Reviews of English Leather by Dana

    Find out more about English Leather by Dana in the Basenotes Fragrance Directory


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    pandaKrusher's avatar



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    A review of English Leather led to an emotional argument on the Basenotes forum, so I need to be a little careful with my words: this cologne smells like senior citizens. I want this to be old fashioned, I want it to be retro, I want it to be back-when-men-smelled-like-men but it's just a convalescent home. Medicinal, powdery, orange-scented institutional-strength professional-grade floor cleaner. It's not a barbershop, it's a hospital. No leather, no moss, just baby powder, citrus and alcohol. It's not charming, it's depressing. No disrespect to the original formulation from the '40s, which I'm sure was just grand.

    This smells nothing like English Leather deodorant, either, which is a spicy delight.

    There's no reason to douse myself in a liquid reminder of my inevitable death.

    10th June, 2014

    Zenwannabee's avatar

    United States United States

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    When I was in college, I shared a huge old house with a bunch of guys, mainly biology and chemistry majors. In the midst of some of the big parties we had, they'd exclaim, "let's do science!", and would run to the kitchen to create new outlandish cocktails, or snacks out of Cheez Whiz, hot sauce, and whatever was in the pantry. It was a crazy culinary experiment par excellence.

    Dana's English Leather is the same way, except that it's now more of a science experiment than a cologne. For me, it in no way resembles the EL I loved in the '70s and '80s. I do get some citrus and then a pencil-cedary leather scent that can be tolerably pleasant. But that's just from a couple of dabs. Any more than that and I'm asphyxiated by a huge hit of what I can only call petroleum. I swear a splash of this is literally an environmental disaster. And as it's still sold in a large glass bottle, I shudder to think what would happen if it ever broke. I'd have to move out and raze the house to get rid of the smell.

    I give it a "Neutral" out of respect for what English Leather once was. Even though I sometimes dab it on for old times' sake, it's definitely not the fragrance it used to be.

    29 April, 2014 (Last Edited: 07 May, 2014)

    cologne65's avatar

    United States United States

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    english leather is the best of the drugstore colognes out there along with pierre cardin which is the strongest I have worn. english leather is a very masculine strong fragrance that last for hours. it has a macho sex appeal to it that one can't help feeling in a sexual mood. it's a classic that seems to hardly changed unlike other drugstore colognes I have tried.

    06 January, 2014

    nutsaboutclara's avatar



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    Haven't used this stuff in a while(since the '70s, when I was a child....TWICE!!!), but it's certainly a classic!

    06 December, 2013

    shakin_jake's avatar

    United States United States

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    Ahem!, my first review on Basenotes...

    This review is for the MEM company after shave. First off, I'm quite enthusiastic about this after shave for it has absolutely no burn, therefore it has little alcohol content. Some alcohol is good in an after shave for it's anti-septic qualities but too much alcohol in an A/S can feel like liquid fire. Anyways, this is absent of any appreciable amount of alcohol

    In the opening going on I get a light lime (citrus) note, some leather and what smells to me of sandalwood. Could be the leather and moss playing together. Through the dry down the woods come out to mingle with the rest of the cast. Just lovely IMO. Longevity isn't there for me nor should it in a discreet after shave

    25 April, 2013

    msobvious's avatar

    United States United States

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    This is based on the English Leather after shave or cologne of 1976, whatever an awkward teenager would borrow from his older brother for his first semi-formal dance.

    I was the awkward kid's dance partner, and I remember snuggling my head onto the lapel of his suit and smelling sandalwood and something else comfortable and mossy that made me want to keep my head there all night. It might have made me think of a library in an old house - leather and pipe tobacco? I don't remember any citrus notes. According to other kids he told later, I kept saying he smelled good, then sneezing.

    Since I was awkward too, we both just waved goodbye, and that was the end of things. The smell of his suit still makes me happy after 36 years. It's just now occurring to me that maybe he never put on the English Leather himself. Maybe he borrowed the suit from his big brother, and I was just getting the leftover scent from the week before.

    19 December, 2012

    Buck McFate's avatar



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    Sorry to have to rain on the parades of the younger reviewers, but I must tell you that the current version of English Leather smells quite unlike the formulation of the 1960s. English Leather was my first favorite scent, and I remember it being much deeper in it's leathery notes. It was never "too much", and was free of the current formulation's rather cloying elements. The current, difficult-for-me-to-describe scent represents "cheap" for me and, unfortunately, I get no "leather" from it at all, and hardly any wood. I'm an "old guy scent" lover and user, and had hoped for a better outcome from my journey into the past with English Leather. I may give it one more try, but I am not hopeful.

    14 December, 2012

    setson's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    English Leather is a nice old, masculine, grandfathery cologne. The first impression I got was of alcohol and fake lemons. But after a few minutes it warmed up into a very nice mossy, pencil shaving scent. Woodsy. There remained a bit of a synthetic feel though. But what makes English Leather great is that cool down when the wood and moss fades out and then it's leather, leather, leather. Some reviewers say that if you like this cologne you don't know what leather smells like, but I grew up in the country around saddles and boots and fresh leather and that's what this is- fresh leather. Not old saddle leather, but if you bought a strip of belt leather to tool, that's what this smells like. Pretty good for a cheapo scent, and they are my standbys.

    16 November, 2012

    studer's avatar

    United States United States

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    I respect the amount of positive reviews on this one, but for me this is not good at all. Smells extremely cheap and is, smells very offensive and is, Makes me a little sick when i smell it. Not good at all and if this is what people think leather smells like then they arent smelling a good quality leather scent such as fahrenheit or something like that.

    12 August, 2012

    Swanky's avatar

    United States United States

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    English Leather is a comforting fragrance. For men of a certain era, whose fathers came of age in the 50s and 60s and wore this, a bottle of English Leather represents a certain masculine ideal. We scions have rebuked our fathers' racism and sexism (at least most of us have) while maintaining a kind of brand loyalty to a notion of manhood ever vanishing. Fragrances such as Old Spice, Clubman and English Leather provide a sense memory, a memory of school plays, graduations, barbecues, baseball games and the smell of Dad. On this Father's Day, it is appropriate to remember a classic symbol of Man in all of his facets.

    English Leather is a rite of passage and an underrated mainstay in a masculine arsenal. For those who believe history began with Nirvana, who only follow trends, and who scoff at anything preceding their birth, it's a pity that you'll break the lineage. Odds are that one of your forerunners had this on his skin when he slid across his first car's seat to kiss that girl, which eventually led to your advent.

    What other fragrance smells like it? To this day, it is an individual. In an era when lockstep is advised, it's refreshing and commendable that English Leather still beats its solitary lime and leather drum.

    18 June, 2012

    Amos Jolthead's avatar

    United States United States

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    Very heavy scent. Smells completely different in the bottle than it does on my skin. It smells like just pure manly, spicy leather out of the bottle. I only notice the citrus on my skin.

    Don’t really get the middle notes here. Seems to fade straight into the woody & leather base notes.

    The scent’s not bad per se. It’s in its own class in a way. Other scents are ‘English Leather’ scents – it’s hard to put this in a category. It’s extremely cheap & saying that EL is ‘nothing fancy’ is an understatement. It’s very base & cloying – but not altogether in a bad way. It’s not that bad of a scent, but it is also very mature. Using it for a couple hours (very lightly mind you) is fine, but after a couple of hours on me – there’s just something that tells me that I’m much too young to be wearing this. There’s a bit of old mannish-ness to this. The scent itself would probably get a thumbs-down if that was all I was considering. It’s tolerable if you’re going by scent alone IMO.

    Dies down after about 6-7 hours on me, so it’s got pretty decent longevity. The sillage is good. You barely have to splash any on this stuff is so strong. It also has the ability to be offensive if you’re wearing too much. I imagine that EL is a bit of an acquired fragrance. All in all, probably a cog in anyone’s fragrance library; not the best, but a must-have, especially for the price. A thumbs-up from me reflects EL’s history, notoriety, price, and decent scent.

    02 May, 2012

    nefastvs's avatar

    United States United States

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    Just a f---in' manly scent. A no-nonsense, rugged, but gentlemanly type of scent. It's not a high brow scent, but it's got class. I mainly wear it when I'm doing something active (physical labor or sports).

    It is a very simple fragrence. It comes on strong with the turpine, tar, and citrus notes on application. On the dry down, the woods start to work its way through. The tar and turpine notes start to evolve into a creamier, oakier note along side the woods. The citrus notes eventually lose their sweet and acidic tops, but they linger on through the bitter peel zest notes in the heart, which temper the creamy oak notes.

    24 February, 2012

    pimiento's avatar

    United States United States

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    I don't normally go out of my way just to talk about how bad a fragrance is but wow... I saw this for sale at $6 and thought 'what a find!' so i dabbed it on my wrist and it was by far the most off-ptting cologne I've ever smelled. I thought royal copenhagen was a bit urine-like but compared, this is pure urine mixed with baby powder and I, along with the rest of the people with me who I made smell it, smelled nothing more

    18 July, 2011

    Bigtruck260's avatar

    United States United States

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    I have been using EL on and off for 20 years...and I guess that's good favor since I have a bottle under my sink at the moment. VERY strong lemon/leather when you first splash it on. Wife HATES when I put it on after an evening shower (the best time). After about 15 minutes, EL becomes an old and welcome friend. Very masculine, and not "old" like some colognes...I'll probably always have it around.

    29 May, 2011

    DutchSchwag's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    An old gentleman, English Leather is one of the few vintage colognes to stand the test of modern retailer and consumer taste and time and is a stalwart at Christmas in drugstores and discounters across North America. Of all the Dana Classics readily available, this is by far the most accessible to all ages and tastes. Enough has already been said about the reformulation and I won´t dwell on it, but despite the move towards a less leathery and barbershop cream scent and towards a more direct, dryer creation, English Leather offers one of the best bargains in fragrance around.
    The notes in this one pretty much sum up its simplicity, but don´t confuse that with a lack of sophistication. This is one of the nicest dry-downs around, revealing a wonderful sandalwood layer that overtakes the early lemon and lime top notes that flicker out relatively quickly. It can border on cloying for some because at its core it is very synthetic and Dana takes shortcuts in the ingredients that the original did not.
    Still, an essential purchase with very decent longevity and projection compared to much more expensive and lower-performing frags on the market. Can be found in gift sets after Christmas in abundance for cut-rate prices at most bargain discounters, hold out for the larger spray cap bottle if you can, projects better and seems better blended than the smaller sample viles.

    02 March, 2011

    Late-Hit's avatar

    United States United States

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    This review is for the vintage, since I haven't sniffed the current production.

    My memory of the topnotes was confirmed by the old 'MEM' bottles I have, circa 1980... kind of soapy, citrus and a bit musty. Not very 'leather' really, but immediately recognizable and true to my memories.

    But the drydown... what a surprise! Once the topnotes fade, the vintage Old Leather leaves you with a very rich sandalwood. In fact, it's one of the best sandalwood scents I've ever smelled.

    For those who enjoy sandalwood, vintage EL should be a 'must have'.

    21st January, 2011

    jerrycbm's avatar



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    I love it! It's a beautiful perfume for classics men, is a "jazz" of parfumes!

    19 January, 2011

    Shifty Bat's avatar

    United States United States

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    My favorite aspect of English Leather is the classic smells-like-it-sounds name that is seldom if ever employed in the modern industry. If you've smelled this one before, you hear 'English Leather' and associate with it leather, lime, moss, countryside, affable, courteous, utilitarian, reliable, everyday, familiar. He's always been around and no one seems to mind the company.

    04 January, 2011

    The_Cologneist's avatar

    United States United States

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    I have an entirely new found love and respect for this cologne. I found some in my drawer, but it's no longer going to be there.. it's out of hibernation, and on the dresser with all the others.

    What I get out of it that I never got before, is a very fresh opening; citrus and limes, the lime note is amazing, but doesn't last long, nor does the citrus top. It smoothly blends into the mossy notes, which are sweet, dry, resinous and somewhat earthy. The middle becomes a bit powdery, which is not something I love, but the mossy notes eventually cancel it out before it once again very SMOOTHLY switches into the leather base. I'd say the leather in this is a bit synthetic smelling, and not very modern, but still delightful, and a pleasure to wear.

    This should be a staple in every man's collection. I just wish they made an EDT spray, with better longevity and projection.. but then again, that would ruin the legend that English Leather is.

    06 December, 2010

    masj78's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Bought some of this in the plastic bottle on ebay and promptly re-sold it. Smells like boot leather mixed with baby powder,urine and some shoe polish. I am a fan of old colognes, but just couldn't get on with this one.

    09 August, 2010

    a2thek47's avatar

    United States United States

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    It's not the worst smell.. But from the younger side of things, there is no place for this scent.. Almost soapy at first, it seriously smells like baby powder. It's not ruined by smoking cigs though.

    26 March, 2010

    shamu1's avatar

    United States United States

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    It is true that this does not smell like the English Leather I remember my father wearing in the 1970s, but to say that there's no leather in English Leather anymore is nonsense. Yes, English Leather obviously has been reformulated, and I would go so far as to say that it's a completely different fragrance than from 40 years ago.

    The difference now is that the leather accord is much more subtle, and that citrus and wood notes now play just as much of a role as leather does in the current English Leather. English Leather now smells like a more concentrated classic eau de cologne, with wood notes and leather acting as fixatives and adding color to what would have otherwise been a bland cologne. It is not sweet like the original EL, and has an overall very dry feeling.

    I won't go so far as to say that English Leather is improved over the earlier version, but it is just as good, even if it is very different. I look at the new formulation as a reinterpretation of the classic leather fragrance. I like this scent very much.

    11th February, 2010

    MOONB's avatar

    United States United States

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    I would like nothing more than to be able to praise English Leather, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I do admire its strong leather basenote, as it is surely the most easily identifiable leather note in the entire world of leathery colognes. But wearing this is just too difficult. It is too strong in any dosage. It morphs into a slightly dirty scent on me if my skin isn't totally scrubbed clean before application. And honestly, I don't really know if it has a place out there in the 21st century. I suppose if you're an older gentlemen with lots of tweed suits, who lives in a dense haze of lovely-smelling pipe smoke from that lovely-smelling pipe stuck between your teeth, this could compliment your presence entirely. Otherwise, I doubt this does anyone any favors, and I know it does nothing for me.

    05 November, 2009

    TropiRock's avatar

    United States United States

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    The review by vintage*red is on the mark, regarding the new (Dana) English Leather versus the original (Mem Company) English Leather. Those of us who survived the 60's can surely remember the creamy, saddle-soapy fragrance of original English Leather cologne. The reborn Dana version seems only like a distant cousin to the original. I have a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma: does English Leather really smell like saddle soap, or does saddle soap kindle memories of English Leather as how saddle soap should smell? Now I'll toss and turn as I ponder that one...

    I am fortunate to own both a bottle of *original* Mem English Leather Cologne (thanks to patience, persistence and eBay), as well as a bottle of Dana English Leather Cologne. The Mem version is so, so much better and it gives me flashbacks from the late 60's. (To avoid becoming a persona non grata, every young man just had to own this delicious cologne). The longevity of the Mem version seems considerably more abbreviated than I recall, but then the bottle is decades old and might have lost a little potency. Still, for a few hours it gives a wonderful leathery/soapy aura if modestly applied. Foetidus is correct on that point - overuse the original Mem version and it can be potent enough to fill a fair-sized arena. I probably won't use either version very often as my tastes have evolved somewhat over the years, but wouldn't be embarrassed for one moment to take another ride back to the 60's on the English Leather train. Matter of fact, while the thought is fresh, tomorrow might just be the day.

    04 September, 2009

    lex's avatar

    United States United States

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    this is still around. english leather reaches out and makes itself known and well known it is.a straight foward scent, no surprises no extras just basically a light musk, woods and a little leather residue. one of those scents that you might get as a gift.

    17 August, 2009

    Redbeard's avatar

    United States United States

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    Saddlesoap and flowers, as I sometimes think of it. I think the barbershop that my mom always took me to as a small child smelled like this, and I only recently realized it. I guess it's mostly old-fashioned flowery soap with a little bit of something incensey? I struggled with whether it's so flowery as to be effeminate, but I think that this question is ultimately moot with English Leather. It's more of a clean-man than a manly-man scent, and I'm sure that's how it was intended: for fine, upstanding, well-groomed, clean-shaven gentlemen in their offices, hard at work during a time of post-war prosperity. Naturally it's not as strong as all the later EdTs, but since I'm sure this was meant more as an splash-on augmentation to one's aftershave than as a statement on its own, I won't criticize it for weakness. A fairly good cheapy.

    12 July, 2009

    DULLAH's avatar

    Turkey Turkey

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    It smells alot like the Products Jaguar Recommends for their Connolly leather interiors.
    Maybe Connolly hide food ? IDK
    It's sharp and brisk and leathery, which I don't mind a light trace of after detailing my car, but I don't want to wear this out anywhere on my clothes, even if I was a senior citizen.

    24 June, 2009

    AnimaSola's avatar

    United States United States

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    This was truly the Frankenstein fragrance of my youth. I loathed getting this as a gift. This scent screams, " I am cheap and loud." I once knew someone who put a bottle of this in his air conditioning unit and regretted it for a week. I cannot believe this monstrosity is still around.

    20th June, 2009

    vintage*red's avatar

    United States United States

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    wjlamp is sooo lucky to have discovered a vintage bottle! I used to wear this in the sixties before it was "permissible" for unisex fragrances and I loved it! There was a very rich, sexy-sweet quality about the leather note that is lacking in any of the leather fragrances that I have tried lately (although I have not tried the new Chanel). The new versions of this scent are adequate but not special. 5 stars for the old; 3 stars for the new.

    03 June, 2009

    Kahuna Cowboy's avatar

    United States United States

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    This was my Dad's cologne, I still have a bottle that reminds me of him. In fact my Mom commented how much she liked smelling this on pop. It is not bad for a drug store scent, it is artificial though. Kind of an artificial leathery soapy scent. It is very strong and lasts a good while.

    Not the best cologne at the grocery store but not the worst. I give it a thumbs up simply for nostalgia and memories of my pop.

    30th September, 2008

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