Of Horses, Leather and Perfume

Patricia on her absolute favorite animalic scent.

One person’s poison is another’s…well, perfume. This is never clearer to me than when I enter the horse barn. Immediately I am surrounded by scents, both pleasant and not. Hay and leather mix with the earthy smells of manure, dirt, wood stalls, and the acrid smell of urine, all blended with the rich loamy fragrance of the horses themselves. Those who love only clean scents would not find this a pleasant place to visit, but I love to immerse myself in this world for hours at a time and enjoy all aspects of it, from currying, brushing, and bathing my horse, to riding and rubbing scented saddle soap and conditioners into my  tack before putting it away.


Many of the fragrances I wear on a daily basis remind me of my time at the barn. Leather and horses go together, and leather fragrances are among some of my favorites.

The Big Guns

Robert Piguet Bandit, if not the oldest of the “old broads,” is certainly one of the most assertive. I have an old bottle of unknown concentration, but the current version is just as potent. Bandit’s combination of everything leathery and animalic needs to be experienced. I may not wear it frequently, but I unstop the crystal stopper often to breathe in its dark richness.

My second choice is Cuir de Russie by Chanel in the parfum concentration. This, to me, is a very dry and woody leather and much more wearable than Bandit. Created for Chanel in 1924 by Ernest Beaux, it opens with starchy and metallic aldehydes, takes a detour into iris and dries down to smoky dark leather. Amber and vanilla give it a warm, soothing background, but Cuir de Russie smells so much like a horse’s neck after a vigorous ride that there is no mistaking this animal for any other.

I almost hesitate to include number three, Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire, because it is such a shape-shifter. It starts out with a powerful, almost medicinal blast of amber and jasmine, with just a hint of leather. But before you assume that it’s a tame creature, it reveals its animalic, pungent side. Cuir Ottoman eventually softens to warm cozy leather and incense with a shot of tonka bean for sweetness, and while it’s a dramatic perfume, it has an elegant character.


Leather and Hay

Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers starts out as a non-sweet citrus, heavy on the galbanum. After an hour or so the orange flowers, geranium, and roses bloom, all wrapped in soft suede. For the chypre lover, there is plenty of oakmoss and hay in the dry down, making me feel like I have just peeled and eaten an orange while on a hay ride.

James Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur also has a hay note mixed with creamy leather, spices, and wood. Be warned though; if you do not like the wet, earthy note of vetiver, you will be sadly disappointed after the first 30 minutes or so. I couldn’t help but wish that the opening notes lasted longer, as the scent became quite sharp in the dry down.

I also find a nice hay note mixed with leather in Chanel No. 19 Eau de Toilette. A bit cleaner than the fragrances already mentioned, it is a very green iris going to wood, leather, and soft powder as it is worn.

Fruit and Leather

Some of the most beautiful fragrances combine leather with fruit. Among my favorites are Azemour (mentioned above) and the following.  Serge Lutens’s Daim Blond is a yummy concoction of soft leather, iris, and apricot, created by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake in 2004.

Lutens’s Boxeuses is another favorite. The softness of the leather is the same as Daim Blond, but it is rubbed with plum and licorice instead of apricot. I love them both.

A new kid on the block, Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka, combines leather and fig. After a strong roaring opening, it mellows down and becomes as soft as a kitten, curling gently against your legs. A different sort of beast, but charming nonetheless.

And what does my horse like me to wear? An unscientific survey has shown that his preference is for an early iteration of Chanel Cristalle Eau de Toilette, which smells of lemons, green jasmine and moss. He has good taste.

What is your favorite leather fragrance?

Photography by Patricia.



  • Annikky: Patricia, thank you so much for this post – I love leather and I love almost every perfume you have listed here. I haven’t tried Azemour or Cuir Pleine Fleur (I simply must, now) and was sadly a bit underwhelmed by Ashoka, but the rest I either own or would happily wear. Cuir de Russie is my absolute favourite, I think it smells like a soaped saddle, although I’ve never smelled one. In any case, it’s wonderful (my bottle is EdT).

    Other leathers that I like – Tom Ford Tuscan Leather for some pretty serious leathery stuff, SL Cuir Mauresque for spicy leather, Keiko Mecheri Cuir Cordoba for smooth suede and Arquiste Aleksandr for the most subtle leather and violets.

    And my compliments to your horse – excellent taste indeed ! November 8, 2013 at 7:39am Reply

    • Patricia: Annikky, thank you for your leather suggestions. I haven’t tried any of them and will now have to order some samples. The Arquiste Aleksandr sounds especially tempting with its combination of subtle leather with violets. November 8, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

      • Annikky: I find Aleksandr beautiful and very good for winter, especially in a place that actually has snow. And speaking of leather and violets – I forgot Jolie Madame! November 8, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

        • Patricia: I have Jolie Madame, and only lack of space prevented my mentioning her! A great perfume. November 8, 2013 at 9:41am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the interesting post, Patricia. Lucky you for having your own horse and your horse does have a good perfume taste! 😉 I only discovered that I like leather after sampling Chanel Cuir de Russie. I only sampled EDT and I can only imagine how beautiful the parfum must be. I also like the drydown of No. 19. I’ll have to look for the hay note you mentioned next time. I happen to be wearing a leather perfume today – Olfactive Studio’s Chambre Noire. It’s another perfume that combines leather with fruit. I find it warm, sensual and elegant. November 8, 2013 at 7:52am Reply

    • Annikky: I forgot about Chambre Noire, it’s a good one, but I somehow never think of it as a leather scent. The leather is definitely there, though. November 8, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Annikky, I was surprised that I actually like Chambre Noire. I was almost prepared not to like it because anything ‘noir’ is usually not for me. If you don’t think of it as a leather perfume, which notes do you perceive the most? BTW, I was so impressed with your violet suggestions in the previous post. November 8, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

        • Annikky: My decant is in Tallinn with most of my stuff, so I cannot check, but remember it being very well blended and therefore don’t associate it with a particular note. I definitely recall woods, incense and leather.

          And thanks! Violet is a note I enjoy, so it’s not difficult to compile a list. Smelling different interpretations of the same notes/themes is also one of the best ways to learn about them, if one is so inclined (I remember you asked about this). Although some people close to me might argue that wearing Lyric, Une Rose, Portrait of a Lady and Ta’if all at the same time was not one of my best ideas 🙂 November 8, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: I’ve been ‘studying’ white florals extensively in the past week. By the end of my sniffing trip, I usually have +4 different scents on my arms and a lot more blotters in my hands. Then I excitedly smell myself and the blotters as I walk down the street or in the train back home. I must look like a crazy junkie to some people! 🙂 November 8, 2013 at 3:00pm Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: Haha, how familiar! Fellow crazy junkie. November 8, 2013 at 3:29pm Reply

            • rainboweyes: Familiar to me too 🙂
              I commute to work by car, so nobody can see me sniffing and I can comfortably spread the blotters over the passenger seat…
              Plus the car smells so nice!!! November 8, 2013 at 3:49pm Reply

            • Annikky: Anne, believe me, I know exactly what you mean 🙂 November 11, 2013 at 7:38am Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone. 🙂 November 11, 2013 at 7:53am Reply

    • Patricia: I have a sample of Chambre Noire somewhere and will have to dig it out and retry. Autumn is the perfect season for wearing leather fragrances, don’t you think? November 8, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Absolutely! I agree that autumn is the perfect season for leather perfumes and of course, leather jackets and boots. November 8, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Martha: Actually I’m not a big fan of leather, but I haven’t tried very hard to be honest. And, I don’t own a horse now, but I did years ago. One of my favorite smells in the world was the barn because of all the fragrances you mention. Well, let me amend that and say that I liked the smell of a clean barn. To this day, I will take every opportunity just to get a whiff of the barn and the horses. November 8, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Martha: Oops the first sentence is sort of goofy. I do try hard to be honest, but, well, you know what I mean… November 8, 2013 at 8:10am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: beautiful post, Patricia! I love the smell of a horse barn. When I was younger I had a neighbour with a horse, and every time I had a headache, I went to the stable, the smell and the presence of the horse cured the pain.
        As for perfume, leather is not my favourite. I own a bottle of Gomma (etro, very pleasant to wear) and a sample of Cuir de Russie (great!), and I like also Cuir Mauresque.
        My association with hay is Vetiver, I love Racine (MPG).
        The most beautiful horse I ever saw was entirely black/brown. Its rider was Pierre Jonquières d’Oriola (if I spell it right after all these years). That was in Rotterdam, the Concours Hippiques. I always went to the stables, seeing and smelling the horses.
        Beautiful memories today, thanks to your post! November 8, 2013 at 8:56am Reply

        • Patricia: Hi Cornelia, I think that being with horses is so curative, which is why here in the States we have so many riding programs for those with special needs. Thank you for your comment and for sharing your leather favorites, a few of which are new to me and will go on my testing list. November 8, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: I mean of course: HIS rider. The name of the horse was Éclair au Chocolat. November 8, 2013 at 3:31pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Martha, When it comes to horses and their smells, you either get it or you don’t! Since our sense of smell is so directly linked to our memory base, I can see why you would go out of your way to visit a horse barn 🙂 . November 8, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

  • Lucas: Hi Patricia!
    You mentioned quite a few of perfumes I really enjoy. Chanel Cuir de Russie (I only know it in Les Exclusifs edt form), Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman (have it!), Azemour les Orangers (don’t get hay, but it’s a perfect summer chypre)
    Ashoka is also my NVC love. Beautiful.

    I would also add a couple of scents to this list such as Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo, Parfumerie Generale Cuir d’Iris November 8, 2013 at 8:48am Reply

    • Patricia: I haven’t tried Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo, but think I may have a sample of PG’s Cuir d’Iris somewhere and will try to find it. Iris and leather are such a classic combination.
      So glad you share my love for Ashoka :). November 8, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

  • lila: Cuirelle by Monegal is one of my favorite leathers. I love the honey aspect of it as well as a violet note, which is not listed but I smell it in there somewhere. In fact, Cuirelle reminds me a lot of Tom Fords Violet Blond which leads me to my other favorite leather, Tuscan Leather. November 8, 2013 at 9:00am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi lila, I do love a honey note in perfume and could see it working very well with leather. I have a mini of Violet Blond and like it very much, but must sheepishly admit that I’ve never tried Tuscan Leather. November 8, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

  • Connie: Love horseback riding, horses, and the associated smells! L’Air de Rien reminds me very much of those scents, but has no leather in it.
    Leather scents I quite like that are not mentioned- Cuir de Lancome and the underappreciated Aleksandr by Arquiste. November 8, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

    • Patricia: Another vote for Aleksandr! I will definitely have to try it now.
      I’m glad you mentioned Cuir de Lancome. I have it and like it well enough, but something about it keeps it from being a favorite, and I seldom reach for it. Could it be the styrax? November 8, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

  • rosarita: Living in a rural area with a large Amish population, horses and horse barns are wonderful smells that I get to appreciate often. I’m glad to see your love of Parfum d’Empire, they’re one of my favorite houses and I’m a big fan of Cuir Ottoman, especially. What do you think of Equistrius? November 8, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

    • Patricia: Rosarita, I’m a big fan of Parfum d’Empire as well!
      Equistrius is a lovely woody, powdery violet, but I don’t find anything horsey about the smell. It is apparently named for the PdE founder’s former racehorse. Just put some on 🙂 . November 8, 2013 at 9:58am Reply

  • Jillie: Patricia, how lovely to read about two great subjects in one – horses and perfume! I join in Annikky in complimenting your horse on his excellent taste, as Cristalle is one of my old favourites (you could almost call it my work horse!).

    PdN’s Le Temp d’une Fete has a lovely, snuggly smell of hay which transports me to sunny meadows and farmyards. I’m sad that it is disappearing …. November 8, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Jillie, and I love your horse pun ;).

      Yes, I heard that Le Temps d’une Fete was being discontinued. Time for everyone to stock up while they still can!

      My Cristalle-loving horse is pictured in the small photo. He’s 21 and very gentle…perfect for the older rider! November 8, 2013 at 10:06am Reply

  • Elizabeth: My husband and I both love good ol’ Azuree by Estee Lauder. The leather is kind of grimy, in a good way. And the citrus is so warm and sunny. It’s a little offbeat so I don’t wear it very much. But it manages to be both summer and cozy when I do. November 8, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

    • Patricia: Azuree has been around forever! Nothing like a worn, slightly dirty leather combined with citrus. November 8, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

    • Annikky: Hi, Elizabeth! I clicked through to your blog and read your piece on fall perfume from last year. This prompted me to ask: have you tried Gold Leather from Atelier Cologne? Not sure it quite competes with Cuir de Russie or Bois de Violette or Mitsouko, but the combination of booze and leather might interest you. Apologies, if you’ve already sniffed it. November 8, 2013 at 10:40am Reply

      • Elizabeth: I haven’t sniffed this one! Thank you for the recommendation. It sounds marvelous! November 8, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

        • Annikky: You are welcome! I’ve been curious about Azuree for a long time, but it’s one EL scent I never see in Europe. November 8, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

  • Krista Janicki: Great choices. I love a hay/leather/animailic perfume too. I would suggest L’Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse which has great hay and leather notes and Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse, which made me think “horse!” on first sniff. November 8, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Patricia: Krista, I tried a sample of Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse when it first came out, and while I agree with you that it practically screams “horse,” there was something off-putting in it, at least to my nose. Maybe it was the Mate.

      Has anyone else tried it and had a similar reaction? November 8, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

    • nozknoz: Fougueuse (Heure IV) is weird and wonderful! It’s so different from any other perfume that my nose always does a double-take. November 8, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

  • Sajini: Just discovered vintage Bal a Versailles in perfume concentration and can’t get over its animal radiance. This morning I woke up to your post. Thank you so much! November 8, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Sajini, for your comment. I have never tried vintage Bal a Versailles in perfume, and it must be glorious! November 8, 2013 at 10:13am Reply

  • Nicola: I enjoyed this post very much thank you. Love the photos of those beautiful horses. You have mentioned some of my favourite leather scents already so I won’t repeat but a lovely hay scent is PdN’s Vie de Chateau and one of my HG scents, Cartier’s La Fougueuse, has a strong horse association for me because of a very amusing review of it by Musette on the Posse a few years back! November 8, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Nicola! Please see my comment above on La Fougueuse.

      I don’t believe I’ve tried Vie de Chateau, but I do love a good hay scent so I must remedy that.

      The PdN fragrances are such good quality, so varied, and offered in such a convenient small size that I can forgive the line their ugly bottles and packaging. Just find some better typefaces, please! November 8, 2013 at 10:21am Reply

    • Austenfan: I second the recommendation of Vie de Château, (now only sold as Vie de Château Intense). Reading your lovely review earlier today it was the first one that came to mind when thinking of hay and perfume. Chergui smells of hay to me. But a more stylised hay. November 8, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

      • Patricia: Austenfan, You just made me think of Monet’s Haystacks! November 8, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Krista Janicki: I own Vie de Chateau and it is a lovely hay scent, with sugared grapefruit on top an suede on the bottom. November 8, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

      • Patricia: Delicious sounding! November 8, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Julie: Oh my (sigh), what a wonderful post! I grew up with horses and haven’t had the pleasure of going to the barn for my saddle in so many years. I too loved all the different aroma’s of the barn.
    I’ve been noting all the different perfumes that are being mentioned. I want to experience all of them! Thank you. November 8, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Julie! It must have been wonderful growing up with horses. I have a long drive to the barn, which is why I try to spend a lot of time once I get there currying my horse, cleaning tack, and visiting with like-minded horsey people.

      Good luck in your search for a leather perfume that suits you. 🙂 November 8, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

  • nikki: such a fun read! thank you! I would like to suggest Habit Rouge even though it is more gourmand, but it fits leather and horses! Jolie Madame, Lumiere Noire (very nice!) and Absolue pour le soir are my choices… November 8, 2013 at 10:06am Reply

    • Patricia: Glad you enjoyed it, nikki! Thank you for adding your leather selections to the mix. November 8, 2013 at 10:27am Reply

  • Tijana: Chanel’s Cuir de Russie definitely!

    I also like Daim Blond and Cuir Beluga for a much softer take on leather. I am still iffy on Kelly Caleche – I have a pure parfum, but I can’t say I am in love (yet). November 8, 2013 at 10:19am Reply

    • Tijana: And thank you so much for the lovely article Patricia! November 8, 2013 at 10:20am Reply

      • Patricia: I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tijana :). November 8, 2013 at 10:22am Reply

    • Patricia: I am still iffy on Kelly Caleche, too. Never quite got Bottega Veneta, either. November 8, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

  • Pat Borow a.k.a.Olfacta: I can think of few experiences as immersive as walking into a horse barn. I grew up riding, cleaning tack and polishing boots, and still love the smells of saddle soap and Kiwi wax. Leather scents are a big favorite — lately, Peau d’Espagne for its take-no-prisoners quality and lack of IBQ (birch tar is used instead, I’m told) Tabac Blond, Cuir d’Russie and the leather note in old Bal a Versailles. And just about all of those mentioned above. November 8, 2013 at 10:36am Reply

    • Patricia: Tabac Blond is a huge favorite of mine, as well. However, only the vintage parfum and not the reformulated, which is a sad shadow of its former self. November 8, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

  • stina: Such fun to read this post! Chalk me up as one more horse & stable addict.

    Most discussions of horses and fragrance focus on the sweaty-leathery-mucky aspects (logically enough), but I’ve run across one fragrance that hit me over the head with a horse-and-stable note that isn’t any of those things.

    One of the things I liked best about being around horses was washing your horse off after a strenuous lesson and then hand-grazing him in the sun. The smell of a clean horse drying in the sun (along with a touch of clean straw) is exactly what I get from Sonoma Scent Studio’s Jour Ensoleille.

    No sweat or mucking-out smell, just fresh clean horse and fresh new straw.

    Unfortunately Sonoma fragrances have absolutely no tenacity on me (like 20 minutes and poof, they’re gone) but every so often in the middle of winter I like to break out my sample vial and revisit a clean horse in the summer sun… November 8, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

    • Patricia: Oh, stina, the hand-graze is an essential part of the horse bath, and I’m glad you’ve found a perfume that reminds you of the almost Zen-like quality you can experience while grazing a horse.

      I have a nice-sized sample of Jour Ensoleille right in front of me and will try it as soon as the Equistrius wears off! November 8, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

  • Elisa: Hi Patricia! I love those riding boots!

    My absolutely favorite leather and one of my favorite perfumes period is Cuir de Lancome — but I see above this is not a favorite of yours. I also love the leather note in the original Fendi.

    And I like to smell Bulgari Black or Aramis on my husband. November 8, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Elisa! Those are my former showing boots, but now I enjoy them every time I ride :).

      Yes, the original Fendi is wonderful, and I own a bottle. It’s on a tray of perfumes that may be referenced in a future post. November 8, 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Austenfan: What a wonderful post! I love horses, they are one of my favourite animals. I used to ride myself but haven’t in over 10 years. I have never owned my own horse though.
    I remember when I was little I forbade my mum to wash my “horsey” clothes. During the week I would occasionally steal a sniff before it was time to head off to my next riding lesson.

    A lot of my favourite leathers have already been mentioned. I don’t get the less pleasant drydown in the Heeley but I have only worn it a couple of times sprayed from a sample.
    Other leathers I enjoy are: Dzing! Quite a good stable companion as some note in it strikes my as a discreet horse manure accent. (a plus in my book). Cuir de Lancôme, Histoires de Parfums 1740, which is more about immortelle and amber but has some leather in it as well. Serendipitously I am wearing Rien today. Which is described by people, who know about these things, as a leather scent. I must admit not really associating Rien with leather. It sure smells good though. November 8, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

    • nozknoz: Dzing! is essential! I tend to forget about it and then relive discovering niche perfumes all over again when I wear it after many months have passed. November 8, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Austenfan! I don’t think of Rien as being leathery, either. Will have to find my sample and retest. November 8, 2013 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Tatiana: Thanks for this wonderful post. And thanks for the pictures of the beautiful horses. I often wondered why I love Chanel Cuir de Russie in extrait form so much. You put it into words for me. If I could bottle the smell of my horse where her neck meets her shoulder, I would wear that. As it is, she puts up with me nuzzling her in that spot before and after our rides. November 8, 2013 at 11:14am Reply

    • Patricia: Yup! That’s the spot! Fortunately my horse enjoys affection, too. He likes to sniff me and doesn’t find it at all strange when I smell him.

      Glad you enjoyed the article, Tatiana. November 8, 2013 at 12:40pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I have to agree with Austenfan as to Dzing! November 8, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

  • Hannah: Cuir Ottoman is one of my all time favorites.
    I thought Paloma Picasso smelled very barn-like but it’s been years since I smelled it.
    Right now I’m in the boonies in the outskirts Hamburg and there are so many horses around. November 8, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Patricia: Paloma Picasso is the one perfume that is guaranteed to give me a headache, which is a shame because it is very beautiful (and animalic).

      A landscape with horses is so peaceful. I have to drive pretty far before I get to the countryside from my location in the near suburbs of Boston. November 8, 2013 at 12:43pm Reply

      • Hannah: I’m actually inside the city, as hard as it is for me to believe. I pass by horses at two points when I’m on the bus and sometimes when I’m trying to cross the street to go to Lidl people leading horses wait to cross the street too. I don’t know where they’re coming from or going, though.

        Anyway, I’ve found a way to work Muscs Koublai Khan into almost every single comment I’ve made on a perfume blog since I bought it a few weeks ago so….some people say Muscs Koublai Khan reminds them of horses. November 8, 2013 at 5:05pm Reply

        • Patricia: Are you enjoying it, Hannah? November 8, 2013 at 5:41pm Reply

  • mough: I consider myself the Queen of the Indolic. I grew up on a cattle ranch. I had sheep, cattle and horses for 4-H. I can walk around town here and have the slight dampness and markings of hair and dirt on the back of my jeans and inside of thigh from riding bareback on a hot horse. This does not bother me. Whether it bothers others, I don’t care. I take it as a badge of honor that at my age I still do it. So, the big hitters for me, that remind me of horses, manure, hay, sweat, chewed apples are Bal a Versailles, Dzing! (straight horse poop, right out of the bottle) and Absolue pour le Soir.
    My favorite smell: the scent of horse’s breath while it’s chewing on an apple. Fabulous!
    I have 7 horses, a couple of whom are geriatric, and if my nose were better, I’d be able to distinguish them in smell alone. Another great smell is the lanolin-esque scent you get if you scratch a bull’s back, the oils that come out of his hide. Fab. Or a bull’s breath. Very sweet. November 8, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

    • Annikky: Mough, this sounds so wonderful and very cool. If I could ride bareback, I’d be proud too, no matter the age!

      When I grew up, we still had cows, but never horses. I have a few pictures of my grandfather working with a horse on the fields (those days, no-one was riding, horses were for work), but this was before I was born. November 8, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

    • nozknoz: What a wonderful comment, mough! I’ve always admired your horse gravatar, which appears on some other sites. November 8, 2013 at 11:53am Reply

    • Patricia: I like horse peppermint breath, too! I only give my boy carrots for treats as he has a delicate digestive system, but he occasionally gets a peppermint from one of the other barn folk.

      What an exciting life you have. I can’t imagine getting close enough to a bull to scratch his back, and certainly not smell his breath! November 8, 2013 at 12:48pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Scratch the back of a bull! That’s heroic. November 8, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Roberta Vommaro: Cuir de Russie is an absolute favorite. But I also have to mention Paloma Picasso and Le Parfum de Therese, oneof my HG scents! November 8, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

    • Patricia: Lovely choices, Roberta! November 8, 2013 at 12:50pm Reply

  • nozknoz: Patricia, you’ve named most of my favorite leathers. Dzing! and Fougueuse were the ones I was going to add for the horse theme. I adore leathers, actually, including fruit leathers (SL Daim Blond, L’AP Traversee du Bosphore, Parfums MDCI Belle Helene, and DSH Mata Hari), the classic Knize Ten, vintage Le Dix, Lanvin Scandal and Tabac Blond. November 8, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

    • nozknoz: Also, forgot to add the obscure Etro Gomma, a really straight-up buckskin leather. November 8, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

      • Patricia: Sounds great! November 8, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi nozknoz! I’m lucky enough to have some vintage Le Dix and vintage Tabac Blond, but Scandal is rarer than hen’s teeth. Just as well, perhaps.

      The other two I haven’t tried are Mata Hari and Knize Ten (I know…I know, everyone has tried that one). November 8, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Sabine: Oh, I love the smell of horses although I was never a rider myself. As for the perfumes I do love PdE Cuir Ottoman and it is my latest purchase. I would also mention the Cuir d’Iris. Bizarrely Cuir de Russie did nothing for me when I tested it in the shop. May be my nose was in the clouds. November 8, 2013 at 1:09pm Reply

    • Patricia: Actually, I only like the Cuir de Russie in parfum. It is so much richer. November 8, 2013 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Alicia: Thank you for your delightful review, Patricia! I love the big guns. Cuir de Russie I alternate with Chanel #5, my everyday fragrance, and particularly in the autumn with #19. For a sultry night in the cold seasons Bandit, of course. November 8, 2013 at 1:58pm Reply

    • Patricia: I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Alicia. Chanel #19 has been a favorite of mine since it first came out. I’m still waiting to be grown up enough to wear Chanel #5 😉 . November 8, 2013 at 5:46pm Reply

  • Eva S.: How I love this post! 🙂
    I have been riding all my life. Horses, skiing, mountains and perfume are my passions.
    For those who love Cuir de Russie, try Equistrius by Parfum d’Empire. November 8, 2013 at 1:58pm Reply

    • Alicia: Eva, I love Equistrius, butit fades so fast! November 8, 2013 at 2:05pm Reply

    • Patricia: Eva, Horses, skiing, mountains, and perfume are my passions, too! Well, I’ll have to include books in that list too. November 8, 2013 at 5:49pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’m quite a newbie to the leather genre, I’ve started exploring it only recently. Maybe that’s why all my favourite leather scents tend to be of a rather subtle nature.
    My current favourite – it got a lot of wearing this autumn – is Ann Gérard Cuir de Nacré. But I also love Histoires de Parfums 1889 Moulin Rouge and Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore.
    Equistrius is a beauty too but I don’t consider it a leather scent. November 8, 2013 at 3:44pm Reply

    • Patricia: I like all of these, rainboweyes, but haven’t tried the 1889 Moulin Rouge.

      What is it like? November 8, 2013 at 5:52pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: The leather note in Moulin Rouge is not very prominent and there is nothing horsey about the scent itself, yet it can be clearly recognized in the course of its development.
        Moulin Rouge was inspired by the eponymous Paris cabaret (it was released for its 120th anniversary) and it’s supposed to reflect its fin-de-siècle atmosphere of decadence and bohemian lifestyle. It contains notes of lipstick and powder (=iris), leather, dry fruit (prune), cinnamon, rose, absinth, vanilla, musk and patchouli. It’s a uniquely beautiful scent and definitely worth a try! November 9, 2013 at 12:55pm Reply

        • Patricia: These notes sound unusual and intriguing, and I will have to find a sample of this. It doesn’t sound like a fragrance you would want to wear everyday, but rather one you might turn to for a special occasion.

          Thank you, rainboweyes! November 9, 2013 at 1:58pm Reply

  • Jennifer C: I like the barnyard smell because I associate it with growing up in Tulsa and going to the Tulsa State Fair every fall (it always started right after my birthday) and seeing the horses. I really like L’Air de Rien for that note.

    I love leather scents in the fall. There are plenty I haven’t tried yet, but ones I really like are Bottega Veneta, Boxeuses (which I see as Bottega Veneta’s badass big sister), Daim Blond, Cuir Mauresque, AC Gold Leather, and PG Cuir Venenum. November 8, 2013 at 4:51pm Reply

    • Patricia: I really need to track down some of that Gold Leather. Loved Silver Iris.

      This past September I went to France and in Paris bought my first Lutens bell jar…Boxeuses! November 8, 2013 at 5:56pm Reply

  • rosestrang: I love Cuir de Russie, but one that always reminds me of horse stables is L’Air de Rien. It’s a strange one because up close I get the scent of horse, but from a distance it’s more incense-like and slightly sweet November 8, 2013 at 5:01pm Reply

    • Patricia: Another vote for L’Air de Rien! I like your description of it, rosestrang. November 8, 2013 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Moi: I like the leather note in vintage Parfum d’Hermes quite a bit. It’s soft, not so overtly barnyard-ey, but misbehaves just enough to make things interesting. November 8, 2013 at 6:17pm Reply

    • Patricia: Is that the version that came in the red metal cannister, Moi? November 8, 2013 at 9:22pm Reply

  • carole: Thank you for this-I grew up with workhorses. I loved the smell of them-hay and fur, and old bits of leather. I was so proud that I knew how to take care of their feet-I had a small pick and my grandfather taught me to gently remove all debris from their complex and sensitive feet.

    I think My two favorite leathers are Sharif, a noble fragrance, Prada Cuir Ambre. Sharif is subtle and wonderful, and Prada CA has so much oakmoss in it that more than a drop makes my throat close over. November 8, 2013 at 7:12pm Reply

    • Patricia: Prada Cuir Ambre sounds like my kind of leather. The more oakmoss, the better! November 8, 2013 at 9:24pm Reply

  • Amer: Beautiful selection. Just felt that Dzing! and l’Heure Fougueuse ought to be in there too. Azemour surprised me. i have to revisit that one November 9, 2013 at 4:03am Reply

    • Patricia: Several shared your opinion, Amer. I debated putting L’Heure Fougueuse in, but since it’s not a favorite of mine, left it to others to mention :).

      Must admit that I haven’t tried Dzing!

      Just an aside about Azemour. I know a man who not only feeds his horse orange slices, but the peel itself! The horse loves both. Probably in part why I thought of Azemour, in addition to the hay note that I get from it. November 9, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

      • Eva S.: Very OT:
        One of my racing horses loves banana! November 9, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

        • Patricia: My horse is one of the few at the barn who doesn’t love bananas :). November 9, 2013 at 11:19am Reply

  • fiammetta: the Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum – the perfect suede.

    And I am saving my last little bit of Cuir de Russie… November 9, 2013 at 9:55am Reply

    • Patricia: Is your Cuir de Russie in the EDT or the parfum? November 9, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

  • Jenny: Recently discovered local natural perfumer in Kansas City. Spent afternoon with her, in her workshop…. The scent that rose to the top was “Horses”. It took me immediately to my teenage years and that moment when you remove the saddle from the horse…..oats, clover, hay, leather, sweat…. Check her out… ForStrangeWomen.com

    Thanks for article and for continuing the memory. November 9, 2013 at 3:54pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Jenny, for your comment and the link to the natural perfumer. It must have been interesting to spend an afternoon in her workshop. November 9, 2013 at 6:55pm Reply

    • Annikky: Jenny, I was browsing through this site last week and seriously tempted by “Horses”. I guess I really must try it now. November 11, 2013 at 7:35am Reply

      • Patricia: I just ordered a small sample. Couldn’t resist ;). November 11, 2013 at 7:42am Reply

  • patricia: Hello Patricia,

    I really want to thank you for this marvelous ‘horsy’ article. Of course I’m a scent fanatic, but I think one as ‘horsy’ as you. As you ladies on Bois de Jasmin write about food and scents, well I write especially about horses, putting food and scents on the second place. Reading your article inspires me on talking ‘bloodlines’ with you, or even dressage and show jumping.
    So, i guess this is not the place to do so.
    Talking scents … my preferate leather scent is the great Cuir Beluga created by Olivier Polge for Guerlain. The fragrance honores soft leather in a way that desserves a timeless award.

    It’s a pleasure to read you. Bienvenue at Bois de Jasmin.

    Patricia November 11, 2013 at 1:21am Reply

    • Patricia: Dear Patricia, Thank you for your extremely kind comment! Yes, Cuir Beluga is indeed lovely and if I didn’t already have so many soft leathers, I would be tempted to add it to the collection. As it is, I have a small amount that I wear now and then. It is pure luxury.
      PS Danny Boy (left) is a Hessian, Bubba (right) is a Dutch Warmblood, and LJ (below) is a Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross. They are all getting up in years, and Bubba is now retired from riding. November 11, 2013 at 7:39am Reply

      • Austenfan: How interesting that a Dutch warmblood (kwpn) has made it to the States. They are used a lot in Holland both for dressage and jumping. Although interestingly both the horses Van Grunsven was so successful with were German breeds. November 11, 2013 at 4:57pm Reply

        • Patricia: Dutch warmbloods are very popular here both for their athetic skills and their temperament. Bubba was a jumper, Danny and LJ are hunter types. November 11, 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

  • Lizzy: I love your description of the experience you have with your horses–odd coincidence: my own Aunty Pat just got two horses, herself, and is now learning the ins and outs of horsemanship (including care and feeding) as she enters retirement! Fascinating.

    I have fallen in love with Ashoka (soft, well-worn leather and fig!), to my dismay because wow, that price tag :O Fortunately I have encountered a few other more accessible leathers. I’m wondering if I can get a similar effect to Ashoka by layering Sonoma Scent Studio’s intoxicating Fireside Intense with their Fig Tree, which is one of my favorite scents ever. INeKe Field Notes From Paris is a beautiful tobacco-leather duet. And I was recently struck by the delicious Italian leather vibe of Ramon Monegal Cuirelle. November 11, 2013 at 11:04am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Lizzie, Good luck to your Aunty Pat: the horses will keep her young!

      Let me know how the SSS combo turns out. I agree with you that Ashoka is gorgeous, but, well, a bit on the pricey side. November 11, 2013 at 5:59pm Reply

  • james1051: The two PdEs you mention are dynamite, and I’ll mention a third that has a wonderful leather note, even if it is not primarily a leather fragrance–Eau de Glore.

    I also really enjoy ELDO’s Tom of Finland for a smooth slightly sweet leather. November 11, 2013 at 8:27pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, James, for two leather fragrances that have not yet been mentioned! I haven’t tried either, but I must have the Eau de Gloire in my PdE sample set and look forward to testing it. November 12, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

  • Annunziata: The day you posted this, Patricia, I had been watching a friend take a lesson with her new coaches (she is hoping to make it to Grand Prix with her horse, a Westphalian/Arab cross) and afterwards, over lunch, we all talked enthusiastically about the rich scents of the barn and how much we love them. I sent them all your post. I am not much of a leather specialist (outside the barn), my great love is the chypre family, but I have just ordered some Cuir de Russie because in all my years as a dedicated parfumista, I have never sniffed it, and it seems like a good place to start. November 12, 2013 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Jordan: Hey Patricia,

    Surprised at my late entry here …… 😉
    I am looking fora real leathery scent, more like sweaty horse leather, that reminds of barn, fecal, etc, etc. But surprisingly even Bandit (which I have one) seems polished so to say! I am still searching for the elusive “dirty leather”, the one that reminds of sex, sweat, skin, leather, armpits. Nothing goes. people say Egoiste by Chanel is a bit close, but then its a very stable one. I have tried Leather by Demeter, but its too artificial. I have enjoyed the classical Gentleman by Givenchy but its just vanilla leather in the end! I believe Montale Cuir D Arabie is close to my nose, but then I am still eluded by the dirty sweaty sexy skin smell of a horse or any animal, with a fecal touch. Maybe a bit carnal but then there are fetishists like me searching, seeking …. Care to advise me a perfume smelling of raw leather hide, filled with sweat and a bit of fecal animalic notes??? I am still waiting …….. August 2, 2015 at 1:58pm Reply

    • Patricia: Have you tried Rien by Etat Libre d’Orange? It’s a real love-it-or-hate-it fragrance. I’m solidly in the second camp, but it has a solid fan base! August 3, 2015 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Alison: Another late comment but perfect timing for me;) I have a lovely string of events that leads me to say Caleche is a favorite leather. It first starts with a visit to a horse carriage exhibit. It sounded boring but after seeing all sorts of antique carriages I was so in awe. After seeing a real Caleche carriage and the gorgeous leather lining I couldn’t think but what a luxury to have ridden in one of those back in the day. So I went and got a sample of Caleche EDT by Hermes. Immediately I associate the fragrance with leather; it’s the first thing I smell. I just wish it had more persistence on me. (I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a sample of the EDP). And now I started riding lessons. I could curry and brush all day and still practice my two-point. I am hooked. When I get home all I want to do is sprinkle Caleche on me and smell the leather all night. And think about riding. Thank you, Patricia. You validated a whole new feeling I have toward horses and leather and fragrance. And gave me a list of other fragrances to try to keep me in a horse state of mind:) September 18, 2015 at 11:11pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you so much for your moving comment, Alison! I’m so glad that riding and caring for horses has given you such joy. It is the same for me. Even a frustrating day at the barn (yesterday) is better than a day without horses.

      Caleche is a great addition to the leathers list.

      And good luck with your two-point. It’s not easy! September 19, 2015 at 10:56am Reply

  • Surbhi: Odin no 12 March 1, 2016 at 1:24am Reply

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