The earliest leather accord was the classic “Cuir de Russie” or Russian Leather accord. It is the origin of all leather perfumes which have followed for over a hundred years now. It is so much a foundational piece of perfumery it seems like there comes a time for a perfumer to attempt their version. Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian takes his turn with the Elie Saab Le Collection de Cuirs.
M. Kurkdjian wanted to really explore all the ways this rich Russian Leather could be presented. In a quite unique twist it starts with Cuir Absolu which is just the Russian Leather accord by itself. What is in Cuir Absolu will provide the focal point for the other three perfumes in the collection; Cuir Ylang, Cuir Bourbon, and Cuir Patchouli. Cuir Ylang was my least favorite because for some reason M. Kurkdjian chose to not let the ylang be an equal partner. Instead he made incense and birch the more prominent partners yielding a refined grainy leather accord. Cuir Bourbon was much better as the Bourbon Vanilla teases that inherent sweetness out of the leather accord as a bit of saffron and musk add contrast and detail. Cuir Patchouli was the one I decided to spend some time with mostly because it reminded me of my black leather jacket from my punk rock days.
I think everyone who owns a leather zipper jacket they wear all the time knows that smell of the jacket material mixed with the sweat of your body permeating the lining. That is what M. Kurkdjian gets out of this version of his Russian Leather accord in Cuir Patchouli.
Cuir Patchouli is a rapidly evolving fragrance. While I am going to call out distinctive parts of the evolution; when I put it on my skin it ended up as a perfectly formed accord within fifteen minutes or so. Right as I spray it on cumin and cinnamon leaves evoke that smell of last night’s sweat as I pick the jacket up off the chair it has been hanging on overnight. A fantastically chosen patchouli which I think is a fraction accentuating the earthier nature blends with the stale sweat accord freshening it up a bit. Then the Russian Leather accord comes into play. I think there is a bit of labdanum here which also pushes the complete fragrance more towards that broken-in leather feeling.
Cuir Patchouli has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you are one who enjoys leather in your perfume you should give all four of the Elie Saab Le Collection de Cuirs a try. If nothing else trying Cuir Absolu gives you the opportunity to smell M. Kurkdjian’s interpretation of the classic accord. I think all three of the perfumes he built upon that foundation are well done but it is that old punk rock jacket I want to wear most often in Cuir Patchouli that will be the one I return to
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Elie Saab.