Gucci Guilty Absolute
November 16, 2017
What can you find in a bottle:
- On a blotter it opens with a civet-like note which is almost shocking. Something rather to expect within a niche range of perfumes than in a mainstream scent. Camels, horses and cowsheds may come into the mind, though oud is not mentioned here. But on the skin it becomes less zoo-like and brings warm and sensual depth into the fragrance.
- An intimate close to skin scent what you might smell under a worn out leather jacket on a bare male skin. The jacket seems to keep the history of its wearer. Just a few nuances like mineral notes of oil and gasoline or residues of modern fougère perfumes and woody scents ingrained into leather.
- A very comforting warm and dry woody base.
- A slightly metallic aromatic vibe recognizable from many modern masculine fougère fragrances.
Fragrant notes: Woodleather®, Goldenwood®, Nootka cypress, Patchouli, Vetiver
Perfumer: Alberto Morillas
Creative Director: Alessandro Michele
Year of creation: 2017
Face of the advertising campaign: Jared Leto (photographer – Glen Luchford).
Alberto Mirullas on his creation: “Absolute speaks to a new generation of men, his wants, needs, passions and his modernity.”
Woodleather® is a new Firmenich captive with an oud scent profile. Also used in “Original Oud” by Mizensir, the fragrance project by Alberto Morillas.
Goldenwood® is another Firmenich captive. As long as it’s under patent protection (as well as Woodleather®), not much information will be revealed.
Nootka cypress (also known as Alaskan Cedarwood) is a conifer growing in the Northwest Rainforest area. Firmenich describes the smell of Cedarwood Alaska essential oil as “sparkling with a fresh and breezy grapefruit crisp due to its Nootkatene and Nootkatone content (grapefruit odorants)”and “less camhoraceous and smoky, but stronger, longer lasting and more linear than the regular Cedarwood oil”. Also used in Penhaligon’s Blasted Heath Бертрана and Mizensir Perfect Oud (Parfumo.net gives the following list of fragrances using this note – https://www.parfumo.net/Fragrance_Note/Nootka_cypress).
Cuir Venenum: sweet dangerous temptation
May 13, 2015
Cuir Venenum (PG03) by Parfumerie Générale
Cuir Venenum… the name I liked from the moment I saw it. My imagination created the pictures of alchemist’s labs from the Dark Ages full of mysterious potions. The secret recipe of one of them must have been found by Pierre Guillaume to be used in his PG03 creation. Curiosity mixed with excitement were dominating my emotional state when I smelled the perfume. But the potion was very good in keeping its secrets. A mix of wine and sweet viscous honey was filling the whole space with a syrupy sweetness preventing me from smelling through. Delicious but also suffocating at the same time. As a good poison should be.
From my experience I was already familiar with such a phenomenon. When several notes are tightly stitched together forming a firm conglomerate that doesn’t let the brain to recognize its parts. The only way to deal with it is to keep smelling and trying to recognize the scent. Reading the experience of others may help as well. Luca Turin helped me a lot to reveal the secret of Cuir Venenum. And finally I could enjoy the scent in all its beauty instead of just sinking in a suffocating sweetness of the honey wine. So, let’s see what is inside this scent.
The inspiration behind Cuir Venenum is the aroma of a dark model’s skin after wearing a leather dress during a Jean Claude Jitrois show. To recreate an impression of the smell Pierre used a combination of Tunisian orange blossom from Nabeul and a leather skin accord on the base of cedarwood, honey, musk and myrrh. Tamanu oil was also used. I don’t know much about this exotic ingredient except it comes from a tropical blossoming tree and has an earthy, nutty and woody smell. Another exotic ingredient used in Cuir Venenum is coconut polyalcohol that is common cosmetic compound helping the bioactive ingredients to penetrate the skin. It possess a smell recalling a human skin scent and at the same time it helps the perfume to act like a true venom by penetrating the skin and attaching to it. Can it really do that? Well, not sure, but I like the idea.
Cuir Venenum was released in 2004. Perfumery Générale classifies it as oriental floral leather perfume. Michael Edwards places it into Dry Woods family of leather chypres under classical subgroup. Luca Turin gives it 4 stars of 5 and refers as “rye leather”. The last one is a very interesting effect of orange blossom and leather combination that creates and illusion of rye of malt. As if you smell an empty beer glass with a film of dried bier left on its walls.
Cuir Venenum starts with a bitter freshness of leafy petitgrain that cools like a leafage shadow. It goes deeper and darker until it turns into a honeysweet nectar of orange blossoms shining like a piece of amber in the rays of the descending sun. The slightly smoky flatters of leather arise like the dusk. The smell of ale and wine are joining the scene and then the honey smelling skin. The play of Cuir Venenum may begin. Sweet, dark and dangerous temptation.
Cuir de Russie by Chanel
December 15, 2014
Chypres, especially the leather ones are the perfect allegory for the dark winter days and long evenings filled with warm candle light and shadows of the night. This perfumes are deep and dark, a little bit scary due to their animalic notes, but at the same time warm and daring. Almost the same qualities we find in Oudh scented creations these days. I wanted to go to the origins of this perfume family.
There is no separate leather group in the H&R Fragrance Guide Genealogy Classification of Fragrances – they are classified as animalic subgroup of a chypre family. And the first (thus the oldest) perfume mentioned there is Cuir de Russie by Chanel from 1924. Is it the nice way to start the journey into the dark world of leather chypres? Let’s check the facts first!
Name: Cuir de Russie
Perfumer: Ernest Beaux
Year of creation: 1924 (released later in the US under the name Russia Leather)
Pyramid according to H&R Fragrance Guide:
Top notes: Dry Fresh
Main: Orange Blossom
Supported by: Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, Clary Sage
Heart notes: Dry Floral Woody
Main: Orris, Carnation
Supported by: Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmin, Cedarwood, Vetiver
Base notes: Leathery Warm Balsamic
Supported by: Amber, Opoponax, Styrax, Heliotrope, Vanilla
Classification according to H&R Genealogy: Chypre, animalic
Classification according to SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs): G1f, Leather (Cuir) group, Leather (Cuir) subgroup, feminine
Classifications according to Fragrance Wheel by Michael Edwards: Dry Woods (Chypre Cuir), Classical subgroup
Verdict by Luca Turin: 5 stars of 5 called “leather luxury“
Cuir de Russie is presented as the first feminine scent with the pronounced leather note. But in fact leather theme was quite popular at the end of the 18th, begin of 19th century. Names like Cuir de Russie or Peau d’Espagne were more like common names of leather scented perfume compositions. And yet I do believe that this creation of Ernest Beaux could be shocking. Madame Chanel was quite famous with her liberating spirit.
According to the legends the inspiration behind Cuir de Russie was the homage to the Russian motherhood of Ernest Beaux under the growing success of Russian Ballet during this time. A lot of Russians escaped to Europe after the Revolution of 1917 and raised the interest to the Russian culture. Birch tar was one of the main ingredients of Cuir de Russie composition next to animalic castoreum and ambery labdanum. But it was not the first time the smoky notes were used in perfume (let’s remember Tabac Blond by Caron in 1919). There are also rumors saying that the smell of Russian Leather became familiar to French noses after the War of 1812 when the birch tar scented boots of Russian soldiers were marching through Paris. An urban legend probably as Russian leather was already a famous export product before that war. Birch tar next to many other components (including aromatic ones) was used in a leather currying process to create a supreme product – soft, water resistant and pleasantly smelling. This process was unique to each country and that is why leather from different parts of the world had its own smell.
Taking into account all mentioned above I can imagine Cuir de Russie to be a very dark smoky scent with an animalic background. But the reality of modern eau de toilette version is quite far from the described fantasy. The original formula was discontinued and re-orchestrated again by Jacques Polge in 1989 (some mention 1983) and later again in 1999 when the perfume has joined the Les Exclusiefs de Chanel collection together with other “forgotten” Chanel perfumes.
Spraying the modern EDT on my skins reveals a beautiful classic elegant scent. It’s quite floral to my nose with just a touch of soft leather. It starts with very recognizable touch of aldehydes. Much less than in Chanel N5 or N22 and melts into a classic floral bouquet. Again a very recognizable Chanel – rose, jasmine, iris and ylang-ylang accord. And then the softness of smoky leather that recalls the impression of fur in my imagination. Leather luxury worth 5 stars? Well, I can’t agree more. The pure perfume seems to be less aldehydic floral and more leathery, but it’s only available in a very few shops like Chanel Boutique on Rue de Cambon in Paris. Though it might be much closer to the darkness I am looking for. Cuir de Russie leaves a delicate trail that hardly goes beyond the intimate zone. I stop noticing it on my skin within a couple hours, while I still can perceive it from my clothes. Probably it’s too delicate scent for me. Despite of a strong floral and aldehydic facets I don’t perceive Cuir de Russie as ultimately feminine on my skin. It would perfectly suit a refined man.
Pictures: among others are taken from the website of CHANEL (www.chanel.com).