Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
If fine leather were to be woven into a wreath with a few stems of jasmine and dusted with sweet spices, the result would capture the essence of Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque (meaning Moorish Leather). Composed by Chris Sheldrake in 1996, it alludes to the ancient Arab tradition of exquisitely perfuming leather with citrus, musk and attars.
The dark resinous top note is caressed by orange blossom, jasmine, and mandarin, an arrangement that creates interplay of shadows cast upon a floral bouquet. Darkness pervades the luminosity and sweetness of orange blossom, with the smoky notes providing a grounding touch. Smooth tangy notes of leather begin to take shape slowly, all the while revealing a new facet, be it a warm breath of amber or a spicy shimmer of cinnamon. This stunning composition would suit both men and women, although its soft and floral element can be increased by layering Cuir Mauresque with a little bit of Fleurs d’Oranger.
Differing from both iris tinged delicacy of Daim Blond and labdanum enriched darkness of Cabochard, Cuir Mauresque combines softness with the purity of leather. It is buttery and rich, marked by the spicy sweetness of clove and mandarin peel. A soft fine leather accord of Cuir Mauresque conjures associations that range from expensive handbags to a horse tack store. I imagine sitting in a luxuriously comfortable leather armchair of my grandmother’s library reading Rabindranath Tagore till the dusk would creep into the room. Of course, it is just my imagination, because my grandmother did not have any leather armchairs, and I usually read while sitting on the floor, with my back resting against a large pile of the Soviet Constitution editions. Nevertheless, the ability of Cuir Mauresque to awaken and extend a memory is what makes it special.
Notes include amber, myrrh, burnt styrax, incense, cinnamon, aloe wood, cedar, civet, nutmeg, clove, cumin, musk, mandarin peel, orange blossom.