Lancome Cuir de Lancome ~ perfume review

Cuir de Lancome fragrance

Miss Marple, where were you when I needed you? Late last summer I stalked department stores in search of Cuir de Lancôme, a then-recent addition to Lancôme's La Collection range of vintage reissues. The word on the street was that it was supposed to be released in the United States sometime in early fall 2007. A sales associate at Saks Fifth Avenue rifled through some Lancôme sales packages and found something claiming that Cuir should have been released in spring 2007. Another sales associate, this one at Nordstrom, looked at me like he believed I was making it all up and proffered a bottle of Lancôme Sikkim with a busted atomizer. A lukewarm review over at Perfume Smellin' Things did little to chill my ardor, and news that Lancôme eventually decided not to release Cuir in the United States only made me crazier for it. I had to have a bottle of Cuir de Lancôme.

Finally, last month Cuir testers showed up at discounters in the United States, and within a few days I had a bottle in my hands. Was all the frenzy worth it? Especially to someone with six other leather-based perfumes in her cupboard? I think so.

Cuir de Lancôme is Calice Becker and Pauline Zanoni's reorchestration of a 1936 Lancôme fragrance called "Révolte", which was later renamed the more peaceful "Cuir". Osmoz France describes the new Cuir as a floral chypre with top notes of bergamot, mandarin, and saffron; a heart of jasmine, ylang ylang, hawthorn, and patchouli; and a base of iris, birch, and styrax.

Cuir is a creamy leather scent, more along the sueded lines of Serge Lutens Daim Blond or Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman than the rougher, oilier Knize Ten, Caron Tabac Blond, or even vintage Dior Diorling. It isn't as austerely elegant as Chanel Cuir de Russie. I never thought of how saffron can mimic the slightly medicinal hit of leather until I smelled it in Cuir. Cuir's heart has a green, floral feel that lightens it compared to some other leather scents, but I can't pick out the patchouli. Its drydown smells to me of sandalwood and tonka or vanilla, and over the hours Cuir sweetens and flattens. I don't read it as powdery at all. Also, Cuir's sillage is deceptive. It's soft enough that you think it will cling to you, but other people will notice it. A few sprays of Cuir last all day. It would smell great on a man, too.

Overall, Cuir is a sophisticated, camel-colored cashmere sweater with a form-fitting cut that goes with jeans or a haute couture suit — sort of a Cate Blanchett of scent. I'd wear it in almost any weather, except for the dog days of summer, and it would be a great scent for travel since it fits just about any occasion. When I wear it, I feel comfortable rather than exotic, and adaptable rather than idiosyncratic, but still beautiful.

Maybe I don't exactly experience the drama of the text on Cuir's box when I wear it: "A woman steps inside the luxurious lobby of a Parisian Hotel. She embodies those women who possess infinite charm, timeless grace, a unique presence...Ethereal, almost unreal, she drifts toward a small marble table where a bouquet of flowers and a note await her...her fulfillment is absolute and unveiled." But I don't mind. I'm happy just to smell really nice.

Cuir de Lancôme comes in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, and can be found at many of the online fragrance discounters.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    oh! sounds right up my alley, is it available at any actual stores for a pre purchase sniff? thank you for your lovely description!

  2. Anonymous says:

    You know what frosts me? You have to go scrounging around for this *online* (and the Lancome counters always hid the rest of La Collection like they were back issues of Juggs) and look at the acres of mediocrity on the shelves… argh. Off to spray myself with something vengeful. Mitsouko, possibly. Hey, I can't remember, have you tried Houbigant Apercu? Honestly, I think you would love it, I keep forgetting to ask.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Really???… chypre floral with a leather twist??? and a dry down of sandalwood???? Darn it, Robin…..I'm suppose to be “saving” my money (at least that's what I'm told).

    Well, I'm off to find this fragrance online somewhere….and I'll let you know if it smells as good on a man…..



  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh man, don't get me started on how hard it is to find any La Collection at an actual counter. When I was strong-arming the Saks SA into finding Peut-Etre for me last week, I got to see where they keep the rest of their La Collection bottles. Yep, just like everything else worthwhile at the Tysons Saks, it's thrown into a floor-level drawer, rolling around like so much unwanted junk. And yeah, meanwhile all that Hypnose and Miracle stuff is all up front and center, taunting me with its “do not want!” status.

    CdL is a fantastic leather and one worth having if you adore a well-done leather fragrance, imho. Thank goodness those testers showed up online, and it's no wonder the sprayers had such issues if they were getting treated like I saw that poor innocent bottle of Climat EDP in the Saks drawer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just an FYI, that is Angela you need to blame, not me!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Butting in, Apercu is so lovely. But have been wondering what it smells like these days — it must be reformulated, right? Or soon to be de-oakmoss-ed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Robin!!!!! I take my comment back……(heehee)

    and just for the record –

    Darn it Angela!!!!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds pretty nice, but the real reason I'm commenting is because I think RÉVOLTE is a fantastic name for a fragrance. I would buy it in a minute.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Angela, this sounds lovely. The only reason I'm not complaining is that I don't have much of a taste for leather scents in warm weather. I do think it would be that much more fun if it was still called RÉVOLTE. And yes, the text on the box as you quoted it is priceless.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Seconding the Apercu love. I think Angela reviewed Apercu not that long ago, unless I am completely confused.

  11. Anonymous says:

    You're out of luck if you're in the U.S., unfortunately. But you might be able to order a sample at the Perfumed Court or see if you can swap for a sample.

    Good luck!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I know. Isn't that crazy? You think they'd put them front and center, but instead the lip glosses take all the glory.

    I do like Apercu! I found I wasn't wearing it much, though, so I swapped away my bottle. My skin brought out the rose in it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I'm glad you liked Cuir–I admit that I bought it unsniffed, but I don't regret it a bit. And yes, I don't get it at all why the La Collection testers are so darned hard to find in the store.

  14. Anonymous says:

    R, my bottle was probably two or three years old, and it wasn't a particularly moss-forward chypre on me. I wonder if it could have been reformulated then? It was surprisingly rosy on me, too, which surprised me, given what I'd read about it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    E, I know that Robin reviewed it a few years ago–could that be the review you're thinking of?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Definitely more leather and sandalwood than green, Marko, but well worth the search, I think. It's not a big, oily, saddle leather type of leather, but a smooth, woody, creamy leather. Let me know what you think!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I feel your pain! The tester I bought on line was pretty reasonable though.

  18. Anonymous says:

    From what I've heard, Revolte was a name better suited for the original, fiestier version of Cuir. The new version is a lot less saucy, but still very nice.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I like Bandit for a summer leather. It's sharp green top is perfect in the heat. Still, for civilized summer gatherings indoors, especially, Cuir would be pretty nice, in my opinion.

    As for the text on the box, whoever wrote it should take a run at next's year's Prix Eau Faux!

  20. Anonymous says:

    You're probably right. Somehow it seemed like something you would review.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I do like Bandit, but on me it seems too heavy for summer. I will wear Jolie Madame on a cool day in summer, though.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I have the original Cuir, and I found this one, um, disappointing. The original was certainly as rough–if not rougher–than Diorling, Tabac Blond, et al., and while this is pleasant, it seems wimpy to me in comparison. Sorry.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I'm in the US and found a full bottle at an online discount perfume website. I had my bottle sent out right away. I must say it's very linear on my skin, I don't get any of the other lovely notes except leather.

    Daim Blond, now that one, she blooms on me. Full sweet apricot surrounded by a soft warm kiss of suede.

    It's funny how much we perceive scent differently. But then, that's what makes the world an interesting place- our differences!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I also have a bottle of the original Cuir, which I got sealed and boxed. It's very smooth and smells mostly of a suede glove left in an old church. It doesn't sound like yours at all, Lily. Maybe it's just lost its edge despite the good condition in which it made it.

    As for the reissued Cuir, well that was a saga. When I went to the Lancôme Parisian boutique last year they were down to the last three bottles, which I nabbed for myself and for a couple of friends. They said it was a limited edition. Then, a month ago, some more had popped up. They seem to produce it in fits and starts.

    It's very different from the original, but I really like its slightly gourmand smoothness and I don't regret the purchase one bit. This from another leather scent collector…

  25. Anonymous says:

    Jolie Madame – I have a love/hate relationship with her leather. More love than hate, though, now that the weather is warmer.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It really is interesting–not only do we perceive scent differently, but we have different skin chemistry, too. I'm glad you found Daim Blond.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I think you have me pegged!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I can see where the violet in Jolie Madame would be cooling. I live in the Pacific NW, so the summers here aren't usually very hot, so I have a little more latitude with scent than some people, too.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Do you like leather in general but just not that leather? Or is it the green, violet, leather combo you don't like?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Do you think you would have liked the new Cuir if it were called something different altogether?

    I know the disappointment all to well of smelling something marvelous in its vintage form and then being disappointed in the new version. Diorling and Dioressence come to mind especially.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “Suede glove left in an old church”–marvelous!

    I wonder what the deal with Lancome and Cuir is? I hope they decide to release it in the U.S. and not tease us with talk of limited editions. Lancome seems committed to La Collection–they just released Peut-Etre, at least–but at the same time they don't seem to distribute it widely or place it well where it is distributed. I wish they'd make up their minds and let us know.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The Lancôme SA said it sold very well in France. I think the main issue is production. According to her, they don't have enough vats to keep all the La Collection going. They've just pulled one, I think it's Sikkim…

  33. Anonymous says:

    Off the top of my head, I can probably name ten L'Oreal-owned fragrances I'd pull before I'd give up Sikkim. Too few vats seems like a pretty weak explanation to me.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I just discovered a deep and abiding love for leathers – might have to look into this one!

  35. Anonymous says:

    What a great thing to have discovered! If you're able to try it, I think it's worth it.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Gah! Making the sign of the cross against Too Much Rose!!! I will forget that before I re-smell Apercu.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Did I say “rose”? I meant, um, “nose”. I meant that I smell it with my nose. Yeah, that's it.

  38. Anonymous says:

    With regret I must admit not having a clue what you are all raving about.

    Samples of Cuir are widely available in the Lancome Beauty Center in Prague, but the scent eludes me completely. I was so keen to test it but all I get is medicine, and lots of it. It softens up in time but retains a sour, bitter note on my skin.

    The one fragrance of the series that smells lovely on me is Climat, but not lovely enough to buy. And Mille Et Une Roses just melts into my skin and disappears altogether within 15 minutes.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Interesting! I wonder how much of the difference in our perception of the old scent is simply that–a difference in perception. It is certainly elegant on me, but it has an animalic strain that prevents it (in my mind at least) from seeming “smooth” to me. But perhaps my word choice is wrong. (Mine was sealed and boxed too; I would guess the difference comes from us, rather than the perfume). Glad you liked the new one. I didn't DISLIKE it; I just wanted something, um, stronger.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Interesting question. Well, the disappointment in the change is certainly part of my feeling. But I DO enjoy the new Diorling (which is quite leathery on me) although it's not as good as the old. I will give Cuir another chance, but my first impressions were that it seemed rather bland on my skin.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I'm not fond of leather in general, but I love the violet in JM. The leather seemed harsh when I tried wearing it in winter; but in warm weather…the violet/leather combo smells more smooth – to my nose at least :)

  42. Anonymous says:

    You're making me crave a little Jolie Madame right now!

  43. Anonymous says:

    I'm just jealous that the both of you found sealed boxes of the old Cuir!

  44. Anonymous says:

    The new Cuir is definitely not the hard-riding leather of a lot of perfumes, and it's on the sweet side, too. Fortunately, if Cuir isn't up your alley, there are–as you well know–a whole parade of leathers to wear instead.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the medicine smell you get is Cuir's saffron? Or it might just be the birch tar that is in so many leather scents. Do you like other leather scents?

    Climat is indeed lovely, and especially as the weather starts to warm up.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Is it anything like Chanel Cuir de Russie? I tried that for the first time the other day and loved it – petal-strewn cream leather in the back of an old Bentley…sigh!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Do you mean Lancome Cuir compared to Cuir de Russie? Cuir de Russie is more austere than L. Cuir, and the iris is more prononounced. L. Cuir is sweeter and woodier. I adore Cuir de Russie, but it's a different mood than Cuir.

    I sure love your description of Cuir de Russie!

  48. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, “less austere” sounds good… I am a bit hit and miss with austerity! And I love iris. If I had a baby I would be very tempted to call it “Iris” – if it was a girl, obviously. And I know that may sound selfish – though arguably less selfish than calling her “Oppoponax”.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Iris is a lovely name!

  50. Anonymous says:

    I am by no standards an expert in leather fragrances. When I think lether the only thing that comes to mind is Opium, even though it's not a leather frag. It just somehow evokes leather.

    My mother wore Opium extensively which is why I can't wear it. To add insult to injury, there is no perfume I know with Opium's in-your-face raw female sexuality. Where can I find such a fragrance?

  51. Anonymous says:

    Opium almost stands in a class by itself, but there are some other mega-orientals out there, like Chanel Coco and Estee Lauder Cinnabar. If you look on the left side of the page, you'll see “Favorite Articles”. One of them is all about sexy fragrances. Maybe the answer will be there!

  52. Anonymous says:

    I've just got a bottle in TK Max for a great price and I cant feel nothing but happy for my blind purchase. I couldnt test it prior buying but I read your article and I gave this one a try. Its very nicely done leather scent. Different to the ones I've tried so far this one is soft and warm. I am loving leather scents! This one is so much softer than Tuscan Leather that I have. I am going to wear it a lot I guess :D

  53. Anonymous says:

    TJ Maxx! What a score! I'm jealous.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Oana i also bought this one blind & have to say it's one of my best purchases……can't stop sniffing my wrist

  55. Anonymous says:

    It's so great in cold weather, too.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I also found a bottle in my local TK Maxx, and bought it blind based on reviews here.

    I really like it too, although to me it teeters toward the feminine, due to a sweetish, powdery dry-down. But I don't think it ever actually falls into the purely feminine, so I'll still wear it and enjoy it.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I am so jealous that some of you are finding this at TJ Maxx!

    It definitely does sweeten and is feminine in an elegant (rather than girly) way, I think. But I sure like it.

  58. RusticDove says:

    My mom called me yesterday and told me she purchased a bottle of this @ Tuesday Morning for a song. She loves it. I had to read her the reviews from here and ‘The Guide’. [ I think I will give her my copy when I get the new updated version.] Anyway – I’ve never smelled this and it sounds lovely. I just smelled Magie Noire for the first time and will be getting a FB of that. I guess it’s not what it used to be – but with no comparison to make, I was quite smitten with it.

    • Angela says:

      Nice score! It’s a good one, I think, almost an antidote to Bandit’s edge. It’s nice, too, that your mom has jumped on the perfume bandwagon.

  59. RusticDove says:

    I must give credit where credit is due and my mom was a perfumista first. We just didn’t have the term for it back in the day and no internet with which to share the fun. She was always into fine perfumes and that definitely influenced me. I look forward to smelling this Cuir de Lancome @ our next visit.

    • Angela says:

      How did this comment slip through? I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond! By now you’ve almost certainly smelled Cuir de Lancome and decided whether you can live without it or not.

  60. OVincze says:

    I only got a sample of this and need to give it a full wearing, I liked it when I first sniffed it though I thought the leather may be a bit much for my taste but maybe not, I bet on my skin it would be more muted. Unfortunately, it is not a springtime fragrance and since I was sick when it was really cold all these wonderful fumes are waiting in the bathroom cupboard to be tried, except for a couple that are great to use in the spring, speaking of which Iris 39 is getting a full wearing now and it is oh so lovely.

    • Angela says:

      The leather in this one is a sweet, suede-like leather, and you might find you like the oilier, birch tar leathers better–it’s a personal taste. I hope you’re feeling better soon! And you’ve inspired me to get out my Iris 39 for a spritz.

  61. OVincze says:

    Ah, Iris 39, wore that two days ago and it went on my To Buy list for sure. Annd today I am wearing Cuir de Lancome and I am really really loving it, the only think stopping me from buying a bottle like right now is that for some reason it has zero sillage and longevity on me, have you found that to be the case? Two minutes after spraying it I cannot smell it anymore, that does bother me a lot but otherwise this is absolutely lovely. I like scent like Iris which I can still smell on my hairline the next day when I wake up or Aromatics that will linger on my coats for days and when I smell my scarf days or even weeks later it has this really sexy animalic drydown. The notes are intriguing in Cuir, it is very sexy and different, I just wish it was a bit more of a monster:)))

    • Angela says:

      It lasts pretty well on me, fortunately. I’m sorry it’s so fleeting on you!

  62. OVincze says:

    Well, sorry, my post above is full of typos, I was typing fast and posting without reviewing. I am wondering Angela if this is hard to get, I may buy it from someone, I do love it but it will go fast as I need to spray lots of it:)))

    • Angela says:

      Gosh, don’t worry about typos! Cuir de Lancome is a real bargain online. I bought my bottle for less than $30 at parfum1, and I bet other online retailers carry it, too.

  63. OVincze says:

    Well, I am actually swapping for it but it is good to know that it can still be found online, I thought it was next to impossible to get it sort of like some of those special Le Labos:))) I may just have to travel the world to get my bottles:)))

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