Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Leather Sample Revisit

Image source.

At the beginning of my perfume journey I was very fond of leathers for a while. Several of my favorite perfumes had a lot of leather and I sampled a lot of different leathers. I have since moved on a bit. I still love leather but now I'm most fond of really skanky leather or in combination with creamy white florals or gourmand notes.

I am a sample hoarder and I still have most of those leather samples that I loved way back when... so I thought that it would be interesting to revisit some of them. In this post I'll only be talking about those scents that I remember loving but that I haven't touched since my tastes changed. That makes a half dozen samples for me to reacquaint myself with. All of them scents that I haven't tried in about two years. Two years might not sound like a whole lot of time, but I only started sampling niche perfume about three years ago and it has been a really tumultuous journey, with a very steep learning curve and a constantly evolving taste It feels like much more than three years! I'll be sniffing these leathers with a completely different nose now. So this should be interesting!

Enchanticals Perfume Dungeon - This first scent I am revisiting is not a niche perfume at all actually. It's an indie oil. But I loved it during my leather phase and haven't tried it since, so I'll include it. This is pretty much a solinote leather. Cold and sharply herbal, musky and with a slight saffron-like sweetness in the background. I still find this to be the most photorealistic leather I have ever sampled. It smells almost exactly like my black leather jacket, especially after the chilly herbal top notes have calmed a bit. I wouldn't wear this today, it's just a bit too cold and not sweet enough or animalic enough for me... And it is a bit simplistic, solinotes tend to bore me a bit nowadays. But it is impressively realistic and might make a good layering tool!

The following four scents were all a part of the same sample order two years ago. The order was all leather and made at the height of my leather craze. Two months later I was over the leather and deep into gourmands. ;)

Blood Concept O - I remember being very intrigued by the concept of this line and I really enjoyed sampling this one. Then I just forgot about the sample and never looked back. It has lingered in my collection for reference and because I enjoyed the experience but I don't think I have worn it even once since that first time. This time around I'm not even intrigued by it. I am so extremely bored by birch tar leathers nowadays. I just can't understand why almost every single leather perfume is full of birch tar. Sorry perfumers of the world, but birch tar has nothing to do with leather according to my nose. Birch tar is just a slightly smoky burning chemical sort of scent. And it gives me a headache. I have no idea what my nose was thinking when it enjoyed birch tar. So, my verdict on Blood Concept O is that these days it doesn't even register as a leather, it is just a mess of something weirdly metallic and burning chemicals...

Tauer Lonestar Memories - I am actually pleasantly suprised when I put this one on. It is another smoky birch tar sort of leather but it is a lot sweeter than I remember it being. I remember it as very smoky and quite acrid with a background of amber resins. Now I get a lot of smoky sweet myrrh! It is actually reminding me quite a lot of the drydown of vintage Shalimar extrait. It has that same combo of smoky leather and sweet resins! I don't know if this is because my sample has aged or just that my nose has evolved. Later on in the drydown I get more amber/labdanum instead of myrrh which is not as nice... But in any case, a much more enjoyable experience than I was expecting! I already have vintage Shalimar though, so I won't be needing Lonestar Memories.

Etat Libre D'Orange Rien - When I look at the notes list of this one these days, well... I don't even want to put it on. Incense, aldehydes, patchouli, labdanum... all are notes that really don't agree with me these days. It simply looks like one big headache! I actually can't remember my impressions of this one when I first tried it, but I loved it according to the rating I gave it on Fragrantica. And it seems to have been all leather to my nose back then. To think that my tastes have changed so radically! It certainly doesn't smell like leather at all now! I get aldehydes and a bit of oakmoss at first, along with some of that synthetic earthiness that is supposed to smell like soil but is much too clean. After a while I do get some leatheriness, but a very abstract sort of leather, not at all realistic. I only recognize it as leather because I have a whole lot of mainstream perfumes telling me that this is what leather smells like, even though it really doesn't. The drydown is ambery with some patchouli thrown in. Nope, this one just smells really thin, watery and generic now.

Parfum D'Empire Cuir Ottoman - For a while there I had a thing for iris and powdery scents in general and I really loved this combo of iris and leather. I've since left that phase behind me so it was interesting to try this one again. I remember Cuir Ottoman as a powdery leather, a very elegant and refind sort of scent. Pretty much a straight up iris leather. But when I now put it on it smells really fruity and much sweeter than I remember. Kind of a jammy iris on a background of slightly smoky leather. And it does still smell like leather to me! Not as realistic as Dungeon but pretty close to what a leather accord should be like imho. After a while the iris gets less jammy and more the usual powdery makeup vibe. Yeah... this is a lovely ladylike leather handbag sort of scent. Very pretty, just not at all my thing anymore.

Olfactive Studio Chambre Noire - A little less than two years ago I bought, on impulse, a really affordable set of large samples of the whole line from Olfactive Studio. None of the scents were really my thing, but the line was hyped and it was a very cheap set... I was rather over leather by then but I still enjoyed Chambre Noire the most. According to my notes I fund it to be a lovely powdery leather with some wood and spices. This time around I get very little leather actually. It is more of a woody plum with some peppery spice and hints of dry but not very smoky incense. What little leather I get is similarly abstract and generic as in Rien. Chambre Noire as a whole strikes me now as pretty generic. Nice but nothing at all special.

So, have you tried any of these? What are your favorite, and not so favorite, leathers? Do you at all want to smell like leather?


  1. Fascinating how a sophisticated perfume palette can change over time! I don't know half those scents but I understand the idea of tastes changing! Although after all this time my favourite perfume is still Madame X by Alkemia. It also smells similar to my favourite plant scent, Jasmine!

    1. Some perfumes stick with you forever! I have some favorites too that I have never wavered on!

  2. I'm not a huge leather perfume fan but I have my favorites. Chanel Cuir de Russie and Tauer Lonestar Memories (it works for me while Shalimar doesn't), to name a few.

    1. I have yet to try Cuir de Russie, but it's such a classic that I really should. Too bad that Shalimar doesn't work for you! But you see the similarity right? I'm not crazy, right? ;)

      These days my favorite leather dominated perfume is Mona di Orio Cuir!

    2. I should test these side by side to check: I've never thought about Lonestar Memories that way and now I'm curious.
      You should try CdR - for educational purposes if nothing else. But I suspect that the modern version might be a little too "safe" for your taste. I'll be curious to read your take on it once you tried it.