leather: 7 posts

Leather Perfumes for Cool Days

Elisa gives an overview of her favorite leather perfumes, from floral suedes to dark, smoky hides.

I don’t rotate my perfume collection seasonally; all [undisclosed number] of them are at my disposal year round on a big étagère in my closet. But if I did, here’s how the rotation would break down: ambers and orientals up front for winter; chypres and green florals up front for spring; white florals and beachy coconut scents up front for summer; and leather fragrances up front for fall.

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One recent Friday, I went over to a friend’s house for drinks; it was the first really chilly autumnal night, and we lit an outdoor fire and sat around it drinking red wine, wearing boots and scarves for the first time and making plans for Halloween. This is exactly when I start buying candles in bulk and craving all my smoky leather perfumes. Here are a few of my favorites for fall.

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Hermes Cuir d’Ange : Perfume Review

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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 hermes

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.

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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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Atelier Cologne Gold Leather : Perfume Review

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Patricia takes Gold Leather to task.

In the first two offerings of their Collection Métal, Silver Iris and Gold Leather, Atelier cologne gives us two fragrances that have many things in common. Both are Absolues, which means they have a higher than usual concentration of perfume oil, 18 percent, giving them a depth and longevity more similar to an Eau de Parfum than a cologne.

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Silver Iris and Gold Leather were created by perfumer Jérome Epinette. Both have over-the-top bottle designs in real gold or silver and “handcrafted leather caps.” The 200 ml size of these bottles comes with complimentary engraving. Both fragrances are accompanied by overwrought ad copy promising the wearer of these fragrances the “absolu” man or woman of one’s dreams.

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Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka : Perfume Review

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Patricia talks of emperors and leather miniskirts.

In one of my favorite comics, “Rose Is Rose,” the title character, a mild-mannered housewife and mother, has an edgy biker chick alter ego complete with big hair, thigh-high boots, a leather miniskirt, and a rose tattoo. This character pops up when Rose is stressed, conflicted, or otherwise feels the need to exert some power in her life. This kind of power is what I felt on first application of Ashoka, Neela Vermeire’s fourth fragrance, created in collaboration with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.

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Ashoka (304-232 BCE) was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty. Through his frequent military conquests, he eventually ruled over what is present-day India. A fierce warrior and leader, he converted to Buddhism after witnessing the mass death and destruction of the Kalinga tribe, and he played an important role in making Buddhism a world religion. This perfume, which honors him, follows the same trajectory: from strong opening, to floral heart, to a quiet complexity of earthy notes.

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