Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre : Perfume Review

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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’Opale and Perle de Mousse, the other two perfumes from the line. Ann Gérard sold Cuir de Nacre previously to her clients as Pleine Lune, and the limited edition was so well-received that she decided to launch a trio of perfumes. Perle de Mousse and Cuir de Nacre captured my attention immediately for their refined, polished character.

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.

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50 Comments

  • Lucas: Oh my Perfume Oracle!
    This fragrance sounds divine!

    Is there any particular place where I could order a nice sample of this Cuir re Nacre.

    I MUST sample it because it sounds like it might declass my favourite iris-leather, Cuir Ottoman, from 1st to 2nd place. October 8, 2012 at 7:46am Reply

    • Anne: Lucas, Luckyscent has samples. I already ordered Perle de Mousse and now I’m kicking myself for not adding a sample of Cuir de Nacre. October 8, 2012 at 7:51am Reply

      • Lucas: Anne, does Luckuscent charge a lot for shipping? They’re in the US and I’m in Poland, that’s a long distance. October 8, 2012 at 7:53am Reply

        • Lucas: I just checked the shipping costs filling the order form and unfortunately shipping is more expensive than a sample itself.
          Will have to pass, unfortunately. October 8, 2012 at 7:58am Reply

          • Anne: The shipping costs for one sample is too much even in the US. I try to order several samples at once. October 8, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

          • Gisela: Lucas,
            suendhaft.com in Germany has the three Ann Gerards and sends samples europewide. Up to 12 samples, 4€ each, shipping also is 4€.
            (not affiliated) October 9, 2012 at 2:07am Reply

            • Victoria: Gisela, thank you for mentioning suendhaft.com! Now that I’m in Europe, it’s helpful to know this. I’ve been ordering from Luckyscent, but I’m glad that there are better options. October 9, 2012 at 9:23am Reply

            • Jack Sullivan: I was also looking for such a site in Europe (First in Fragrance does not cover all the brands I’m interested in), but this one is only in German unfortunately :-( October 9, 2012 at 9:42am Reply

              • Victoria: If you want to order samples, you click on “Proben Bestellen” and enter the perfumes you want to sample in the contact form (up to 12, as Gisela mentioned). Then they send you an invoice. They have a really varied selection.
                Here I discovered that most of the electronics we want are much less expensive in Germany, so my shopping German vocabulary has been getting some practice. :) October 9, 2012 at 11:58am Reply

                • Jack Sullivan: Thanks a lot Victoria (and Gisela of course!)! I did remember that I had to look for “proben” somewhere (this much I recalled from my stay in Vienna) but I completely missed the links at the bottom right of their website!
                  I guess Germany is pretty much like Austria in many aspects, I remember buying tons of DVDs at bargain prices because taxes were lower than in France. October 9, 2012 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: If I compare it to Cuir Ottoman, Cuir de Nacre is more transparent and more delicate. It’s definitely less sweet than Cuir Ottoman. The iris + leather is one of my favorite combinations, but I’m getting picking since I have so many.

      Anne already mentioned Luckyscent below. I understand that you can also order a discovery set via Ann Gerard’s website, but I don’t think that it works out less expensive than Luckyscent. October 8, 2012 at 10:11am Reply

  • Anne: Sounds beautiful! I love iris and leather together. I’ll have to add Cuir de Nacre to my sample order. October 8, 2012 at 7:48am Reply

    • Victoria: If you love iris and leather, I recommend trying this one. It has an appealing combination of retro glamour and modern simplicity. October 8, 2012 at 10:15am Reply

  • Jack Sullivan: Exciting! The discovery set of the three Ann Gérard perfumes is waiting for me in my bathroom, and I am still wondering which one I’m going to try first. This review and Denyse’s preview on Grain de Musc sure leave me full of expectations. October 8, 2012 at 8:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, please let me know what you think! Perle de Mousse is the most effervescent, followed by Ciel d’Opale and Cuir de Nacre. I would start there. October 8, 2012 at 10:16am Reply

      • Jack Sullivan: I’ve been wearing Perle de Mousse for a couple of hours now – the weather was calling for it: crisp blue sky, warm sunshine but cool gusts of wind making you shiver all of a sudden (yes, this is Fall and not Spring, no question about it).
        I should be cautious, wait until I’ve worn PdM a full day at least, perhaps compare with other recent releases…. but so far I am in love. I don’t have your experience, Victoria, to qualify properly what this perfume smells like. To me it’s like lying in the woods (the grass is wet, the moss is deep), with the smell of lily-of-the-valley carried by a breeze already rich with the scents of the ocean. Being a plant biologist I must add that I very much doubt that lily-of-the-valley would be able to grow close to the seaside, but who cares? I stand by my metaphor all the same. Perle de Mousse feels fresh, delicate, refined and original – I’ll be making plans to buy a bottle very soon if the feeling holds. October 13, 2012 at 7:42am Reply

        • Victoria: Your description is so beautiful, and I think that it captures Perle de Mousse really well. There is definitely a salty note from the moss, and the floral account is green, crunchy, with a crystalline clarity.

          Your lily of the valley by the sea mention reminded me of Parfums de Nicolai Weekend a Deauville. Have you tried it? Another salty lily of the valley. October 14, 2012 at 6:27am Reply

          • Jack Sullivan: Never tried anything from PdN so far, although last summer I walked past their shop rue de Richelieu on my way to the Jardins du Palais Royal. One bottle of Rahät Loukoum later, my perfume budget was officially deceased so I did not go back.
            I’ve read lovely things about their perfumes and you are giving me one more reason to explore them soon – and I don’t need to rob a bank for that, which is always good news! October 14, 2012 at 6:48am Reply

  • Gretchen: This may be my first foray into leather scents, as it hasn’t been one I’ve been drawn to so far. Has anyone tried the Perle de Mousse? It’s on my next sample order and I’m eager to hear other’s comments… October 8, 2012 at 8:55am Reply

    • Anne: I liked Perle de Mousse a lot. It smells like something white floral at first but then it becomes green and dewy. The drydown is mossy but sheer and clean. Makes me think of spring. October 8, 2012 at 9:03am Reply

      • Gretchen: I’m pleased to hear these sound like high-quality juices! Cannot wait to test all three now… October 8, 2012 at 10:09am Reply

        • Anne: I don’t know Ciel d’Opale and Cuir de Nacre but if they are anything like Perle de Mousse, I’m sold. But I agree with V, for the parfums Perle de Mousse isn’t a sillage bomb. October 8, 2012 at 12:23pm Reply

      • Victoria: I agree! There is a garden on a spring day feeling about Perle de Mousse, which is so wonderful on these grey, overcast days. I’m enjoying it very much. October 8, 2012 at 10:19am Reply

        • Anne: V, how does Perle de Mousse last on you? October 8, 2012 at 12:24pm Reply

          • Victoria: It lasts for the whole day, but it definitely loses its punch after the first 3 hours. October 8, 2012 at 1:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried Tom Ford Violet Blonde? It just occurred to me that the leather in Violet Blonde (soft, soft, suede-like) is similar in character to that in Cuir de Nacre. If you like leather to be very soft or if you’re new to leather, then either would be a great starting place. October 8, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

      • Gretchen: That sounds like a good suggestion…particularly as it was your description that got me hooked on Bois de Violette! October 8, 2012 at 10:52am Reply

        • Victoria: Ah, my beloved Bois de Violette! I think that I could live in that perfume for months and not be tired of it. October 8, 2012 at 11:36am Reply

  • Rachel: I never knew that I liked leather until I smelled Bottega Veneta. Cuir de Nacre sounds at least a sample worthy.

    Does anyone get leather out of SL Iris Silver Mist? October 8, 2012 at 10:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I get mostly the earthy, woody notes in the base, but now I’m going to smell it again and see if I get leather as well. October 8, 2012 at 11:37am Reply

  • Nancy A: Hi V,

    What a review – this fragrance “reeks” of elegance. Today’s early morning chill begs for a fragrance like this. October 8, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Anything to lift up the spirits! Cuir de Nacre does feel elegant, and I can already see it as one of my versatile perfumes. October 8, 2012 at 11:39am Reply

  • Jessica: I do love iris compositions, and this line is new to me. Thank you for the review, V! October 8, 2012 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: A well-made iris is always such a nice discovery. I wonder if Ann Gerard will make it to Aedes or Barneys. October 8, 2012 at 11:40am Reply

  • marsi: I was more curious about Ciel d’Opale based on the Luckyscent descriptions, but you hooked me with : “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.” I’m not a party girl at all, but I like this image.

    Have a nice day, Victoria and perfume friends! October 8, 2012 at 11:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not much of a party girl either, but I was hoping more to convey that Cuir de Nacre is really versatile. It doesn’t make me feel like I need to dress up for my perfume.

      Have a nice start of the week, Marsi! October 8, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

  • Elena: This sounds like it might be exactly what I am looking for! I love Cuir de Russie, but it’s not quite me, I think it’s the “opaque heft” that you describe so accurately. This sounds like a great fall/winter alternative to my beloved no. 19. I am going to order a sample right now! Would you say that it is quite close to Violet Blonde? I own and love that one already, I hope it doesn’t feel redundant next to VB. October 8, 2012 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: It doesn’t smell identical and while I also have a big decant of Violet Blonde, I don’t feel that Cuir de Nacre would be redundant. It’s definitely more leather and musk, so it feels more opulent than Violet Blonde. Violet Blonde is brighter, fresher and more of a sweet violet (rather than iris) in comparison. October 8, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

  • Alyssa: Oh this sounds lovely. The feel you are describing–though not quite the notes–reminds me of the sadly discontinued Plus Que Jamais. October 8, 2012 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I see what you mean! Plus Que Jamais and Cuir de Nacre definitely don’t smell alike at all, but their elegant and friendly characters are similar. I love those kinds of unfussy, approachable perfumes. October 8, 2012 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Natalie: I got the discoveryset 2 weeks ago and I have one small complaint. The cuir de nacre is GORGEOUS but it does not last long. On my skin, even after spraying generously, it only last for about 1-2 hours. It performs better on fabric, but doesn’t develop as nice as on skin…..
    I haven’t gotten my head around the other two, but after a first short sniff, they strike me as more spring/summer scents, so they will have to wait for a more appropriate season. The Cuir the nacre will live in my handbag so i have a lovely but not to heavy scent nearby everyday the coming weeks. October 8, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: I somehow expected a bold leather fragrance out of this (and since it’s the extrait de parfum, I really expected something potent). So, like you, I was surprised that it’s much more gentle than this. 3 big sprays–I transferred the vial into a spray atomizer–do the trick though, and I can smell the perfume on my skin for the whole day. I have my discovery set of all three, and I’m very happy with that acquisition, but I would make the same complaint if talking about Perle de Mousse and Ciel d’Opale as well. The sillage is moderate at best, so if one wants a bold leather perfume, this wouldn’t be the best choice. October 8, 2012 at 1:11pm Reply

  • annemariec: This sounds exactly my style, but is too spendy for me, so I’ll pass, and put those dollars into a decant of Bottega Veneta early next year when the weather here cools down. To be honest, I’m not that disappointed. I do understand the beauty of ethereal fragrances but generally I expect some sillage and certainly some tenacity, especially at prices like this.

    Iris and leather is a great partnership. Sadly I can’t smell the leather that is allegedly present in Traversee au Bosphore because for me it is smothered in sweet notes. And I can hardly smell Cuir de Russie at all. I ended up giving my sample away to someone who can actually smell it. Sigh. October 8, 2012 at 6:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I notice the leather notes in Traversee du Bosphore if I really pay close attention, but overall, it smells of rose + violet to me. I do like it very much though.

      Cuir de Nacre isn’t ethereal at all, but when I first applied it like a parfum (dab-dab), I discovered that it just vanished. It needs to be applied like the EDT or the EDP, a couple of large sprays. That way it lasts well and have enough projection. Cuir de Russie is not a huge sillage perfume on me either, but for a daytime I prefer something more soft-spoken anyway. October 9, 2012 at 9:28am Reply

  • Tomate Farcie: I just bought the Diiscovery Set, I’m in heaven. Three beautiful fragrances! October 12, 2012 at 5:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: The discovery set is a great deal. I’m enjoying mine too. October 13, 2012 at 7:13am Reply

  • Daisy: Ooooh! Iris and leather? Swoon! Must. Sniff. Now :-) October 14, 2012 at 2:17am Reply

    • Victoria: If you like that combination, you should definitely check it out! October 14, 2012 at 6:27am Reply

  • OperaFan: I’m not sure anyone mentioned this, but I just noticed on Luckyscent that they changed the format label to “Eau de Parfum” – Guess too many people complained that it lacked the expected longevity for something called “Perfume.”
    :) November 15, 2012 at 4:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, you’re right! I haven’t noticed that, so thank you for a heads up. Well, this certainly makes much more sense. They are too fleeting for the parfum concentration. November 16, 2012 at 9:16am Reply

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