Ah, leather. I am late to the leather bandwagon, and am still blaming Chanel Cuir de Russie for that. (I did have something of a revelation with regards to CdR recently, in that one afternoon I tried the same masochistic retest that I periodically attempt, and CdR did NOT smell like our cattle working pens. Instead, it was smooth leather, iris and a very buttery ylang, really lovely. However, the next day? Back to cattle pens. And the parfum? CATTLE PENS. I can’t win for losin’, as they say.)
But the leather scents that I like, I really like. I adore Cuir de Lancome, which smells like the inside of my mother’s good leather purse, ca. 1975. I have swoony love for Balmain Jolie Madame in the parfum, which is like wearing a kick-butt pair of leather combat boots and carrying an enormous bouquet of violets, complete with the leaves and maybe one gardenia in the center (you only need one gardenia to be able to smell it). Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman, which I like to call “Odd Footstool” because it makes me laugh, is a delightful mix of leather followed by caramelly amber. Yum.
Tuscan Leather, from Tom Ford’s pricey Private Blend line, was recommended to me as a straight-up leather scent, and I have to say that it does smell like a leather sofa to me – soft, polished, comfortable. The notes, according to Fragrantica, are saffron, raspberry, thyme, olibanum (frankincense), jasmine, leather, suede, amber and woody notes. The scent does actually carry on with leather all the way through, unlike some other leather fragrances, which have a leather stage but don’t seem to stay there. Instead, Tuscan Leather is pretty literal. I do not smell raspberry in here, though other people seem to catch it. It is a little on the sweet side, especially compared to the ferocity of the green-leather classic Bandit, but I rather like that TL has the feeling of a cozy nook rather than a rawhide whip. There is a creaminess to it, which I’m attributing to the saffron because that note seems to offer a creamy effect in other scents with saffron. I do smell a bit of incense, which melds with the woody notes toward the base, and as the fragrance goes on, more and more amber. It never winds up as ambery-sweet as Cuir Ottoman, though, and the general effect is of a men’s club, with multiple leather sofas and a vague whiskey-and-pipe-tobacco hint.
A friend of mine shudders when she smells this, insisting that it reminds her of cocaine. I don’t have any reference for that in my personal life, so I’m at a loss. Sure, it may actually smell like sniffery-jollies in a 1980s nightclub, but I would never ever know.
Tuscan Leather is on the masculine side, and it’s unusual for me to thoroughly enjoy wearing a fragrance geared toward men*, but this one I do. Sillage is moderate and longevity average; I typically get 3-6 hours of wear from an eau de parfum, and I get about five hours’ worth out of TL. Toward the end it becomes quite sweet and ambery, having finally left behind the leather and the woody-incense notes, but I don’t mind so much.
It’s ridiculously expensive at $225 for 50ml, or $280 for 100ml, at major retailers such as Nordstroms and Neiman-Marcus, just like the rest of the Private Blend line, so I’m not going to buy any, but it is wonderful, and I would love to smell it on a man.
(*I have notoriously girlified taste. I can usually wear unisex fragrances easily but I simply cannot manage anything even vaguely fougere, or anything with a shaving-cream angle. It’s like wearing cotton Y-front briefs. Just NO.)