It’s raining and I want leather.

Yeah, I don’t really get it either.

It’s rained every day since Sunday evening and is likely to keep raining through Friday.

And I’m craving Cuir de Lancome and Amouage Memoir Woman and Pierre Balmain Jolie Madame parfum (vintage, of course, because they don’t even make the parfum anymore).

Weird, huh? I’m not sure what the two things have to do with each other, if anything at all, but there you have it: I have rain, and I want floral leathers.

Jolie Madame is exactly like this:

leather bootsPlusviolets





Leather and violets. That’s it. Well, maybe a bit of gardenia in there too, but that is it – beautifully simple in its duality, but complex in that you get the boots and the blooms all together. Just that butch, just that girly.  There’s nothing else like it.  And be prepared to duke it out with me on eBay over the little parfum bottles – they come up fairly often, but I have a hard time not rescuing all of them, because I would be happy to live in Jolie Madame for the rest of my life. The first time I smelled the vintage parfum, I nearly fell over in a teary-eyed swoon.

Memoir Woman is weirder, of course, but I honestly find it one of the most compelling fragrances I’ve ever worn.  Difficult to describe – herbal, medicinal, packed full of sweet big white flowers, honeyed, smoky, leathery, furry and sexy.

Cuir de Lancome, when I first started to wear it, was an olfactory trip back  in time, to when my mother’s best purse was black leather outside and soft pale calfskin inside, and she’d sometimes let me rummage through it in church. It held her handkerchief, which smelled faintly of her Chanel No. 5, and her red lipstick (Maybelline, in a green case, but I don’t recall the name of the shade), a pressed-powder compact, and sometimes a wrapped hard butterscotch candy or two.   That was back before they started offering a “children’s church” option, where kids could go watch Bible story videos and have a snack and make a craft and bother people other than their parents, and my 10-years-younger brother was able to take advantage of that, but I spent a lot of Sunday morning sermon hours as a kid drawing on the bulletin and flipping through my kid’s Bible and daydreaming.  Now that I’ve been wearing Cuir de Lancome for several years, it smells like itself to me unless I concentrate on the leather.  Sadly, it’s discontinued, and the 50ml bottles that used to be found for $35 a pop at the online discounters are now less numerous and more expensive. Curses. (I’m getting a backup bottle for Mother’s Day, though.)

(Nope, this isn’t our working pen – it just looks like it. Image from

I’ve never gotten on well with the classic Chanel Cuir de Russie, regarded as many to be the ne plus ultra of floral leathers. It’s got notes of jasmine and iris as well as leather, but I simply cannot wear it. It’s too dry and powdery, and smells not like tanned leather to me but raw cowhide, plus something animalic that could be dry manure, as well as dust and iodine. Essentially, to me it smells like our cattle working pens. And I know I’m unusual in disliking it – I have one friend who describes it as “pale pink kidskin gloves” and another who says  it smells like the leather seat in the most luxurious of luxury automobiles.

Is there a floral leather – emphasis on the FLORAL, please, and please nobody suggest Bandit to me, because the last time I pulled that sample out it went straight for my jugular with a stiletto, and I barely got it recapped in time to save my life – that you love?  (Really looking for something that is equal parts flowers and hide, here, and not sueded, and not ambery, and not mostly-floral-with-a-leather-note. Which is, I admit, difficult to come by.)


22 thoughts on “It’s raining and I want leather.”

  1. I’ve never found a floral leather I love as much as CdL, but Fendi (also DC’ed, of course) is a very nice floriental-with-a-leather-note (not what you asked for, I know!)

    I recently tried Cuir Pleine Fleur and did not like it AT ALL. It smelled strongly of Irish Spring-type soap, like Grey Flannel with a wee bit of leather. Boo.

  2. Hmm. Parfumerie Generale Cuir Venenum is leather with orange blossom. It doesn’t smell the way that I’d expect that description to smell, but it might be worth sniffing.

    1. Hmm. I have a friend who calls that “grape slushee on my suede boots.” Which is why I was avoiding it, but perhaps I was wrong.

      1. Hee. It’s worth a shot. It’s a little too thoroughly blended to give me exactly what I imagine from the description – I can’t really tease out either the flowers or the leather, but just the combined scent. But I like it.

        1. Well, I’ve got a sample order started at TPC/StC, so I may add it. OB often goes soapy on me, so that’s a big warning sign as well as the grape slushee aspect, but who knows? I do occasionally get on with orange blossom.

  3. I was going to suggest heeley’s Cuir pleine fleur, but I see others have preceded me!
    I’m not too much of a fan, really, but then I didn’t care about Cuir de Lancome either…
    My favorite leathers are the oriental ones (shalimar and cuir ottoman), so I’m not very helpful, I fear!
    BTW, I got a sample of Memoir recently (which I asked for because your descriptions had struck me and had made me curious); today I’m at my second wearing and I love it – I think! I find it interesting and engaging and strange: wearing memoir is a stimulating and very enjoyable experience, though it is really quite different from the perfumes I usually like!
    I’ll cherish my sample, that’s for sure, and I hope not too love it too much because Amouage prices…enough said!

    1. Oh, I’m SO glad you like Memoir! I wasn’t expecting to even like it, much less be intoxicated with it – and look what happened. It’s like nothing else I wear.

      I LIKE Cuir Ottoman very much, except that it is very ambery, and I was really wanting something less, as you say, in the Oriental vein.

  4. Hi there.
    Firstly, thanks for being a true enabler. Since reading your excellent blog I have ordered White Diamonds parfum and vintage Emeraude PDT; am now hunting down Jolie Madame.
    Speaking of which, I just received an email about shipping some vintage extract to the UK and the seller replied ‘I could empty the remaining perfume…’ I felt like I should be running towards them in slomo shouting ‘Noooooooooooooo’.

    1. Oh, I’m so proud!! Enabling fume love. It’s a mission. 🙂

      I’m so with you on my reaction to the seller – NOOOOOOOOOO!!! Somewhere on Perfume Posse is a story about someone’s buying an ebay bottle of some rare vintage thing, it coming empty, and only when digging around frantically in the box did the buyer find the perfume, which had been poured out of the bottle INTO AN EMPTY PLASTIC PEPSI BOTTLE. Yes. Yes, that happened. At least she GOT the perfume (she said it smelled fine, BTW).

  5. I’m working through the soft leather/suede note right now myself. As you might remember, leather and I have a tempestuous relationship at the best of times (I can’t wear CdL either, because that goes barnyard on me just like CdR, sigh), but I’m still trying. Thus far no of the other samples have topped my love for Bottega Veneta yet, but Cuir Pleine Fleur definitely deserves a second round. It’s possible it may join BV and Cuir Ottoman, and then I’ll have a leather trio. Prime numbers make me happy. 😉

    1. Prime numbers are good.

      Well, Cuir Ottoman is good too, very plushy sweet… I’m not a big amber fan, but I did like that sample of BK Amber Oud, and I think of Cuir Ottoman as being somewhat similar. Bottega Veneta really did not do it for me because of a Tang dust note, something that catches in the back of my throat. But you know, people are all over the map in terms of their leather love… I love this but you hate it, we’re both iffy on this other thing but for different reasons…

  6. It may not be leathery enough for you, but what about Atelier’s Sous le Toit de Paris? Neroli, violet and leather to my nose. I’m trying it for the first time today actually. So far, I really like it. It’s what I wanted Bandit to be when I read the notes. The official list says violet leaf, but my nose reads violet. There’s vetiver in there, as well. Certainly worth sniffing.

    For floral leather, CdL is my favorite, followed by Cuir Ottoman. I can understand not liking it’s ambery edge. The iris and jasmine in it are loud on my skin, though, so I really like it. Dabbed! That is another potent perfume 😀 Then, I tend to under apply. If you try the Atelier, I’d love to hear your reaction, positive or negative. Be well.

    1. Oh, I DID like Cuir Ottoman (which I like to refer to as Odd Footstool) – it’s just not floral enough for me to call it a floral leather, and it’s too heavy (for my taste) for spring. I would just call it basically an amber with some leather notes.

      I’ve never tried any Ateliers. Will have to check on that one, thanks for the rec!

  7. Hello!
    I am late to the party. My brother just bought me Prada number 3, Cuir Ambre. I can’t wait to try it! It is supposed to have some flowers in in-perhaps a vein of jasmin. Once I have it, I will let you know if there are any florals. I love the leather note in Shlimar, too!

    1. That one I haven’t smelled – I’ve only smelled a couple of those numbered Pradas. The tuberose, I think, and I’m pretty sure I’ve smelled the narcisse as well, but not Cuir Ambre. I’d love to hear what you think of it – please update us!

      I’m not a big fan of Shalimar, though I really love Shalimar Light (which doesn’t have that dirty base, it’s much cleaner). I’m just not much of an oriental girl.

  8. Well-it’s here! And I wore it yesterday, when it was so hot and utterly humid.

    I really love it. In my mind I imagined it would be like the smell of the Annick Goutal candle, called La Sac de Ma Mere, which is like leather mixed with a trace of lipstick, plus AG Ambre Musc.

    It’s not like that at all!

    This is its own amimal, for sure. It has potency like vintage Carons. It actually reminds me of Tabac Blond, more than anything. I will have to try it over a few days, and in cooler weather.

    Top notch ingredients-this is a really fine quality fragrance, in my opinion. I put a drop on my finger, and transfered to my wrist. Repeaated on the other wrist. It felt like a lot of fragrance, but it was so hot and humid here.

    It’s been a long time since I smelt anything this complex and wonderful. If you are craving leather, I can see this would be a good canidate. I love the elegance of parfum, and since it is 30 for $100 CDN that’s not a bad price.

  9. The bottle is elegant too-fine quality glass, which resists smudging. The top twists off, and the is no spray applicator. Spraying it would be way too strong, anyway-one drop is all that is needed.

    It’s rich and complex and wonderful-it has resins. A touch of floral-maybe violet? Maybe heliotrope? But thing deep and rich, not vanillic at all.

    1. It does sound really lovely! I tend to have difficulty with oriental notes and resiny stuff, but it’s possible that with leather the amber wouldn’t overwhelm me. If I get the chance I’ll make sure to smell it. ANd I think you’re right about the price – parfum is wonderful (I like to dab too!) and that’s very reasonable.

      Every time somebody mentions that Goutal candle I just die, because I didn’t get the chance to get one, and I can’t even find one online. Do you know Cuir de Lancome? that one reminds me a lot of my own mother’s purse, with her No. 5-spritzed hanky and her lipstick and face powder in it. I love the stuff — sadly, the Lancome is also discontinued, but you can still find it here and there at the fragrance discounters online.

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