Leather fragrances 101

Embossed leather

Few fragrances marry butch and elegance as well as a good leather. For the most part, leather is easy to smell in perfume. Think of Caron Tabac Blond, for instance. It’s a snootful of sweet, oily leather. But sometimes leather weaves itself more cleverly into a fragrance and, if you’re expecting a true saddle leather, might not be obvious at first. Bottega Veneta is an example of a leather fragrance with less blatant, but still very present, leather note. 

I thought it would be helpful to run through some of the different ways leather can star in a fragrance — a sort of “Leather 101.”

Birch tar-loaded “Russian” leather: This is what most people think of when they think “leather perfume.” Birch tar on its own is smoky, burnt, and leathery as a slab of oil-rubbed hide. It’s a powerful note. Sometimes it’s left seemingly untouched in a strong leather fragrance (Knize Ten), and sometimes it’s complemented by something equally assertive (the sharp galbanum in Bandit). Examples include Caron Tabac Blond, Knize Ten, Xerjoff Homme, Robert Piguet Bandit, Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories.

Warm, spicy leather: Spice smooths leather’s edges and lifts it from the auto mechanic’s shop. Cardamom, sweet liquor, tobacco, and sandalwood, for example, almost seem to lighten leather, making it more supple and warm on skin. This is a friendly but still truly “leathery” way to wear leather. Examples include Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Cuir Fétiche, Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque, Armani Privé Cuir Amethyste, Hermès Bel Ami.

Elegant “purse” or “shoe” leather: Birch tar-inflected leather still stars in these fragrances, but it’s thinned with aldehydes, oak moss, aristocratic flowers like iris, and sometimes the curiously graceful funk of castoreum. Examples include Chanel Cuir de Russie, Christian Dior Diorling, Lanvin Scandal, Parfums Grès Cabochard.

Patent leather: Patent leather takes oily leather and adds a plastic sheen that makes the leather smell shiny and almost synthetic. I can’t think of any purely patent leather fragrances, but the note slices through a number of fragrances, intentionally or not. Often it’s a heart note that fades as the fragrance settles. Examples include Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue.

Suede: Suede can be tricky for some new perfume lovers to suss out. To me, suede smells of dry leather, apricots, and salt. Parfums DelRae Mythique is an almost naked, iris-washed suede. Bottega Veneta wets its suede with apricot and patchouli. (I love suede. If you have examples of more suede-laden fragrances, please note them in the comments!) Examples include Parfums DelRae Mythique, Serge Lutens Daim Blond, Bottega Veneta.

The oddballs: Some leather fragrances are more difficult to classify — and sometimes more difficult to identify leather notes because of it — but still wonderful. Examples: Vero Profumo Onda (the leather almost smells blended with marjoram and oily mud — delicious), Estée Lauder Azurée (crisp lemony leather), L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing! (sawdust and dry leather), Miller Harris L’Air de Rien (dry, almost fecal leather).

Can leather be a challenging note for you to identify? What would you add to my list?

Note: top image is Embossed leather [cropped] by elineart at flickr; some rights reserved.

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199 Comments

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  1. lucasai says:

    Generally speaking I’m not a fan of leather fragrances but there was something very captivating in Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman that I bought a bottle by the end of last year. I also find Chanel Cuir de Russie very interesting, although more feminine.

    • lucasai says:

      PS. And a funny thing is that just today I reviewed Cuir Ottoman at my Chemist in the Bottle :)

    • Angela says:

      Cuir Ottoman to me is just like weather a big warm blanket! So nice in the winter.

  2. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Wonderful article, Angela, and a great reference list! I’m bookmarking this one for sure.

    In the floral shoe/glove/handbag category, I’d add Cuir de Lancome.

    For odd, Bvlgari Black goes a bit leather/powder on me after the rubbry top notes die down. YSL Parisienne seems to have some of that patent leather/synthetic feel to me, too.

    For sweet and almost gourmand suede, I’d add L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore, Guerlain Iris Ganache and Cuir Beluga.

    I also believe there’s a Montale that’s straight up new leather vest, but I can’t recall it at the moment.

    • OhLily says:

      Oh, thank you for the reminder! With so many fans of the Lancome, I should really put that on my list for a better try. For some reason I have to spray(unless it’s parfum/extrait) to get a complete sense of how a fragrance ‘works’ for me, so I’m always revising my need to sample via spray list.

      • Angela says:

        Spraying really does make a difference–you’re so right. I feel hampered when I have to review something I can’t spray.

        Cuir de Lancome is a good one, though.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Definitely Cuir Beluga!

      • Angela says:

        Can you believe I’ve never tried it?

        • Rappleyea says:

          Think L’Heure Bleue with suede instead of anise.

          • Angela says:

            Intriguing!

        • Lys says:

          I don’t like how simplisticly Cuir Beluga dries down on my skin but the opening is fun with a lot of suede from the start. Some people say the leather is non-existant in CB but I get a lot in the opening. It does however disappear on my skin.

          • Angela says:

            I think a lot of people can’t really pick out leather. That, and leather isn’t always a long-lasting note.

    • Angela says:

      Those are some great additions! I had Cuir de Lancome on my list to add, but I must have left it out of the review by accident. I agree with purse/show leather, maybe with a hint of warm/spicy.

  3. irisfreak says:

    To me, Cuir de Russie is still the Rolls Royce (classic upholstered interior luxe car smell) of them all.

    • Angela says:

      I love it, too! I’ve never smelled the inside of a Rolls Royce, but Cuir de Russie sounds good to me.

    • hollyc says:

      Yes IrisFreak. When I want rich, classic leather with floral and animalic notes, I don’t think twice, it’s CdR all the way. And strangely, I reach more often for the EdT than the parfum, but both are stunning and beyond reproach. Angela, I would add Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleurs, delicate violet and restrained leather. I would also add Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Black Leather Jacket. Pure, pure, pure, new leather shoes just out of the box. When I needs me some biker bad girl leather that’s where I go! Her Cuir et Champignon is also exceptional. Your reviews always go where my pocket book has been!

      • irisfreak says:

        idn’t know Cuir de Russie came as EdeT!! Hard to imagine it as sheer… Must try…

        • hollyc says:

          One of the reasons I more often reach for the EdT is that it’s anything but sheer. I find it has a lot more sillage and heft than the rich but very close wearing extrait. It also has more edginess and leatheriness. Do try it. If you want your CdR to pack a punch I find it the way to go. Would love to know what you think.

          • Angela says:

            I second you on the EdT. My decant is running out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a full bottle were on my horizon.

          • Rappleyea says:

            I agree with Hollyc and Angela. I think of the parfum as the edt with a Guerlinade base!

      • Angela says:

        I’m writing those names down! I haven’t smelled all the leather I should, and those sound great.

  4. OhLily says:

    I always love reading your articles and reviews, Angela! I’ll confess – I’m a total fool for galbanum. I’m a big fan of the Bandit I had in the 80′s and of the Cabochard one of my besties wore in the 70′s, but I’ve not smelled the current versions of either. I’m still dipping my toes slowly into niche(starting with my beloved green florals and chypres) so I have no clue as to many of the current ones mentioned.

    One of my top ‘any time’ scents is Kelly Caleche edp. To me it’s a really lovely ‘suede-y’ floral, but I well may be a wee bit touched because many people reference smelling tuberose and I get no hint of it at all. And tuberose really, REALLY, hates me, lol!

    Have I totally gone around the proverbial bend or is the still some life left in my aging sniffer? :D

    • prism says:

      i’ll join the chorus for Kelly Caleche. it’s a wonderfully floral leather.

      • Angela says:

        I’m going to have to get out my sample. It’s been a while!

    • Angela says:

      You sound very perceptive to me! Kelly Caleche is a good addition, too. Its leather is a little trickier to pick out, but it’s there.

    • Lys says:

      @OhLily I like your new gravatar.

      • OhLily says:

        Thank you, Lys – I’m a sucker for vintage fragrance/cosmetics ads! Always loved the Chantilly ones in my tweens, but sadly the fragrance itself never worked on me. :)

  5. mals86 says:

    I’m a leather wimp. Though I like Cuir Ottoman, and adore Jolie Madame and Cuir de Lancome, leather’s often too forthright for me. I can’t wear Cuir de Russie at all – it smells too much like our cattle working pens. But I barely got any leather out of Bottega Veneta.

    Where’s Cuir de Lancome in your list? Thought you liked that one.

    • Angela says:

      I do like that one! I’m not sure how I left it out.

    • irisfreak says:

      Dang! Those must be sweet-smelling cows with expensive taste!

      • Angela says:

        They’re Chanel’s cows!

      • mals86 says:

        Uh, no. No, they’re not. CdR is all dust and dry manure and rawhide and iodine and fear, to me.

        • hollyc says:

          You say that like it’s a bad thing!:)

          • Angela says:

            You think like I do!

  6. Erin says:

    In, I *think*, the floral shoe/handbag category – but with an outdoor tinge – there’s Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur, which is so pretty! (And for a men’s fragrance, too – or is it labelled unisex? I can’t remember.) For vinyl, patent leather or synthetic, I often think of my beloved S-eX — I say “Essex” in my head, so that doesn’t sound smutty. And I often think Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan has that touch of suede, but maybe it’s because of the tea and apricot combo.

    Must just add, randomly, I love Azuree – and my bottle is all thanks to you. Maybe I like leather and/or suede more than I thought: these four fragrances are among my favorites.

    • Angela says:

      Those are some good ones, thanks!

      I love Azuree, too. I forget about it for months at a time, then pull it out and wear it for days straight. It’s kind of a freaky little scent.

      • ggperfume says:

        Azuree lasts forever on clothes, too, so you have to make your clothing choices accordingly. If you want to wear that shirt another time before laundering, you’ll have to wear Azuree again too!

  7. Rappleyea says:

    What a lovely leather primer. Thanks, Angela! I have none to add – it’s not my favorite note, although there are a few that I do love (Cuir de Russie and Cuir Ottoman to name a couple). It’s a note that is very obvious to my nose, almost too much so.

    But reading your list, I realize that I have never (gasp!) tried the Caron, and I know it’s a classic. Must remedy soon.

    • Angela says:

      All the sweet tobacco in Tabac Blond makes it go down easier. I’d love to know what you think of it!

  8. Karin says:

    My current favorite leather – Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre.

    • Angela says:

      Oh, you’re killing me! I’ve been on the fence about buying a decant of that one, and I just may have to cave in.

      • Karin says:

        The sample set is really great. I love all three of the Ann Gerard scents. 9 ml of each for $65 at Luckyscent. (

        • Karin says:

          Oh sorry! Hit some weird combo of keystrokes that published my comment before I was finished. Meant to say – (If you need an extra push). ;-)

        • Angela says:

          It’s too late now! I bought into a split. 10 ml will be coming my way soon.

          • Karin says:

            That’s awesome! Hope you love it.

    • Lys says:

      I’m finally getting a sample, this week!

      • Angela says:

        I’d love to know what you think of it!

    • dilettante perfumista says:

      love it too! I devoured my sample and just got in on a split! I think all 3 are well done, but cuir is the best of the ann gerard scents.

  9. I like your categories, Angela. Like mais86, I”m a leather wimp. Love to smell them can’t wear them. Bottega Venta is about as far as I go. And Cuir Beluga–but let’s face it, that’s more of a microfiber.

    • Angela says:

      There are lots of fragrances I love to smell, too, but just can’t wear–or wear for long, at least. Tuberose is right up there.

      • Rappleyea says:

        I think that would be a great Lazy Poll question: what scents do you love to smell but can’t/don’t wear??

        • What a great idea!

        • Angela says:

          Good idea! I bet everyone has at least one.

          • ggperfume says:

            Yes, let’s make this a poll!

    • dilettante perfumista says:

      lol, “microfiber”!

  10. Annikky says:

    I know it is really uncool to be worried about one’s “perfume cool” but there is no denying it – when my perfume interest started, I was seriously worried that I am not going to like leather. And then of course the first one I smelled was Bandit, not the easiest one to start with. But to my surprise, it has turned out I love, love leather (the other side of the coin is that I also turned out to love violet. Don’t think there is anything less cool than violet).

    My favourites are Cuir de Russie, Arquiste Aleksandr (leather AND violet), Ramon Monegal Mon Cuir, SL Cuir Mauresque and ELDO The Afternoon of A Faun (worn, library room leather).

    To your excellent examples, I would add Mona di Orio Cuir (tar), Kerosene Whips & Roses (patent) and Naomi Goodsir Cuir Velours (suede).

    Thank you for covering my current obsession.

    • Angela says:

      Thank YOU for adding your favorites! I recently tried the Mona di Orio Cuir and thought it smelled like a leather ashtray–and I have to say, I loved it. I still need to try the ELDO, too.

      For a cool violet (I love violet, too, by the way) be sure to try the CdG Stephen Jones.

      • Annikky says:

        Leather isn’t dominant in Faun, but it is there and it’s a lovely fragrance, so I felt compelled to include it. And although they don’t smell alike, Olfactive Studio’s Chambre Noire is kind of in the same territory for me – a well done, well-blended fragrance with a nice leather note.

        Thanks for mentioning Stephen Jones, it sounds absolutely perfect to me.

        • Angela says:

          Somehow I’ve gotten behind on the ELDOs, but really the Faun one sounds so good.

      • Annikky says:

        Oh, Angela, regarding suede: have you tried Keiko Mecheri’s Cuir Cordoba? I have my issues with this line, but I do find Cuir Cordoba a very pretty, easy-to-wear suede-y leather.

        • Angela says:

          No, I haven’t tried that one. But it definitely goes on my list–thank you!

    • Ari says:

      Afternoon of a Faun is an excellent addition! So unusual and wonderful. If it was available in the 50 ml size, I would already own it.

      • Annikky says:

        I have only now realised the sad truth about the absence of 50 ml bottle :( Do you think they’ll have one in the future?

        • Ari says:

          No idea, Annicky. We should have bought the 10 ml set from Parfum1 while we had the chance :(

      • Angela says:

        Now I really want to try it! Also, I had no idea they switched to the 100 ml size only. Dang.

        • Ari says:

          Angela, as far as I know, it’s only for these two scents. Fils de Dieu and Bijou Romantique were both available in 50 ml. (I will cry if they’re permanently switching to 100 ml only- the 50 ml were so well priced for niche!)

          • Angela says:

            I guess that’s some consolation, but still…

    • Emily says:

      Annikky, try Balmain Jolie Madame for leather and violet. It’s worth seeking out an older bottle if you can find a reliable source for vintage.

      • Annikky says:

        Hi, Emily – I am absolutely sure you are right and I would adore Jolie Madame. The thing is, I’m a bit scared of shopping vintage and have therefore nudged all older scents I need to try down on the list, no matter how tempting they are. But I don’t think I can resist any longer and will at least order a sample of Jolie Madame from TPC.

    • anarchkitty says:

      Second the Mona di Orio Cuir – smokey, then tobacco and leather. The floral note turn the tobacco into sweet pipe tobacco in the 2nd half, and it never loses the leather background either.
      Now I must go chase up a sample of the Aleksandr, that sounds lovely…. :o)

      • Annikky says:

        Aleksandr is lovely, but if you prefer your leather really strong (as in Mona di Orio), it might be too delicate for you. However, if you enjoy subtler leathers as well, I definitely recommend trying it. It is very wearable and works so well in the cold, although I may have been influenced by the backstory of Pushkin in St Petersburg winter…

        • anarchkitty says:

          Hi Annikky

          I enjoy the more subtle leathers too, as long as I can actually find the leather in them so it sounds as though this will be fine. The only problem I have is if they either turn too sweet on me, or are too floral or powdery. Bottega Veneta is a bit borderline for me that way, though I like the later stages a lot more than the opening. Unisex is often safer for me.

          Thank you for your help :o)

          • Angela says:

            The thing I find about BV is that you really have to like patchouli to wear it comfortably when it dries down–but then, my skin tends to patchouli-up everything.

  11. Abyss says:

    I’m a leather *fiend*. It’s a note that I adore and one of the reasons that I never tire of it is because there are seemingly endless variations on the theme so leather fragrances are rarely repetitive or boring to me. Vetiver, on the other hand, smells great but gets same-y pretty quickly.

    A couple of the leathers that, imo, deserve a mention would be:

    Miss Balmain in the elegant purse category. Leather bag, floral powder, a sneaky whiff of cigarettes. Completely overlooked and, imo, nicer than its more famous sister Jolie Madame.

    Dior Leather Oud in the oddballs category. Raw, animalic hide. Probably unwearable but great fun to sniff and giggle.

    PG Cuir Venenum also an oddball. LT points out that it smells like beer and it does! Bitter/tangy, unusual and, again, quite fun.

    • Angela says:

      Great additions! I adore Jolie Madame. Cuir Venenum is indeed an oddball–nice pick.

      • Abyss says:

        One day I’ll try to track down some vintage Jolie Madame. I’ve only ever tried whatever counted for the current version of it a couple of years ago and never seemed quite right to my nose.

        • Angela says:

          I’ve tried the vintage, and it’s wonderful, but really the version (mine is probably 5 years old) gets the idea across nicely, I think.

    • Lys says:

      Note to self, add Dior Leather Oud to decant wishlist. I like my leathers unsweetened.

      • Abyss says:

        A small sample with might be a safer option to begin with!

    • Emily says:

      I’m dying to try Miss Balmain — it sounds right up my alley, and I’ve almost caved to eBay vintage blind-buy temptation a number of times now. I do have an older bottle of Jolie Madame, which is just fantastic.

      I recently received a much-anticipated sample of Cuir Venenum, but it smelled like grape jelly on me. Wish I got what everyone else is smelling!

      • Abyss says:

        I swear I’ve seen someone else mention getting grape jelly from CV. I wonder if it’s a cultural thing since I’ve no idea what grape jelly is or what smells like so I probably don’t pick up on it. Unlike beer :D

        Miss Balmain is definitely worth trying. Once again, I’ve only tested the current version but I thought it was great if completely out of (mainstream) fashion.

        • Angela says:

          I completely forgot about Miss Balmain! I’d classify it with Cabochard as a leather.

      • hollyc says:

        Yes Emily, I got the same thing with CV, very round sweet fruit and pretty much no leather, you’re not alone in noticing. I also got the same thing with Keiko Mecheri is it Cuir? Not leathery at all.

      • dilettante perfumista says:

        I’m off to go sniff my sample of CV now to try to remember if I smelled beer or grape jelly!

  12. Anna Stromberg says:

    Great post!
    I only have two real loves in the leather family, Cuir de Lancome and Miller Harris L’air de rien. Love the smooth vanilla/creaminess i Cuir de… But L’air is my perfect skin scent, fantastic.

    • Angela says:

      Well, you picked two good ones!

  13. platinum14 says:

    Great list Angela!
    Fortunately there are also a ton of great leather scents for men.
    2012 was a year when I rediscovered my love for leather. I may have gone a little crazy… but here are some of the leather that I treated myself to:
    Byredo Baudelaire. Elegant and smoky
    Traversée du Bosphore: a bit timid for me.
    Trussardi Uomo: Birch tar galore
    Montana Parfum de Peau: to me it reads more like a chypre but there is certainly leather in it. An old favorite.
    Van Cleef & Arpel pour Homme; the old powerhouse
    Oscar de la Renta pour Lui: another powerhouse but with an elegance that could easily unisex
    Cuir de Russie is still on my waiting list…

    • platinum14 says:

      … and forgot Perry Ellis for Men (original from 1985) for a great suede.
      …and the Oscar de la Renta pour Homme could easily “BE” unisex.

      • Angela says:

        You’re on a roll!

    • platinum14 says:

      LOL… and Jean-Louis Scherrer (chypre-cuir) is also on my list. Any advice/ thoughts on it?

      • Angela says:

        I love the feminine version.

    • Merlin says:

      I’m averse to most of Byredo’s offerings, but I have to admit – Baudelaire is really really good!

      • Angela says:

        I’ve found them to be hit or miss, too, but if you second it, I’ll have to try it.

        • Merlin says:

          I think it’s sample, or even small decant worthy. Next to Leather Oud, Tuscan Leather or Lonestar Memories, however, it is quite anemic! I suppose that may be what makes it gentlemanly…

          • Angela says:

            Thanks for the info. It goes on the ever-lengthening list….

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for adding these!

  14. sinnerman says:

    Thankyou, I always enjoy reading about leather in fragrance! I spent most of last year collecting leathers and I have a stunning collection, most of what is listed by you except some of the more niche examples! Here’s is a funny thing! I wore and loved Azuree before I had any idea it was a leather, and same goes for Arimis. I loved leather before I even knew I loved leather! Ha ,
    Never smelt Tabac Blonde , dying to one day
    Desire a giant bottle of Cuir de Russie (one day)
    Bandit is AMAZING!!!!!!!! And I find Knize 10 smells a little
    like Vaseline to me. But I love it!
    Let’s hope for a great new leather in 2013

    • Angela says:

      That’s a wish I can definitely stand behind!

  15. miss kitty v. says:

    I thought that I didn’t like leather, and had only a few exclusions to the rule, until I read this list. :) Turns out there are maybe only a few I *don’t* like. This must have happened slowly over time, because there really was a time that I would have turned my nose up at it. Funny how that happens.

    • Angela says:

      I’ve seen it happen to me, too! First I thought I loved vetiver, then I didn’t, but it turns out I really do, for instance.

  16. Lys says:

    Where’s Derby?!? Add Derby !!!!!

    • Angela says:

      Where shall we put it? Maybe we need a new category!

      • Lys says:

        :/

        You got me. It doesn’t fit those categories, does it? I think of it alongside Bandit and Cabochard as leather-chypre material, where the leather becomes an earthy note. Smooth leather chypre? But I guess maybe it needs more leather to join the above categories. Or something.

        • Angela says:

          Maybe leather chypre should be a category, then!

  17. FeralJasmine says:

    Wanted to mention the Tom Ford Tuscan Leather. This one is pure ripe, smoky, salty leather, and I can’t imagine a woman wearing it. But when my husband wears one or two drops, it’s wonderful, like the best tack room you were ever in, with some clean-horse notes. No more than two drops, though, and not to be worn to work, because it’s powerful and lingering stuff.

    • Abyss says:

      Interesting, I’ve always considered it to be pretty unisex. I spritz myself with it sometimes when I pass by TF counter and a female friend owns a bottle. It’s quite dry and smoky at the start but the drydown is sweeter and considerably mellower.

      • Angela says:

        That sounds really nice!

      • Lys says:

        Agree, the drydown has sweet and floral facets.

    • Angela says:

      That sounds wonderful! It’s been too long since I’ve smelled it to remember, but I know Tuscan Leather is well loved.

  18. poodle says:

    Whips & Roses by Kerosene. It’s all leather jackets and roses. I can really pick out the leather in this one. In a lot of fragrances leather to my nose reads as a soft powdery note but this smells like leather to me. I can’t say I have tried a lot of leather scents but I’m working on that. :)

    • Angela says:

      I haven’t tried anything by Kerosene–in fact, I hadn’t heard of it until today. It’s so hard to stay on top of these new releases!

    • Emily says:

      In my experience, Whips and Roses smells like Off! bug spray for the first 10 minutes … but then it just becomes amazing. A bit of dark rose, a bit of hot rubber (like Bulgari Black), and *very* oily-leathery. If only I could fast-forward past the bug-spray part, I’d buy a FB in a heartbeat.

      • Angela says:

        Hmm. Bug spray does not smell good.

        How is it that everyone knows about this Whip and Roses scent but me?

  19. hajusuuri says:

    Prada Infusion d’Iris and leather – really? I must be a closet leather lover! And Kelly Caleche EDP – love that too and in fact, I’m on bottle no. 2. Of the others mentioned and I have personally encountered, I agree with the Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre And Bottega Venetta love. I have some of the leathers listed in your post as well as comments and will need to move them higher on the to try list (first up PdE Cuir Ottoman as Lucas just reviewed it and now I am very curious).

    Ah…and I would add SL Boxeuses to the list of well-done leathers – to me, it is very elegant and smooth and does not have the animalic note in Cuir de Russie that I couldn’t stand.

    • OhLily says:

      Yay, I’m on my second bottle of the KC, too! I hate always saying it’s because it’s so easy to wear, that seems to be shortchanging it and implying it’s just simply ‘pretty’ in a dismissive way, if you know what I mean?

    • Angela says:

      Another nudge to try Cuir de Nacre…

    • Lys says:

      Boxeuses is a really youthful leather but still with a classic structure.

  20. Ari says:

    Yeeeessss, yeeeeesss, my precious! Give me all the leather scents! My very favorite birch tar fragrance is Le Labo Patchouli 24, alth

    • Ari says:

      … although it doesn’t strike me as particularly leathery. I like the savory leathers best. I found Cuir de Russie too sweet the last time I tried it, but maybe it deserves another chance.

      • Angela says:

        It sounds like you like the big, oily leathers!

    • Abyss says:

      Patch 24 is another oddball that I’m very fond of but I don’t get leather from it either. More rubber and old books.

      • Rappleyea says:

        …and vanilla. :-)

        • Abyss says:

          Old books smell like vanilla so that’s a given :D

          • Angela says:

            O.K., now I’m going to the bookshelf to sniff. Vanilla?

      • Angela says:

        I can see the rubber-leather connection.

        • Abyss says:

          I’m probably just being a pedant :D

          • Angela says:

            For me, suggestion is so powerful. I’m totally willing to go with rubber…

      • Emily says:

        I adore Patch 24, too, but I get much more vanilla and smoke than I do leather.

        • Angela says:

          And strangely little patchouli….

  21. austenfan says:

    I love your list which has many of my favourite leathers.
    As a matter of interest where would you put EldO Rien and Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie?
    Rien is one of my favourite fragrances but I don’t get much leather from it. I don’t know what I get from it, except that I love it beyond reason.
    The Montale I got a sample of because of the hilarious review of it in the Guide. It’s pleasant enough but it didn’t exactly stir a heartbeat.

    • Angela says:

      I haven’t smelled Rien, and it’s been a while since I smelled Oud d’Arabie, but I remember a big, oily Russian leather. What do you think?

    • Abyss says:

      I got a sample of Oud Cuir d’Arabie in a swap and loved it at first sniff. Warm and enveloping is how I’d describe it. It’s the kind of scent that I’d probably find irresistible on a man.

      • Angela says:

        Sounds so good–especially the “warm” part. It’s cold out!

        • austenfan says:

          OCd’A is fairly strong and quite oily. I was actually a bit disappointed when I first tried it. I expected this beast of a fragrance and found it relatively tame. It’s tarry with some oud. Not as strong, or as tarry as say Knize Ten or Lonestar Memories.
          Rien on the other hand is a bomb, and a beautiful one at that.

          • Angela says:

            I do want to try the Rien. And the Faun one. It will happen…

  22. Merlin says:

    I would really like to try Cuir de Lancome, but no one stocks it here – not even any of the discounters. Tabac Blond sounds very good too…

    I’m a little surprised not to see Bal a’ Versailles here. I was unsure when I bought it, but it was a really good price. I liked it well enough. Then suddenly it smelled way too dirty on me and I didn’t wear it for some time. Then I tried it again and it felt like a well-worn favourite garment – so comforting! What can I say, I’m a REALLY fickle perfume-lover:)

    • Annikky says:

      Merlin, a few nights ago, I actually dreamt of Bal a Versailles, which I have never tried. Surely this is a sign I cannot ignore.

      • Merlin says:

        Of course! Maybe it’s a sign that the peasants are plotting against you? lol.

        There is apparently a big difference in the different version – the one I have is the current discounted EDT, many say the EDP is a lot more animalic…

        • Annikky says:

          :)

          In addition to BaV, I will also stock up on cake, just in case. If I don’t encounter any evil-minded peasants, well…

          • Merlin says:

            Yes, you can always share the cake with me :o

          • Angela says:

            You guys totally crack me up.

    • Angela says:

      It has a really dry, animalic leather to me, kind of like l’Air de Rien. I see the comforting side!

  23. Hermoine11 says:

    Of the absolute classics, I would also add my beloved Shalimar and Shalimar Ode a la Valille. I would have never guessed that the latter would be a pretty strong leather scent but it is. At least to my nose, it’s so much more leather than vanilla.

    • Angela says:

      I get a solid civet hit from Shalimar, but I never noticed the leather. However, I don’t doubt it at all! I’ll pay more attention next time I wear it.

  24. kiki says:

    Great article and so enjoyable to read as always, Angela! To the patent leather category, I would add YSL Parisienne… I remember reading the list of notes as first rose, then “black patent leather accord”, and that the ads featuring Kate Moss in a black patent leather YSL trench coat were “inspired by the notes of the fragrance.” I was at first kind of so-so on Parisienne, but it’s actually grown on me, and you really can detect a slick, patent leather type note in there!

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for adding it! I remember that being in its list of notes too, now that you mention it.

  25. sweetgrass says:

    I’ll second the mention of Cuir Venenum above. I love that one, though I don’t smell beer in it… at least not that I remember. Haven’t smelled it in a while.

    I also really like Cuir Fetiche. It starts off a little soapy to me, but that subsides pretty quickly, and then it’s a really nice floral leather. I get a slight animalic undertone sometimes too, which I like.

    And even though it’s not technically leather, I’m going to throw in ELdO Rossy de Palma here. The base is cacao/patchouli/incense, but the way the notes come together it smells a lot like leather to me.

    • Angela says:

      I could make good use of a bottle of Cuir Fetiche, especially in this cold weather. I haven’t smelled Rossy in ages, but you make me want to again–sounds delicious.

  26. Happylily says:

    What about “Psycotrope” from PG? What type of leather is it? I tested this one and I liked, just a hint of “weird” and a nice floral… Could someone suggests me another scent loke this?

    • Angela says:

      I’ve never tried that one. The name is sure intriguing, though!

      • hollyc says:

        I’ve had several samples of Psychotrope which intrigued me but never won me over. It’s really an odd but well done very synthetic smelling and chemical fragrance. I know it sounds awful, but it isn’t, it just isn’t something I wanted to own. I would categorize it as an abstract leather over some tame florals. There are better choices.

        • Angela says:

          It sounds like I can safely pass on that one, then.

          • ockeghem says:

            Agreed. I’ve tried my Psychotrope sample a number of times and given up.

  27. Lys says:

    We could always get weird and add CdG Garage, Tar and Skai as “industrial leathers,” along with Black.

    • Merlin says:

      And building on that – doesn’t Farenheit have some leather jacket mixed in with the gasoline?

      • Subhuman says:

        Yes; the leather jacket is my favorite part of Farhenheit. :)

    • Angela says:

      O.K., it’s a new category, then: industrial leathers. We have plenty of contenders for it.

  28. nozknoz says:

    I love this post, since leather is my favorite family of perfumes (if I have to pick one)!

    To me, SL Daim Blond, L’AP Traversee du Bosphore, MDCI Belle Helene and DSH Mata Hari are all related – apricot suede, apple loukhoum suede, pear suede, and apricot chypre leather. I also like Etro Gomma, which is similar to Cuir Ottoman with a hint of buckskin. La Via del Profumo Sharif is an amazing, complex, natural leather perfume.

    • Angela says:

      Great list! I’m jotting these down.

  29. Marjorie Rose says:

    The two leathers I wear regularly are the previously mentioned Traversee du Bosphore, and Memoir Woman. Granted, Memoir is a beautiful changeling, sometimes more incense, sometimes almost boozey fruit, but I definitely get leather.

    I tend to avoid the hard, patent leather scents. I don’t want to smell like shoe polish.

    • Angela says:

      Uh oh! Now “shoe polish” will be stuck in my mind whenever I smell a certain combination of odors…It’s a great description, though!

  30. Emily says:

    It’s not even funny how many leather perfumes I own (or aspire to own). Many of my favorites have been discussed already, but a couple I haven’t noticed are Dzongkha and TDC Osmanthus. Dzongkha’s leather note is very subtle, and reminds me of a piece of leather that’s so old and dry and worn that it’s practically transparent (if that makes any sense). TDC Osmanthus fits into the apricot-suede category (along with most other osmanthus perfumes I’ve tried, though the suede aspect comes through most clearly for me in this one).

    • Angela says:

      I think osmanthus must be a big part of what makes a suede perfume smell like it does. I’m going to have to pay more attention to them, thank you!

  31. cath says:

    Thank you for this list, and all the suggestions in the comments too. I love my leathers, have quite a few bottles mentioned here already, and now I can add some more to my wish/try list. My wallet is going to hate me…
    On recommendations I recently bought Habanita, but I didn’t get much leather from it. How would you classify Habanita in the leather family?
    I am waiting for quite a few leathery samples to arrive, and a full bottle of Cuir Ottoman. CdO is just so comforting, I had to have the FB. Weirdly, my sample of Ambre Russe smelled like potent masculine leather to me. Is there something wrong with my nose, or did others also get strong leather from PdE AR? I’m curious to know.

    • Angela says:

      I’d need to smell them side by side to comment halfway intelligently, but I’d say if you smelled leather, it’s in there!

      I think of Habanita as more of a tobacco-vetiver-vanilla scent. Hmm. I think that’s what I’ll wear to bed tonight.

      • cath says:

        Yes, definitely tobacco in Habanita. The sour fruit notes kind of make it hard to wear for me though.
        btw, is there anyway to be notified of follow up comments for this blog?

        • Angela says:

          I don’t know that there is! I’m not an expert on this, though. Maybe someone else has a better idea? I’ll forward your comment to Robin.

  32. Illdone says:

    Angela, you asked for other suede- ish perfumes.
    A very cheap thrill is Sonia Rykiel Not For Men (discontinued but can be had for cheap online) Tacky packaging but very nice. Also gives the warm blanket wintery feel.

    Let’s not forget the illustrous Jolie M. for a wonderfull leather-violet kick.
    Preference for the very old extrait and edt but if unfindable the latest edt is not so bad be it more powdery than leathery (try and wait for the hart and drydown)

    Great post as always!

    • Angela says:

      Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t tried the Sonia Rykiel, but you can bet that I will with that lovely description.

  33. donnie says:

    Echoing someone above, I like ELDO Rien. I find their Je Suis un Homme leathery and like it too. Try Tom of Finland for suede-I suggest you read Kevin’s review-and I’m guessing it’s a fragrance some women might wear with pleasure.

    • Angela says:

      It’s funny that Xerjoff’s Homme is also leathery, as if a core part of being a man were being leathery.

      I can see I’m way behind on the ELDOs, though.

  34. ockeghem says:

    As a leather lover, I also read this and couldn’t help but ask “Where’s S-ex”? That’s a great leather. Not sure if it goes into the “Oddball” category or another one, though.

    • Angela says:

      I sheepishly admit that I’ve read tons about that one but never smelled it….

  35. donanicola says:

    Angela, didn’t you write that wonderful Leather Sisters piece a few years ago – I still chuckle about the spot on characterisations. You MUST try the Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre. Take the rosy/violety jam from Traversee, add in a load more iris butter, add in ambrette and cassie and some aldehydes and OMG. As refined as Chanel CdR but more intimate. I happily wear Tuscan Leather (it makes me giggle) and I second Rien and add Putain de Palace (another make up/leather combo) and third or whatever we’re up to, Dior’s Leather Oud. But I’m a leather slut – bring it all on!

    • Angela says:

      Uncle! I give in! As soon as I finish up these comments, I’m ordering that decant of Cuir de Nacre. It sounds fabulous.

      • Karin says:

        Dooooo eeeeeet! :-)

        • Angela says:

          Yes! I gave in! I’m very happy, but my wallet is frowning. Oh well. Maybe it’s afraid to have competing leathers around.

  36. Rictor07 says:

    My list of favorites includes:
    Mark Birley – Charles Street
    Dueto – Golden Boy
    Smell Bent – Violet Tendencies

    • Angela says:

      Thanks! Your mention of the Smell Bent reminds me of Chastity Begins at Home–a nice, soft leather.

  37. Dionne says:

    Leather and I don’t always get along – believe it or not, even Cuir de Lancome goes animalic on me – but I do love my Cuir Ottoman, and the leather note in Chambre Noir and Volutes. I’ve been waiting out a bad cough and stuffed-up nose for the last three weeks so I can sample all the suede goodies that are sitting on my dresser: Bottega Veneta, Daim Blond, Traversee du Bosphore, Mythique, Midnight in Paris, Cuir de Nacre, Daimiris, Aleksander, Cuir Pleine Fleur and Cuir Cordoba. I’m looking forward to finding a new favorite. :)

    • Angela says:

      Wow, what a fabulous run of sampling you have ahead of you. Get well soon!

  38. elvanui says:

    I love this list, dear Angela! What a great timing, I am seriously *craving* leather scents these days. I suspect my likes fall into the Russian and the Spicy Leather categories, my very favourite is Mona di Orio’s Cuir (nothing can beat that yummy gingerbread-cardamom whip-slap in the face!), Montale’s Cuir d’Arabie, Cuir Ottoman, but I love Dzing!, and two JHGs: Citizen Queen and Calamity J as well. I know it’s a cheapie and a men’s cologne, but also adore Trumper’s Spanish Leather. I guess I like those where it’s a more easily recognizable note? Does that mean I have a difficulty identifying it:)? I can’t wait to get my hands on some great classic leathers, and Your list is the place to start! Thank You!

    • Angela says:

      You sound like a true leather lover! I’m glad to hear the positive report on Trumper’s leather, too. I’d love to find some of the shaving cream.

  39. dolcesarah says:

    Leather Kreme is my favorite by Liz Zorn’s and I like Tabac Aurea I know it’s Tobacco but there’s a leather note in there too. I like the ones mentioned but I’ve never tried Cuir Russie.

    • Angela says:

      Those are some great suggestions no one has mentioned yet–thank you!

  40. Subhuman says:

    I try to empathize with different points of view, but I truly can’t fathom not appreciating or enjoying a good leather fragrance. I have been known to walk into leather goods shops just to take in the smell, and as a perfume note…fugghedaboudit. I’m lost. Wear a leather perfume around me and I’m the moth, you’re the flame.

    As to my favorite…judging by the comments here I’m clearly missing out on a LOT of must-sniff leathers. But I have always adored the leather-jacket drydown of Dior Fahrenheit, and the weirdly industrial leather of Bulgari Black. Cuir de Russie is gorgeous, too. And I’ve been wearing Cartier’s Déclaration Essence underneath my leather winter jacket lately, and the traces that remain on my jacket’s collar are divine. (Essence includes a leather note, IIRC…and if not, it sure does when I wear it!)

    • Angela says:

      I’ve been surprised at how many leathers there are out there I haven’t smelled! I haven’t worn Fahrenheit, either, and I think that makes all the difference for understanding it. It sounds like it smells terrific on you.

  41. Mitzi says:

    No one mentioned Thierry Mugler les Parfums de Cuir yet? I did not much like Womanity and Alien, but Angel Cuir made me smile and I still think to get the bottle, even though I probably would never wear it. Such lovely apricot and suede.

    • Angela says:

      I haven’t smelled that one–haven’t even heard of it! Is it still in production? If so, I’ll definitely seek it out–sounds like just my kind of thing.

      • Mitzi says:

        It must be still in production, in Europe (well in Germany and Switzerland) it was marketed as a Christmas special edition, but it still around in the shops. Bottle all look the same, but have different juice, being Alien Cuir, Womanity Cuir and Angel Cuir des Parfumes. I cannot say much about Womanity and Alien, but Angel Cuir is still the old Angel, heavy with patchouli, but the emphasis is definitely on apricot jam and there is a lovely suede note in it too. it smells like a suede glove that you forgot in your purse, that was perfumed with Angel…

        • Angela says:

          What a lovely description! Thanks for the follow-up information.

  42. eminere says:

    How interesting. I detect absolutely zero leather in Armani Privé Cuir Amethyste. All I get is a blast of shrill sweet fruits.

    • Angela says:

      It definitely is a purply-sweet one.

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