What is it about the combination of iris and leather that makes it so irresistible? Perhaps it’s the contrast between the austere iris–the earthy, half-frozen root, not the lush flower–and the salty sweetness of tanned hide. Perhaps it’s the natural harmony they form, since leather has some green nuances, while iris has a subtle hint of suede. In Cuir de Nacre, a fragrance from the collection by Paris jeweler Ann Gérard, the iris-leather duo receives an elegant treatment. It smells enveloping and effervescent, casual and chic.
Cuir de Nacre was created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, who also was responsible for Ciel d’
The aldehydic prelude to the iris and leather is a subtle retro reference, and it adds a sparkling accent. The tangy leather notes appear almost right away, but initially the opulent floral accord of mimosa and iris is the star of Cuir de Nacre. Velvety and warm, it smells the way iris petals feel in your fingers. When the leather begins to unfold further, you are no longer sure if you’re smelling a soft petal or a tender suede. A brushstroke of musk and creamy woods completes the vignette, but Cuir de Nacre moves slowly into the drydown and keeps you guessing a little as to what comes next.
If you’re familiar with Bertrand Duchaufour’s perfumes, you will be surprised to not find many of his favorite incense flourishes. Cuir de Nacre is old Hollywood glamour interpreted in a modern, streamlined manner. Just as today’s Hollywood beauties no longer sport Marseilles waves nor generous curves, you won’t find the opaque heft and buttery richness in Cuir de Nacre that you notice in vintage leather fragrances like Chanel Cuir de Russie and Caron Tabac Blond. In this case, this omission doesn’t leave me disappointed, because Cuir de Nacre rewards with luminous iris and leather as soft as a kitten’s paw.
If you enjoy the polish of Cuir de Russie, 31, rue Cambon, and Prada Infusion d’Iris, Cuir de Nacre is worth a try. It’s a perfume that you would wear when wrapped in a comfy sweater at home as well as when you’re dressed in your little black dress, holding a glass of champagne at a cocktail party. Those who love the idea of understated elegance will find it an interesting perfume for their wardrobes. There is nothing fussy or intimidating about it, and I appreciate its harmonious composition and refined simplicity.
But one caveat: for the extrait de parfum, Cuir de Nacre is surprisingly soft spoken. A modest dab on the neck that I reserve for Cuir de Russie parfum was not at all enough to enjoy Cuir de Nacre for the whole day; it needs to be sprayed and sprayed on generously.
Ann Gérard Cuir de Nacre includes notes of angelica root, ambrette, aldehydic ozonic notes, cassie, iris concrete, leather accord, sandalwood, white musk and styrax. 60 ml
Extrait de Parfum (now classified as Eau de Parfum)/$165, available at Luckyscent.