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

23rd March, 2012

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

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About the author: Lila Das Gupta

Lila 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.


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    • Mimi Gardenia | 23rd March 2012 15:15


      What a fantastic write up ! Good job Ghandajala , Lila and Grant. Love the pics too. :)

    • KarmaLee | 23rd March 2012 17:38

      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! :vrolijk_26:

    • Oviatt | 24th March 2012 02:57

      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?

    • PerfumedLady | 24th March 2012 15:01

      Our Dr. G made the features section! So happy for you, G.! What a wonderful read; so glad everyone had a nice time!

    • Olga | 25th March 2012 00:31

      It was such a beautiful event! Lots of Perfume Lovers were present and having fun.

    • Olga | 25th March 2012 00:52

      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)

    • Lila Das Gupta | 25th March 2012 13:40

      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.

    • Primrose | 25th March 2012 21:06

      Ghandajala , Lila and Grant! A fantastic write-up on my favourite note! Thank you.

    • Chris Bartlett | 26th March 2012 08:02

      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.

    • Lila Das Gupta | 26th March 2012 18:11

      Hi Chris,

      We missed you there. Hope to see you soon in London.