Leather has become such a common luxury fabric I think most forget it is treated cowhide. Perfume has captured that process throughout its history. Leather accords have stood as identifiable signatures of certain perfumers. When I heard the new perfume from Hiram Green was going to be focused on leather, I wondered which direction he would take.
The new perfume is called Hyde. When I saw the name, I was first thinking of Mr. Hyde the alter ego of Dr. Jekyll. Once I received my sample it turns out it was more like a non-existent British spelling of the word “hide”. Mr. Green has made one of the deepest rawest leather accords I have ever experienced.
The magic ingredient here is birch tar. It was one of the key components of the classic “cuir de Russie” leather accord in the early days of modern perfumery. Birch tar as a component of a leather accord always has a hint of the smudge pot to me. Hyde is a celebration of birch tar which Mr. Green allows to take a place of prominence.
Hyde begins with a blink and you miss it flare of citrus. If you’re of the name coming from Mr. Hyde those citrus notes are the last vestiges of Dr. Jekyll. The birch tar is there within seconds of application. It is there in such a concentration that it is like standing downwind of a road crew repaving the road. Pungent semi-medicinal waves of tar radiate off my skin. I don’t recall noticing the medicinal quality of birch tar in the past. In this kind of concentration, it shows new faces. In these moments it is tar and not leather. The transformation to leather happens with cassia flower. That ingredient begins to reach into the bubbling stew of birch tar and start pulling out pieces which refine the tar into leather. This is where Hyde turns the corner for me. The early going of birch tar soliflore pushed at the edge of my tolerance. Once this starts to become a leather accord through the cassia flower, at first, things become more mobile. Cassia provides a green effect as if it is botanically taming the birch tar. As it finally takes hold it becomes a raw untanned style of cowhide. This still retains the intensity. This takes a couple of hours. Over the next twenty-four hours that cowhide becomes more tanned. Oakmoss smooths out the green of the cassia blunting the woodsmoke scent from the birch tar. Labdanum takes it a step towards further refinement. The final ingredient is malted vanilla providing that inherent sweetness of tanned leather.
Hyde has 24-hour plus longevity and above average sillage.
Mr. Green has accomplished all this working with an all-natural palette. His entire collection is refutation of the canard that natural perfumes are weak and fleeting. There is nobody who will encounter Hyde and have either of those adjectives pop into their head. There is also a criticism of natural perfume at being kind of a blurry mush of ingredients. Hyde puts the lie to that, too. This slow-motion evolution of the leather accord is like watching a time-lapse of the processing of a cowhide. That’s what I walked away from after wearing Hyde. A remarkable experience in perfume composition which further confirms Mr. Green as one of the great talents of independent perfumery.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Hiram Green.