My oldest daughter sniffed my sample of Russisch Leder and said, “it smells like some nasty thing the dog would roll in.” She´s always looking for a more poetic way to say my perfume is disgusting. But it never stops her from smelling something; in fact, there´s a certain Fear-Factor thrill to sniffing mom´s perfume which she clearly enjoys. (Number Two daughter, on the other hand, has never forgiven me for CB Musk.) This post is partly inspired by a recent blogversation in which the idea was raised that one can own too much leather fragrance. I, March the Maleficent, am puzzled by this concept and cannot make sense of it, although it appears to be written in English. That is like saying “too much wine.” Or too much air. You can have enough of something (for instance, rose fragrances – I have five or six and I´m done, thank you). But there is never too much leather, and here are a few that, while not new, are new to me. An aside: all of these were gift decants that appeared on my doorstep. Where would perfume addiction (and blogging) be without the sharing of samples, particularly the rare, the unusual, the vintage and the otherwise-impossible-to-get? I am amazed at the generosity of some of my fellow perfume fans (you know who you are!). Anyway, on to the post…

Farina Gegenuber Russisch Leder does, in fact, smell like something my dog would roll in, and if I could get my hands on a bottle (hope springs eternal on eBay) I´d roll in it too. Notes are bergamot, lavender, lemon, petitgrain, basil, fern, vetiver, cedarwood, patchouli, carnation, aldehyes, leather, moss, musk, civet, castoreum, vanilla, labdanum. Okay, take in those last few ingredients in that vintage formulation – because Russisch Leder is a filthy, rank juice, and if you ever see it on eBay, don´t buy it, because it will give you nightmares and make your nether parts shrivel. (While you are not bidding on Russisch Leder, you can amuse yourself by typing “leder” into the search engines of eBay – the mind boggles, really.) I’m in awe of the amazing morph from the “classic cologne” petitgrain-bergamot-etc. opening of the topnotes into Skankapalooza, with strong notes of leather and musk before the civet rears its dirty little fanny.

Le Labo Patchouli – It bears a resemblance to the newer version of Kolnisch Juchten – smoke, some leather, not much development, no discernable patch. That´s the whole story, and sometimes short stories are the best stories. A winner for your smoke and leather fans. You might not need both LL Patchouli and the new KJ, but you definitely need one of them. By the way, here´s Judith´s Special Sauce: Le Labo Patch layered with Lonestar Memories and CB Musk. Caution: I cannot be held responsible for neighborhood dogs following you down the street, howling.

Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia – my own answer to Bvlgari Black, which I admire as a concept, but I cannot get past the sex-shop rubber in the opening. Nostalgia is a wonderful amalgam of leather and car-repair-shop that dries down into a moderately civilized “men” scent. One of the weirder things I have smelled that turns out to be quite wearable, and a significant departure for the genteel SMN line, along with Kyoto.

Santa Maria Novella Peau d´Espagne – is this really from 1901? What were those people up to? Why did it take me until 2006 to discover it? Unlike some commenters on Basenotes, I get no “Tabasco” note – it´s pure, unadulterated leather to me. It´s refined and genteel, but not quite so expensive smelling as…

L´Artisan Bottega Veneta Intreccio room spray – I have a sample of #1, not #2 (both are available on lusciouscargo.com). It is a room spray but don’t worry, your arm won´t fall off. I am assuming the name refers to the distinctive intrecciato (woven) style of the Bottega handbags. I believe the scent (this is a candle too) was created by Olivia Giacobetti, and it is supposed to smell like an old farmhouse, with a library, old wood and new-mown hay. To me it smells more like burying your head inside a brand-new luxe leather purse, an opinion I´m going to confirm with my next trip to Saks (do you think sniffing the handbags will prompt a call to security?) The most luxury-leather fragrance I can think of.

What are your favorite leather scents, and why?

PS– if you care, my list of tolerable roses: SL Rose de Nuit, 100% Love, Malle Une Rose, Rosine Ecume and Homme, OJ Ta´if, the loathed TDC Rose Poivree, Paestum Rose, and Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare. (Wow, nine!) In general, nothing brings on a migraine quite like a prominent rose note.

  • Leopoldo says:

    Never tried the Cuir Amethyste – will seek it out – like so much stuff, I’ve skipped those Armani Prives up til now.

  • March says:

    Coumarin, huh? I think that’s one of the things they’re banning because your arm’s gonna fall off./:) You know, like everyone’s arms are falling off from the great Coumarin Plague.

    Eugene didn’t make that donation — I actually recognize that one! Eugenol is related to (or the same as?) oil of clove, used in old-fashioned dentistry… excellent topical anesthetic, have you sprayed Anais in your mouth?;)

    I bet our crappy TJMaxx doesn’t even have Anais. But I’ll look. I think I have to go to a “real” perfume store, like JCPenney…

  • patchamour says:

    March, No vintage for that Anais Anais — just a TJMaxx mini, still made by Cacharel. The box lists ionone, oakmoss extract and treemoss extract, farnesol and coumarin, among other -hydes and -hexyls — in addition to Eugenol, which I think may be an extract derived from a guy named Eugene, by what process I’m unable to fully grasp.

  • March says:

    Patch — Anais Anais?!? Really?

    Would I have to try a vintage, or is a new one okay?

  • March says:

    Vi — don’t worry, I always revisit the stuff I don’t like, knowing that I may come around. The drydown of Black is probably amazing, but ugh — that rubber!

    Is that the DKNY parfum, the weird robo-duck bottle? (Did you bring this up when I asked about it?) Nobody stocks it, I can’t find anything stronger than the EDT. Gonna keep looking.

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — no Yatagan!?!?

    To me it’s the perfect scent for the Walk of Shame. But now I’m too old and boring.

    Have you smelled the Armani Cuir Amethyste? For some reason I’m thinking you’d like it.

  • March says:

    V, I believe it was your encouragement that finally allowed me to appreciate Bandit. Dzing! I love but it smells better on other people, on me the leather is very muted.

  • March says:

    Angela — we’re definitely bringing you on the trip to Paris. I have a hunch you’d be fun to shop with.

  • March says:

    Robin — I was surprised by how elegant the L’Artisan was. I’m not sure what I was expecting– something less refined, I guess. But for a BV scent, it’s perfect.

  • patchamour says:

    Leather is the best! I think most of my faves have been named: Cuir de Russie, if it would just stick around a little longer. Tabac Blond, ditto. Cabochard. Ambre Russe and the very best of all, to me, Cuir Ottoman. Aftelier’s Leather is pretty interesting, with a hint of bourbon. I’m basing that on the one-drop sample, though. And then there’s Anais Anais, which gets such a bad rap — powdery, old lady, etc. But the drydown on me is luscious, comforting leather. I’ve got on the Ambre Russe, Cuir Ottoman, and Aftelier L. right now, and the nose is stuck to the arm
    🙂 Has anybody bottled roasted turkey?

  • March says:

    Tigs — if you love Yatagan, you can spend the next year blogging the glories of Jessica Simpson dessert and I’ll still think you’re perfect.

    Somebody — lucky? luscious? sells samples of the L’Artisan, I think.

  • March says:

    P — neener neener neener! AND the damn candle. And your little dog too!!!! Yeah, I saw those pouch things …:-“

  • March says:

    Carmen — Ignore your silly SO … they can’t have perfect taste in everything, can they? I loved the vintage KJ so much that I ran off and bought a bottle on eBay about 5 minutes later. I like it because it’s got that whole interesting cologne aspect to it (which it shares with Russisch Leder, BTW). Then on me it slowly drifts into that meat-smoke thing…. it’s a profoundly strange scent, but very wearable in my opinion. Certainly it’s much closer to the skin than the newer formulation, which is great but hardly subtle. I love it with CB Musk, because I find the sweetness of the musk balances the smokiness perfectly. If that’s too disgusting, experiment with layering it with some other musk …. I also need to get another decant of Tea for Two, I want to try that layered with KJ.

    That is … a horrifyingly perfect description of rose. I felt a little ill reading it.

  • March says:

    P — I wish Dzing didn’t smell like elephant poop on me. I mean, JUST elephant poop, I don’t get any of the rest of the fun.

    I wore CA on Saturday night … I keep thinking it’s deserving of its own post again. Amazing stuff.

    Let’s go to Paris!

  • March says:

    Elle — that’s a list of heavy hitters … not a head of c*l*ry in the bunch…/:)

  • violetnoir says:

    Buttcrack woman, I can’t believe you don’t love Bulgari Black! You need to re-visit it for me, okay?

    Donna Karan New York parfum (only the parfum) has a great leather/cashmere/casablanca lily mix.


  • Leopoldo says:

    I go up and down on leathers – a;ways have, always will. But, you dearest March, are truly the Dirty Gerty leather flirty…

    for me it’s
    Cuir Ottoman
    Knize Ten
    Lonestar Memories
    and Yatagan for its whacked out wildness (I NEVER wear it).

  • Victoria says:

    Leather is one of my favourite notes, although it took me some time to begin to appreciate it. I love the leather note in Bulgari Black. Dzing! is one of my all-time favourites too.

  • AngelaS says:

    Dzing!, Jolie Madame, vintage Cabochard, and the leather in Bal a Versailles are my favorites right now. And please sign me up for the trip to Paris! (A girl can dream.)

  • Patty says:

    And the damn candle. You owe my children Christmas now. Did you know they also sell that scent in cute little leather pouches?

  • Robin says:

    Sadly, I am among those who think you only need just so many leather scents. Love the OGs for L’Artisan BV though, and now I want to try SMN Nostalgia.

  • Tigs says:

    Oh, and darn you and Ina for that L’Artisan. I must seek it out…

  • Tigs says:

    I have to admit I’m not much on the pure, unadultered leather. I love Yatagan, Bandit and Le Parfum de Therese, if these count as leathers. And then, of course, Cuir de Russie.

  • Patty says:

    AND I really hate that I now have to get that L’Artisan Room spray!!!

  • carmencanada says:

    No, you can never have too many leather scents… The word is like magic to me, my precioussssssssss. Let me add to your, Marina’s and Elle’s list: Miss Balmain, in the vintage form. Nothing pink and prissy about that miss. And now, pray clarify your position on KJ in the vintage form: do you like it or not? I’ve bought a bottle unsniffed, inspired by Marina’s review, and ever since my SO exclaimed: Frankfurters! I’ve been a bit put off… What would you layer it with, or will it kill anything coming within its radius?
    Oh, and I’m glad to find that I’m not the only one to get migraine from rose notes. I just wish I could wear them, but they smell like the moment before you’re going to be carsick.

  • Patty says:

    chanel cuir de russie
    Andy’s wonderful Lonestar Memories
    Knize 10
    Armani’s Cuir Amethyst

    Now, I can have enough leather (don’t beat me, Mistress March!) just because those above are perfect, and I could even narrow it down to LM, CA and Dzing, and my world would be complete as far as leather.

    BTw, I can vouch for how much fun it is to shop with march… she WILL stick her head in handbags. Is still think we need to organize a small group of us going to Paris. 🙁

  • Elle says:

    Of *course* you can never have too much leather. Please. What a silly idea. Love all the ones you mentioned and Marina pretty much added all my other favs, except for PdN’s Baladin, Cuir Mauresque, Cuiron, Cabochard (vintage parfum), Pascal Morabito’s Or Black and Jolie Madame (vintage parfum).

  • March says:

    M — I love most of the leathers on your list, probably KJ, Cuir de Russie, Derby, Lonestar and Yatagan (!) the most. Yatagan … I owe you forever for that one.

  • March says:

    Kuri — I love to sniff. There’s nothing like going out with a fellow fragrance nut… dang, I have to find out where my mods are!

    Watch out, the leather’s a slippery slope!

  • March says:

    Judith — somehow I thought you’d like these!;)

    Wow, not sure I find the Patch a “comfort scent” but I do really, really like it. Maybe even more than the (new) KJ, it’s got more interesting stuff going on in the background…

    Boy, you continue to be an accurate barometer for what I like! FWIW The 100% Love is absolutely the only choco scent I own — something about the combination with the rose and incense makes it something else entirely to me — a non-food. (I too would rather eat than wear.)

    Poivree. Heh. Just you and me, probably.

  • March says:

    Sariah — huh, wonder if I got kicked off the MBB mailing list? It’s been awhile since I got any samps.

    Katie’s I liked, except she likes more of a marine note than I do, and one of them smelled like B.O. But always fun to sample!

  • March says:

    Chaya — it’s true, I have some things I like to keep around just to smell rather than to wear them, necessarily. In fact, most of the roses on my list at the bottom would fall into that category.

    Nostalgia smells very odd on me (and I guess everyone else) for maybe 15 minutes, but the drydown is quite civilized.

  • March says:

    cinnamontoast — thanks for the info! That’s a pretty amazing array of impressions. I’m always wondering how much of our differences is skin chemistry and how much is perception — i.e., the same fragrance on a test strip is your rubber but my leather. I’ll have to re-smell; I get NOTHING like cinammon or vanilla!

  • Marina says:

    …and there isn’t enough caffeine in my system yet, I forgot to mention:
    Miss Dior
    Knize Ten
    Tabac Blond
    Lonestar Memories
    Vie de Chateau and

    …basically if it is a leather scent…I love it :d

  • Marina says:

    That makes two of us, because I haven’t forgiven you for CB Musk either :d

    Favorite leathers:
    Cuir Ottoman
    Kolnisch Juchten in any form
    Cuir de Russie (Chanel)
    Cuir Venenum

  • kuri says:

    =)) It sounds like it’d be a trip to go shopping with you March! Wonderful reviews. The only leathers I’ve ever tried are Katie’s mods.

  • Judith says:

    Adding–on the roses: Poivree and Rose de Nuit are two of my all-time favorites, and I like all the others except for 100% Love (I think I’m the only one who feels like this, but I can’t take the chocolate note; if I made a list of tolerable chocolate scents, it would be very short indeed–which is weird, because I love to eat the stuff)

  • Judith says:

    Well, I do like all of these (aurprise, surprise):) And I agree that there’s a similarity between new KJ and Le Labo Patch (in fact, on my first time in the store, a sniffing friend called me over to the Patch saying “this one’s similar to the weird bacon scent you like [i.e., KJ]. But I strongly disagree that one might get by with only one of them. I absolutely urgently need both. For reasons I am almost afraid to analyze, the Patch is an ultimate comfort scent for me; and the KJ is a go-anywhere, anytime (go figure!):)

    Chaya–They are nostalgic for old cars. There is a picture of the steering wheel of one on the bottle, and they claim that it smells like one. I agree (very suggestable here):), although the Colombina family begs to differ!

  • sariah says:

    I’ve only tried the Le Labo Patchouli once, but it was serious BBQ on me, like Mesquite BBQ or something. It was a no go. But love the other super smoky one – the vetiver.

    My favorite leather is Tabac Blond. I like the Bandit too, if that counts as leather.

    Have you smelled the Made-by-Blog latest round? Some serious leather going on there. That Katie must be one brave girl.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Hello, my restless one !
    You had me at dogs in tow, howling…
    What I wouldn’t give to have THAT !
    [BTW, 19 years ago, I fed Isaac so often, that all the cats in Southie, who had never previously shown significant interest, followed me down the street mewling piteously in my wake…]:d
    You are spot on about the SMN Nostalgia… what exactly were they nostalgic for?
    It’s a lot of fun to smell, but I haven’t quite geared myself up to put it on my own flesh, as yet.
    How very unlike me.

    Thanks for being the evil pleasure in my day, deargirl…

  • cinnamontoast says:

    Interesting on Le Labo Patchouli 24: I get smoke and rubber and then vanilla; my father got cinnamon; a guy I work with loved it — he got vanilla too. On me it starts out dense, almost metallic and weird in a lovely way. Then dries down to the vanilla (and cinnamon). Long-lasting and a great one for spraying in hair and cleavage.

    And I’m definitely with you on no patchouli!