has punted is too busy shopping doing a lot of macaron and wine fragrance research in Paris right now and will be back soon with lots of interesting perfume-age, so today you’re stuck with me.
Awhile back* I blogged on this Annick Goutal candle I love, Le Sac de Ma Mere (my mother’s purse), which smells like the inside of a lady’s handbag, with accompanying smells of cologne, face powder, lipstick, etc. The candle description from the Annick Goutal website: “Childhood scents stay engraved in our memories. Camille Goutal has created the magic of memory by recalling the fragrance of her mother’s handbag. It is a scented candle in which the dizzying smell of tanned leather is mixed with powder blush and lipstick. Ingredients: Russian leather, Iris, Violet, Oak moss.” It would probably make a great room spray (which I would wear) and I tried layering various leather fragrances with various cosmetic-smelling powdery fragrances and never even came close, because I wanted a fragrance that smelled like that candle.
I should ‘fess up that while I absolutely love leather in a fragrance, and think leather fragrances are amazing, they tend not to be things I wear much. At various times, various lovely people have gifted me with samples of rare, expensive, and/or unusual leathers. I love to take them out and smell them, but that’s as far as it goes. I know a lot of you are total leather freaks and own every leather out there, and more power to you.
I got a generous decant of Cuir de Lancome from a generous friend recently. I swooned at the first sniff — not because it is the single greatest leather on the planet, which clearly it is not, but because it was what I’d been yearning for — the effect (if not a precise dupe) of the smell of that candle, with expensive leather and something vaguely sweet. I looked it up online and I feel like a doofus — it was part of the Lancome La Collection reissue, and I saw the rest of them (Climat, Sikkim etc.) but never saw Cuir at a Lancome counter in the states.
Calice Becker is the perfumer, and the notes are mandarin, saffron, bergamot, patchouli, hawthorn, jasmine, ylang-ylang, orris root, birch and styrax. Cuir de Lancome was reintroduced in 2007, after which it sank like a stone, along with all the rest of La Collection that the Lancome SAs perversely hid behind the counters like the bottles were poisoned, so all you could find was their usual dreck.
This reissue of Cuir got mostly meh reviews. I’m going to side with Angela at Now Smell This who shares my admiration for its softness and elegance rather than focusing on its failings compared to other leathers, or to the original (1930s?) Lancome Cuir, which was apparently quite a smell to behold. For what it’s worth, Lancome doesn’t even list leather as a note — it’s a fake-out, probably as Angela notes astutely, the saffron among other things.
It paints a picture: a fine ladies’ vintage handbag, butter-soft leather gloves, lipstick, coin purse, handkerchief, violet pastilles, a few stray strands of tobacco. As a “Leather” it seems destined to disappoint. On its own terms, it is lovely. It is feminine without being girly, sophisticated but warm, dry rather than powdery. A big, warm hug to my benefactress, who was already being generous and made me even happier, I suspect, than she’d imagined.
A few online etailers like perfume.com carry it if you google, and there are several NIB on eBay. And all you leather freaks feel free to come out of the woodwork and sneer at me and/or recommend your favorite leathers, freaky or not.
PS And I think it speaks volumes for how crappy Lancome’s marketing was of the Collection that this is the best image I could find. What is wrong with those people?
*By the way, I just noted the date of that first post. A full year later, the (unlit) Goutal candle is still throwing out its delicious scent on the desk next to me while I blog.