Named for a legendary Himalayan kingdom and originally released by Lancôme in 1971, Sikkim was reissued last year along with Climat, Magie, and Sagamore as part of La Collection, a special edition series of fragrances celebrating "70 years of perfume excellence". Sikkim’s original composition had notes of aldehydes, ylang ylang, bergamot, galbanum, gardenia, thujone, carnation, jasmine, narcissus, orris, rose, amber, castoreum, leather, moss, patchouli and vetiver.
Sikkim is a surprising chypre of monumental proportions, and I found it stunning right from the start. At first floral, by turns green and earthy, and finally, rich and spicy, this is such a heady and unusual scent that I’m surprised it was launched as a women’s fragrance.
Sikkim is the scent of an Oriental bazaar — at first a whiff of white petals blooms as you walk through a garden towards the market on an ancient afternoon. Green grasses scent the breeze as the smoke of cooking spices and incense beckon you closer. As you enter the market, the scent of artisans’ creativity mingles in the air — worked wooden instruments, balms and dried herbs, leather curing in the heat of mid-day — and caresses your skin, permeating your robes as you slowly pass through the stalls. Upon exiting, all of these Eastern aromas come together in a rhapsody and then slowly fade as your journey continues.
Well-blended and expertly crafted, Sikkim could easily be worn by either a man or woman. The thujone, a chemical found in wormwood (think absinthe) and castoreum (a musk-like glandular secretion of the beaver) create a slightly animalic and bitter effect found in the opening and midnotes. The basenotes of orris and patchouli add a rich earthiness while the moss, leather and galbanum firmly establish the fragrance as a chypre.
Sikkim has tremendous lasting power and sillage, and of the four fragrances in La Collection, I find Sikkim to be the most interesting. Something that I would expect from Victoire Gobin-Daudé, Sikkim is a must try for serious chypre lovers or those looking for something dry and earthy.
Sikkim is $100 for 50 ml of Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Lancôme under Perfume Houses.