In the Search for the Perfect Leather


It was one of the first cool days of the last fall. We were driving home after a pleasant evening at our friends’ house. I kept sniffing the air thinking to myself: I haven’t noticed before that my leather jacket smells that nice… Too nice… What’s going on?

That’s when I realized that the smell was coming from a blotter sticking out of the vent grid where I affixed it several hours earlier.


Tom Ford Tuscan Leather


That evening before going to the party I stopped by Neiman Marcus to sniff several perfumes. I didn’t want to put anything on my skin to avoid arriving to the party smelling like a perfume counter. So after sniffing from a blotter Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather (I missed it somehow in my previous tests) and talking for a while to the SA I asked him: “How does it develop on the skin?” thinking of asking next to make me a sample. In response he silently took a fresh blotter, sprayed it with Tuscan Leather and handed it to me… I was so amused that all I could do was to thank him and leave.

I think that Tuscan Leather is a gorgeous masculine fragrance. Can a woman pull it off? Of course! I would have worn it myself if I haven’t had somebody else to put it on. My vSO likes it so I’ll use a decant I have on him. And then I’ll want more.

I like leather perfumes but do not own too many of them. Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire – a bottle that I bought for my vSO (he likes it a lot) but he doesn’t mind sharing.

The only full bottle of a “leather” perfume that I have for myself is Cuir de Russie by Chanel. It’s such an elegant perfume!


Chanel Cuir De Russie PdE Cuir Ottoman


Tabac Aurea  by Sonoma Scent Studio doesn’t smell too much of leather but it’s a very pleasant dry woodsy scent that works well on my skin in cooler weather. Once I’m done with my 2.5 ml spray bottle I’ll probably get a purse spray.

Boxeuses by Serge Lutens – one of my Bikram yoga favorites and recently I discovered that I liked it as a sleep scent as well. I haven’t tried wearing Boxeuses sprayed but once my roll-on sample is empty I’ll want a decant of this strange and interesting perfume.

Another Serge Lutens’ leather perfume, of which I have a decant already, Cuir Mauresque unfortunately doesn’t work for me. I tried to wear it several times and still no. It smells harsh, dirty and somewhat unpleasant on me.

I reviewed Scent No.16 Tomato Leather by Cognoscenti a couple of months ago (You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Leather’). I still like it but I’ll wait for Cognoscenti to release their perfumes in a smaller bottle.

I didn’t like Traversee du Bosphore by L’Artisan Parfumeur when I first tried it but it grew on me. It wears nicely in warm weather and one day it might join my collection.

Another perfume I wasn’t a fan of initially – Bottega Veneta. Last year when everybody praised it I just shrugged my shoulders. What changed my mind was me testing recently Cuir Amethyste by Giorgio Armani. It started harsh and too leather-y to my taste but then mellowed down to a very smooth and buttery suede accord that reminded me of Bottega Veneta. I thought I found another smell-alike for my Déjà vu series but while I was trying to compare notes (there are just two in common among declared) I found out that the same nose, Michel Almairac, was behind both. I’ll see if I need more of Bottega Veneta Parfum once my mini bottle is gone.

Cuir de Lancome by Lancome – everybody seems to love this one. I want to like it but I’m not sure if I do. Sometimes I think that maybe my sample is off.  Nevertheless, I want this bottle in my collection – not that there was any logic in that.


Leather Perfumes Samples


Other perfumes with prominent leather that I’ve tried and liked: Cuir Beluga by Guerlain (it’s growing on me, I want to get a decant to test more), Cuirelle by Ramon Monegal (starts a little too sweet but develops nicely; needs more testing preferably from a spray bottle), Napa Noir by Six Scents (I had a tiny, one application sample, but I liked what I smelled), Lonestar Memories by Tauer Perfumes (have to get a new sample since the one I have become too concentrated as a result of evaporation) and Vanille Cuir by M.Micallef (something appeals to me in this fragrance; I’ll keep testing it and see if I want to werat it).

Perfumes that didn’t work for me: Leather Oud by Dior (it’s nice on my vSO but a little too much on me), Songe d’un Bois d’été by Guerlain (it’s too harsh on my skin; I find something pleasant two-three hours into the development but I won’t wait for that long to enjoy my perfume), Mon Cuir by Ramon Monegal (a strange combination of leather and what I think of as a traditional men cologne) and Kelly Calèche by Hermès (I can smell no leather at all. Do I have a wrong sample?)

What is your favorite leather perfume?


Images: my own.


68 thoughts on “In the Search for the Perfect Leather

  1. I see some of our leather choices are the same like Cuir Ottoman (my fave) then Cuir de Russie. I also kind of like Cuir Cordoba (Keiko Mecheri) and gosh I like Tabac Aurea!

    We smell great, don’t we?


    • Judging by the fact that our tastes have a good deal in common sooner or later you’ll find “your” leather scent.
      If you get a chance try one of the less obvious choices – Napa Noir by Six Scents (it’s from their most recent series).


  2. I haven’t explored leather too much yet. I do enjoy Lonestar Memories. I wish I could understand the buzz about Bottega Veneta but either I am anosmic to it or my skin just devours it instantly. Whatever the case, both times I have tried it I smell nothing. Hubby smells nothing on me either yet on the paper strip I can smell something very soft and faint. The only other predominantly leather scent I have really sampled is Whips & Roses by Kerosene which I do like. I know I have scents with a leather note I them but it’s not the starring role.


    • I won’t recommend you to try Cuir Amethyste only because it’s both hardly accessible in the US and expensive. But if you get a chance to try it at some point, do it: it might be just enough for you compared to BV that you can’t smell.


  3. Lovely leather round-up Undina. I really enjoyed it.

    My favourite is Cuir de Lancome, followed by Cuir de Russie. My sister really liked my bottle of Bottega Veneta so I gave it too her. Slightly regretting that now!

    The one I want to go back and re-try is Serge Luten’s Daim Blond, though it’s more suede-like. Do you know it?


  4. I love so many leathers Undina.
    SOIVOHLE Leather Krem
    Chamber noire
    Lonestar Memories
    Knize Ten
    Cuir Ottoman
    Eau Sauvage fraicher Cuir
    Midnight In Paris
    Aoud Cuir d’Arabie
    Trussardi donna.
    OMG!! We are not even halfway through my faves
    too many
    Portia xx


  5. I haven’t tried a leather scent before Undina – I think I should. Hopefully when the unbearable weather is over, I think I should go sniff a few. I think Cuir de Russie will be top of my list, seeying that you said it’s elegant


  6. I’m not a huge leather person. I do like Kelly Caleche, and I get leather from it, but the leather is very, very, very faint – smothered in spring flowers.

    I also like Lonestar Memories. I really admire that scent. However, it is a bit masculine for me for everyday wear. Yet, if a bottle magically appeared in my collection, I would for sure wear it. LOL

    Bottega Veneta was “meh” to me when it debuted last year. I should re-test.

    I have been meaning to try Cuir de Lancome but something else always seems to be ahead of it on the list.

    All in all I like leather but I have not found a leather perfume that makes me swoon yet.


      • I had a small bottle of Kelly Caleche and I smelled almost no leather in it. And if I hadn’t known it was there, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all. Also, the EdT and EdP are supposedly pretty different – perhaps one is more leathery and you have the other?


        • I’ve just tested one of them (I didn’t know there were different concentrations so I haven’t checked which one!) yesterday at the store and couldn’t smell any leather.


  7. Cuir de Lancome is definitely My Leather. And I LOVE the drydown of Cuir Mauresque but I don’t like the top notes so I always dab that one.

    I don’t think Kelly Caleche smells like leather at all. Bottega Veneta, I think, smells good but not like leather.

    If you like Vanille Cuir — have you tried Putain de Palaces? They’ve got a similar vibe going on, with the dirty musky leather plus the sweet creamy notes. (PdP is more complex and floral though.) Another good gourmand-y one is Midnight in Paris.

    Boxeuses I still need to try.


    • I’ve tried Putain de Palaces and even liked it but I’m boycotting that brand (for that name including) so… Midnight in Paris is on my to try/to buy list: I love the bottle ;) and I think I liked the scent on paper but I need to check it on my skin.


  8. I have been using Kelly Caleche — I don’t get much leather either but it is a scent I like..a lot. I am starting to explore leathers. Cuir de Russie did not work for me at all. SL Boxeuses and Daim Blond are promising — I have samples from Barneys and will be testing them soon. I’m waiting for a swap package with Prada Cuir Ambre and Cuir Lancome. And I just recently bought BV.

    Great Post!


      • Prada Cuir Ambre is No. 4 in the Prada Exclusives line. I tried it today and like it. I got leather right away, along with strong amber. Judging only based on today’s wear, the scent is more pronounced after it’s had a chance to warm up. It is a nice leather, in my opinion – I got no wet dog / barn smell from it.


        • I’ve seen and tried Prada’s exclusive line only once (during my Las Vegas trip earlier this year): I don’t know any stores in my area to carry it. I do not remember my impression from this perfume and I vaguely remember liking their Iris perfume.


  9. I love a few of the leathers on your list … particularly Cuir Ottoman, Boxeuses, and Cuir de Russie. My favorite leather … hmm, not sure if I have one. I reeeally love Pascal Morabito Or Black and Caron Tabac Blond extrait, though neither of those are what I would call straight-up leather scents.

    Regarding the Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, I am apparently anosmic to it after the top notes burn off. It’s strange, but the result is consistent: after those gorgeous, masculine top notes are gone, I can hardly smell this fragrance at all. It’s like it goes poof! :-(


  10. I love Lonestar Memories – but when birch tar is used to represent leather – I don’t consider it leather, it’s just a smoke accord so I struggle to personal call Lonestar a leather becuase to me it doesn’t smell leathery :( Cuir Ottoman I really like, but it’s a little too sweet and cloying on me sometimes and I have to find the right moment to wear it now where as I used to consider it an easy wear.
    You’ve suggested most of the things I thought of! Have you tried Rien by Etat Libre D’Orange? That’s a beauty, it’s nothing like Leather Oud but if you thought LO was too much I’m guessing you’ll think the same about this.
    Have you tried the Onda Parfum Extrait by Vero Profumo? It’s not listed as a leather but I’d definitely consider it one – if it counts, then it’s the best out there IMO.
    Loved this post Undina :) I go through leather phases, I don’t think I need any more and have stayed away from leathers for a while so it’s nice to see what is new out there and what people are talking about.


    • Thank you, Freddie :)

      I do not need any perfume any more but since companies keep producing them I try to check out at least those that seem interesting from the notes.

      I tried Onda in both concentrations and it was one of the perfumes with which I was sure I wouldn’t change my mind and I gave it away to a friend perfumista who wanted to try it. On me it was just awful. It’s sad because so many others loved it.


      • :( Ow that’s a real shame! It is hardgoing – I blame the honey note, but then I’m easy in Miel De Bois so honey I don’t struggle with. Still, it’s one of the only vetivers I find interesting enough to wear.
        What do you think of Cuir D’Iris and Cuir Venenun for leather? I prefer CV – but that’s if you can get past the candy sweet/grape soda/orange blossom combo up top – I love the trashy smoke leather underneath though :D
        I don’t think any of us need more perfume :’) Nice to see you still keen to explore though.


  11. I get nothing from Bottega Veneta and I get nothing from Kelly Caleche and it makes me sad. Most of Tom Fords’ fragrances last a hot minute on me. The closest I have come to that leather fragrance is vintage Cabochard.


    • That’s interesting. I won’t say “all” but many of TF’s perfumes that I love (e.g. Tobacco Vanille, Black Violette, Champaca Absolute) last on my skin forever. Tuscan Leather is one of them.

      I don’t remember if I’ve ever tried Cabochard but now I’m trying to stay away from vintage perfumes – so I’d rather not know how good it is.


  12. I don’t get much leather from Kelly Caleche either. It’s quite faint and hidden beneath the florals for me, it’s a bit stronger at the very end of the scent but by then, the fragrance is already gone.

    What do you think of micallef’s Canille Cuir? I adore the opening, but I’m not much for leather scents. But if I could bottle that smell I get on application. Yum!


    • If I get to the store this weekend I’ll try Kelly Caleche again: I want to find leather in it.

      Vanille Cuir was my favorite of the four vannilas they’ve recently released but I’m getting mixed results: sometimes it’s so pleasant from the start to the drydown but on other occasions different notes seem to misbehave. I’ll test more.


  13. Leather is a difficult note for me, some days I love it, some days it makes my stomach turn. Boxeuses I like a lot, and the drydown of Cuir Mauresque. Have you tried any of the Etat Libre d’Oranges? Several of them have leather in them, some upfront, like Tom of FInland, Bendelirious and Rien, other carry it discreetly in the base, like Charogne and Vraie Blonde.


  14. A favourite frag-familie :-) I like everything from light, transparent leathers to dark,rough and tough ones. From the lartter category i like Mona di Orio Cuirs on Mr Parfumista and Guerlian Songe d’Bois d’Ete for my self, from the “inbetween” group PdE Cuir Ottoman,MPG Cuir Fetiche, Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie and Cuir de Lancome. From the lighter ones Diorling and of course Cuir de Russie. I like Cuir de Russie better in (Les Exclusifs) EDT than in perfume, the EDT is less flowery,drier and with a gunpowdery not that i appreciate in many perfumes.


    • I didn’t think of Diorling as of a leather perfume: there is no leather mentioned in notes and I don’t remember smelling it. I still have a sample so I’ll try again.

      My Cuir de Russie is in EdT concentration, I haven’t had a chance to try it in extrait yet.


  15. I think I cannot get enough of leather to the point that I cannot choose one as THE leather scent. Suzanne has sent me a decant of Morabito Or Black that I think is amazing. And I am a big fan of Lancome Cuir but in the drydown it gets a bit un-leathery…

    If you are interested in Tuscany Leather I will share a guilty secret with you: I have bought from ebay a 100ml bottle of Arabian imitation Tuscany Leather OIL for 50 USD.. There is no discernible difference between this and the original and I personally prefer the way oils behave on skin. This stuff lasts forever and projection is strong but gentle.


      • You just dab a tiny amount. !00ml will actually last a couple of lifetimes (or three). It doesn’t stain clothes because all you have to use is the tip of your finger and rub it till it feels dry. This amount will be your mst lasting perfume experience ever. As it warms up on skin it starts projecting intensely but at a close distance. Sort of like your personal perfume suit.


  16. Cuir de Lancome! After it has worn in a little bit…like all good leather garments, indeed, not that I own any. Loved the blotter story. :-)


    • Thank you, Vanessa! The story was, actually, the main purpose of the post (since there are so many good real reviews out there including those with comparison of different leathers).

      I will get Cuir de Lancome in my collection and see if it grows on me.


  17. So many good suggestions! I really like Nappa Noir, Evening in Paris, and am even warming up a little bit to Cuir de Lancome, although it is not a favorite. You do have a lot of leathers; I didn’t realize it was such a favorite note for you. (Or is it that you are searching for the perfect one?)


    • I didn’t realize it was one of my favorite notes until I realized it was :)

      I would have never tried Nappa Noir if it weren’t for the tiny sample you so generously shared with me. Now I’m contemplating getting more (I might even pay for a decant if any of the sites carry this perfume!)


  18. Leather and I don’t typically get along, as it usually swings one of two ways: no leather whatsoever, or animalic barnyard. Even Cuir de Lancome went barnyard, and I REALLY wanted to like that one. However, PdE’s Cuir Ottoman is actually leather on me – not to mention sexy as all get-out – and Bottega Veneta was lovely enough that I’ve in the middle of exploring the suede note.


    • It will be interesting to read results of your exploration.

      If to think about it, maybe it’s not that bad that you do not like some types of perfumes: there are less things to try/spend money on ;)


  19. Not sure if it is technically a “leather” but I love Ineke’s Evening Edged in Gold” the dry down reminds me of softly scented suede gloves, the kind I wore as a young lady when I worked in NYC many years ago. I had several leather and suede gloves that remained scented with perfume for the entire winter season. It was always such a pleasure to sniff them- that combination of leather/floral notes (exactly like Ineke’s EEiG!)


    • I didn’t think about this one! I will try it again soon and see if I smell any leather in there (well, the note is listed so I won’t be surprised if it’s there ;) ). Thank you for the idea.


  20. I am selfishly gifting this one to my younger teenage daughter and the older teenage daughter is getting Field Notes for Christmas (this will be her second bottle). what I love so much about Ineke’s line is the versatility…my 11 year old son is already asking for a full bottle of Derring-do (which I happen to like on myself as well:) !!)
    happy holidays, Undina!


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