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.


You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Leather’


When people who had been living in the same country for the most part of their lives and hadn’t traveled much move to a new and unfamiliar place, it’s a common situation that, at least in the beginning, they try not to embrace new environment but to adapt it to their needs and expectations. And they get frustrated when new environment pushes back.

One of my complaints after I moved to the U.S. was a taste of tomatoes. I remembered how great tomatoes that my grandmother grew in her garden were. I could eat them as is or with a little salt just biting from the fruit. Of course, at Grandma’s those were special variety tomatoes grown with love and care. But even those tomatoes that we would pick up at farms to where we were taken from schools and colleges with some strange notion to teach us to work were great.


With the experience of living in the new place comes the understanding that sometimes if you can’t find something that was so popular in another country it’s because there is no demand for it; if you do not like something, there’s a chance that you’re getting that something of not the best quality; and if something isn’t as good as you remember it to be, it might be because you are not in your twenties any more.

So at some point I persuaded myself that I was just buying wrong tomatoes and switched to local heirloom tomatoes during the season. Those tasted better but still not exactly how I remembered ripe tomatoes from a vine. “I’m not twenty anymore; tomatoes are just fine…” – I told myself and stopped thinking about it… until I read this article. I wasn’t that far off after all: American tomatoes suck.

What does it have to do with perfumes? – are probably asking those of you who made it to this point.

For a while cluster tomatoes were my answer to the lost tomato quest. They weren’t much better than any other variety I tried but at least the scent of the vine, on which they came, reminded me of those wonderfully flavorful tomatoes from my childhood. And when I tried this new perfume it reminded me of the scent of a tomato stem.

Cognoscenti Tomato Leather

Scent No.16 Tomato Leather by Cognoscenti – created in 2012 by Dannielle Sergent, notes include tomato leaf, clary sage, linden blossom, leather, black agarwood, benzoin, frankincense, myrrh and tobacco. I don’t know what is that with different companies and the numbers, but, in my opinion, it’s an awful idea to name perfumes with numbers if you’re not Chanel. I’m glad Cognoscenti decided to go with a subtitle for at least two of their perfumes.

Other than tomato leaves (stem), I do not smell any of the notes listed. I’m not saying there are no other notes there, the perfume has some complexity but the notes are blended in such a way that I do not recognize even those that I usually can easily pick out – linden, agarwood and tobacco. I smell something that I attribute to the “leather” part of the name but leather in Tomato Leather doesn’t remind me any other leathers I’m closely familiar with.

Tomato Leather is a truly unisex perfume: there is nothing daring in wearing it either by a man or a woman. I wonder if it has any sweetness to it: I cannot smell it at all but there might be something that my nose doesn’t register.

Cognoscenti launched its line just a couple of months ago during the First Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco; and recently they’ve added an online store where you can buy samples* for all three perfumes from the line. You can buy bottles as well but I assume you’d like to test them first.

Cognoscenti Perfumes

I like almost everything about Cognoscenti – the reasonable number of perfumes in the initial collection, design of their bottles, packaging and samples availability. “Almost” because I wish they had smaller bottles – 30 ml (or even less). I think that Cognoscenti’s perfumes are very interesting and unusual. I’m just not sure that I need 50 ml of any of the two scents that I liked. But I’m tempted because I like them and would love to wear from time to time. I’ll see what to do once my samples are gone.


Images: tomatoes – my friend M., perfumes – my own.

* Disclaimer: I got my samples from the brand at the Fragrance Salon not for the review; recently I won the random draw for another sample set at Cafleure Bon where you can read Tama’s review for the line. I haven’t been approached by the brand or compensated in any way.

UPDATE: Now the brand offers 5 ml travel bottles