• An Evening of Leather at The New Cavendish Club : Report By Basenotes Member Ghandajala

      When I read on Basenotes the announcement for a forthcoming London Perfume Lovers meetup whose theme was to be ‘leather’, there was really no question: I was going! And so it was that last night I found myself climbing the staircase at the swanky New Cavendish Club in Marble Arch. Any anxiety I may have had about walking into a room full of strangers was quickly allayed as Lila Das Gupta greeted me with a warm smile and the magic words: "Would you like a drink ?"

      Glass in hand, I soon fell into conversation, the hot topic being the twenty or so bottles of perfume neatly arranged on the mantelpiece: Whilst many were familiar, some I knew by name only. As the last of the attendees (including Katie Puckrik) arrived for the sell-out event, we took our seats. Aided by her glamorous, iPad wielding assistant Grant, Lila began her presentation with a brief history of leather perfumes, linking their development with the more archaic practice of scenting leather itself.

      Our olfactory journey proper however, began in the ‘20s, with classics such as Knize 10 and Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. Leather is a notoriously polarising note, and reactions to the mouillettes being passed around encompassed the nostalgic (“it reminds me of my grandmother”) as well as the downright erotic (“oh my god, this is ssoooo seeexxxy”). Progressing through the decades, Lila was keen to demonstrate how shifts in the public’s perception of leather could be charted through the advertising of such scents.

      A blind-sniff, facing-off L.T.Piver’s Cuir against Dana’s English Leather marked the transition from a chronological to a thematic based approach to categorising leather fragrances: From the leather- florals represented by P.G.’s Cuir d’Iris to skankier, butcher leather offerings such as Dior’s Leather Oud.

      One of the real highlights for me however, was having the opportunity to smell some of the more common ingredients used in leather perfumes. These included natural birch tar alongside synthetic aromachemicals like Suederol (from IFF) and Isobutyl Quinoline.

      The evening also included a Basenotes Fragrance Awards ceremony, hosted by Grant (replete with gold envelopes). With much hilarity, nominations for Creeds and Dior Homme were met with such questions “Which batch code of GIT are you talking about?”. A poignant moment came when Mona di Orio was named as last year’s top perfumer, and Lila read out a message from Mona’s partner which spoke of her legacy. All the perfumes up for awards were laid out to sniff, and with the formal presentations finished, we were free to sniff till our noses could take no more.

      A huge thanks to Grant and Lila for organising such a friendly, enjoyable and educational evening. May there be many more to come!

      A big thanks to Ghandajala for that report - here's a list of Leather Perfumes that were on the mantelpiece:

      Historic Leathers:
      Cuir De Russie - Chanel
      Knize Ten
      Tabac Blond - Caron
      Habanita - Molinard
      Cuir - LT Piver

      Cheap and Cheerful Leathers
      English Leather Dana
      Imperial Leather Cussons

      Maverick Leathers
      Lonestar Memories Tauer Perfumes
      Dzing! L'Artisan Parfumeur

      The Middle Ground
      Cuir D'Iris Parfumerie Generale/ Pierre Guillaume
      Cuir de Lancôme
      Cuir Ottoman Parfum D'Empire

      Beautifully Blended
      Azuree - Estee Lauder
      Quorum - Puig
      Coze - Parfumerie Generale
      Vanille - Mona Di Orio
      Habit Rouge - Guerlain
      Leather Mahon - Floris
      Cuir Noir - Armani Privee
      Cuir Beluga - Guerlain

      Soft Suedes
      Daim Blond - Serge Lutens
      Bottega Veneta
      Kelly Caleche - Hermes
      Cuir Venenum - Parfumerie Generale/ Pierre Guillaume

      Full-on Leather
      Cuir - Mona di Orio
      Cuiron - Helmut Lang
      Tuscan Leather - Tom Ford

      Sex God
      Leather Oud - Christian Dior
      About the author Lila Das Gupta
      Author AvatarLila Das Gupta is a London based journalist with an interest in all things olfactory. Lila also organises the Perfume Lover's London meet-up group.


      Comments 10 Comments
      1. Mimi Gardenia's Avatar
        Mimi Gardenia -

        What a fantastic write up ! Good job Ghandajala , Lila and Grant. Love the pics too.
      1. KarmaLee's Avatar
        KarmaLee -
        Thank you so much for sharing the details of the evening. And I know your nose must have been tired after it all, but very happy! This makes up my mind: I need Kelly Caleche. And a real bottle of Dzing!

        And providing pictures! Many kudos to Ghandajala, Lila, and Grant of the Gold Envelopes. Much style!
      1. Oviatt's Avatar
        Oviatt -
        Beautifully Blended
        Azuree - Estee Lauder
        Quorum - Puig
        Coze - Parfumerie Generale
        Vanille - Mona Di Orio
        Houbigant - Guerlain
        Floris - Leather Mahon
        Cuir Noir - Armani Privee

        Houbigant... by Guerlain?
      1. PerfumedLady's Avatar
        PerfumedLady -
        Our Dr. G made the features section! So happy for you, G.! What a wonderful read; so glad everyone had a nice time!
      1. Olga's Avatar
        Olga -
        It was such a beautiful event! Lots of Perfume Lovers were present and having fun.
      1. Olga's Avatar
        Olga -
        Beautifully written report - very atmospheric! Thank you, Ghandajala.
        Tiny correction in relation to the list of perfumes (apologies for being pedantic!) which were available for sniffing and testing on skin:
        - Cuir Beluga by Guerlain (not Houbigant)
        - Mahon Leather by Floris (not the other way round)
      1. Lila Das Gupta's Avatar
        Lila Das Gupta -
        Corrected it to Habit Rouge, thanks, my brain obviously a bit addled the next morning! Have also added in Cuir Beluga, which I had slipped off the list.
        Glad you had fun! I enjoyed it too.
      1. Primrose's Avatar
        Primrose -
        Ghandajala , Lila and Grant! A fantastic write-up on my favourite note! Thank you.
      1. Chris Bartlett's Avatar
        Chris Bartlett -
        Great report of what was evidently a great event - I wish I’d been there - sadly by the time I knew I could be in London that day it was sold out.
      1. Lila Das Gupta's Avatar
        Lila Das Gupta -
        Hi Chris,
        We missed you there. Hope to see you soon in London.

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