Perfume Review – Chanel Les Exclusifs Cuir de Russie: The Legend & The Myth

Some legends are perhaps better left untouched. Or unsniffed, as the case may be. Because, sometimes, the legend is closer to a myth. That was, unfortunately, my experience with Cuir de Russie, the legendary Chanel fragrance that is now part of its Les Exclusif line of perfumes. Cuir de R

Cuir de Russie (or “Russian leather”) is one of those scents that perfume junkies would talk about in hushed tones of reverence and awe. The vintage, original Cuir de Russie always seemed to me to be some sort of mythical animal, the perfume equivalent of a unicorn. Its name would shine in haloed light above distant snowy mountain tops and I almost expected a choir of angels to burst into rhapsodic song at its very mention.

Coco Chanel & her imperial Grand Duke.

Coco Chanel & her imperial Grand Duke.

Cuir de Russie was inspired by Coco Chanel’s passionate affair with a Russian Grand Duke, His Imperial Highness Dimitri Pavlovich Romanov, a cousin to the last Tsar. According to Wikipedia, Chanel’s biographer considered Cuir de Russie to be the “bottled … essence of her romance with the Grand Duke.” It was created by Ernst Beaux, Chanel’s then perfumer, sometime in the 1920s when Paris was flooded with Russian emigrés, both royal and common, who had escaped the Bolshevik revolution. (Chanel’s website gives the date of the perfume’s release as 1927, but I’ve always read it was in 1924.)

The Chanel website majestically declares Cuir de Russie to be an “imperial fragrance” and a “leather oriental” before adding:

The Grand Duke in his uniform.

The Grand Duke in his uniform.

The Russian influence at the heart of Mademoiselle’s creations was born from her encounter with the Grand Duke Dimitri, cousin of Tsar Nicholas II. Cuir de Russie, launched in 1927, is the fragrance of wild cavalcades, wafts of blond tobacco and the smell of boots tanned by birch bark, which the Russian soldiers would wear.
This sensual fragrance reveals the dark and musky scents of balms, Frankincense and Juniper Wood. Fruity zests of Mandarin Orange and Bergamot add a touch of insolence before giving way to the grace and fragility of eternal flowers: Rose, Jasmine and Ylang-Ylang. A ‘thoroughbred’ fragrance with a strong character, it holds within it the ambiguous secrets of femininity…

Somewhere in the decades following its release, Cuir de Russie seems to have faded into the mists of legend. I can’t determine when it was discontinued or why, but it just became that mythical perfume unicorn. Then, in 1983, Chanel brought it back. Trumpets blared, perfumistas fainted, and all wept with joy as the heavens burst forth in song. Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge, re-worked it slightly, toning down its legendary leather notes and increasing the iris for a more powdery note, but it was back and that is all anyone cared about.

The return of Cuir de Russie was hailed as a massive triumph by even that most ascerbic and disdainful of critics, Luca Turin. In his book, Perfumes The A-Z Guide, his five-star review states:

There have been many other fragrances called Cuir de Russie, every one either too sweet or too smoky. This one is the real deal, an undamaged monument of classical perfumery, and the purest emanation of luxury ever captured in a bottle.

[All] sumptuous leather, light and balsamic, forgoing any sugary compromise, Cuir de Russie regains its place at the top of this [Leather] category, right next to the rather more jovial Tabac Blond. […]Cuir de Russie is a striking hologram of luxury bygone: its scent like running the hand over the pearl grey banquette of an Isotta Frashini while forests of birch silently pass by”.

(First quote taken from Perfume Niche, and the second from the Perfume Shrine.)

Luca Turin is not alone in genuflecting before the shrine to the most holy of leather perfume holies. If I were to provide mere snippets of the adoring praise for Cuir de Russie — even a minute fraction of them! — I suspect I would writing this review until sometime in the year 2018. There are reviews on Fragrantica which expound for paragraph after paragraph about:

Coco at her Ritz apartment.

Coco at her Ritz apartment.

Cossacks on horseback on the steppes of Russia; semi-erotic imaginings involving the seduction of a languid Coco by her sweaty, horse-riding royal lover amidst the plush decadence of her Paris apartment at the Ritz; and about olfactory masterpieces involving the very scent of Coco Chanel’s sex and sweat-infused bedsheets. There was one from a fellow perfume blogger whom I deeply respect and admire which made me want to go take a cold shower, or find some ermine and jewels in which to roll around naked.

All of which makes me feel completely insane for not loving it. But I don’t. On me, it is none of the things described above, and I am crushingly disappointed by a scent that is, at best, average and occasionally pleasant. At worst, it is a barnyard filled with horse manure under a layer of soap. In short, I am one of the very few freaks in this world who   finds the legend of Cuir de Russie to be a mere myth.

The notes listed in Chanel’s description up above are the same ones listed on Fragrantica. Elsewhere, however, I’ve read a significantly larger and fuller list. I assume that the notes are essentially the same in both vintage and modern versions, with only the amount of certain ingredients differing. If so, then the full notes for Cuir de Russie are:

aldehydes, orange blossom, bergamot, mandarin, clary sage, iris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, balsams, vetiver, styrax, incense, cade, leather, amber and vanilla.

Cuir de Russie opens on me with an explosion of aldehydes. (You can read more about aldehydes in the Glossary.) On me, it is a waxy, lemony, floral impression that is first and foremost soapy, and without any of the fizzy aspects that I often read about with aldehydes. As many of you know, I loathe soapy scents. And I suspect my dislike of the soap accord in aldehydes is why I dislike Chanel No. 5, and one of the reasons why I’m far from enraptured by Cuir de Russie. (Christ, I’m admitting that I don’t like the two most legendary Chanel perfumes ever. I may need to hide in witness protection. Mea Culpa.)

Initially, the burst of soap is like a thick lens, clouding and obscuring the citrus notes, but about five minutes later, I suddenly smell soapy leather. Specifically, I get a strong impression of a riding saddle and stirrups lathered with sweat. There is a strong smell of sour, sweaty horse. I shudder faintly, and wonder momentarily if the heinous soap smell was better. I should have enjoyed the sweaty saddle fragrance while it lasted because, suddenly, waves of horse manure (cow dung?) and soap are emanating off my arm.  I…. I… am stunned, and have no idea what to do. I quickly turn to Google and, there, on both Makeupalley and Basenotes, amidst the legions of gushing, cooing, almost delerious praise, I find a few rare nuggets of comfort. I am not completely alone or totally crazy.

Snippets of those rare (very rare!) criticisms of Cuir de Russie are as follows:

  • It was an overwhelming animalistic scent, like the smell of entering a barn and having the smells of animals and their droppings mixing with straw and leather.
  • This leather is more of the fecal farmhouse animal stench variety and is somewhat difficult to tolerate. […] Luckily, the barnyard aspects of the scent recede in the base notes. […] The opening of Cuir de Russie edt was difficult from the get-go and did not portend to good things to come. I tend to be quite sensitive to fecal aspects in scents (like my problem with Jicky, for example), and as such the heart notes with their fecal smelling leather and powdery iris were really not to my taste at all. If things stopped there this would be a definite thumbs down for me. What saves Cuir de Russie edt somewhat is it has a very nice dry-down that easily is the best part of the scent.

And, that’s basically it — because even those who can smell the fecal aspect of Cuir de Russie love it. As it is, that last quote came from someone who ended up giving Cuir de Russie a neutral rating due to the “nice” dry-down that she mentioned. Other than a few negative criticisms involving dirty ashtrays (not a frequent impression), almost no-one who smelled the barnyard scent or “cow patties” hated it. Seriously, they didn’t!

  • Cuir de Russie, however, was love at first sniff. It opens with a dirty animalic note that’s borderline fecal, but the soft, creamy, spicy florals seep in and smooth out this animal’s shaggy fur until Cuir de Russie becomes this heart-achingly beautiful blend with an undercurrent of barely-bridled danger; a lady in leather and lace, a sleek panther at repose in a meadow.
  • I really love the opening, when a true leather unfolds, bitter, dry, almost harsh, even a briefly passing “faecal” note, all in all, it smells like the inside of a fairly new, precious leather bag, that’s containing some scented cosmetics in its depths. But all too soon, this stage is fading away, moving over into a softer, creamier leather, which is still fine and very likeable.
  • All I can say is — poop. This stuff smells like poop. But in a really kind of good, fascinating way. Seriously, that’s the genius of Chanel. It’s like the poop of some delicate animal who’s only grazed upon a field of violets. I’m not sure I want to wear it, but I simply could not stop smelling the crook of my arm all day after my spritz! Pretty awesome.

There was even a review on MakeupAlley upbraiding Chanel’s perfumer, Jacques Polge, for toning down the original scent and demanding that they bring back more of the leather and barnyard!

Clearly, I am alone in disliking “the poop of some delicate animal who’s only grazed upon a field of violets.” (It is not a “delicate” animal, by the way, and I could only wish it had eaten bloody violets!) I certainly don’t want even more of this opening that so many adore and wish were as intense as it used to be.

As I try to figure out how I landed in a pile of horse manure, I come across a really interesting explanation on Perfume Niche. Apparently, it’s the birch wood that helps creates that leather tannery and barnyard scent:

Rectified birch tar is the smoky resinous note which makes Cuir de Russie, and most leather scents, smell like leather. It is, in fact, the dry-cooked resin from the bark of the birch tree and has been used for centuries to cure leather, and to “dress” it, as in polishes for military leather boots. […]  [Then] after the florals subside, Cuir de Russie conjures the uber-male, becoming a sexy masculine scent. That raw edge – the funky animalics, civet and castoreum – mix with the smoky leather, balsam and woods , giving Cuir de Russie an erotic, brutish quality.

I’m afraid I don’t see any “erotic, brutish” quality in Cuir de Russie. I would undoubtedly like it a lot more if it were half as interesting as all these descriptions would seem to convey. I keep wondering what the legendary vintage version must have been like if the current eau de toilette toned down the leather. Perhaps I should try to hunt down the concentrated extrait de parfum version which is supposed to be more intense, more “brutal,” heavier and thicker? I consider the downsides of a heavier version of soapy horse feces, and quickly change my mind.

About 30 minutes in, Cuir de Russie is already incredibly close to the skin. Apparently, it’s supposed to be. However, with the way my skin consumes perfume, it makes it difficult to assess its full range and development properly, so I start from scratch. I follow the advice of a Basenoter and put on triple the previous amount (on some clean skin). I have the same experience as the first time round, but this time, the perfume’s sillage is much better. (Apparently, I need to empty just over half the vial on me if I want to smell the dry-down properly.)

Unfortunately, I don’t get much of the lovely middle or bottom notes that others do. On me, it goes from: citric soap; to horse manure, sweaty saddles and soap; to a middle stage that is essentially a basic floral scent of strong jasmine, with bergamot, rose, powdery iris, and leather turned into soft suede. (The soap is still there too, though it’s a shadow of its former strength.) The jasmine part is lovely, and the rest of it is pleasant, but I shrug. Soon, the dry down begins: the suede impression is joined by a light touch of cedar, an even heavier dose of dusty powder from the iris, some definite musky notes, and a soft smoke and incense touch that is, I admit, lovely. There is also a note that strongly evokes hairspray. And, every CamillaPBnow and then, flitting back and forth, I smell something faintly horsey — though it is more leather saddles now than feces.

I feel like Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince Charles’ horse-mad second wife, and recall the oft-repeated stories of her younger days. Rumour has it that, after a long day at the hunt, she would make a mad dash straight off her sweaty horse and into the house where she would tumble into a dress for a cocktail party, with nary a shower in-between.

I realise that my views are “sacrilegious,” to borrow the word of one fearful commentator on Basenotes who barely dared whisper the words “fecal” before rushing off to join in all the praise. If I could smell what Mick Jagger smells when he wears this (and he does); if I could see “The Ballet Russes, polished samovars and dangerous Cossacks with leather riding boots;” if I could conjure up Imperial Grand Dukes leaping off their black stallions to lasciviously and forcefully seduce me; if I could feel like a “virago” femme fatale or ultra-posh bombshell with hidden bondage tendencies– then I would probably genuflect at the alter of Cuir de Russie, too.

Until the time when all that magically occurs, I shall continue to think that Cuir de Russie is a perfectly pleasant, completely average floral musk with some suede notes under a strong head of horse manure. Literally.

DETAILS:
Target group: Unisex. Men love this as much as women.
Sillage & Longevity: As a rule, this is meant to be close to the skin, so the sillage is far from enormous. With regard to longevity, there seems to be a complete and total split in views, with some saying it lasts 10-12 hours, while others say it never surpasses the 4 hour mark. On me, it took 30 minutes or less before the perfume faded to the point where I had to forcefully inhale my arm to smell the notes. The whole thing lasted no more than 2.5 with my regular amount, but 4 hours with the triple dosage. Again, as always, my longevity issues are far from the norm as my skin rapidly consumes perfume.
Cost & Availability: Cuir de Russie is available exclusively in Chanel boutiques or on the Chanel website. The standard, basic Eau de Toilette in available in two sizes: the 2.5 oz./75 ml bottle is $110, while the 6.8 oz/200 ml. bottle is $220. It is also available in Extrait de Parfum form for $175 for 0.5 oz.
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44 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Chanel Les Exclusifs Cuir de Russie: The Legend & The Myth

  1. Aw, I’m sorry this one was such a disappointment for you! As you know, I love this one – but if it smelled like feces on me, I wouldn’t be too keen on it either! Have you ever smelled it on someone else, and if so, do you remember it being equally repugnant on them? I wonder if it’s a body chemistry issue or a taste issue? Anyway, the review was still great and I’m glad to read your thoughts on it, although I wish you had been as enraptured by it as I am (in a good way, though!).

    • I don’t think I have smelled it on anyone else, but I shall have to ask my mother to see if she ever wore it. She’s tried so much that was classique and legendary. I suspect not this one though. I wish I could smell what everyone else does but even AFTER the barnyard recedes, it’s still nothing special on me. You know, I held off on posting this review — which I had finished in the early hours of the morning — so I could try Cuir de Russie for a 3rd time on me. Nope, the dry-down is none of the things that so enchants others. I really wonder if the reviews would be as gushing and worshipful for Cuir de Russie if someone smelled it in an unmarked, unlabeled bottle, because I think some — not all, but some — of the comments I saw hesitate to be fully honest due to what it is. Cuir de Russie, the legend.

      • Well if third time wasn’t the charm, then it’s definitely not for you!

        I wonder the same about a lot of stuff which is really well-reviewed- whether the legend/overwhelming popularity/house/price make people more or less willing to admit they like/dislike something. I’m certain it plays a role. Dzing! doesn’t have legendary status by any means, but I thought I was crazy smelling what I did after reading the reviews. I wasn’t able to get a single thing so many reviewers mentioned. To some extent, I had the same problem with l’Eau d’Hiver and Knize Ten.

        • I don’t have Dzhing! but I have Dzhonga (to answer a question of yours that I haven’t gotten around to yet). I haven’t smelled it yet because I like to let the first time be when I’m actually going to test the fragrance. That way, I don’t have preconceptions and can also focus on the notes, their development and the overall impression. Dzhing! definitely has much praise; was it just pleasant but uncontroversial on you, or just plain bad? Perhaps the one with the most out of those you’ve mentioned is Knize Ten, and I know that was a big disappointment.

          • Dzing on me was just so…blah. It was very, very sweet, and that’s it. Other people mentioned sawdust, barnyard, etc. – it’s apparently supposed to evoke a circus and all I really got was cotton candy on me, and even that was fleeting. I wouldn’t even have been turned off by the supposed barnyard because the strangeness drew me to it in the first place. It just was so sweet and fleeting on my skin, that the experience was a letdown, especially because my expectations were high going in.

          • Oh dear. That is very one-dimensional and disappointing. I have the impression that L’Artisan perfumes are, as a whole, very, very light and somewhat fleeting. I read those sorts of comments all the time with regard to diff. L’Artisan scents. I haven’t tried on enough to know for sure, but my initial impressions thus far would seem to support that conclusion. I have about 5 that I need to go through, so we’ll see how layered, nuanced and complex they are as a whole. Based on what I’ve tried thus far, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not expecting anything super complex.

      • What is your experience with any of the Chanel’s pure parfums or parfum extraits? Do they last long on you? I want to try some of them especially No 19, No 22, Sycomore, Cristalle and others.

    • I just wanted to say, it’s been a few weeks since I tried Cuir de Russie, so I tried it again tonight keeping in mind your review. I have to say, while I still do love it and will definitely be buying a bottle in the near future, I can see the sweaty/horse manure aspect you write about, but I only get it in the first 15 min or so. Obviously, I don’t find it pronounced to the same degree or to be off-putting (it’s seems weird to say sweat/horse manure *wouldn’t* be off-putting, but for some reason it works for me here), but I can see how to a different nose it wouldn’t be appealing at all. I will also say that Cuir de Russie is one of the only ones I’ve tried where I can smell it on me without actively trying to smell it. Anyway, I just wanted to say that your review was incredibly helpful in me opening my mind/nose to smell what you smell in Cuir de Russie. But this convinces me more that you need to try Cuir Ottoman and Knize Ten and/or Knize Ten Golden, because I’d love to hear your thoughts on those takes on leather. 🙂

      • I’m so glad. And what a huge compliment, thank you! As for not being off-putting, believe me, those who scent it generally seem to love it and wish it were even stronger!

        Believe me, I have Cuir Ottoman on my list (my ever-growing list!), but could you tell me what you see are the differences between the two Knize Ten versions? I should probably stick to the original first, but I want to know just how many things are going to be tempting me. 😉 LOL

          • I’ve never tried the pure parfum or extrait de parfum versions of any of Chanel’s perfumes. I do have Sycomore up for review sometime since I received it recently but it’s not the pure parfum form. Kevin absolutely adores it so I hear good things about it, but he didn’t get the extrait version either. Just the biggest bottle they sell. LOL! I think you two have some similar tastes, esp. when it comes to ouds, so I’ll let him tell you about that one until I get around to reviewing it. 🙂

          • I’ve never tried the pure parfum/extrait of any of Chanel’s stuff. They’re so expensive for such small bottles, I don’t know what the logistics would be, besides buying a bottle and literally decanting a drop! I didn’t think Sycomore was available in such a version, but I could be mistaken. Regardless, I’m a huge fan of Sycomore. It’s so different from anything I’ve tried or owned, and as far as I can tell, the most masculine of the Exclusifs. I’ve read tons of reviews, and many evoke different settings, but it’s definitely a worthwhile try. But I’ve become a big fan of Chanel’s stuff in general, and will now make it a point to try all of their Exclusifs I’ve tried about 6, and I’ve liked them all, with most of them being full-bottle worthy by my standards. Indeed, I have a huge bottle of Sycomore, and I’m sure I’ll be wearing it more as soon as I work through the massive load of decants I recently received!

  2. I had to laugh. You were seduced by a certain blogger and his overheated apres sex scene in The Ritz review of Cuir de Russie. Well I know that blogger very well and he can go over the top. Be assured that he loves the stuff and smells not a trace of barn yard poo in the bed sheets of Cuir de Russie. Don’t feel bad that it didn’t work for you. Be assured that there is something out there that will work Something so utterly devastating that you may end up speaking in tongues.

    I know what you mean about the aldehydes being soapy. I often wonder if before the fragrance of No.5 was hijacked by Palmolive dish washing liquid, if when it debuted it wasn’t totally revolutionary. I think it was. But then everyone had to get on the bandwagon from Coty to the soap companies and cash in on Coco’s cash cow and thus make something wonderful quite commonplace.

    • I have dreaded your reaction to this review, and not only because of the magnificent way you described it on Fragrantica. I knew it wasn’t possible that you smelled horse poo, given your exquisite description of it. I wanted to love it so, so much. It’s been that much of legend in my head for so long. You should have SEEN my face when it started emanating horse feces and soap. Thank you for not hating me or losing all respect for me.

      I think Chanel No. 5 was probably hugely revolutionary and, on many, I’m sure it’s an absolutely lovely scent. I just have too many issues with soap scents, especially when heavily waxy and filmy. I’ve hated scents that are aldehyde heavy since childhood (I started wearing perfume at the age of 7), so it’s one more area where I feel like a complete freak and weirdo in terms of my reaction. But this Cuir de Russie thing…. *sigh* I am truly a little crushed that I got none of the magnificence that has mesmerized most of the world.

      But I also have to confess to wondering if quite SO many people would be worshipful of the full range of the scent if they tried it from an unmarked bottle without knowing it was the legend. Not you. You clearly smelled something very, very different, as did some of the other Russian Cossack reviewers. I’m referring to all those who were so clearly ambivalent, if not disappointed, in their comments but who also clearly didn’t dare say so, resorting to “neutral” ratings or falling over themselves to insist they weren’t being “sacrilegious” because they did like the perfume, they swear it!

      • Fear not, no civilizations have fallen or cities burned because you didn’t care for Cuir de Russie. And of course my respect for you has not changed one bit just because you smell manure and I smell heaven out of the same bottle. Like our Scented Hound says below a negative review that is well written is a good review,

        There are in fact some Chanel perfumes I don’t like either. So even though the Chanel story is fabulous and full of legendary scents and tales that fascinate me and the world at large I try to keep an open nose when it comes to smelling the pudding…for there in lies the proof.

        For instance Chanel Allure Edition Blanche for Men is idolized by most and it is said smells like lemon cream pie. You should have seen my face when I couldn’t find that pie anywhere in the bottle. Not that I wanted to smell like a desert but the thought intrigued me. Oh well….. On to the next..

        • Now I’m curious to know how Allure Blanche smelled on you. I’m very lucky I’m not a cat because my curiosity would have killed me off a long time ago. 😀 I think Chanel has some fabulous stuff and I was very, very lucky to get a hold of the latest from their Exclusif line that isn’t even officially out yet! It’s called 1932 and some people have managed to get either VIP samples or those few rare bottles already circulating out. My eBay secret weapon got a portion in a split with some perfumista and sold it to me on eBay. I haven’t opened it yet and can’t even find the notes anywhere on the internet, but I have hopes that that and the much-praised Sycomore will be great. 🙂 Smooches, dear Lanier. And one of these days, we shall have to talk romantic imagery of Grand Dukes at the Paris Ritz in the 1920s! LOL.

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  4. Heh, guess who got a bottle of this gem on eBay? Finally – this is the first time I’ve seen it go for less than retail! So I saved about $30 off retail. Not too shabby, since I was resigned to buying it at full price. Of course, I also resigned to not buying anything. But who can resist a deal? Clearly, not I!

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  9. Half a year late to this party, but I stumbled on this review when sending some perfume links to a friend. (And since I’m also on wordpress, I know you’ll still get the notification.) Count me in as someone else who CANNOT wear Cuir de Russie. I call it “well-maintained outhouse” and that’s not something I want to smell of. Also, Mals over at Muse in Wooden Shoes loathes it as well, for her it smells like a cattle working pen, smelling of “animal hair and hide, iodine, dust, manure and fear.”

    • First off, welcome, Dionne! How lovely of you to stop by. As for Cuir de Russie, it’s always a huge relief to know I’m not a complete freak when it comes to the scent. “Well-maintained outhouse” — Ha, perfect! I also like Muse in Wooden Shoes’ addition of “fear” to the panoply of scents. *grin* That’s pretty damn hilarious. The three of us can sit in the corner and be a little perplexed minority at the Cuir de Russie party. 🙂

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  13. This is so interesting! I’ve just recently gotten into perfumes, REAL perfumes. I was originally at the Chanel counter to try Coco Noir as the name in and of itself is very beautiful. It instantly gave me a headache, and I really wanted to like it.

    Then I went over and tried some of the exclusifs. Instantly, I was captivated by the sexy leather scent, Cuir de Russie. Even the sales lady looked at me funny. I had no idea about the ‘legends’ or stories which I only found out recently after searching for reviews. When I sprayed it, I felt like eating my arm! See I’m that person that could never find the right perfume as they always turned really sweet or powdery on me regardless of the price point.

    Fortunately, I did not smell anything that resembles barnyard or animalistic or dirty, sweaty sex sheets. It truly smells amazing on me. Although it has slight powdery and floral scents… there is still that gorgeous masculinity of the leather that remains.

    I have no idea how this fragrance develops on me or what I’m supposed to be looking for. It is simply one of the BEST perfumes I’ve ever tried on myself. In fact, I’m sniffing away at my wrist as I write this.

    Definitely purchasing the bottle.

    • Hi Raman, welcome to the blog. 🙂 I’m so happy to hear you found a perfume you love and adore, and that Cuir de Russie works so well on your skin. It sounds wonderful! It seems as though your skin chemistry plays nicely with both aldehydes, leather, and more animalic notes. That’s great for you!

      I was interested to read that Coco Noir instantly gave you a headache. It sounds as though you may be sensitive to some of the aromachemicals in the fragrance, perhaps the purple, fruited patchouli. You know, the commercial, regular line of Chanel has a LOT of synthetics in it! From ISO E Super to white musk to others. It is one reason why I rarely cover commercial, mainstream, department store fragrances and stick to higher end niche perfumes. The latter aren’t always free from synthetics, but the chances of finding fragrances not filled with cheap chemicals are higher than with department store stuff. Chanel’s Exclusif line isn’t really “niche” but they have a few lovely fragrances. I hope you continue to explore real perfumery and find things that you love. 🙂

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  15. I am confused. I suppose there is no way to buy Chanel’s (real) RL/CdR at discount. Is this discussion about the original scent or some sort of re-working? (Obviously this is not my industry.) There are many scents that can be bought in Paris from the Fragonard museum store/outlet, over 30 years, sometimes by a “sobriquet” and sometimes by a number. You have to guess which is which but the girls help. (Eternity — they no longer seem to have the contract to make it — was “etoile du Sud.”) I was interested to hear of a re-issue event, stated somewhere in this long thread as, I believe, 1983. It was probably in that decade that the Jackie Kennedy-edited book “In the Russian Style” came out and was launched at the same time as a Russian costume exhibit at the Met. Absolutely beautiful things and I didn’t then know as much about the aristo families as I do now. About the manure etc smell: During the exhibit the Costume Institute was spraying some version of Cuir de Russie into the air. No one was running away. It was beyond rich, or rather richesse. (In a later exhibit –much more recently with huge lines — Mrs. Kennedy’s faux painted dressing table was in the show. I didn’t bother to sketch it as I thought it would be in the book. It was — but completely photo-shopped out, just white. As my step-children might once have said “What a gyp.” abbb

    • I am unclear as to what you’re asking when you talk about “RL” in the context of Cuir de Russie. I’m afraid I’m also unclear as to your question on buying “(real) RL/CdR at discount.”

      As for the date of the Cuir de Russie version I reviewed, I thought the review made it clear that it was for the modern Exclusif version.

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