Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather & Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather ~ fragrance reviews

Buffalo bag

Last year I bought a new bag made of American buffalo hide to replace my ancient black calfskin bag that has traveled around the globe with me for ages (and is now retired and ‘resting’ in a cabinet). The moment I held the new bag I felt guilty, for buffaloes are one of my favorite animals. I get excited, and am emotionally moved, to be in the presence of these “beasts” that have always symbolized, for me, the part of the U.S. I love most, the West. Since getting my new bag, I’ve been in two car accidents (only my car was injured) and lost two jobs. Am I cursed? Are the buffalo spirits I’ve always admired pissed off, feeling betrayed — egged on by cows (“He never worries much about US!”) Anyway, I’ve not used the new bag at all; it sits pristine in my closet, encased in a soft wool sweater.

I like leather fragrances as I like amber and tobacco perfumes: I need only ONE specimen of each in my perfume collection.1 Likewise, I need only one leather bag (I like simplicity); testing these two leather perfumes has led me back to my bison bag, whose aroma is still present…

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Hermes Cuir d’Ange ~ fragrance review & quick poll

Hermès Sac à Dépêches

I said when I reviewed Épice Marine that a new fragrance in the upscale Hermessence range from French house Hermès always makes me happy, even when I don’t love the juice. Part of the reason is that they rarely bore me, and another factor is that the relatively easy availability of the 15 ml bottles means I can get some if I want it.1 So the news of the latest (and the 12th in the series), Cuir d’Ange, was welcome, although I find now that every new fragrance from Hermès brings with it a little twinge of anxiety: will it be the last from house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena? (Please, Mr. Ellena, don’t retire just yet.)

I tend to divide the Hermessences into three categories: the few I don’t care about at all (sorry, Paprika Brasil), the few that I need in 100 ml (Osmanthe Yunnan!), and the rest, which I generally need in 15 ml (Vanille Galante, for instance). Sometimes I’m wrong, of course; I think I’m now on my third 15 ml bottle of Vetiver Tonka and my second of Rose Ikebana, and I’m heading fast towards another bottle of Brin de Réglisse. Cuir d’Ange, for now, is going in the 15 ml category — I’d like to own some but I’m not at all sure I’d run through 100 ml…

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Hermes Bel Ami Vetiver ~ fragrance review

Hermes Bel Ami Vetiver visual

One of my most memorable introductions to a perfume happened in Mexico, when a child-shopkeeper handed me, with grace and a touch of theatricality, a bottle of original Bel Ami by Hermès. It was not love at first sniff (even though I bought a bottle immediately) but now, if some evil genie commanded I use only five perfumes for the rest of my life, Bel Ami would be one of the five…even one of three (if the genie were especially nasty and restrictive).

I was excited to try the tweaked Bel Ami — Bel Ami Vétiver — but was wondering if the light touch of perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena would make the perfume too contemporary for me. With a bottle of original Bel Ami in one hand, and a sample of new Bel Ami Vétiver in the other…here goes…

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Atelier Cologne Gold Leather ~ fragrance review

Atelier Cologne Gold Leather, brand visual

Atelier Cologne introduced Gold Leather in 2013, as part of the new Collection Métal fragrance series that also included Silver Iris. Like Angie, I thought Silver Iris was nice enough, but it couldn’t compete with the fabulous iris fragrances already in my collection. Gold Leather, which seems to be less widely distributed, was much more interesting to me after a quick sniff on paper.

Gold Leather starts off boozy and rich, with a sweet, spicy rum (although it smells like something heavier) and a twist or three of orange peel. There’s a generous dollop of plum jam…

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Coach Leatherware Nos. 1, 2, and 3 ~ fragrance review

Coach Leatherware Nos. 1, 2, and 3

Smelling the Coach Leatherware series makes me wonder why Coach didn’t start its fragrance line with leather in the first place. Leather is a natural for Coach, a company — like Hermès — that started in the tack business. Also like Hermès, Coach expanded to leather bags and belts, then to clothing and perfume. But that’s where Hermès and Coach part company. Although Coach has upped its style quotient, its quality has taken a nosedive in the past decade. (Just try to find a new Coach handbag with a leather lining.) Coach’s fragrances? Entirely forgettable.

Leatherware gives me fresh hope for the company. Each fragrance has personality and development, and they stand up to some of my favorite leather perfumes. Let’s go over them one by one.

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