Christian Dior La Collection Leather Oud – by Nava

After last week’s incense discussion veered off into oud territory, I remembered I had samples of the new Dior scents, and went straight for Leather Oud. I’ve always been partial to leather (Chanel Cuir de Russie, Fifi Chachnil, Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman, to name a few), but I wrote that oud tends to overwhelm me. I also mentioned reading that “oud is the new vanilla”; it has definitely become the ingredient “du jour” in perfumery.

I’ve also been borderline obsessed with the house of Dior this week; the tasteless revelations of their creative director, John Galliano, were very upsetting to me. As the child of a Holocaust survivor, it pains me greatly to hear people make ignorant statements like the ones Galliano made, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. His actions started me wondering why such creative individuals are often times so “off kilter”. Granted, I make my living as a writer, but my brain doesn’t tend to misfire in the same way as other creative types. I understand that the pressure one must deal with in the fashion world is incredibly intense, but to blithely make those comments in a Paris café, well, there is no excuse. In my opinion, Mr. Galliano got what he deserved, and the venerable house of Dior is better off without him. Still, I will go on contemplating the the inner workings of the creative brain, and what differentiates it from other brains. It is one of the enduring mysteries of life.

Anyway, back to fragrance.

I had a brief interlude with a decant of Eau Noire several years ago. I’ve always loved lavender scents, and Eau Noire is a lavender that is anything but typical. It was hard to find here in North America, and much as I wanted to acquire a full bottle of it, I never did. Now, it’s been reintroduced as part of “La Collection”, along with eight other scents. Based on looks alone, I love the simple, elegant bottles, and that they are a huge 250 ml size. When you want to make an impression, I say, make it. And these scents definitely make an impression.

When a fragrance is well done, you just know it. It doesn’t matter if you buy it at a department store, a specialty shop, or even if it has a celebrity’s name on it. It can be niche or mainstream, or concocted in someone’s basement; I don’t care. When a scent has the name “Christian Dior” on it, your expectations will tend to be high, as mine were when I first smelled these scents. Coincidentally, I happened to be looking for an oud that wasn’t going to knock me over; I think oud is turning out to be another one of those ingredients that, for me, needs to be tempered with something else. If not, chances are I’ll run screaming from it and never go near it again. So, here we have oud and leather, along with clove, cardamom, leather, Gaiac wood, cedar and sandalwood. It isn’t feminine by any means, but a woman who loves a good leather scent isn’t going to care. Woods can be made frilly, as we know, but in their unadulterated state, mixed with spices and leather, they’re stunning. And that’s the way I like them.

Disclosure: My sample of Leather Oud was obtained from a private party.



  • angie Cox says:

    Thank-goodness someone is talking about Galliano’s remarks. The man is not just an idiot but obviously has no sense of history and little compassion. I am not Jewish and who has to be to feel the agony. There is no way being drunk turns you into a fascist .I would like to have a loop tape made of Stephen Fry crying as he tried to say the word Auschwitz on his “Who Do You Think You Are “.It makes me gulp back tears myself .

  • jen says:

    At the Dior show, instead of Galliano coming out, they had all the seamstresses and other people who worked there come out–it was a very creative way to end the show.;)

  • tammy says:

    Anti-semitism never went very far underground in Europe, and is on the rise again world wide.

    What appalls me is that it gets so little coverage. If you mention it at all, you’re immediately branded a right-wing conspiracy theorist in most circles. I do not for one minute believe Galliano’s creativity nor inebriation had anything to do with his disgusting bigotry; one doesn’t say anything drunk that one doesn’t think when sober.

    Rant off, my apologies; it’s a touchy subject for me.

    Leather is a difficult note for me; I can smell what I can see is meant to be leather, but it goes sour-ish on me. I had no idea that the Chachnill was a leather, though; I love it. I get mostly amber from it.

  • Persolaise says:

    This was easily one of the best things I tried last year. So warm and rich and complex and interesting… I was completely seduced after the first sniff.

  • Bevfred says:

    I enjoyed your review as always Nava. I love oud and look forward to trying the new Dior line. I asked about them at Holt’s and they didn’t know what I was talking about!

    As far as Galliano goes, his arrogance and ego knows no bounds and has become poisonous. Shame.

  • Flora says:

    Nava, the Galliano incident is unfortunate, but it’s even more sad that his ongong behavior was tolerated for so long. I was unaware of that ugly aspect of his personality.

    I am looking forward to trying these and really hope Leather Oud works on me, I also want a wearable,straight-up wood scent with no frills or sweetness sometimes, and it’s hard to find these days. (I could wear a Montale oud but then I would have to lock myself in the house…)

  • nozknoz says:

    Thanks for this review, Nava. I wasn’t taken with this one or Mitzah on first sniff, but I’ve come around to Mitzah and can see I should try Leather Oud again. I did enjoy New Look 1947 a lot on the less cold days of winter; I’d like a bottle but not a vat ;-) The vetiver is nice, too.

  • Erin T says:

    We have had stomach flu around here, as well as a family funeral yesterday, and so I have been living under a rock and had not heard about John Galliano. I am deeply saddened, because I loved a lot of his fashion work. It makes me totally sick to think of it. And angry! I feel like Karl Lagerfield. (And it’s not often I feel like that…) The creative brain is a weird place, but it should not be blamed for this: these ignorant, repulsive, deeply stupid words come from one man, unconscionably drunk and apparently hateful. No brain involved, I hope.

  • Musette says:

    I decided to try the Leather Oud on one wrist and vintage Diorling edt on the other. I thought the Diorling would eat the LO’s lunch but you know what? The LO held its own. The LO has a structured base, which helps fix the lighter composition while letting the leather glow. I certainly won’t be putting the Diorling away in favor of the Leather Oud but I could certainly see myself wearing it when Diorling is just a tad too much (which is nearly never ;)) but you know what I mean).

    xo >-)

  • Ann says:

    Hi Nava, nice review! I have yet to try this Dior but hope to soon, although leather and oud are not so good on me. I like the Mitzah and the Bois d’Argent very much though, and the New Look 1947 is nice as well. Have a great weekend!

  • Karen G says:

    “Creative” brains aren’t any more “off-kilter” than other brains. I think the formula goes like this: Money + Ego + Entitlement Issues + Alcohol and Drugs = Raging A$$hole.

    I also like my ouds mixed with other notes, and I love soft leathers. But these huge vats of fume are making me cranky!

  • Sherri M. says:

    Also glad Dior let Galliano go! My take on his being “off-kilter” is it has more to him having a mega-arrogant ego and vicious spirit within than it does to his being “creative”.

    I also surprisingly liked Leather Oud alot. I was afraid it might veer a little too masculine, but it is definitely unisex enough. Like Olfacta, I was very surprised how short-lived, especially for leather and oud together!

    Do these new Diors only come in the ginormous 8.5 oz. $225 size, or is there a $150 size avail. somewhere? On the website, they come up as, for example “New Look 1947, from $150”, but then it defaults to the big 8.5 $225 size. I thought maybe someone had mentioned they might be available in the smaller size.

    Thanks Nava for the great review and happy Friday everyone! :-)

    • Nava says:

      You’re welcome, Sherri. I was also looking for the smaller sized bottles, but did not find them…

    • Masha says:

      I hope they find a talented designer with a sweeter spirit to replace him. There must be many out there, waiting for a chance. But today, it seems that the worst behavior is fashionable. I’d love to see a moderate, compassionate soul become the height of fashion for a change! I think the world could use that right now.

    • Austenfan says:

      ” My take on his being “off-kilter” is it has more to him having a mega-arrogant ego and vicious spirit within than it does to his being “creative”.”

      I so agree with this. It was my first thought; he has become to big for his boots. Why that makes him anti-semite I don’t know. But I’m sure he thought he could get away with it.

      I don’t see his creativity as being related to this behaviour at all. It actually reminded me of some of the older consultants in the hospital where I trained. They too thought they could get away with anything. And I don’t think doctors are best known for being creative.

  • Olfacta says:

    Not being in the market for couture clothing, I really don’t know much about Galliano’s work. I’m glad he got tossed, but he’ll resurface somewhere. In a recent Vanity Fair article about Mel Gibson, former super-agent Sue Mengers, who is Jewish, blithely said “Everybody’s anti-Semitic.” Sometimes I wonder if that’s true. Being creative is no excuse, imho. All that aside, I tried Leather Oud last week and liked it, but it was astonishingly short-lived on my skin. Especially for a leather, and especially for an oud! Maybe that’s why the huge bottle?

    • Nava says:

      That’s a pretty infuriating comment for someone to make: “Everybody’s anti-Semetic”. As for the creative aspect, I read earlier this week about the study of deceased athlete’s brains, and the evidence of trauma at the hands of their chosen careers. Could their be similar “trauma” in the artistic brain? /:)

      • Masha says:

        I wonder if Sue Mengers said that just as part of the “armor” she must have had to develop over the years. It’s a very sad commentary.

      • Olfacta says:

        Hi Nava — Well, since Mengers was one of the models for the Ari Gold character in “Entourage”…she was loud, crude, vulgar, obnoxious and given to rash, impulsive statements like that one. In my experience with that particular subculture — L.A. media types — it’s ok to say things like that as long as you’re Jewish. As far as athletes are concerned, their bodies take so much abuse, and they take so much stuff to deal with it, and head injuries happen in just about any sport, I’m amazed they have any brain left at all. Oh, wait. Michael Vick.

        Never mind!

        • Nava says:

          I tried so hard to get into “Entourage” but the Ari Gold character made me cringe.

          The brain issue has been all over the media here in Canada this week because of findings from Bob Probert, a former hockey player who died last summer at the age of 45. His brain was donated to research concussion trauma, and the findings were disturbing to say the least. That’s what got me thinking about the association between drug abuse/creativity/athlete’s brains. It’s fascinating.

    • Darryl says:

      In a nutshell: Galliano’s couture work for Dior was the stuff of dreams. Even the most clueless non-fashionista could look at his stuff and say, “Wow”, and probably a good deal more. It’s a shame that we’ll never see his unique, theatrical-but-practical take on the classic Dior look again, but he got what he deserved. Like Austenfan below, I blame his outbursts on an inflated ego, not his creative mind.

  • Melissa says:

    Leather Oud and Mitzah were the only two from this large group of releases that I liked enough to really catch my attention. Leather Oud in particular is unique and sniffable. Oud with leather, smoke, a touch of sweetness, an animalic note lingering in the background…

    I really like to play with fragrances like this-to study their development or to compare them side-by-side with others. In fact your post inspired me to pull out my little decant, put some on one hand, and put some Kilan Pure Oud on the other. The Dior is more complex I think. The Kilian is smooth and easier to wear, although it has a subtle barnyard feel to it as well. 250 ml of the Dior would be way too much of a good thing though!

    • Nava says:

      Those are shaping up to be my favourites as well, Melissa. I love the fact that the patch in Mitzah is very understated. We all know how I feel about too much patchouli!

  • sara says:

    Lovely review Nava! You’ve got me wanting to try Leather Oud. Galliano’s remarks upset me but they came as no surprise, sadly. Racism runs wider and deeper than any of us want to believe.

  • Masha says:

    What shocked and saddened me about the Paris fashion scene was how LONG Galliano (allegedly) was allowed to make anti-Semitic comments at people, obviously and in public, with no accountability at all- the news reported he’d been videotaped doing the same thing in December of 2010. And the racism scandal with Guerlain, how deep does this nastiness in the world of Parisian haute couture go?? I’m glad I don’t own any Dior perfume.

    • Nava says:

      I said the same thing until I learned that the Dior cosmetics/fragrance franchise is owned by LVMH. But, all the same, the fallout from Galliano’s behaviour is no different than that of Charlie Sheen’s: when there is a pile of money on the table that could choke a rhino, it’s always baffling what people are willing to overlook.

      • Masha says:

        Agreed, Nava!

        • Musette says:

          There’s a good article on this in today’s NYTimes called “The Disposable Woman” Substitute (any) ethnic and it says a lot.

          I totally deplore Galliano’s filthy outbursts. But I also agree with Sue Mengers (again, insert sex/race/orientation) – I’ve been exposed to bigotry and racism my whole life – to my way of thinking what you think is not as important as how you ‘manage’ it. Speaking it/acting on it is totally unacceptable. As far as creative types ….I think it’s more that we are more ‘aware’ of them. Nobody Tweets about JimBob mouthing off at the local bar, after 2nd shift (and believe me, there is a LOT of that b-(

          But on to the Oud….see below

          xo >-)

          • Nava says:

            Creative types have many more outlets than just the local bars nowadays. That is both a blessing and a curse in my opinion.