scenting for success even makes the turbines of tedium sing a happy refrain.

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin orange, Pimento, Coriander, Frangipani
Heart: Jasmine, Rose, Orange blossom, Ylang-ylang, Cinnamon, Iris, Angelica
Base: Patchouli, Tonka bean, Benzoin, Frankincense, Amber, Musk, Honey, Civet

Here’s the thing with Coco. It is its very own scent. I love it too much to really parse it deeply. Somehow it feels like the magic may dissolve a little if I look too closely and work out the tricks. Coco smells like luxury, travel, wisdom and sensuality. Though it is exciting and playful I also feel remarkably calm and poised when I wear it. Almost as if the fragrance has so much drama I can let my natural penchant for it go, just a little. Enough to get a really deep breath and exhale.

Whenever I hug a friend wearing Coco it’s one pf the fragrances I can usually pick. That’s another reason I love it.

Todays wearing while doing laundry, dusting and vacuuming in the 30+C (around 100F) heat was so divine. Loads of pepper and cinnamon over a honeyed, resinous amber base. It wafted off me in great, glorious gouts and I reapplied four times throughout the day to get the thrill all over again.

Has Coco ever been your thing?
Portia xx

 

Centenary Perfumes

Centenary Perfumes

Hi there UGL, It’s Portia and I am looking at four things released in 1921 that are still widely available. Yep, Centenary Perfumes! My search goes only as far as Fragrantica so it’s probably not a full list. I really want to hear if you know of others in the comments. Yeah, a century of continuous production. Amazing, right? Let’s look eh?

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

CHANEL No 5

Most of us are well aware of CHANEL No 5. One of the most talked about and bought fragrances in the world, still. Known in the industry as “the monster”. It’s allure seems so timeless and is an easy, sensible, luxurious gift choice for flummoxed husbands and lovers the world over. The aldehydic floral that changed the game of perfumery. That it still smells pretty much like itself 100 years later is a miracle of modern technology.

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Emeraude by Coty

I had a small bottle of vino-ish Emeraude early on in my collecting saga. My memory is that it screeched at me. Maybe it was off or fake or maybe it’s just not for me. Green is my favourite colour so you can imagine how sad I was. There are people who swear by it and that’s why it’s still in production. It’s a hard no from me.

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Habanita by Molinard

Habanita is a weird one. I had a bottle. Loved wearing it. Somewhere along the line I sold or gifted it away. Now I have a small carded sample vial the I sniff when I need a fix. Who doesn’t love a vintage style fruity floral amber with loads of oak moss in the base?

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Maja by Myrurgia

I’ve never owned a bottle of Maja perfume but to this very day I still have some soaps. My Mum always had Maja soaps in her knicker drawers. Me too. That spicy carnation, orange blossom and rose and amber+++ base is glorious in the soaps. They hold their scent to the very last sliver too when I finally use them.

So Happy 100th Birthday to these beauties.
Do you know of others?
Portia xx

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

Hey Crew, 2020 has been so unexpected. Here in Australia it started with bushfires, then we got floods. The world got C19 and we watched the USA plunge into anarchy. Brexit has been exactly the shit show that any person with an ounce of rationale could see coming. While all this was going on my business collapsed completely, leaving myself and the five drag queens who work for Turbo Trivia jobless for months. Many people whose lives were previously affluent, the world over, find themselves in dire straits and it’s terrifying to watch and live.

I’m one of the seriously lucky few. Jin continued working through the whole crisis, though only about 2/3 of his regular income. He has been incredibly generous with his money, gave me a weekly stipend and paid for all our groceries. The Australian government gave me a Job Keeper handout that kept me paying my half of the major bills. Quite a turnaround from being the major breadwinner in the house and my ego took a small battering.

For any of you doing it really hard in these times my heart goes out to you and wish you a speedy financial recovery in 2021.

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

There were the usual squizillion launches this year and I was fortunate enough to get to smell quite a few of them. Libertine Parfumerie in Sydney is Australia’s largest niche distributor and they have kept me in the loop. PHEW! Here are a few fragrant things that I really loved.

Amouage Meander comes in a celadon green bottle and had me sold before I even smelled it. Thankfully it is as beautiful as it looks. Dark, resinous iris with interesting floral highlights. I’ll grab a bottle when I’m more flush.

Amouage Interlude Black Iris is mainly powdery iris and amber with a very generous nod to the original but nowhere near as iconic, large or as resinous. I was given a Press Bottle and am loving it.

Etat Libre d’Orange Spice Must Flow is a take on the rose/oud/incense trope. HUGE! For most perfumistas it will be an unnecessary addition to their wardrobe because it’s not a very new story. I really like it though and it smells different in village than up close. Worth a sniff.

Le Lion de CHANEL was the biggest hype train here in Sydney of the year. A Shalimar style offering with extra labdanum rich amber in the whole fragrance. Many people find it leather or incense heavy too. A different ride for every wearer. To make it less of an investment I hosted a split.

Maison Crivelli Fleur Diamantine from 2018 made it’s way to my nose. WOW! One of the most beautiful fragrances I’ve ever smelled. Sparkling white floral with rich warmth and surprising minty undertones. It’s a freaking knockout and very high son my full bottle wish list.

Miller et Bertaux Pimiento is the first cut of a capsicum/bell pepper on a summer day. This oddball design duo always manages to create beautiful, weird surprises. The base is a little generic but the opening and heart are fabulous. Libertine gave me a Press Bottle of this beauty too.

Trussardi Behind The Curtain Piazza Alla Scala is a powdery leather. Beautiful but not stunningly original. The racing green bottle with the greyhound cap had me at hello. Thankfully it smells amazing and I found it on an Australian discounters for an amazing price.

So what were the things that grabbed your attention in 2020?
Portia xx

Which 20 Would Portia Keep?

Hi there Crew,

Recently Undina (What Are Your Top N Perfumes?) and Tara (My Perfume Collection – Top 15) have done their “which would I keep” posts, following on from from Vanessa (‘Be more Undina’). After you’ve read this go have a squiz at theirs too. Who doesn’t love lists, right? So, I’m thinking “Damnit! I want to do this too.” It’s such a mind blowing, freak me right out, dumb assed thing to want to try because invariably my head explodes. Then the next day I instantly start second guessing my choices and that can rattle around my head for a couple of weeks before my brain lets it go. BUT! I also love doing it, just to see what my head and heart come up with this time.

Jin and I have often talked of buying a van and travelling through Europe for a couple of years. As part of that adventure my mind instantly goes to “How many perfumes would I take and which would they be?” So I’m kind of experienced at it now. Problem is some of them change, HA! Impossible, right. Usually I say 25 bottles and a bunch of samples/decants but in all honesty I think it will more likely be 10. So today I’m formalising my ideas for you all and myself. Subject to change at a moments notice.

You might want to grab a cuppa or a boozy bevy. This post is LONG! Continue reading

Portia and LE LION de CHANEL

Hello Crew,

We’ve had some excitement around here in Australia. The news breaks that CHANEL is releasing a new Les Exclusif, and only the Middle East are getting it. Dubai! Not even Paris by all reports. Oh CHANEL, how well you know us. Suddenly LE LION de CHANEL is hyped beyond the stratosphere. It’s this, it’s that, just wait, you’ll die, it’s their best offering since Coromandel, when can we get it? It’s been a long time since a release garnered so much interest, excitement and speculation. I was agog with lemmings.

The fact that the world has been going through trauma, we’ve been locked down, life has become a very small circle, yet we are attached by the computer & TV to everything that’s happening worldwide 24/7. Watching POC around the world with their friends, families and supporters marching for an equality long denied. Trans people being told, again, that they are not their gender (that doctors and psychologist have agreed they are), and that they deserve to be placed in the “OTHER” category, preferable far far away. A pandemic that threatens lives and livelihoods that no one can seem to get a handle on and that has different symptoms and virility in every person it touches.

We needed a ray of sunshine. 99 years on from the launch of CHANEL No 5. The perfume world has been given something to write home about.

LE LION de CHANEL 2020 by Olivier Polge

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Bergamot
Heart: Labdanum, Madagascan vanilla
Base: Sandalwood, Patchouli

Imagine the love child of CHANEL Coromandel, Guerlain Shalimar and DIOR Mitzah.

The first day I tried LE LION de CHANEL there were a group of about eight perfumistas having our first get together since C19 lockdown. We all had a spritz within about a minute. Every person got a different enough ride that they could have been different perfumes. On some it read crunchy toffee, others got animal resins, there was smoky incense, creamy sandalwood, citrus gelato, caramel. For everyone the timings were different, the depth, warmth, heft and also interestingly, WE ALL LOVED IT! Not one person in the room was less than spellbound.

My personal ride goes something like this. A swirl of pine lime gelato. Labdanum rich amber with a distinctly animalic bent. Creamy sandalwood tempered by a vanilla rich amber that has strong hints of the crackly toffee on the top of a creme brûlée. All day I was getting wafts of the most incredible resinously sweet fragrance out of the blue, and I’d think it was someone walking ahead, on the bus or train or in the department store. NOPE! It was me. The life of the fragrance is unbelievable. I’m still smelling a lived in vanilla and humanity over 24 hours later after running around town all day yesterday and then sleeping till 11 am.

How did I get it? One of my buddies owns a perfume chain here in Australia. His family owns department stores in Dubai, and they are selling LE LION de CHANEL. My buddy saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He brought in as much from Dubai as he could, which wasn’t very much. Last time we spoke he was waiting on a second order. I grabbed two 200ml bottles, and another buddy Matt and I hosted a split. We sold 150ml in 10ml batches at our cost price plus decant bottles and postage from each bottle and kept what was left for ourselves. The spots sold out in less than an evening. That’s why my picture is of a 3/4 empty bottle already.

Have you a lemming?
Portia xx

 

Image: My own

Saturday Question: What Chanel Perfume Would You Wear Today?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #12:

What Chanel Perfume Would You Wear Today?

You have probably seen more than once what usually happens when anybody poses a question that requires people to make a choice. Ask perfumistas to name their top N of something or choose X perfumes to take to the afterlife, and everybody gets really creative trying to sneak in a couple of extra names in a manner Oscar winners “smallprint” everybody they need to thank for their winning – as if not mentioning one of the favorites will anger the Gods of Perfumeland.

So, I decided to try to do it differently. I’m not asking you to choose your absolute favorite, name the “best of” or subscribe to wearing it till death do you part. But if you were asked to choose Chanel perfume that speaks to you the most to wear today (tomorrow it might be something else), what would it be? Just one name (and, if you wish, why you made that choice).

My Answer

Chanel No 19 EdT. It was the first Chanel perfume that I fell in love with. For years I kept trying No 5 hoping to “get” it, but it never worked (and still doesn’t). Somehow that prevented me from trying any other classic Chanel perfumes, and Chance, which I tried, was just awful. And then one day, being in a good mood after a day trip to the wine country, on the way back home we stopped by Nordstrom, and a very nice SAs made me a couple of samples of different Chanel perfumes (it was long before Nordstrom introduced the DIY sampling program).

That was a turning point for me. I loved No 19 EdT! Since then added both EdT and extrait to my collection. I tried vintage EdT (nice, but I’m fine with the one I got 9 years ago). I have a small decant of the modern EdP (hajusuuri, thank you), which I like and enjoy wearing. I even bought No 19 Poudré when it was first released. Unsniffed. But No 19 EdT is still my favorite Chanel – and I’m wearing it today.

 

Rusty and Chanel 19 EdT

 

What Chanel Perfume Would You Wear Today?

 

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Entertaining Statistics: 2019 Year Round-up

2019 was crazy busy at work. I hope not to repeat it this year. Most likely because of all the stress, I had more health issues than usually. I hope not to repeat that either. But I got to travel much more than I usually do, both for work and pleasure, including a visit to London during which I had a chance to spend some time with Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) and Tara (A Bottled Rose), as well as visit all the usual places that this perfume Mecca offers. I hope to keep this trend up in 2020. So, I’d say that the difference between all the great experiences I had last year and any negatives is still positive. 2019 wasn’t a bad year for me.

But let’s look at the last year perfume numbers.

In 2019, compared to 2018, I wore slightly less different perfumes (190 vs. 196) from significantly more brands (91 vs. 79) on less occasions (351 vs. 372). It means that I wore perfumes not every day. Partially, it was because there were some days when I didn’t want to risk associating how I felt with any of perfumes I love. Also, on some days, while working from home, I would test several new perfumes instead of wearing one.

Since I tend to wear favorite perfumes from my collection, the same seven brands stayed on my Top 10 Brands chart, changing places, for the last 8 years that I’ve been keeping detailed records. Between any 2 years usually only 2 brands fall out from/appear on the list. New contenders this year were Houbigant Paris (because of the new favorite Summer Iris and one more perfume, about which I’ll write soon) and Tauer Perfumes (no special reason, just felt like wearing 3 of my favorite perfumes).

 

My Perfume Stats Year 2019

 

Top three perfumes that I wore the most often during 2019 – two of my all-time favorites, same as top perfumes from 2018, Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (9 occasions) and Lancôme Climat (8) and a new favorite Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royal Collection Privee (8). I see a pattern here with wearing more often perfumes newly added to my collection (in 2018 it was Chanel Bois des Iles).

Despite all the hurdles describing which I started this post, I managed to do enough testing: 272 perfumes (vs. 380 in 2018) from 128 brands (vs. 139). Out of 272 perfumes tested, only 107 were new to me: the rest was either repeated testing of older samples or comparison testing between new samples and either older samples or perfumes I own. These numbers do not include my London sniffing sessions since most of perfumes that I tried there had never made it to skin.

I’ve done once, I think, “The Best N New Perfumes of the Year” post. But this year, even had I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have been able to: out of just 16 new releases that I managed to try in 2019 (Sixteen! It’s almost a quarter of what has been released just in 4 days of 2020!), there were only 5 that I liked and 3 that were not spectacular but not bad. I think, you’ll agree that Top/Best 5 (or even 8) perfumes of 2019 sounds somewhat pathetic. But I’ll mentions those 5 here: Bengale Rouge by Papillon Artisan Perfumes, Puredistance Gold, Paris – Riviera by Chanel, Mon Boudoir by Houbigant and I am not a flower by Floraiku.

In the 2018 Year Round-up post for the first time I started counting pictures of Rusty that I used in my posts during the year. I decided to continue this tradition. In 2019 I used 39 pictures of Rusty, which was significantly fewer than in the previous year (51), but I managed to publish just 29 posts (vs. 48), so the ratio of picture to posts is much higher.

 

Rusty in a Bowl

 

Images: My own