Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is a material of aristocratic mien but humble means. Used to stanch water erosion in the tropics, vetiver traditionally has been utilized in everything from window shades to grass mats. The dried roots resemble a tangle of vermicelli and possess a intoxicating sweet-smoky-woody-earthy aroma touched with a nose-tingling bitterness and a bit of licorice. Vetiver has been the subject of many a post on Vetivresse, and understandably so. The market seems to have reached vetiver saturation, with more than a handful of very pleasant renditions available. The venerable house of Chanel has recently entered the fray with Sycomore, a Sheldrake-Polge collaboration, which, if I were to give vetiver advice to a fragrance neophyte, would fall high on my short list of benchmark vetivers. While it bears little resemblance to its forebear, Chanel’s 1930 version, it is dark and smoky and sophisticated: a welcome anodyne to the present surfeit of bland men’s colognes. Sycomore is a dashing sports car of scents, tuxedo black with touches of glinting eighteen-karat gold and a little splash of mud on the fender. It possesses better-than-average sillage and tenacity, and, in its behemoth atomizer, is vetiver enough to sustain you for a couple of years.
Image: courtesy of Chanel