Parfumerie Generale Cuir Venenum : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

One of my niche discoveries this year was Parfumerie Générale, the perfume house established by Pierre Guillaume, a perfumer who came to this profession by way of chemistry. The line offers an interesting array of exotically named fragrances such as L’Eau de Circé referring to the enchantress in the Odyssey, Aomassaï inspired by the African wood carvings, and Jardins de Kerylos capturing the salty breezes of the Cyclades islands. The notes are just as unusual: Cumaru wood in Musc Maori, Canapa Sativa seeds in Coze, Matale black Tea in L’Eau Rare Matale.

Out of all the fragrances I have tried thus far in the line, Cuir Venenum was the one that captured my attention the most. A leather steeped in the nectar, it combines the smoky balsamic pungency of animalic notes with the luxurious floral sweetness. …

The vision of apricots steeped in orange blossom water and honey is conjured by the fruity sweetness that unfolds against the opaque tarry darkness, with the two olfactory extremes complementing each other quite successfully. The character of the composition is reminiscent of VIP Room, although while the latter has a touch of brightness that dims as time goes on, Cuir Venenum maintains its dark sweetness in the same register. Moreover, unlike VIP Room, it has a great sillage.

Although those who prefer the leather fragrances to be rendered either dry like Grès Cabochard or vividly smoky like Kolnisch Juchten might find Cuir Venenum too sweet and mild, it nevertheless offers an interesting leather interpretation. It manages to render the animalic notes without straying too far into the wild territory, while at the same time capturing the seductive quality of smooth, supple leather.

Cuir Venenum includes notes of orange blossom, leather, citrus, myrrh, musk. Cuir Venenum is available directly from Parfumerie Générale.



  • Judith: I found this (and other scents from the house) interesting when I tried it, but I was never moved to wear it. I guess there are just too many other leather scents that I prefer (you have just named two:). So I sent my little bottles (back) overseas to someone who was desperate for them; they seem to have lost their way, and are currently in post-office limbo. May 11, 2006 at 7:20am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, I’ve been sampling the fragrances for a while, and, on the one hand, I agree with you. Many are interesting, but they do not align with my tastes. Cuir Venenum was the one I became most curious about. I am coming around and starting to explore sweeter leathers, therefore it fits well. May 11, 2006 at 1:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, yes, the new fragrances sound very interesting. I am intrigued by Iris Taizo as well. May 11, 2006 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Marina: I really, really liked this one. And Coze. And Yuzu Ab Irato…well, actually I wouldn’t kicked any of them out of my perfume cabinet 🙂 I am very curious about their new iris scent as well. May 11, 2006 at 9:22am Reply

  • Robin: It is lovely but not me: sticking with my Matale 🙂 May 11, 2006 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Prince Barry: I really like Cuir Venenum. To me, it’s a tamed form of leather but very sexy indeed. The sillage is great and the lasting power on me is about 7-8 hours.

    No complaints either about Rare Metale and the Coze.

    As I said on the other PG post, I have received all 7 samples of the Chapitre 2 collection today. May 11, 2006 at 2:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, yes, every time I smell Matale, I think of you. I am curious about Hyperessence Matae and whether it lasts longer. May 11, 2006 at 3:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Barry, you are right about sillage and lasting power. It lasts really well, but it never seems overwhelming. I would love to hear your impressions of the new fragrances, so please share them! May 11, 2006 at 3:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I would be curious to hear what you get recommended. The questionnaire is fun to fill out. I wonder if Iris Taizo would make it on your list. 🙂 May 11, 2006 at 3:23pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Dear V., I remember our discussing PG’s scents when you came to Paris… The four samples I received (Cuir Venenum, Cozé, Intriguant Patchouli and Yuzu ab irato) interested me by their unusual composition, and obviously high quality ingredients. But overall, I haven’t been moved to wear them after initial sampling. Much as I admire efforts in the direction of originality, I find them somewhat contrived, a little schizophrenic, as thought they were born more of an intellectual process than a sensuous vision. Serge Lutens’ fragrances also have that intellectual feel, but there is an overriding madness in his method, a way of summoning worlds within scents that is almost cinematic. It may be unfair to compare such different perfumers but somehow I feel there is a depth of emotion lacking in Parfumerie Générale’s compositions. May 11, 2006 at 4:59pm Reply

  • carmencanada: I meant “as though”, of course. May 11, 2006 at 5:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear D, it is actually a very interesting comparison, because I have been sampling the fragrances over the past few months trying to decide which one would draw me the most. I settled on Cuir Venenum. There are others I enjoy, but like you, I have not been able to make a connection with them. I agree with you that the compositions are unusual, and perhaps, sometimes they are too much so, in a sense that the story is lost. Well, it does not try to do the same thing that everyone else is doing, and in many ways, that is a very welcome aspect.

    BTW, are you still continuing your explorations of the vintage fragrances. I recently wore Coty Chypre, and I was thinking of you. May 11, 2006 at 5:31pm Reply

  • Tara: My favorite of this line was the Coze. The rest did not make a big impression on me, although I did find the Cuir Venenum, Intrigant Patchouli and the Eau Rare Matale pleasant, I have not reached for them since the initial testing. May 11, 2006 at 7:00pm Reply

  • Laura: This is so interesting—I wish I’d remembered this line last week. I’ve done the little questionaire you mentioned and will be curious to see which of their scents they recommend for me. I’m funny about leather scents,though—sometimes I like them, sometimes not. What seems clear is that these are unusual fragrances! May 11, 2006 at 3:05pm Reply

  • portlandia: Apricots and leather?!?! Sign me up, inject me, whatever! Wow. May 11, 2006 at 10:54pm Reply

  • moon_fish: Dear Victoria!
    I was thinking a lot about the sweetness in PG #3. It reminds me Oyedo by Diptyque a lot (yuzu + mint = strawberry feel), but then I`ve seen fleur d`orange in it!
    Very unusual note – I believe, that musk and coconut changed this flowery note pretty much…
    I haven`t seen any apricots in it, no fresh, no dry… My nose just refuses to detect it.

    I could smell powdery Myrrh after 3-4 hours, as it gets more powdery and not so sweet. But leather is so well-hidden!!! Even better than in famous La Nuit by Paco Rabanne.

    Anyway, I love this scent and hope to try more scents by PG. Thank you in advance! May 12, 2006 at 3:46am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, Coze is very unusual, but unfortunately I found it difficult to wear. It seems to trigger a headache every time I put it on. May 12, 2006 at 1:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, it has a candied quality to it, which makes me think of Middle Easter desserts right away. I would not say that the apricot is the note that I would have thought of by itself, if it were not in conjunction with this vision of honey steeped fruit. May 12, 2006 at 1:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sergej, no, I definitely agree that apricot is not the main fruity note. It is a much more impressionistic idea on my part, because the candied quality reminds me of the desserts I would eat in Turkey–apricots steeped in honey and orange blossom water and then stuffed with clotted cream. The fruity note it has is on the candied side. Interesting that you mentioned Oyedo, which to me smells like grape. In the south of US, there grow indigenous muscadine grapes (also called the passion fruit of the south), which smell exactly like Oyedo. Incredible!

    On the spectrum of leather intensity, there is no doubt that Cuir Venenum is on the mild side. May 12, 2006 at 1:49pm Reply

  • peter: I received samples from Parfumerie Generale a couple of months ago, and Coze and Cuir Venenum turned out to be my favorite two. I don’t like too much leather, but Cuir Venenum is very sexy. It is my staple now. May 12, 2006 at 2:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Peter, it does have a sensual edge, and it is what makes the drydown so appealing. I like the softness of the base notes. May 12, 2006 at 3:34pm Reply

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