Yesterday, I marched my behind down to my local Chanel store to try the Les Exclusifs line, since it is rumored that new EdPs will soon replace the current EdTs. I figured that falling in love with the EdTs would be a less costly affair than falling for their more expensive EdP counterparts, so off to Amsterdam I went.
I must admit, I seem to have a bit of a thing for Chanel. Ever since starting out on my journey to discover the world of perfume a few months ago, I have made it a point to sniff most of the great (designer) houses, so I've made regular stops to smell the offerings of Hermes, Guerlain, Dior, Tom Ford, and so on. Of all these houses, some scents I hated, some I liked, and a few I loved. However, the only brand that seems to be able to truly and consistently move me is Chanel.
It may be due to the fact that No. 5 has been pretty much the only scent I've worn since I was 15, and the Chanel DNA has been deeply ingrained in my neural pathways, or it may be something else entirely, but this brand's scents seem to agree with me.
So, based on reviews and notes, I checked out my personal shortlist of Les Exclusifs at the store. Cuir de Russie was high on that list, and boy did it deliver! Shortly after spritzing it on my wrist, I knew I would not leave the store without it.
On me, it bursts out of the gates with sparkling citrus y freshness and a woody, leathery warmth. The leather soon grows stronger, and becomes the undisputed heart of the scent.
I also get something ever so slightly dirty; not the stable like dirt some others describe, but something sensual and physical nonetheless. When my husbands first smelled it on me, he said: well, there's the sex you've been looking for in a scent. Right on the money. It's a restrained kind of sexy, and it never gets raunchy, but it's an excellent and warm addition to an otherwise supremely classy and luxurious scent.
The leather I get is of the highest quality, think supple lambskin gloves, or a pair of the finest calfskin heels.
I think this perfume is perfectly unisex, but my husband seems to think it's rather masculine. Normally not one to quickly warm to any scent, he immediately decided that this is one fragrance he is going to steal from me ever now and then. I knew should have gone for the bigger bottle.
It is 4am, and you are at a Cambridge may ball. All around you beautiful medieval architecture rises; against the paling sky a floating light balloon is starting to look a little pointless.
The knot in your black bow tie is beginning to come loose of its own accord; your once crisp white shirt is creased in the crooks of your elbows, softening into your skin. Bags are settling under your eyes. One too many free cocktails have been consumed and the buzz of celebration is fading into a slight headache and the overwhelming desire for a cup of tea. The formality of Cuir de Russie is a tired and familiar one, its classiness starting to wear thin, giving in to the humanity of the need for comfort and rest. Everyone is still carefully washed and scrupulously clean, and the minds behind the tired faces are still sharp as tacks and will be the movers and shapers of the future - but the veneer of perfection is cracking and we're all still just people underneath.
I'm sure that on Mick Jagger (it's a favourite of his, according to one reviewer) this adds an element of class his looks and reputation don't otherwise support - on anyone who already has that sort of class, it adds that worn-leather-jacket approachability, the ordinary-human sensuality and warmth. A fascinating exercise in balance.
This is not just any leather. This is not like showing up at the pot luck smelling like your new chaps and donning a trusted whip, heaven forbid. This is what Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida or Audrey Hepburn would probably smell like in their mink coats, showing up for dinner at Louis XV in Monaco, with a penguin clad/cleft chin accomplice at their side, smelling like the inside of a Bentley that has been bathed in jasmine and incense. I see Rachmaninov knocking out out an etude at the back of the restaurant. Ernest Beaux must have had some great dreams after creating this one, I'll bet.
Projection is less than you would think and silage is just enough to have the waiters watching your every move. For winters only (keep the Bentley in the garage until then).
(review of a vintage decant)
Putting it on is a nightmare; you're blasted with a scent not unlike that of rubbing alcohol. When it mellows down, its flowery for a few minutes, then it settled into what I expected; all musk and fur and leather. Which I liked, except...
On me (or maybe a few of us) there is this cloying scent like baby powder what won't go away. It's like sitting down on a train with an old lady on one side, and a fresh newborn on the other, and I just don't like it.
This is the f*ck-me-boots of perfume. It smells like an invitation, and after about an hour, every time I smell it, my stomach turns over like I'm in love.
This is not the sort of thing to wear to tell someone you just want to be friends. This is not what you would wear to work, or even for day. This is an evening tryst with a stranger sort of scent.
I wanted to love it, but the babypowder scent has ruined it for me. My friend suggested I'd like it on someone else, so I'll try that. But this isn't something I would wear.
Age and circumstance have resigned me to living in a less-than-perfect world, so it's kind of stunning to run across evidence that something close to perfection still exists. Examples of this give me hope and comfort, but they also makes everything else seem shabby. Such is the case with Cuir de Russie, which ties together everything I've come to love about perfumery--old stuff, weird stuff, bitter notes, funky notes, jasmine, iris, powder--into the most elegant knot possible (I think--if there's something better, I haven't found it yet . . . .)
Here's the thing. This stuff isn't cheap, and buying yourself a bottle is a big commitment. But unlike many other expensive contemporary perfumes, Cuir de Russie an endless array of different aspects. Spray this on, and you never wear the same perfume twice. Sometimes it's a cool customer; sometimes it's a skank bomb. Sometimes it's an elegant handbag; sometimes it's a raunchy sex toy. Sometimes it's an exotic garden; sometimes it's an overripe bouquet. It's usually some combination of these, and more. But all of these tie in seamlessly to its gorgeous central accord of ylang ylang, jasmine, incense, and leather. You never know which face(s) this perfume will show you--and that makes it even more beautiful.
21st June, 2016 (last edited: 03rd July, 2016)