Chanel Cuir de Russie ~ fragrance review

Chanel Cuir de RussieChanel Cuir de RussieChanel Cuir de Russie

In Perfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin, Richard Stamelman quotes from a 1936 Chanel publicity text about Chanel Cuir de Russie:

...I easily imagine this perfume floating in the wake of a tall, slender brunette, whose moves are confident, who voice is accustomed to giving orders, and who fingers are slightly darkened by tobacco. She is one of those women who always wears a suit, even at midnight at the Savoy; one of those women captivating to watch at the casino in Monaco, who after having lost a sum of money, takes bills and a money order from a love letter hidden in her fine leather handbag, where they have taken on a pungent, slightly wild odor, and with great calm throws them on the green baize of the gaming table.1

Wowee! Who could resist a fragrance like that? (Let's hope the copy writer went on to a career as a novelist.) But by dint of perspective or reformulation, today's Cuir de Russie is still beautiful, but not the butch aristocrat of yesteryear. Instead, it's as if the Cuir de Russie of 70 years ago earned an advanced degree and spent time on the therapist's couch. She's still elegant and self-possessed, but she's not getting written up in the gossip columns.

Perfumer Ernest Beaux created Cuir de Russie in 1927, six years after Chanel released No. 5. In 1983, Jacques Polge reorchestrated Cuir de Russie, playing down the tougher aspects of its leather and boosting its iris. It's most likely been tinkered with since, including perhaps when it was relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs line. I'm reviewing a decant taken from a Les Exclusifs bottle purchased a little over a year ago.

Chanel's website describes Cuir de Russie as a "rich, woody oriental" and lists its topnotes as Tunisian orange blossom, Calabrian bergamot, and Sicilian mandarin; its heart as jasmine, Oriental rose, and ylang ylang; and its base as Albanian birchwood. What I smell is a buttery smooth mélange of aldehydes, iris, ylang ylang, glove leather, and a touch of sandalwood.

At first sniff, you know Cuir de Russie is one of the classic Chanels. The creamy aldehydic burst, the restrained floral heart, and the way it wears close to the body, almost becoming a skin scent, mark Cuir de Russie as No. 5's sister. But where No. 5 is sensual, Cuir de Russie feels more intellectual. Its vegetal iris — to me, a thinking person's aroma — plays almost as strong a role as its leather. Its rose and jasmine are only noticeable to me as a cool, smooth background to creamy wafts of ylang ylang and sandalwood. Cuir de Russie's leather is all about worn calf gloves and vintage napa pocketbooks that snap shut, with little of the oily, raw quality of motorcycle jackets and saddles.

Maybe Cuir de Russie is less the "bad girl" these days because leather and smoking don't shock as they once did. Maybe bossy, gambling women wearing suits at midnight don't astonish among the throngs of tattooed, silicone-plumped, sunglasses-at-night partiers these days. Or maybe Cuir de Russie lost some of its moxie during reformulations.

Whatever the case, Cuir de Russie is still beautiful. It stands apart from the hordes of new perfume releases not for daring, but for elegance and luxury. It speaks quietly but confidently, with comfort, subtlety, and intelligence. I guess Piguet Bandit has the roulette wheel all to herself.

Chanel Cuir de Russie is available in a 200 ml bottle of Eau de Toilette as part of Chanel's Les Exclusifs line. For information about where to buy it, see Chanel under Perfume Houses.

1. p. 236.


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176 Comments

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  1. Daisy says:

    Ahhhh, just perfect Angela!! I just did a split of Cuir de Russie…mailing those boxes out today….and I think you’ve captured her completely. Maybe she was a little more the dangerous bad girl when she was younger….she’s gotten a little more elegant in the recent incarnations….maybe stashed the motorcycle jacket in the closet and pulls on the driving gloves to take her green Jaguar out for a spin…a fast spin…. ;-)

    • Angela says:

      I love it you specified that the Jaguar is green–the color of the gaming table, too! That kind of detail makes the whole picture.

      I’ve been enjoying Cuir de Russie lately. Something about it really focuses my work, too. I’m not sure what it is.

  2. Suzanne941 says:

    Another fun review, Angela! I haven’t tried any of these Exclusifs yet, but this one & 31 Rue Cambon are on the (growing) list of things to try soon. You caught my attention with crack about Bandit, my new fave. But maybe this one will help me focus at work too!

    • Angela says:

      Don’t forget about Bois des Iles, too! It’s wonderful.

      • Daisy says:

        Yup, I’m ordering the Bois des Iles for splitting tonight! Can hardly wait…..it’s like I want them to ship as soon as I hit the pay button!!!

        • Suzanne941 says:

          oh, duh! I got the Bois des Iles in a swap, just haven’t worn it yet because it’s been so warm here. The bit I tried is yummy though. Great, I need something else to spend money on…;)

          • Daisy says:

            Well of course! we wouldn’t want to have any spare money just laying about with nothing to do…. email me and I’ll send you samples of Cuir de Russie and 31 Rue Cambon…….I’ll warn you right now—these will suck the money right out of your purse….
            oh, I’m daisylu at MUA

          • Angela says:

            Time to try that Bois des Iles! I’m hankering for a bottle, too, so get in line…

        • RusticDove says:

          Oooh, ooh Daisy! Do you have room for anyone else on this split?! [I hope, I hope] *Fingers crossed* ;-)

        • mals86 says:

          Wai-wai-wait a minute… are all the splits taken on the Bois des Iles???

  3. Ooh! That sounds, well, so very good.

    I’m in the midst of the winter cravings, and one of them this year is leather. I can tell that I’m about to aim my credit card at something, so I’m glad that I read your review before I failed to consider this one.

    Thank you for better informing my craving. :) I’m off to order a sample.

    • Angela says:

      Cuir de Russie is such an elegant leather. Cuir de Lancome is great, too–smooth and a little sweeter. I adore Tabac Blond, although I haven’t tried the latest version of it. And then there’s Cuir Ottoman and Cuir Mauresque….so many great leathers out there. Oh, and Bel Ami.

      • Julia says:

        I just got some new Tabac Blond. It is still very nice, but less smoky and more carnationy than the vintage one I first tried. Honestly, it smells a lot like current Bellodgia to me. I also have a large decant of Tabac Blond EdT, and really, I wouldn’t bother with it. Shame, though.

        • Angela says:

          Oh, too bad! I have some extrait that is old enough not to be carnationed-out, but it sounds like I’ll have to hunt down some more.

          • Julia says:

            I would love to find a bottle of the older extrait. I’ve never seen it in my hunts for vintage perfumes. I feel lucky that I was able to get what I have since it is an urn fragrance and I’m nowhere near an urn.

          • Angela says:

            It sounds like you do pretty well!

      • Yum. I was just bragging that it’s been seven weeks since my last Perfumed Court order. It’s clearly not going to be much longer. :)

        • Angela says:

          Seven weeks! That’s pretty good. Another week would be two months, and then you surely deserve to put in an order.

      • AnnS says:

        There is also Miller Harris Cuir d’Oranger. I think it is nice though I’ve not smelled all these other leathers….

        • Angela says:

          Oh yes, that’s a nice one. And if we go vintage, there’s Cabochard, Diorling, and Scandal (R.I.P.), too. I’m sure I’m forgetting lots of good ones. Knize 10.

      • sharviss says:

        The only leather perfumes I’ve sniffed are Kelly Caleche, Bandit and Cuir de Russie. I didn’t get much leather out of KC, I didn’t like Bandit at all – maybe the birch tar? And Cuir de Russie I liked because of how smooth and elegant it was but it wasn’t love. Maybe leather perfumes aren’t for me. I’ll still give Cuir de Lancome a try though. I like the sound of a sweeter leather.

        • Angela says:

          Kelly Caleche smells more of rose than leather to me, and Bandit can be hard for many people to wear because of its screaming galbanum opening. Cuir de Russie is very Chanel, and if you’re not into that kind of feel, it might not be for you. But Cuir de Lancome and Cuir Ottoman are soft-as-velvet leathers you might like.

          • Gilty says:

            I get more leather from the Kelly Caleche edp and parfum than from the edt… The original EL Azuree is a great citrus leather and affordable and easy to find…and to tack on a mini-rant, why is Cuir de Russie in extrait so hard to get a hold of? I’ve tested the Exclusifs version and really liked it except for the fact that it lasts all of 15 minutes on me…but your review makes me want to give it another try.

          • Angela says:

            Oh yes! I’m a fan of Azuree–thanks for bringing that one up.

            I hear you on the Cuir de Russie parfum.

          • RusticDove says:

            I’m wearing Azuree today. I re-discovered this fragrance recently [my maternal granmother wore it!!] and it’s really fantastic.

        • Angela says:

          I know! It’s a great one.

      • Joe says:

        Must confess I do NOT like Bel Ami (recently acquired a sample) and I had to trade Chanel Antaeus away as well. Since you mention iris so much in this review, it reminds me that I’d really like to try PG Cuir d’Iris.

        • Angela says:

          I’m not sure I’ve tried that one, either. But I love Bel Ami! Is it the citrus-coriander that gets you?

          • Joe says:

            Of course I came home and immediately started sniffing. Arms now covered with Bel Ami, CdR, DK Signature, Sikkim (and Magie Noire for good measure).

            Bel Ami just has an overpowering astringent herbaceousness — almost bitter — that I can’t handle. And there’s some affinity with Antaeus that I recognize and dislike. I notice now more than I did before how prominent the iris is in CdR and I love it, being the iris ho that I am. Lovely.

          • Angela says:

            What nice smelling arms! Too bad about Bel Ami. It’s freaky, and I thought maybe that’s what you don’t like, but it doesn’t sound like that’s it at all.

      • sheltisebastian says:

        Hi,

        Love what you have to say about cuir de russie.

        Bel Ami by Hermes I used to wear that but have not been able to find. I used to get it at saks in New York buy everytime I call to see if they have it I am told it is soold out.

  4. Jill says:

    Love the sound of that Cuir de Russie woman! This has been on my to-try list for about two years now. I really haven’t explored leather scents nearly enough.

    • Angela says:

      This is the weather for leather scents, and there’s so much variety in them. Lots to explore…

  5. Dolly says:

    Another great article from you Angela. A touch of sandalwood doesn’t hurt anybody!

    • Angela says:

      Thank you! Yes, sandalwood is terrific.

  6. Are you girls going to keep Cuir De Russie all to yourselves, or can us boys come and play too? I smelled this recently and really liked it. Didn’t find it overly fem…(say’s the guy who wears Black Orchid) HA! :-)

    • Angela says:

      Oh, I think Cuir de Russie would be perfect on a man! It’s just austere enough to be really interesting. Come and play for sure!

      • Daisy says:

        Angela– are you needing your own bottle of Bois des Iles or are you interested in a split…..going fast!

        • miss kitty v. says:

          I have such a Pavlovian response to the word “split” that I wanted to shout out, “Gimme! Gimme!” even though I already have a bottle of Bois des Iles. Or maybe I was just responding to the name Angela, which would be only slightly less weird.

          • Angela says:

            ….especially since most people here don’t know it’s your name!

        • Angela says:

          I have about 20 ml of it now, so I should hold off. Thanks for letting me know about it, though! My dream is to find some extrait someday.

        • Angela says:

          Wait! Wait! I thought you meant Cuir de Russie! Yes, I’d love to get in on a split of Bois des Iles.

    • Daisy says:

      to me Chanel Cuir de Russie smells quite masculine…but I like it too!
      Sorry, soap commercial flashback….you know, I never even noticed if CdR is marketed for men or women?

      • Angela says:

        When I was about 10, I sang the whole Irish Spring song at the dinner table. I was entertaining myself and not paying attention to the rest of the table and was shocked when I finished and looked up and saw everyone looking at me. “Are you done now?” my dad said.

        • RusticDove says:

          haha That’s adorable. :-)

          • Angela says:

            Especially with the fake Irish accent.

        • Daisy says:

          you’d fit in just fine at my house….we sing commercial jingles all the time….we also completely mutilate songs from the radio…create our own “substitute” lyrics….sometimes complete with little dances….but then, we’re a little weird….but shhhh, it’s a secret. ;-)

          • Angela says:

            I love it!

          • fleurdelys says:

            My husband and I do this all the time. (He’s the king of substitute lyrics – turned the canon “Dona Nobis Pacem” into “Donuts are good, I love to eat them”). Your household and mine should get together and put on a musical!

        • Suzanne941 says:

          That’s too funny! I remember those too…my grandmother was from Tipperary and she couldn’t understand the words.

          • Angela says:

            O.K., it’s time for me to finally figure out where the heck Tipperary is.

          • Daisy says:

            apparently at the end of a long road….

  7. Rappleyea says:

    Well written as always, Angela! I don’t own any leathers, and have only tried three – Bandit (very chemical smelling on me), Cuir de Lancome (beautiful, but a harsh raspy note got in the way), and Cuir Beluga (not sure if most consider this a true leather, but is was way too cloying and sweet). This one sounds like something I need to try though.

    • Daisy says:

      As it happens, I am fixing up a package for you Ms.Rapple and I’ll stick a sample of CdR in it! How easy was that? Darn, I’m good.

    • Angela says:

      Never hurts to try…

    • hey Donna , we need to do another swap , I have a dozen leathers for you to try !!

  8. miss kitty v. says:

    I think this is only one of two of the Les Exclusifs that I haven’t tried. The description sounds delish, but I’ve been iffy on leathers, and iris…well, I guess I’m not a thinking person, let’s put it that way. I’m enchanted enough by your review to want to give it a try, though. :)

    • Angela says:

      If you’re not wild about leather or iris, this one probably isn’t for you. Next time we meet up I’ll bring you some to smell.

    • RusticDove says:

      Hmm – iffy with the iris note eh? I suppose you’ll pass on the mini bottle of Iris Noir then? Or would you like to throw caution to the wind & check it out?

      • miss kitty v. says:

        I am convinced that I will like iris if I just find the right one. (Same for leather, although I do like Dzing!, so maybe that’s the one.) Hey, you know me, never one to turn down anything I haven’t already tried.

        • CynthiaW says:

          I think that Iris Noir is very wearable – even for someone who doesn’t like traditional Iris scents. It’s not dry or powdery at all – I wear it when I want an iris, but I’m not up to the challenge of a more traditional iris.

          • Angela says:

            I agree. it’s nice and juicy.

        • RusticDove says:

          Well that settles it then, I’ll send you the Iris Noir. If you like it, it’s a cheap thrill which is cool.

  9. sucrose says:

    Thanks for the review. I have some of both the new and vintage Cuir de Russie, both in EDT and parfum. I’m guessing the vintage ones must be from after that reformulation in the 80s. To me the leather is far more pronounced in the new version; the older one is more of an aldehydic floral with an animalic base, while the new version is all about the leather, which is earthy but maybe less animalic than the vintage. In any case, I’ll have to break with the usual habit of mourning the lost vintage — I like the new one much better! I’d love to compare with the original version though.

    • Angela says:

      Thanks for the comparison–and the good news about the more recent formulation! I haven’t smelled the pre-1983 version, either, but I’m longing to.

  10. annemarie says:

    Marvellous! What a great quote that is from Chanel. Suit Lady sounds like something out of a James Bond novel (maybe Ian Flemming … ? Nah … ). It’s intriguing that Chanel doesn’t just buy up fields of Grasse, to ensure the best supply of raw materials, it can engage wonderful writers and film-makers (who, by story-telling, create desire). Same approach I guess – pursuit of excellence. Although okay, maybe Chanel has stumbled a bit in some of its recent perfume releases …

    • Angela says:

      I wonder if standards for copy were higher in those days? The passage I quote here is so much more exciting than a lot of the blather that turns up in press releases nowadays. I can see the whole scene in my mind: the dark beach outside, the 1930s Rolls Royces parked at the curb, the drained glasses of Champagne.

    • daseined says:

      Chanel *does* have their own fields in Grasse and are one of the shockingly few French companies that hae not outsourced all their raw materials to India and Egypt, among other nations. It’s been essential to maintaining the quality of No. 5 over the years, which has stayed remarkably stable (per LT) despite numerous components being restricted or banned oVer the years.

      Whether those fields are used for the non-No. 5 fragrances, though, I can’t say. I do think Chanel (despite mass-market releases like Chance) has really maintained a much higher level of quality in their fragrances over time. But I’m a total Chanel perume addict, so don’t take my word for it–try them all yourself!

      • Angela says:

        I know Chanel has been owned by the same family for decades, and I wonder if that has contributed to their quality? They might not feel the same shareholder pull to cheapen. I’m not wild about some of their later releases (Chance, I’m looking at you) but I love the Les Exclusifs and some of the others, and it’s marvelous that they have Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake on tap.

  11. Robin R. says:

    A great read from start to finish, Angela. Thanks!

    Just thought I’d get out my two Chanel Cuirs de Russie — the first the Les Exclusifs re-issue; the second vintage parfum, probably from the seventies — and see how they’re different.

    Hmmm. The difference is quite significant.

    The Les Exclusifs has that vegetal iris you mention, and a rather unisex, if not downright masculine feel: quiet on the floral notes, with firm, dry, leathery base notes.

    The vintage parfum, on the other hand, is equal measures floral and leather. A very creamy ylang pairs with an iris that is more buttery and less vegetal. The base is richer and sweeter, with more amber and vanilla surrounding the leather. The leather itself is a different leather note than the Les Exclusifs; it is less fresh-from-the-tannery, more well-worn. It is more feminine, to my nose, than the Les Exclusifs, but a man could easily wear it.

    The vintage isn’t impossible to find, and leather lovers might want to keep their eye out for it on eBay. I expect you have the vintage version, too, Angela. What do you think of it?

    • Robin R. says:

      Just to qualify further: if not from the seventies, the parfum I have is from the sixites, i.e., definitely pre-eighties-reformulation.

    • Angela says:

      Thanks for the comparison! In my dreams I have the vintage version. In real life I don’t. You sure make it sound wonderful and full-bodied, and I will definitely keep my eyes open for some.

      • Robin R. says:

        You always seem to be very good at finding vintage bottles, Angela. You were just born with the knack, I think. ;-)

        • Angela says:

          We BOTH must have that knack.

    • Filomena says:

      Another great review Angela!
      Last year I was lucky enough to get an unopened bottle of Cuir de Russie perfume from ebay. I already had the Exclusif. I’m not sure what vintage the extract is. I also have Bois des Iles in Exclusif form and in extract. To me, the Exclusifs just seem like a less potent version of the perfumes. Both scents are among my very favorites and I think they have the same feel.

      • Angela says:

        That’s good to know. Sometimes the extrait is so different. Thanks for chiming in!

  12. RusticDove says:

    Another wonderful review Angela, such an enjoyable read! I have only tried one of the Exclusifs, Coromandel, and that was a better fit for my husband [I got him a FB and I LOVE that it's become his favorite fragrance]. Anyway, I want to try all of these eventually – wish I had a Chanel Boutique nearby.

    • boojum says:

      No boutique for me, but my Nordstroms has the line…have you checked there?

      • RusticDove says:

        My Nordie’s doesn’t have the line. :-(

        • Angela says:

          My Nordstrom didn’t have them for a long time, but just started carrying them late this summer, so maybe there’s hope for yours.

        • Joe says:

          Rustic: Isn’t it crazy that some Nordies (including mine in Santa Barbara, for goodness sakes!) don’t carry Les Exclusifs but do manage to find shelf space for the D&G Anthology?

          • Daisy says:

            I got the chance to do sniffies on the D&G Anthology line last week —totally underwhelming. There wasn’t a single one that I was willing to let near my skin. Very disappointing. :-(

          • RusticDove says:

            You got that right Joe – what’s up with that?!

    • Angela says:

      Oh, I think they’re all worth trying, for sure.

  13. Joe says:

    I love that original PR copy and wish that kind of talent was apparent in more present-day press packets for fragrance launches.

    CdR is terrific and is the scent (along with Diorling!) that made me appreciate how subtly appealing an elegant leather can be… since leather, frankly, still scares me a bit. I laughed last week when Robin referenced your “Stages of Perfumista” and I reread the bit about when one can tell the difference between kidglove leather and saddle leather; CdR instantly made me think of the most well-made calfskin gloves when I first sniffed it. It’s exactly the kind of scent I would want to wear to a “fancy” lunch on a winter daytrip to New York City.

    • Joe says:

      Since color’s been mentioned, the gloves I envision are a chestnut brown, definitely not black. I was also wondering earlier this morning when I noticed your post what particularly links leather and Russia? I need to do some googling.

      • Daisy says:

        Absolutely! chestnut brown driving gloves in my (imaginary) British Racing Green Jaguar…..and I’m zipping down nicely paved English country lanes (sans sheep) and it’s late summer/early fall….fluffy white clouds….sigh, no laundry anywhere…..and I smell GREAT! :-)

        • AnnS says:

          You forgot your long white scarf blowing in the wind. And the CEO. And the martini bar in the dash….

          • Angela says:

            Be careful with that long scarf! (Thinking of Isadora Duncan.)

          • Joe says:

            That’s always my first thought too. In the new film “Amelia” there’s a scene of Amelia Earhart/Hilary Swank in a convertible and a scarf, and I thought, “didn’t she hear of Isadora?”

          • Daisy says:

            No scarf, but I’ve got very cool sunglasses….and the CEO, he was busy….. so I’ve got Hugh Jackman with me!

          • RusticDove says:

            The mention of Isadora Duncan made me think of a cute little mini I have, I think from the late 70′s, of Isadora Duncan perfume. It features a nude Isadora for the stopper. It’s cool. Don’t remember if I liked the juice – it has gone sour & I definitely don’t care for it now so the bottle is decoration.

      • Joe says:

        In the course of my research, I discovered that Demeter sells a Russian Leather. No, I’m not expecting an experience quite like CdR, but has anyone tried it?

      • Angela says:

        I agree. Chestnut is perfect.

    • AnnS says:

      Hi Joe – I have trouble with leather too. It needs to be really soft and in a broad supporting role… I like the soft hint of leather in Mitsouko or Vol de Nuit. or Arpege…. And, I can *already* tell the difference between rawhide, baseball mitt leather, saddle leather, soft fine leather gloves…. I didn’t need to be a perfumista to do that! Oh, I used to love rubbing saddlesoap into my softball mitt!!!

      I must confess that I busted out my own sample of Cuir de Russe thinking I should give it another shot after reading this review. Here come the tomatoes, and I apologize… but to me it smells like new and used work boots and faded flowers… Gak. I’m just not a leather gal! More for the rest of you!!

      • Joe says:

        Haha… love it, Ann! Actually, work boots and flowers sounds nice somehow.

        You reminded me (and I hope Angela chimes in with her impressions) that I’ve often wondered how much of the effect I love from Sikkim is from leather and how much is chypre/moss. I’ve read that it’s described as a leather sometimes, but since it’s such a complex scent, I don’t know how much of that leather I’m getting. In any case, I love it, and if it’s a leather, so be it!

        • AnnS says:

          Ive never even considered any kind of leather accord in Sikkim. Hm. I’ll have to retest it. It is such a major oriental, I’d not thought of it.

          I do however, like the suede note in that Donna Karan Signature which I think is pretty neat – a suede oriental….

        • Angela says:

          I’m going to go put on some Sikkim then get back to you…

        • Angela says:

          O.K., I’ve had Sikkim on for an hour or so now, and I get more leather from it than moss. A little fizzy aldehyde and spice, too. Nice warm moss is there, but definitely leather…

      • Angela says:

        No iris? I got a lot of that turnip-y iris. But you’re right–more for us!

    • Angela says:

      I love the idea of a fancy winter New York lunch with Cuir de Russie. Let’s do it!

      • Joe says:

        Haha. I’ll be there in December. The Palm Court of the Plaza sounded perfect but I just learned it’s being renovated and won’t reopen until after January. A shame. ;)

        • Angela says:

          Maybe the Oak Room, then?

  14. mals86 says:

    Hm. My sample of CdR came from TPC, so I’m not sure if it was Les Exclusifs or not. I’m not a huge leather fan, but I don’t avoid it. Jolie Madame is lovely, although I have to find the right weather (cool and slightly wet), or it’s distracting rather than enjoyable. I love love love the leather in the base of vintage No. 19. And I get a lot of leather out of Tabac Aurea (mmm!).

    I tend to like classic aldehydic Chanels. So I was rather shocked to find the early stage of Cuir de Russie so unpleasant. It smelled, to me, just like our cattle working pens: dirt, dry manure, and cowhide. Raw cowhide, not napa leather gloves! Eek. Eventually it settled down to that smooth iris, but I just couldn’t get over that rawhide opening.

    • RusticDove says:

      Oy – dirt, manure and raw cowhide. EEK is right!!

      • Angela says:

        That sounds good to me (but my father shoes horses for a living, so there you go).

        • RusticDove says:

          I love horses [though I haven't ridden in, well, many years], all the tack & leather smells are just fine and and the smell of manure fertilizer for gardening is cool – but I just don’t want it in my perfume!

          • Angela says:

            I guess I can see that!

        • miss kitty v. says:

          That’s too funny. I love the smell of horses. I always joke that if you smell like horse I’ll follow you around all day. It’s been about twenty years since I had a horse, and mine was as evil as the day is long, but I still have such a soft spot for them. I do think they smell wonderful, and all that goes with them–saddle leather, hay, grain, hoof cream. All comfort smells in my book.

          • Joe says:

            I used to help my aunt muck stables and feed horses at a racetrack and all the associated scents are kind of nice to me too, especially straw, hay, and sweet-feed!

          • Angela says:

            I used to like how my dad smelled after shoeing horses: horses, hay, and the big leather apron he wore.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Angela – can I ask what type of horses and where? Racetrack? Farm? I’m in central Ky. and work in the Thoroughbred industry, so we really appreciate the talents of a good blacksmith!

          • Angela says:

            He’s in Montana and due to his age and bad back probably shouldn’t be shoeing at all these days. He’s really good, though–does therapeutic shoeing and has an amazing rapport with animals.

          • Rappleyea says:

            I LOVE Montana and would move there in a heartbeat! I’ve got a friend up in Kallspell who does three day eventing. I think most blacksmiths end up with bad backs.

          • mals86 says:

            No, no, no, no, it doesn’t smell like horses and tack leather! Very different smells… I mean CdR smells like OUR working pens. Cattle on the hoof, with their dusty-smelling fur/hair/whathaveyou + raw untanned hides + dry manure. NOT NICE. NOT HORSELIKE AT ALL.

            Of course, it may just be me, I realize that…

    • AnnS says:

      Yes! Mals! Yes! I almost said “horse barn” (not manure mind you) above in my comments to Joe! It was just so harsh and like rawhide. I said new and used workboots, you know what I mean! I used to live near barns and the smell of old harnesses and farm equipment, yes!

    • Angela says:

      I wonder if the weediness of the iris was part of what put you off? I smell it right off the top of the scent, blended with leather.

      • mals86 says:

        It’s definitely the leather. I would characterize the iris, at the start, as sort of rooty before it settles down, and it’s not a favorite note of mine – but it’s the suggestion of hides that’s just killing me. I expected it to smell like gloves, or a nice purse, but it *just doesn’t.* ACK.

        We lost another calf last week – it’s been a bad year for calves getting sick, that’s the third sick one we bottle-fed and lost to illness anyway. My youngest kid was really upset – he’d named that one Alex. Davy and Beth, however, are still doing fine. They’ll get turned out with the other calves their age in a couple of weeks when it’s weaning time. Mama cows will go into one field, calves in the one next to it, so they can bawl at each other across the fence for a couple of days… then the cows start thinking, “Hey, not having a baby follow me around is kind of nice…” and wander off. By then, the calves figure out that this grass stuff tastes pretty good, and they wander off too.

        • Angela says:

          I love the scene of the mamas on one side and babies on the other side making noise at each other. I’m sorry about the baby who didn’t make it, though. I’m so far away from rural life these days, but a part of me misses it.

    • Angela says:

      You’re a connoisseur of barnyard smells! I love it that you guys know your cow barn smell from your horse barn smell.

  15. melisand61 says:

    Loving the leathers this fall! I agree with others who crave Cuir de Russie in extrait. Smoother, rounder and oh-so-beautiful. (And pricey!)

    There are so many delicious ways to serve up leather scents too. Mentally running through some of my favorites, vintage Miss Dior (chypre-leather), Tabac blond (smoky leather), Prada Cuir Ambre (oriental leather) Cuir de Russie (fine glove leather), and Lancome Cuir (on me, slighty drier, but sweeter glove leather) really highlights the range of what we call leather scents. And I’m leaving off the truly “butch” leathers, which I find fascinating but hard to wear. Maybe I’ll have a leather week soon. And add suedes to the mix for a full seven days! (Daim Blond joins the lineup).

    • Angela says:

      Vintage Miss Dior is one of my favorite scents in the world–and you’re right, the leather is fabulous.

    • CynthiaW says:

      *sigh*
      I really hope that I love the CdR from the Exclusifs line since I just went in on a split (Hi, Daisy!), but no you guys are making me afraid since I really, really love my sample of the extrait that I’m not going to love the Exclusif as much. I really have to stop sampling extrait unless I’m willing to lay down the cash for it – it just leads to heartbreak.

      • Angela says:

        It can, it can. Lead to heartbreak, that is. But sometimes it really is nicer to have the EdT to spritz with abandon.

        • CynthiaW says:

          I do enjoy spritzing with abandon – and I don’t have to worry about ending up “overscented” that way. Plus, there are some scents that I prefer in edt concentration – like Jicky.

          • Angela says:

            So true! It seems like Cuir de Russie is light enough to get away with lots of spritzing.

  16. 2scents says:

    Reading all this makes me wonder about the provenance of my edt decant. I purchased it from “Fragrant Fripperies” well prior to the Exclusifs launch. I adore it but do find it too animalic for warmer weather. Wearing it to work makes me feel like I have a secret.

    • Angela says:

      That sounds kind of nice!

  17. air says:

    I thought I would never get intrigued by EL perfumes but I am thrilled after reading all this to go and find out how Azuree smells.
    Cuir de Russie has also escaped my nose so far but not for long!
    One more interesting leather is Armani prive Cuir Amethyst, some blogs have negative reviews but I find it quite intriguing, it’s discreet and sweet and powdery skin scent, and there is a sentual note somewhere…. ringing a bell. Anyhow it’s worth trying. And I thought Bal a Vertailles had a quite strong leather note, too.
    Cuir Ottoman has bewitched me one and a half year a go. Someone visiting me was wearing CO and the whole starcase was full of this amazing fragrance. Short after my until then controled perfume mania seized me for good :) I thought if such a perfume exists then it’s a lot still to experience in life!

    • RusticDove says:

      Bal a Versailles is a classsic great scent. Love it.

      • AnnS says:

        Yes – me too! Totally wonderful stuff.

    • Angela says:

      Nice! It sounds like you really like leather scents. Bal a Versailles was the first scent I put on this morning, in fact!

  18. bookgirl says:

    I am so happy today is a Cuir de Russie day, because it’s the latest scent I have sampled and have subsequently fallen head-over-heels in love with it. My little sample is from TPC, but methinks a bottle is in order, that is how much my love has grown for this scent–in a relatively short amount of time, too!

    • bookgirl says:

      By the way, did anyone else imagine Lady Brett Ashley from The Sun Also Rises after reading the copy for CdR?

      • Angela says:

        Brilliant! For some reason I think of her as a blond, though.

    • Angela says:

      Get a bottle and use it profligately! It’s the sort of scent that can be sprayed all over, too–on the curtains, in your coat, in the car.

  19. Jared says:

    Out of all leathers, this is the only one left that I will try. It seems leather is the note that I just can’t handle. I tried Onda yesterday, and while I can tell it’s quite well done, the leather is just too much. I have high hopes that CdR will be an acceptable leather for me. However, I’m thinking my Patchouli 24 may just be an anomaly, as I love it beyond measure! I just know in my heart that CdR won’t let me down!

    • Angela says:

      Onda is a beast. A magnificent, passion-laden beast, but a beast nevertheless. And it’s loaded with vetiver, which changes the leather, I think. Cuir de Russie is on the other end of the leather spectrum.

    • Zazie says:

      Please try Cuir Ottoman, by Parfums d’empire.
      It is beautiful and easy to love!

      • Angela says:

        I second that!

        • Jared says:

          Oh ok! I forget about that line. And yeah, Onda is a beast! That vetiver did some crazy things to the leather. I keep getting a “gasoline” kind of smell when leather is used with things, as in Aoud Leather by Montale. I wonder if it has to do with which kind of leather is used- the birch tar or the synthetic? And I can’t imagine Chanel doing anything that would be over the top- Chanels always seem to be restrained and just right, as in the patchouli they do for Coromandel (an absolute favorite of mine).

          • Angela says:

            Onda is a world of its own. And you’re right–I can’t think of any crazy Chanels! Maybe No. 5 seemed a little crazy in its day, but not now.

  20. Zazie says:

    Cuir de Russie, as Bois des iles, is one of those iconic perfumes one dreams about without having ever taken a sniff.
    As it often happens with me, placing the expectation bar too high means big deception.
    I mean CdR and BdI edt are elegant and refined and… thin and a bit boring. At elast for me. Maybe the uber-rare extrait is another story. Having never smelled the vintage versions, I don’t even have a handsome ghost to recognize in the new, very diluted, edt…
    I think the line between elegant and austere/ dull and lustless is too easily crossed.
    However, I love CdR on my husband. I think CDR’s (boring) simplicity becomes pure perfection on a man, with its slightly feminine notes and restrained quality.
    For me, not enough of a kick. For simple chanel elegance, I’ll stick to Sycomore.

    • Angela says:

      Sycomore is pretty terrific. Why not leave the Cuir de Russie for your husband, then? Together you two must smell great!

      • Zazie says:

        I do leave the CDR mini for him.
        And the BdI (but he doesn’t want that one: we both prefer Corso Como or Tam Dao, as far as sandalwood is concerned…)
        But he keeps on stealing my Sycomore…
        I think that is the one he likes best.

        • Angela says:

          At least when two people are using it, buying one of those giant Les Exclusifs bottles seems justified.

  21. zaheer says:

    I enjoyed the copy for this perfume, i remember my mother buying this fragrance at a Duty Free, it wasn’t that special to smel at the time (BUT I WAS 5) my nose had not developed to appreciate art.

    I must give this a sniff the next time i come across it..

    • Angela says:

      Too bad your mother’s old bottle isn’t around somewhere to smell. I wonder if smelling Cuir de Russie now will bring back memories.

  22. Absolute Scentualist says:

    What an inspiring review, Angela. The only leatherish frags I’ve tried are SL’s Daim Blond, Caron’s Narcisse Noir and Indult’s Reve en Cuir. I liked all three and have been wanting to try this and Cuir de Lancome for quite a while. I’m also intrigued by Lubin’s Cuir de Russie. It’s the perfect time of year for such frags and everyone can do with a bit of sexy mystery now and then.

    • Angela says:

      Gosh, there’s lots of leather-scented ground for you to cover! What did you think of the Indult? I haven’t tried it and am afraid to, it’s so darned expensive.

  23. lynetteb says:

    Sounds wonderful!

    • Angela says:

      Try it and let me know what you think!

  24. Absolute Scentualist says:

    It’s been a while and I’ll have to dig out my sample again to give it another go, but while it was a pretty luscious and soft leather, I didn’t think it warranted the price so I didn’t really pour it on in case I actually changed my mind. ;) I liked Daim Blonde much more. It had more of a subtle yet assured quality and better lasting power if I recall correctly. Indultt’s was lovely, but I wasn’t willing to pay so much for such a small amount of perfume that didn’t make me instantly fall head over heels unlike the two other Indult bottles I purchased. It did have some nice spice to it, though.

    • Angela says:

      Daim Blond is very nice. It’s worth exploring different leathers to see what you like, just as you did.

  25. fleurdelys says:

    Although I’m a leather-lover, I was disappointed in Cuir de Russie. The Chanels and I don’t get along anyway. I had to close my eyes and concentrate really hard to pick any leather out of it. Though maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t have a jones for it, as it’s so expensive and hard to find. Cuir de Lancome didn’t do anything for me either. But I love that screamin’ banshee Bandit, the vegetal Azuree, and the used-saddle note in Bal a Versailles and Dzing!. I recently acquired some vintage Miss Dior bath oil, and like that too. Although Kelly Caleche isn’t FB-worthy, I do like that powdery leather smell like the bottom of a handbag.

    • Angela says:

      You like leathers with real personality!

      • fleurdelys says:

        You got that right – I like my leathers to have MAJOR attitude problems! ;-)

  26. Pimpinett says:

    Dorothy L. Sayers worked as a copywriter for a number of years in the 1920′s and 30′s. I wouldn’t be surprised if other novelists did too, so why not? :D

    • Angela says:

      Someone should do a collection of copy from novelists. I’d read what Sayers wrote for sure.

  27. SiameseCat says:

    I still hope to try this.
    But I have a question about the reformulations. Does anyone know or feel that Allure has changed?
    I first bought it early in 2003 as EDP. It was a dream, on me it was like a cross between gingerbread and Earl Grey tea. Spicy, slightly fruity but elusive.
    Now it’s more like a sickly floral scent. The drydown is particularly bad. I even tried the EDT, slightly better but not as I know it.
    I know it’s not question of changing body chemistry or taste. I also tried it in different types of climate. It just no longer works.
    Any chance the Parfum might work? There are usually no testers for that. I have a sample of it. But if it’s a few years old, that might have changed too?
    I’d love to solve this, this scent was so special once.

    I must be strange, but Chance feels more masculine to me than any other Chanel. I love it for that (minus the pink packaging).

    • Angela says:

      I don’t know if Allure has been reformulated or not over the past 6 years, or how, if it has. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it has. I hope you’re able to recapture the Allure magic you remember, whether it’s through the parfum or finding an old bottle.

  28. Noahk says:

    Thank you Angela, for a great great review..I love Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles. I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was so sure, that those to edts were so familiar. I think they are very different. I love the sandalwood is strong in BdI and the irish and leather notes are very well blended in CdR. I love to wear both scents, and have done it for years. The great thing about the Les Exclusifs de Chanel, is that they come in large bottles and u have it for a pretty long time. All though, they’re expensive. I just wonder why they don’t make them in edp versions. That would be amazing. Coz when u take the edt of BdI and the perfume version and sniff at them both, it would be great to mix them. But I think that Chanel are not in the mood for do an edp version of all the Les Exclusifs . I would love that more from that line was edp versions, coz they seems to fade quick, like 18 or Gardenia. But CdR and BdI still stands out and on me, the edt versions are strong enough , so I can still smell them, when I am off to bed.

    • Angela says:

      Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie are probably my favorite of the Chanels, too. I find them distinctly different, although they both smell like “Chanel”. I’m glad you enjoy them!

  29. Noahk says:

    I really enjoy them very much. And yes, they smell very Chanel. But so different from what they have on the mass market. I am not very happy about Chance and Coco M. I mean, they smell okay, but they’re to many that are using them and peeps seems to over do it. Chanel’s scents are very strong, even in the edt version. But I like that u still can get the classics like Bdl and CdR…I would be so dissapointed, if they woulsn’t let us have them any more. I just wish they was more easy to buy. I have to have friends in Paris and Holland, to buy them for me, when they are only sold at Chanel’s own boutiques.

    • Angela says:

      I like the classic Chanels, too, although I with Cuir and Bois des Iles were a little more potent!

  30. lornaw says:

    i did note that chanel has some freestanding perfume boutiques in duty frees and also in selfridges in london, there is one in terminal 3 heathrow and also terminal 5. I tried this after my favourite leather cuir de russie by LT Piver had vanilla put in it and very much changed. I adore it but its very costly so i get an occasional bottle as a treat , everyday stuff is guerlain

    • Angela says:

      It definitely is a treat, but at least the bottle is so darned large that it lasts a while.

      • mackadorable says:

        Hi.
        First comment on this site. I love the smell of leather and fell in love with an article written in last month’s Vogue about Cuir de Russie. It began with a description of the writer getting her perfume out of the kitchen, situated next to her whisky – decanted, of course. Her heating had failed due to extreme temperatures, she took a sip of pure whiskey and it slowly burned the back of her throat (a traditional Scottish way of keeping warm in Winter), She then layered her perfume and put on her furs and headed off into the night. It totally did it for me. I could almost smell her and see her leaving her house.

        I fell in love with fragrances when I was very young and to me, they were more important than the clothes I wore. Today, my nose is not as good, but I want to fall in love with a fragrance all over again. There are too many frangrances out there nowadays that basically have one smell and then thats it. Nothing to distinguish them from any other.

        I would love to purchase this fragrance, but, I would prefer the perfume extrait. Is this possible?
        If so, where?
        I gather that it is very difficult to obtain.

        • Angela says:

          Welcome to the site!

          I love the story you told about the cold and the whiskey and the perfume. Cuir de Russie parfum is difficult to get, but not impossible. You can order it from the Chanel boutique on rue Cambon, I’m pretty sure, and it may be available at other Chanel boutiques. In the meantime, you might want to sample some other leather fragrances to fill the gap while you wait: Caron Tabac Blond, Knize Ten, Piguet Bandit, Cuir de Lancome are some good ones.

  31. Lise says:

    Spending the weekend in London with my husband. Just bought a bottle of this beauty. Dekadent and elegant! I’m in love

    • Angela says:

      And I’m jealous! Enjoy every drop of that bottle.

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