Cuir d’Ange is the most recent addition to the Hermès Hermessence collection, a line of fragrances sold exclusively at the house’s boutiques. The idea is to capture the nuances of famous Hermès leather, which smells of flowers and musk. The perfumer behind it is Jean-Claude Ellena, a master of the most ethereal and delicate compositions, and as you would expect, Cuir d’Ange, Angel’s Leather, stays true to its name. It’s wispy and sheer, as if the leather that inspired it was polished to remove any traces of animal funk and made to smell like someone’s clean skin.
Cuir d’Ange is pure comfort. Although I like to think of myself as someone unafraid of the raunchiest animalic scents, my favorite leathers in perfume bottles are soft and cuddly. I’m more in the camp of Bottega Veneta than that of Robert Piguet Bandit on most days. So, here you go. For this reason, the first time I smelled Cuir d’Ange, I felt that I discovered my ideal leather–creamy, suave, and mild. On the other hand, if you want the odor of a beaver in heat and don’t wish to settle for anything less, Cuir d’Ange will strike you as wimpy and bland.
From the start, it makes me think of vintage cold creams and violet scented soaps, a whiff of my grandmother’s glamorous vanity table packed with porcelain jars and crystal bowls filled with powder. This tender, wholesome interlude is underpinned by the tangy, dry leather, which remains distinctive throughout, even if very mild. The dryness of leather is tempered by the milky almond notes and lots of musk.
While Cuir d’Ange has plenty of subtle nuances, from a distance it feels like a blend of musk and leather, both well-scrubbed and with hints of soap bubbles. There is not a sharp edge in sight, and the perfume is a creamy, beige wrap that has the effortless elegance of something impeccably crafted.
The only drawback I can find with Cuir d’Ange is its negligible lasting power, a common complaint with Hermessence perfumes. To get anything approaching the idea of a light cologne, I have to spray several times, making sure to add an extra spray on my clothes, and even then I’m not likely to kill anyone with my sillage. This is undeniably frustrating, and it makes this expensive perfume even more costly, since you’ll go through the bottle quickly. So, consider yourself warned and be sure to test Cuir d’Ange on skin before buying.
All of this being said, I can’t help falling hard for Cuir d’Ange. The thing is that Cuir d’Ange doesn’t smell like a perfume but rather like a second skin. Your own skin but better.
Hermès Cuir d’Ange includes notes of heliotrope, hawthorn, violet, narcissus and musk. It is number 12 in Hermès’s Hermessence collection. Available in Hermès boutiques. 100 ml Eau de Toilette/€185.
If you have other recommendations for mild, soft leathers, please share them. I’m sure I’m not the only leather wimp in town.