Hugh Spencer: 1 post

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on breaking with the niche formula and on the masculine retro glamour.

There is a prevailing trend in niche perfumery toward unisex scents. Often, the “unisex” quality is communicated through a combination of (supposedly masculine) woody notes, such as sandalwood, cedar, and patchouli, and (supposedly feminine) sweet notes, such as vanilla and benzoin, to the point that when mainstream scents hit on this combination, we say they “smell like niche.” I love sweet woody scents, but this formula is starting to look like a niche cliché – mix up booze, tobacco, resins, a touch of leather and some vanilla until it’s the color of cocktails in a cigar bar. Does it smell good? Then ship it!

grand cuir

Parfums Retro is a new niche outfit that seems to be taking a different approach. Their first three scents are all clearly targeted at the men’s side of the aisle. And yet, Grand Cuir (a sample of which I received as part of an Olfactif gift box) doesn’t smell like the typical men’s offerings at department stores, radiating powerful synthetics like sexual-chemical warfare. Instead, it truly smells retro: reminiscent of the dry, bitter leathers from the first half of the 20th century, when women comfortably wore perfumes like Lanvin Scandal and pre-reformulation Caron Tabac Blond.

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