Herbal, mossy, spicy, leathery, floral, raunchy, yummy, etc. These were just some of the descriptives that went through my mind as I tracked the scent's development.
That a seemingly weightless composition is able to convey such a multitude of sensory experience over a short span of time is simply remarkable. A less generous critic however might be tempted to call it an incomplete or unresolved fragrance, lacking a clear direction. What a killjoy, huh?
REVE EN CUIR. Honestly I don't find it all that leathery, at least not in relation to the various forms of leather I am accustomed to. But in the absence of a prominent accord, many simply take their cues from a fragrance's name. It says 'cuir' so it must smell like some kind of leather, right? Run it through a blind test and we could very well get a completely different set of reviews.
Leather or no leather, REVE EN CUIR is a wonderfully sensual yet elegant scent to grace one's skin. Projection is tastefully modest while tenacity is more than adequate for most. Price tag is...irrelevant.
Is it that obvious I'm smitten? It's definitely one of Kurkdjian's best work, demonstrating his forte in melding the romanticism of the classical with the clean lines of modern aesthetics. If Derby and Mitsouko were to have a love child, this would be it.
Some notes are easier than others. Not to create, but to accept at face value. Vanilla is one. People recognize 'vanilla', whether it's a vanilla bean or ethyl vanillin. Synthetic vanilla aromachemicals are used because they smell Ďlikeí vanilla.
Leather requires a little more imagination. There are more links in the chain of associations that lead to the scent of leather. Itís not even strictly leather that we smell, itís the combination of the hides and the chemicals of the tanning process. The scent of leather is not one particular thing, but a range of tones in the spectrum of leather.
However a material is derived, if it smells Ďlikeí vanilla, it can be considered vanilla. Perfume composition relies on an olfactory algebra: let x = vanilla. Leather presents a more interesting premise to the perfumer. After a connection from A through Z is made, our neurology doesnít perceive the steps in a chain of associations, just the connection of A and Z. Whether we see the links or not, they are there for the perfumer to play with, making leather a playground of abstraction. Witness the birch tar leathers from early in the early 20th century, the inky synthetic leathers that followed and the range of floral and plastic leathers that came along as compositional rules loosened.
The goal of creating a leather perfume isnít emulation of leather, though perfume marketing has historically spun piles of bullshit about leather opera gloves, black leather corsets and the innards of Birkin bags. Leather is the inspiration, not the goal. There are as many strategies to composing a leather perfume as there are sub-genres. See: Vierges et Torerosís lucite leather. S-Exís subliminal musky leather. Azurťeís sizzling citrus leather. Bel Amiís gasoline leather. Cuir de Russieís iris leather. Cuir díAngeís herbal-soapy leather.
Reve en Cuirís approach isnít novel but it is effective. It creates a hissy topnote similar to the violet-leaf gasoline of Dior Fahrenheit and its predecessor, Bel Ami. The topnotes sharpen, coalescing into a cool, sweet, clove-like heart. Reve en Cuirís richness comes from intricacy and what it lacks in projection it makes up for in evolution and duration. It balances richness with precision editing and, though it smells like no particular leather object, it is perfectly coherent. Exemplary of Kurkdjianís best work, it isnít radical but it is inventive and intelligible.
Reve en Cuir opens with a load of cloves juxtaposed to sweet, tart notes of vanilla, citrus (not that ďcitricĒ, rather aromatic and plushy) and nutty-resinous cardamom. I donít get much oregano honestly, and I was intrigued by that as despite I love it, I rarely smell it in fragrances. But I do smell something more generically mossy-herbal, and also something somehow ďwoody-syrupyĒ if that makes sense, something like the cedar note in Lutensí CŤdre if you know the fragrance. Now, the contrast between the pungent sharpness of cloves and herbs, and the sweet-tart-nutty notes of vanilla, citrus and cardamom (and that sweet, cedar-like note), is not exactly the most pleasant clash around in my opinion: itís interesting at first, but soon a bit cloying to me. And overall that is my take on this scent, since it does not have much of an evolution; it has something that just does not work in my opinion. Itís not that pleasant, not particularly refined, not that deep or compelling, and on the other hand, not enough ďcreatively stinkyĒ to represent some sort of creative statement. Itís just... donít know, a ďmehĒ. The drydown would be nicer, if it was just a bit louder, while itís really close to skin. Sweet-woody-herbal cloves for hours, basically, with a warm and soft drydown; nothing bad, but nothing particularly remarkable either (especially for the price).
one of the most mind blowing art-perfumes i have got a chance to sniff. basically a fusion of a subtle leather and a luxury spiced confectionery - two olfactory objects which on a first thought don't belong at all together, but the ingenious Kurkdjian managed to amalgam them, creating a masterwork in terms of both artistic originality and practical wearability.
patchouli gently lurks in background, together with all other notes perfectly blended in one stunningly impressive entity which lacks a sugary character, but remains dry and just subtly sweet.
for the time being, this scent is on top of my probably most favorite category: oriental semi-gourmands.
Reve en Cuir opens with a mild clove and herb spiced cedar before transitioning to its middle. During the early heart the spiced cedar remains now joined by an emerging powdery vanilla rising from the base and a very subtle supporting suede accord. During the late dry-down the powdery vanilla dominates as the composition quickly fades. Projection is below average, as is longevity at 6-7 hours on skin.
I can only describe Reve en Cuir as a disappointment. It is disappointing because the suede leather is so subtle it gets overpowered (or should that be "over-powdered") by the vanilla base note which isn't that strong to begin with. Cedar is also detectable from the get-go, but this is not really the kind of cedar I enjoy, unfortunately, with its implementation strongly resembling pencil shavings. The whole thing comes off as way too introverted for my tastes; highly polished, but somehow missing heart and spunk. The bottom line is the $200 per 50ml bottle Reve en Cuir is a polished composition for sure though it comes off detached with wimpy performance, earning an "above average" to "good" rating of 2.5 to 3 stars out of 5. It is tough to recommend Reve en Cuir at its relatively lofty price point with the less costly Duchaufour composed Cuir de Nacre by Ann Gerard being a much better smelling and implemented alternative.