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  1. #1

    Default Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Letís Talk Russian Leather. No, not the Cuirs díRussie under the banner of either Chanel, Creed, Guerlain, etc., nor the various other leathers often discussed (e.g. K10, Rien, Gomma, Lonestar Memories, Tuscan Leather, Cuir de Lancome, Cuir díArabie, Cuir Mauresque, Cuir Ottoman, Cuir díIris, Aramis, Bandit, Cabochard, etc.). Rather, Iím interested to hear from those that have delved into the Russian Leather colognes and aftershaves that were apparently commonly available decades ago and pop up on ebay now and again (e.g. Imperial Del Oro, Royal Argenta, Prince Obolenski, LíArgene, Davlyn, etc.). Since Iím drawing attention to it, I feel compelled to point out that Iím not a seller of any cologne, anywhere.

    Iím a fan of Elsha 1776 which is marketed as a Russian Leather. To me itís pleasant amber with a titch of smoke and leather, just a titch, and not at all similar to the birch tar monsters like Aramis. I did a little Ďresearchí and was interested to hear/read accounts of Elsha Russian Leather being available decades back in typical small town clothing shops; A real slice of Americana from a bygone era, if you will. I believe Elsha copyrighted the Ď1776í in the 1970s and that it went by Elsha Russian Leather beforehand. Elsha provides its own account of the history of Russian Leather on its site, elsha.com. I also stumbled upon this eBay Russian Leather Cologne Aftershave buying guide that I found interesting enough to share:

    Russian Leather Cologne/Aftershave
    Author information: ebay handle jethrobodinejr

    The term Russian Leather cannot be copyrighted for a fragrance according to a decision of the United States Copyright Office. It is a generic term. That is likely the reason that so many different Russian Leather colognes and aftershaves had been available through the first seven decades of the 20th Century. (An availability that for some unknown reason [lest perhaps the lack of affiliation with a major fragrance manufacturer], has not continued into the 21st century.) Russian Leather fragrance is supposed to have been based on the smell of a certain type of leather that per legend only the Russian aristocracy was allowed to possess!

    One author in writing of Imperial del Oro Russian Leather noted: 'But Birch Oil is probably the most important scent ingredient that gives real Russian Leather it's characteristic smell....It is natural for man also to include salicylates in his perfumes as well and especially essential to create a Russian Leather fragrance. ...[H]eavy animal fat such as whale oil was also traditionally used in the process of making Russian Leather; it softened the leather and preserved it as well as its distinctive scent. Today, synthetic scent molecules and fixatives are used to produce the same rounding harmonizing effect in perfume... As a final step in preparing actual Russian Leather, it is treated with Birch oil, Sandalwood resin and Gutta percha (yet another type of tree resin) mixture to give it increased strength and a pleasing color. But the animal fat and Gutta percha do not leave the leather yet with an acceptable smell, so a mix of benzoin, tonka beans, orris root and more sandalwood are used to sweeten its scent yet more. So finally a list of notes from which we can imaginatively build our Russian Leather cologne: white flowers (tuberose and lily of the valley), essences of birch bud oil, pine and willow tree saps, Styrax flower and benzion, sandalwood, plus a synthetic animal-like fat molecule for fixative. And something you do not see mentioned from actual Russian leather preparations but that is smelled in the cologne (and perfumes), is hesperides or citrus. In Imperial Russian Leather there seems to be a combination of fresh green bergamot and a sweeter orange note. So even though I can't find an explicit list of notes for this vintage Russian Leather made by Imperial Del Oro, its scent likely incorporates many of the above notes. This particular blend is a very pleasing, being a smooth and strong'. Amelia, The Vintage Perfume Vault (Blog) 'Imperial del Oro Russian Leather' November 20, 2008.

    There have been many Russian Leathers of US, French and other vintages in the 20th Century, especially during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The zenith in terms of number of brands and number of bottles sold likely occurred in the 1960s. Not only did colognes and aftershaves bear the name Russian Leather, but soaps and talcs were also marketed by many of the cologne and aftershave makers. None of these Russian Leather products was marketed by a major cosmetic/fragrance company. Perhaps that is why none are available today with a very few exceptions: Elsha, Demeter, Creed are made today and have Russian Leather types or are or claimed to be based on the Russian Leather scent. This author does not feel these compare to the Russian Leathers popular in the mid 20th century.

    Russian Leathers were made by Cosmetco in Long Beach and Los Angeles California. Their two brands were Royal Argenta & Imperial del Oro (discussed in article in The Vintage Perfume Vault (Blog), above, and by implication that blog author's favorite--Royal Argenta and Imperial del Oro would be close to being tied as my favorites (In this writer's subjective opinion these were the two best Russian Leathers, with the former slightly preferred). Argenta=silver and oro=gold and these Cosmetco fragrances were indeed produced in bottles hand-decorated respectively in real silver and gold.

    Probably the largest producers were Stacy of Providence, Rhode Island (Prince Obolenski); Cosmetco; Maisson Renee, Paris & Hollywood; Sacoma Cosmetique, New York; and Saxony, Los Angeles, all but Saxony and Cosmetco not having a particular brand. Aristocrat from Los Angeles had very similar packaging and fragrances and manufacturing locale to Saxony and likely both were from the same manufacturer. This would also likely be the case with Imperial Toiletries For Men Russian Leather which came from the same locale as the Cosmetco Russian Leathers and a bottle very similar to Imperial del Oro and had a scent almost or in fact indistinguishable from the latter. Cosmetco also later made Royal Silver and Del Oro with the Imperial omitted in the same bottles and scents as Royal Argenta and Imperial del Oro. L' Argene of New York apparently (at least according to litigation as well as appearance) was a copier of successful fragrances and seems to have copied Stacy's marketing (Prince Obolenski--see L Argene Duke of Odessa) although LArgene's fragrances smelled different [and in this author's opinion- better] than Prince Obolenski; it does not seem at all that they merely tried to copy the style and certainly not the scent per se but came up with a superior product and it would appear put some time, money, and creativity into its marketing, style and scent.

    Other Notable manufacturers that put out a good procuct were Davlyn, Renard, Executive, Louis D'Or, Rose Dor, Delatour, and Parfum's Lency. Of these all but the latter three produced product that was simply named "Russian Leather." The latter 3 however produced Russian Leathers respectively named Czar Nicholas V, Royal Cossack, and the very rare and incomparable Essence Imperiale Russe.

    This information is not based on firsthand knowledge. It is what I have put together from reading and purchasing (and even attempting to make) Russian Leathers.

    People have asked why copies of some of the more successful Russian Leathers are not mass marketed. None of the apparently successful Russian Leathers was marketed by a major fragrance manufacturer. All have disappeared. I do not know how one gets to market a great scent if one is not a major fragrance manufacturer or someone with large funds available for the project (even with a great fragrance or copy). Hopefully this will be of some use to some interested in this fascinating fragrance. -- Thomas J McKeon, Indianapolis --

    So, how about it? Anyone else interested in these old bottles of Russian Leather? If so, what are your experiences? In general terms, how do they smell? Are they worth the effort and expense to check out or are they pretty much just gussied up aqua velva aged for a few decades? The more specifics the better.

    The following are pics of some of the brands mentioned throughout the buyers guide above:
    russian leather - imperial del oro.jpgrussian leather - saxony.jpgrussian leather - royal argenta.jpgrussian leather - prince obelinski.jpgrussian leather - maison royale.jpgrussian leather - maison renee.jpgrussian leather - diplomat.jpg
    Simplex Sigillum Veri

  2. #2

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Thanks for the interesting read! Being a fan of the modern interpretations of Russian Leather, I would be interested to smell some of these. My experience with buying old bottles, though, is that there is no way to tell if they smell anything like they did originally. I have never been sure about what I got.

    I'd also like to hear from anyone who has tried any of these.
    Behemoth cut a slice of pineapple, salted it, peppered it, ate it, and then tossed off a second glass of alcohol so dashingly that everyone applauded.

  3. #3
    Basenotes Junkie FullCollapse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Glad you made this post. Ive been on a quest to find some great Russian Leather scents lately and havent found much. I own a good size decant of Vintage Cuir de Russie by chanel and its really great but not exactly what Ive been looking for. I also have a large 8 oz bottle of Elsha's offering but wish it was far more smokier and leathery. The closest thing Ive come to, when trying to find my holy grail Russian Leather is Kolnisch Juchten by Parfums Regence. Legend behind this is that it is a 300+ year old formula. Its really amazing and hard to get a hold of. Leathery, smokey, and almost meaty in structure, but at the same time it is tamed with something that is slightly powdery and almost sweet (but thats not the right word). Apparently you can only buy this at one store located in San Diego but I lucked out and obtained it in a swap here on BN. Ill definitely be checking out some of the examples mentioned in the text and if I find the Holy Grail Ill be sure to post it and let you know. This, like all quests for the grail, will probably get expensive and take some time though.
    Last edited by FullCollapse; 1st November 2013 at 06:45 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    ^ Perhaps you mean Jacqueline Perfumery in S.F. That's where I phoned in and bought my bottle of KŲlnisch Juchten a few years back.

    Yeah, I like that one too. It's an EDT and afaik Parfums Regence (France) is still making it*. For this thread, though, I'm really focusing on the colognes/aftershaves that were being produced and distributed in the U.S. in times past and, like Elsha, in times present.

    * I've never smelled the 'original' Kolnish Juchten by Farina Gegenuber but purists, if memory serves right, have pointed out notable differences between the two compositions. Apparently old posts here have suggested that the Farina Gegenuber Kolnisch Juchten has not been produced for quite some time AND Farina Gegenuber did produce a Russisch Leder perhaps after ceasing its Kolnisch Juchten. Incidentally, both Kolnisch Juchten and Russisch Leder mean Russian Leather. I don't remember any consensus whether both of those were considered the same or different.
    Last edited by DuNezDeBuzier; 1st November 2013 at 06:58 PM.
    Simplex Sigillum Veri

  5. #5
    Basenotes Junkie FullCollapse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    ^ Perhaps you mean Jacqueline Perfumery in S.F. That's where I phoned in and bought my bottle of KŲlnisch Juchten a few years back.

    Yeah, I like that one too. It's an EDT and afaik Parfums Regence (France) is still making it. For this thread, though, I'm really focusing on the colognes/aftershaves that were being produced and distributed in the U.S. in times past and, like Elsha, in times present.
    If the information about Kolnisch Juchten is true, it has been around much longer than any of these mentioned in the article you posted. Apparently Parfums Regence uses the same formula which was originally produced by Johann Maria Farina (Rote Farina Marke), the world's oldest Eau de Cologne manufacturer in Koln, established in 1709. "Juchten” is the German word for Russian leather so this is exactly on point even though its not listed in the original article. This stuff is as vintage as you can get, even though the juice that now comes in the black bottle is still in production (check out the original and subsequent bottles that were made by the original manufacturer). Why only focus on Russian Leathers produced in the US anyways? I mean, who cares where they come from, just as long as they fit the criteria you are looking for.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Thanks for sharing the extensive and wonderfully illustrated info. Leather fragrances are a much more complex, non-uniforming and nonlinear fragrance category than expected, always surprising with its rich and often less known traditions.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    I think my edit to post #4 crossed your last post. Sorry for any overlap.

    Quote Originally Posted by FullCollapse View Post
    ... Why only focus on Russian Leathers produced in the US anyways? I mean, who cares where they come from, just as long as they fit the criteria you are looking for.
    My intent is to stimulate discussion. Parfums Regence KJ is a good one and has been discussed in quite a few threads as have various "Russisch Leder(s)". Interestingly enough, to me at least, none of the above mentioned russian leather colognes / aftershaves have been discussed at all on BN and/or surely not as a group as referenced in that eBay buyers guide. I find that surprising to be honest. Then again, perhaps my BN search skills are wanting. In any event, and I guess another way of putting it, can those with any experience with any of the following please share their impressions:

    Cosmetco - Royal Argenta
    Cosmetco - Imperial del Oro
    Stacy of Providence - Prince Obolenski
    Maisson Renee
    Sacoma Cosmetique
    Saxony - Russian Leather
    Aristocrat - Russian Leather
    Cosmetco - Royal Silver
    Cosmetco - Del Oro
    L' Argene - Duke of Odessa - Prince Obolenski
    Stacy's - Prince Obolenski
    Davlyn - Russian Leather
    Renard - Russian Leather
    Executive - Russian Leather
    Louis D'Or - Russian Leather
    Rose Dor - Czar Nicholas V
    Delatour - Royal Cossack
    Parfum's Lency - Essence Imperiale Russe
    Last edited by DuNezDeBuzier; 1st November 2013 at 08:04 PM.
    Simplex Sigillum Veri

  8. #8

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    I had the first ones in the second row LONG LONG ago and I remember back then I liked them a lot, of course I was an extreme whelp when it comes to scents but I liked them, and I liked the bottles. I think they were cheap if I remember correctly and one of those impulse buys

  9. #9

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Good thread, as I was interested in the Russian leathers as well ; blind bought Renard's Russian Leather last yr or yr b4.

    This was taken from the link - has some references on Russian Leather:
    http://badgerandblade.com/vb/archive...p/t-82970.html
    "Renard's was an outfit from Chicago that manufactured Russian Leather, which was supposedly manufactured exactly the same as the original Russian Leather formula. (Quick crash course on Leather scents: Bayley of Bond Street manufactured the very first Leather fragrance that we know of, Imperial Russian Leather around 1766. T&H introduced their Spanish Leather in 1830, and it was a close copy of Cusson's Imperial Leather, which in itself was a copy of the original Bayley of Bond Street IRL. Cussons Imperial Leather soap is supposed to contain this same original scent, and is still manufactured today, though the Cussons cologne is its own animal and smells nothing like the soap. Renard supposedly had the rights to make the original Bayley's Imperial Russian Leather, so in effect this is probably the closest thing to a 1766 bottle of Bayley's Imperial Russian Leather that you could hope to get). So, long story short, this Renards Russian Leather dates from the 30's-60's and can occasionally pop up on Ebay. It's good stuff. :001_smile"

  10. #10

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Quote Originally Posted by badarun View Post
    Good thread, as I was interested in the Russian leathers as well ; blind bought Renard's Russian Leather last yr or yr b4. ...
    So... did you like it? Was it anything like you expected? Was it like the modern Russian Leather EdTs, EdPs? As the OP so succinctly phrased it, was it worth the trouble and expense, or was it "gussied-up Aqua Velva aged for a few decades?"

    I see there are a fair number of bottles of these after shaves and colognes available on eBay...
    Behemoth cut a slice of pineapple, salted it, peppered it, ate it, and then tossed off a second glass of alcohol so dashingly that everyone applauded.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Mixed reaction - i'll give it 3.5 stars out of 5, which to me is buy worthy (note that I paid only around 25-40 with shipping off ebay - which isn't too much for a supposedly vintage juice imho).

    Pros: much different to all the leathers I own, leather is much lighter in composition compared to all others, but, its like the smell of a leather glove still clinging strongly gfon your fingers. I actually like it, but as with any cologne, cons are there, as seen below. The cost I paid to me is one of the pros...It's clearly masculine imo. I should also say that this Renard isn't similar to any other leather I own - bel ami / knize 10 / M / chanel cuir de russie, Or Black & others, so that alone makes it bottle worthy.

    Cons: The one I bought starts with a synthetic feel, before settling into the b'ful leather after abt 15-20 mins. Longevity is decent - 4-6 hrs. Silage is absolutely minimal 1-2 feet at the most & for maybe the first 2 hrs only.

    Hope this helps...(word of caution - have you read on other threads that I am a terrible nose???)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Also, the Renard RL is an EDC splash...

  12. #12

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Thanks for the detailed review! You couldn't be that bad a nose, the other leather frags you named are all top-notch and some of my favorites.
    Behemoth cut a slice of pineapple, salted it, peppered it, ate it, and then tossed off a second glass of alcohol so dashingly that everyone applauded.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    I just subscribed to this thread hoping to add a bit to the discussion. I have very little to add at this point since my experience with russian leathers and cuir de russies has been limited to the obvious but I have been able to obtain some of the ones mentioned here. In addition - because of this thread - I just went on a shopping spree on Ebay and picked up some of the ones mentioned above. At the moment I'll leave it at that but hope to have the time and insight to come back soon and contribute to this thread.
    Currently looking for Ava Luxe Midnight Violet

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  14. #14

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    Hey, thanks for all the responses.

    Since starting this thread I waded into the pool and bought a 4oz bottle of Saxony - Russian Leather - Cologne and a set of 4oz bottles of Russian Leather by Executive - Cologne and A/S. These are not actual photos of what I got, but they're pretty close.

    Russian Leather - Saxony.jpgRussian Leather - Executive.JPG

    I paid < $15 per bottle including s/h and I like 'em alot at that price.

    I'm not good at note breakdowns... They're both spicy masculine, without much floral going on. The Saxony is the cleaner of the two, with what I'd guess is a nice vetiver backbone. The Executive is the more leathery, with what I'd guess to be a good solid castoreum/animalic note about it. They both behave like one might expect; maybe 4 hours tops with the weight/feel of splashes like Old Spice, Tabac Original, Clubman, etc. At the price I paid, these are pretty cool and I would probably explore a little more in the months to come. I am wrestling with the number of bottles I've got now so we'll see. The Saxony retailed for $5 (as printed on the bottle) back when it was on the shelves. There are absolutely no signs of age deterioration with any of the bottles. None, whatsoever. Fwiw, I prefer the Executive.

    This was an interesting jaunt down a different path, so to speak. I'm still surprised there's so little here on BN these days and/or the archives re these russian leathers made in the u.s.a. in decades past. Perhaps they're simply equivalent to the Old English Leather, Windrift, Timberline, etc., I used to see atop my dad's dresser when I was a kid and more apropos for discussion on an old-school-wet-shavers forum. ???

    Anyway, I'd enjoy reading other experiences.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    have you ever run into Troika by 4711? From the 1920s, I think.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Let's Talk Russian Leather... No, not the usual

    ^ No I haven't. I assume you're referring to this one:
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