Perfume Review: Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman

The fluffiest, grey-white clouds flecked with gold, and the most expensive Italian leather shoes — that’s what comes to mind when I wear Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire, the always interesting French niche brand founded and run by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. It is a house that seeks to embody history in a bottle, focusing on long-lost empires and the most ancient of ingredients that were “coveted for centuries for their refinement, aphrodisiac properties and use in sacred rituals. It is this age-old link between perfume, eroticism and spirituality that he has sought to revive with Parfum d’Empire.”

Source: 1ms.net wallpapers.

Source: 1ms.net wallpapers.

Cuir Ottoman is a unisex eau de parfum that is intended to explore the best of Turkish leather, done in a manner as indolent as a sultan’s Turkish bath, and wrapped with white flowers “as white-fleshed and opulent as the odalisques painted by Delacroix, Ingres and Matisse.” It’s a glorious thought and, as someone who once planned on becoming a historian, I’ve repeatedly said how much I love the historical inspirations for Parfum d’Empire’s fragrances. The descriptions are often dead on, too, and convey a real sense of the fragrance’s essence. This time, however, I just don’t see it.

Victorian dandies. Men's fashion plate, 1848. Source: Wikipedia.

Victorian dandies. Men’s fashion plate, 1848. Source: Wikipedia.

Cuir Ottoman is the most civilized, refined, sophisticated, smooth, leather fragrance I’ve come across in a while. It starts out being the epitome of cool austerity before turning into an indulgently fluffy, soft cloud — two things I’d never associate with the hedonistic excesses, brutality, or carnal appetites of the Ottoman Empire. To me, this is more Queen Victoria’s leather: well-mannered, preternaturally proper, formal, and controlled in the most luxuriously sophisticated manner. If not Victorian leather, then perhaps Beau Brummell’s from the Regency Era with his focus on refinement that had a slightly dandyish quality about it. Make no mistake, this is not a “Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma’am” leather that bulges with muscles or macho masculinity. If that’s what you’re expecting, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If, however, you’re looking for supple smoothness that skirts on the feminine and, later, just barely nods its head at the gourmand, then look no further.   

Source: Basenotes/

Source: Basenotes/

The Parfum d’Empire website has a lovely story that explains the elements and inspiration for Cuir Ottoman, but perhaps the most relevant part for the purposes of this discussion concerns the treatment of leather:

Though the leather note is appreciated by connoisseurs, it is so assertive it is seldom featured in perfumery. […][¶][So, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato] set off for the Ottoman Empire, inspired by the secular tradition of leatherwork in Anatolia — up to the 19th century Turkish leather was the most highly coveted in Europe. He added iris, which already presents leathery facets, after learning that its powdery notes were often used to soften the smell of the finest skins.

Soft leather, powdery leather, leather refined to preclude all animalistic savagery and brutishness — I think you see where we’re going. The full list of notes in Cuir Ottoman complete the rest of the picture. As provided by Luckyscent, they include:

jasmine, leather, iris, benzoin, balsams, resins, incense.

A. Testoni (Amedeo Testino) via Testoni.com

A. Testoni (Amedeo Testino) via Testoni.com

Cuir Ottoman opens on my skin as the most expensive of new, Italian leather shoes. Testoni, perhaps. Or perhaps a more accurate description would be the most expensive of leather handbags, right down to their calfskin, suede interior. The aroma of new leather, with its beautifully immaculate smoothness, wafts around my skin, followed by flurries of powder-soft iris that flit about as delicately as snowflakes. The iris flakes are just barely floral, just imperceptibly powdery, but completely velvety and buttery in feel. In the background lurks the merest hint of jasmine, but that’s about it. There is nothing even remotely animalistic, brutal, raw, or musky in its manifestation on my skin. No rough leather with an almost fecal edge the way some uncured leather can have; no phenolic, tarry, smoky or barnyard notes; and no animalic, urinous, intimately raunchy, or sour notes. Not one bit. 

Suede lining to Bottega Veneta black woven tote. Source: discounthandbagbuy.com

Suede lining to Bottega Veneta black woven tote. Source: discounthandbagbuy.com

Cuir Ottoman shifts very slowly, and only in degrees. At the forty minute mark, it starts to become warmer and a smidgen sweeter. The iris slowly starts to recede from its cool heights and becomes lightly flecked by jasmine. It is still primarily, however, an iris leather fragrance that smells exactly like new leather shoes or a new handbag. The fragrance continues to soften and, at the one hour mark, the sillage drops substantially. The fresh leather feels completely warmed over now and so smooth, it’s almost creamy. About 90 minutes in, the tonka bean rises to the surface, adding a beautiful, delicate, and perfectly balanced sweetness to the other accords. 

Cuir Ottoman is so well-blended that, at this point, the notes swirl together as soft as a cloud. It’s a nebulous, fluffy, absolutely creamy blend of iris, leather and vanilla, threaded with the lightest touch of jasmine and vanillic powder into one smooth, sum total. The individual elements are there, but they’re not as individually distinct as they once were. Instead, they simply create an overall feel and olfactory impress of highly refined softness that radiates delicate warmth, florals, and sweetness the way a cloud is shaded by light. It’s a masterful twist on leather that doesn’t evoke the remotest vision of the Sultanate or the Ottoman hordes.

Source: naturalhdwallpaper.com

Source: naturalhdwallpaper.com

In fact, it doesn’t really evoke leather much at all after the first two hours, especially when the note turns more into a muted version of suede. The reason stems, in part, from the iris powder but, increasingly, it’s because of the tonka bean which turns Cuir Ottoman into something just barely hinting at the gourmand. As the vanilla becomes more and more prominent, even the iris accord feels more indistinct. Around 2.5 hours in, Cuir Ottoman is a powdered vanilla and suede fragrance that feels creamy, soft and smooth, and which hovers just above the skin. The fragrance remains that way for hours and hours, almost yummy in its vanilla essence and lightly evoking Guerlainade, Guerlain’s signature of powdery but creamy tonka bean.

All in all, Cuir Ottoman lasted 12.75 hours on my voracious, perfume consuming skin which is quite astonishing given the airy, light, sheer quality of the fragrance. I’ve noted the same thing with all the fragrances from the line which, indubitably, I find too sheer for my personal tastes but which have incredible longevity. Yet, despite my preference for significantly heavier fragrances (I’m still hoping for the spectacular Ambre Russe in triple-strength concentration!), the light, airiness of Cuir Ottoman is really ideal and well-suited to the nature of the scent. It is perfectly modulated in every way, right down to its weight. Cuir Ottoman isn’t supposed to be something brutish, opaque, or heavy, and the texture wouldn’t work with the delicacy of its notes.

There is a lot of love out there for Cuir Ottoman, except from Luca Turin. (Naturally!) In Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, “His Majesty” sniffs out a disdainful Three Star review which reads, in part, as follows:

This leather is in fact barely a leather at all, more a sweet-woody-tea-like composition. It is solid and beautifully crafted, but feels a little like the compulsory figures at skating: solid, precise, impressive, and unsurprising.

I agree with parts of his assessment, especially about how little Cuir Ottoman feels like a true or hardcore leather fragrance. I also agree that it is solid, beautifully crafted and impressive, but I mean it all in a much more positive way. Is it unimpressive because it’s so refined? In my opinion, that is actually part of what makes Cuir Ottoman stand out. After all, people (especially Luca Turin) lavish praise on Chanel‘s Cuir de Russie for its smoothness and luxurious take on leather, so why fault Cuir Ottoman for those same attributes? I think the latter is infinitely more wearable than Cuir de Russie which, on my skin, was piles of horse manure under a heavy veil of soap. No, thank you.

On Fragrantica, the majority of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive for Cuir Ottoman. People’s experiences seem to verge into three camps: those who find the opening to be harsh, sharply animalistic or raw; those who spend paragraphs raving about the fragrance’s refinement and luxurious nature; and those who think it’s a distinctly feminine fragrance, either because of the limited nature of the leather or because of the powder. A large number of those who fall into the first camp still adore the fragrance, finding it to be softened and balanced by the subsequent accords, and concluding that Cuir Ottoman is a “mesmerizing… masterpiece.” (Other adjectives from both men and women include: sensational, classy, rich, virile, luxurious, refined, and erotic.) The handful who have posted negative reviews have had the leather turn on them, finding it to be either: a “shoe polish note,” faintly urinous, reminiscent of burning plastic, or rubbery and smoky like a garage. Interestingly, some have experienced far more smoky incense than any leather at all, so, as you can see, it all depends on your skin chemistry.

For me, personally, Cuir Ottoman veers far from my style and taste in perfumery, but I find something incredibly appealing, fascinating, and compulsively sniffable about the fragrance. It oozes refinement from start to finish, but the cozy, creamy, gauzy, just barely, minutely gourmand drydown phase is especially addictive. I doubt I’d ever be tempted to buy a full bottle, but the perfume has my heartiest admiration. It is a scent that I’d strongly recommend for those who are a bit terrified of leather in perfumery, though I wonder if the drydown might not turn into something evoking “baby powder” on some skins. Nonetheless, I think Cuir Ottoman is extremely versatile, wearable, and also, well-suited for an office environment given its soft sillage but superb longevity. It is also incredibly affordable, especially for such a high-quality, superbly well-crafted niche fragrance. Cuir Ottoman may lean a little feminine for some men, however, so if you prefer a more macho, tough, obvious leather fragrance, then I’d suggest something more along the lines of Montale‘s very masculine Aoud Cuir d’Arabie. But, if you’re looking for an ultra sophisticated, suave, leather-suede that reeks of refinement and elegance, then Cuir Ottoman is definitely one to try.

DETAILS:
Cost, Availability & Sample Sets: Cuir Ottoman is an eau de parfum and costs $75 (or €66) for a small 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle, while the large 3.4 oz/100 ml bottle costs
$110, €92, or £84.50. Parfum d’Empire’s website carries only the large 100 ml bottle at the European price of €92. If you want to try out Cuir Ottoman and some other fragrances from the line, Parfum d’Empire offers two different sample sets directly from its own website. The first Mini Sample Set is for 3 fragrances of your choice in 2 ml vials for €6 or €10 (depending on your location) with free shipping, while the Full Sample Set of all 13 Parfum d’Empire fragrances also is for 2 ml vials with free shipping and costs €14 or €22 (for the EU or the rest of the world). In the U.S.: You can buy Cuir Ottoman at Luckyscent which sells the smaller bottle in a 1.7 oz/50 ml size for $75, along with the larger 3.4 oz/100 ml bottle for $110 and a sample for $3. MinNewYork sells that same 50 ml bottle for $100. Elsewhere, The Perfume Shoppe which has a Canadian branch in Vancouver is currently out of stock of Cuir Ottoman. Outside the U.S.: In the UK, you can find Cuir Ottoman at Les Senteurs which sells the large 100 ml bottle for £84.50, along with a sample. In Paris, you can find Cuir Ottoman in both sizes at Jovoy Paris which sells the smaller 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle for €66. I believe the Parfum d’Empire line is also sold at Les Galleries Lafayette. For the rest of Europe, Germany’s First in Fragrance sells the large 3.4 oz bottle for €115, along with samples, while France’s Premiere Avenue sells it for the retail price of €92. Both sites ship internationally. In Australia, Libertine sells Cuir Ottoman for AUD$150 for the 50 ml/1.7 oz size. In the UAE, you can find Parfum d’Empire fragrances at Les Galleries Lafayette in Dubai. For all other countries from Oman to Italy and Russia, you can find Cuir Ottoman at a retailer near you using the Store Locator on Parfum d’Empire’s website. Samples: To test Cuir Ottoman for yourself, Surrender to Chance sells samples starting at $3.49 for a 1 ml vial. Many of the sites listed above sell samples of it as well.
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54 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman

  1. I like Cuir Ottoman on my vSO. For me it’s probably a little too much – though I might give it another try since I have a bottle of it.
    Thank you for the great review of one of my favorites.

    • No, thank *you* for sharing a sample of it, my dear! How is the leather on you, especially at the start? A bit raw? Because, otherwise, I would have thought that this would right up your alley with the iris notes and the soft tonka.

      • All notes play nicely, I can’t really complain about any – just the perfume as a whole is a little too strong on me. Of course, I could try dabbing instead of spraying… But I have such a great wearer next to me – why bother? I’ll smell this one on him and wear something less aggressive 🙂

  2. I am simply fascinated by Parfum d’Empire and I am dying to explore more than the only one I have tested Iskander. I too as you probably have guessed by now love history so the idea of this house is right up my ancient alley. I am wondering if the mistake by Parfum d’Emprie, if I may use the word is for this perfume was in its naming. It sounds from your brilliant description to be something more suited to Hürrem Sultan the most beloved concubine of Suleiman the Magnificent ensconced in the Topkapi palace harem in Constantinople? Luxurious indolent and lovely reclining like a an Odalisque by Mariano José Maria Bernardo Fortuny y Carbó on a puffy cloud. This review was of keen interest to me and I loved it.

    • Thank you, dear Lanier. As for Hürrem Sultan, I don’t see her either — perhaps because I don’t see anything evoking an odalisque in any way. For me, it’s the Victorians or Beau Brummell all the way. *grin* But I’d love to see how it works on you. Given your interest in the line, you should really order one of the 2 sample sets directly from PdE because the sizes would be bigger and you could choose what you’d like. As I think I mentioned to you before, Aziyadé would probably be VERY much up your alley, and then Ambre Russe. You may want to check out those reviews to decide what you’d like to order. Oh, there is Azemour, too, which is much loved by everyone for being an orange blossom scent but which was a terrible dustbowl and arid disaster on me. Still, it is one of the favorites in the line, so consider that too. 🙂 As a fellow history fanatic, consider it your DUTY to try Parfum d’Empire in a greater way. 😉 😛 xoxox

  3. I love this perfume and enjoyed your review, Kafka – even though my own experience with its leather component is so different from yours. I find Cuir Ottoman a very raw and butch (tarry) leather in the first hour of wear, and then it does its transformation and becomes so elegant and powdery, such that I see it as a leather with two very different stages.

    (I was thinking I must be the exception in this regard, so it made me sigh with relief to read the part where you said that some members of Fragrantica found it raw in the beginning too. I realize I’m still in the minority, but I’d rather be in the minority than alone. 😀 I do get the impression that most people perceive the leather as you do.)

    • I don’t think you’re as much in the minority as you may think, dearest Suzanne. One of the slightly more common reactions seems to be that the leather is a bit butch and raw for a very short, fleeting stage, but people love the perfume for how it develops and how it is as a whole. The true (and really tiny) minority seems to be those who think it is nothing but burning rubber, plastic, burning or urinous, *and* hate it from start to finish. See, you’re not weird at all! 😀

  4. Glad you found Cuir Ottoman appealing! It’s one of my favourite perfumes from Parfum d’Empire line and is one of the two bottles from this house that I own (the other one is Eau de Gloire) and I’m planning to purchase a few more from the house one day (like Eau Suave, maybe Osmanthus Interdite)

  5. Hi Kafka, thank you so much for the nice review. You have beautifully explained the journey of aromas that have this fragrance and this is the essence of a fragrance like a fine wine, to talk and discuss the different versions of each. This fragrance ever has it. I agree with you when you write that “Speaking of Parfum d’Empire, I Just have to say it one more time: they have the best backstories of any fragrance house”. My admiration for Mr. Marc-Antoine CORTICCHIATO.

        • Walter, I don’t know your tastes (yet, but I hope to remedy that soon), so I can’t make suggestions for the rest of the line but I think you may want to consider one of the Parfum d’Empire sampler sets. Since the house and Marc-Antonio Corticchiato’s style resonated so deeply with you, you may enjoy exploring further. And the sets seem like a very good deal given the size of each echantillon vial. Some of the perfumes that are the most popular: Ambre Russe, Azemour Les Oranges, Iskander, Eau de Gloire, Wazamba and, this one, Cuir Ottoman. I hope that helps. One day, when I know the sorts of fragrances you love and the notes you can’t tolerate, I hope to be able to make more personalized suggestions for you. 🙂

          • Dear Kafa,
            Now I received muy Cuir Ottoman. And I have to confirm that it is for me a new experience. This is a very accented leather scent. I do not perceive much floral aroma that should neutralize the strength of leather. In my skin I feel very powerful with great longevity certainly. A situation which I relate the scent of Cuir Ottoman is when the train crossed the tunnels. Then smell the leather of Cuir Ottoman. I wish to appreciate more this fragrance to understand better the composition of the raw materials used. I don´t think it is unisex. But if you ask me right now my appreciation, I’m not convinced.

          • Dear Walter, I’m so sorry to hear that Cuir Ottoman is not working for you. Let’s try to figure out why, ok? You mention the scent of a train crossing the tunnels. So, does that mean that the leather smells rubbery to you? Do you feel it’s almost raw? More importantly, does that rubbery scent stay the same way from the start of the perfume to the end? Does it never soften or become smoother, warmer and more tolerable with vanilla? As for the floral nuances, it sounds like you either can’t detect iris (which can be a subtle smell if you’re not familiar with it at all) or you’re perhaps anosmic to it. Anosmic means that a person can’t smell a certain note or collection of notes. A lot of people can’t detect musk, to give one example, after a while. Their nose tunes it out. Do you have a lot of familiarity with leather or iris fragrances?

            What I might suggest is dabbing a few drops of Cuir Ottoman on your daughter or wife’s arm, then smelling it there. Perhaps your skin chemistry simply doesn’t work well with leather. Perhaps the perfume will smell differently on someone else’s skin. If you try it on someone else, smell it hard, and still think that — even after a few hours — it smells like a train crossing the tunnels, then you will know that you don’t like leather at all. Cuir Ottoman is really one of the softest leather fragrances I’ve ever encountered and, if that one doesn’t work for you, then I suspect you wouldn’t like it in a lot of fragrances. Don’t feel badly about that, though! Leather is a note that I’ve struggled with myself, and there are some perfumistas who don’t like it very much in anything. For some people, leather can seem raw, almost uncured, animalic, and smelling like the barnyard. It sounds like you perceive it perhaps as rubbery or like diesel?

            I’m trying to get a sense of how the smell comes across to you but, if you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to like it. We *all* have some note that isn’t for us or that we struggle with! Your style of perfume may be for the cleaner, softer, more cologne-like aromatics or citric scents! There’s nothing wrong with any of it. But, if you’re trying to understand, analyze and determine *WHY* the fragrance smells the way it does to you, I suggest trying it on someone else’s skin to rule out whether it may be a skin chemistry problem first. You know, some fragrances — even with notes that we love — simply don’t smell good because of how our skin interacts with the molecules. I hope all this has helped you a little, but don’t hesitate to ask more questions. I’m just sorry it didn’t work for you. You didn’t buy a full bottle, did you? This is just a sample, right?

  6. Leathers and I have a somewhat tempestuous relationship: softer leathers get swallowed up in the other notes that I amplify, but the bigger leathers go really, REALLY fecal. Cuir Ottoman was a happy discovery for me, as it actually does smell like leather. I love that initial blast, and the way it softens. On my skin, the leather never completely disappears, and I’m one of the people using words like “sensual” and “rich.” Count me in as someone who’s very impressed with the PdE line.

    • Heh, I see someone else is still traumatized by Cuir de Russie! *grin* (You have no idea how relieved I am, btw, that I’m not alone on that score. I know I mentioned it last week when you commented, but it bears repeating!) As for Cuir Ottoman, I’m so glad it works for you. Do you have any others from the line that you enjoy a lot? Thus far, I still haven’t been bowled over into mad passionate love for the ones I liked (and I’m a complete freak in how Azemour turned out on me…. dreadful), but I’m still hoping since they are such a high-quality house. (Not to mention, an affordable one.)

      • Equistrius is in my top three for irises – and that’s saying a lot, because I’m an iris fiend – I thoroughly enjoy Wazamba and own a decant (great apple note in there) and Azemour is on my wishlist. I’m like Lukas, I think PdE should get more attention than it does.

        • I’ve heard a lot about Wazamba and, then, to a lesser extent Equistrius, but don’t have samples of either. Thank you for confirming that I need to fix that. 🙂 I do have Fougère Bengale, but I’m …. er…. um…. not rushing to test it…. 😛 😀

    • Thank you! But I’m not sure if you’re talking about the fragrance or the review. *grin* If the review, then I’m very glad, but I hope you get to trying the fragrance since I’ll be interested to know how the leather works on you. If you’re referring to the fragrance, then I’m glad that the leather didn’t turn wonky on you! (BTW, welcome back, my dear. Your sunny, smiling face was missed.) xoxo

      • I was referring to your review, lovely Kafka! My sample of Cuir Ottoman arrived today and I am wearing it right now. It is as you said. Gosh, you sure can capture in the most eloquent way thoughts that I can barely capture as they swirl through my consciousness. I think this is a leather for Everyman/Everywoman. It feels delicate and somehow warm and cool at the same time. It does last quite well, but doesn’t seem to project far. I would like to wear this more. It feels more like a day scent than night, to me. I am so glad I read this review, and ordered my sample. Again, thank you for enlightening me!!!!

        • I’m *so* glad you like it, Tora, and that the leather was soft and fluffy on you! Leather can be such a difficult note sometimes! I agree about the Everyman/Everywoman aspect and also think it’s a day scent, too, but then both you and I are Absolue Pour Le Soir fans for something like evening. (Or the whole day. LOL.) I’m truly thrilled that it worked for you and that you got to try it. That brings a huge smile to my face!

  7. As soon as you mentioned a Guerlinade-like note in Cuir Ottoman, a light bulb went on over my head – that would explain why this fragrance turned on me at about the 45-minute mark. It started out as the gorgeous, refined, sensual leather you describe, and then morphed into the horrifying rancid-powdery-mega-sweet nightmare I get with every single Guerlain fragrance. *sigh* And it was so lovely at the beginning… oh well, there’s always Ambre Russe.

    And I’m glad to see that there are other Cuir de Russie non-fans out there. I tried every version of that fragrance multiple times (Chanel usually works well on me) and every time I got a big stonking overly-rich leather with a queasy rotten-fruit edge that made my stomach lurch.

    Knize Ten is the only leather (so far) that works on me, which makes me feel like a peasant, but whatever.

    • First off, DON’T put down your perfume tastes! Knize Ten is considered to be the benchmark leather and something many hardcore leather fanatics swear by, above all others. So, you’re not a peasant! There, having gotten that out of the way, I actually plan to get to Knize Ten and one of the flanker variations (I think it’s the “Gold” that I have a sample of?) sometime soon, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing the big, great one. 🙂 I hope it works on my skin because, sometimes, leather can go….. :\

      As for the powder, ah, you poor thing! See, that’s why I specifically added a comment about how I thought the powder may turn wonky on some people’s skin (the usual, lump classification being rancid “baby powder”) because I know that Guerlainade-type bases can definitely do that. I have a few friends who can’t wear any Guerlains at all for that precise reason. What you’re describing on your skin is almost exactly how they describe it on theirs, too. So please know, you’re not alone in that. I have to wonder, have you tried Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque? It’s my favorite leather thus far, but that one can present a whole different set of problems! 😀

      • Good to know that Knize Ten has a reputable (or reputably disreputable) following; I was feeling a bit rejected by all the high-end leather fragrances that I’ve tried thus far! 😉

        I haven’t gotten to Cuir Mauresque yet, but I’ll add it to my sample list (thanks for the tip!). Also puredistance M that you mention below; it sounds lovely.

        And it’s interesting that there’s a small group of people who have the same odd (and identical) reaction to Guerlains. Every time I hear some “expert” pontificate that perfumes smell the same on everyone and that skin chemistry doesn’t make a difference (“you’re just imagining it, dear”) I want to drop a 55-gallon drum of Guerlinade on their noggin.

        You’d think there’d be a viable physiology research project in there somewhere – quantifying that sub-set of reactions and then identifying the molecular interactions responsible. Maybe I’ll follow up on that in my next life, when I have a Ph.D. in biochemical physiology [rolls eyes].

  8. Cuir Ottoman was a beautiful surprise which i was able to try thanks to you. I like leather fragrances but mostly on men, even though I wear vintage Cabochard and the original DKNY once in a while. Leather fragrances can be a bit too butch while suedes are oftentimes drizzled with honey. Cuir Ottoman is wonderfully balanced and refined.
    Thank you for another beautiful review!

    Caro

    • Oh, I’m *so* glad it worked out for you, darling Caro! I know our mutually adored “M” (which really isn’t a pure leather by any means) is one you adore, but it did seem to be an exception. If Cuir Ottoman may be another possibility for the list, then that makes me very happy indeed. Do you get any butch, raw notes in the opening at all, or is it all expensive new shoes on you too?

      • Refined, expensive, pliable leather and very unisex, although I hate the word. I think Cuir ottoman is a little gem.
        “M”, on the other hand feels more opulent and luxurious, less casual. I find that my non-perfumista friends love it. Even those who are not conoisseurs seem to appreciate the good quality in Puredistance, Neela Vermeire and Amouage to name a few.
        I just love corrupting my friends with these decadent fragrances 😉

  9. I was debating whether i should get Cuir Ottoman or SL Cuir Mauresque as my new leather scent. After several wearings, i decided to get Cuir Mauresque. I just love how slighly animalic with the retro kind of vibe CM is. Thanks for recommending me trying CM Kafka, and thanks for excellent review!

    • A-HA!!!!!!!! Strike one in the Win Column for me! *grin* Ross, I’m so thrilled you have no idea. I see Cuir Mauresque as total, classique sex appeal in the smoothest, richest way possible, so I’m ecstatic that it’s the same way on you, too. When you say “slightly animalic,” are you talking slight, warm, non-raunch muskiness, or something actually more than that? I’m just curious because I know a few people (with admittedly very different tastes to mine) found it to be a dirty leather, but it really wasn’t on me. As for the jasmine, how did that work out for you? I was a wee bit concerned after how the Tom Ford jasmine went completely rancid on you that the one in the Lutens may be problematic too, but I guess it all worked out in the end, huh?

      • Cuir Mauresque is very rich scent on my skin, with slight non-raunch muskiness of the worn leather that i like so much! Its a scent that I was constantly drawn to and I had to get it for its richness. I do get some slight florals but they are somewhere in the background and compliments the scent very nicely. Also i get slight balminess and the wax feel from it as well. So its right up my alley! 🙂

        • Mmmmm, I bet the whole thing is *beyond* sexy on your skin, Ross! The way it manifests itself on you sounds utterly perfect. I bet you’ll get a lot of compliments, my handsome friend.

  10. Dear Kafka, nice review! I moved this to the very very top of my list to try and that means with a day off today, it became SOTD. Since this lasted a whopping 12.75 hours on you, I decided to go light with 1.5 spritz or actually 1.25 spritz given that half of the half-spritz landed on my fingers. I initially recoiled in horror as barnyard wafted up my nostrils. A quick wash with the fabulous Orla Kiely Tomato Vine Soap and it was all gone. The iris revealed its presence very soon thereafter, effectively muting the barnyard. Overall, this is very wearable; however MY go to leather is Uncle Serge’s Boxeuses. I may be happy with a decant 🙂

    As to how long my 1.25 spritzes lasted on me? Approximately 5 hours going out in the heat and into air-conditioned places several times. I probably wouldn’t use more than 2 spritzes as I am afraid more will cause a stampede of hooves.

    • I can’t stop laughing. So, wait, what exactly did you do? You washed it off and then it still lasted 5 more hours? What is this washing and soap business??? *grin* As for the 5 hours and then your updated longevity assessment, that is the funny thing about Cuir Ottoman. I actually thought it was about to die on me around 7 hours in, then 8, then 9…. but, no, dammit, it hung on like mad! I’d move my arm under my nose and suddenly, the most delicate wafts of vanilla powder would appear on one part. Then, later, on a different part. It’s got astonishing longevity and not just on me. The numbers are very high on Fragrantica too. Given that you’ve been in and out of the heat, and that the heat evaporates things more quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if your measly 1.25 spritzes still ended up giving you a total of about 9.5 hours or so. Don’t let the super soft sillage fool you. But come back and let me know the final, sum total on you, because I’m enormously interested now.

      • I washed off the .25 spritz that landed on my fingers; its concentration on my fingers were unbearable so I washed that off. As to the 1.25 spritzes that landed where intended, I clocked longevity at 9 hours.

        I was wondering why my sample looked used and also contained quite a bit less than 2mLs and realized I had tried this previously in the cold of winter after Lucas’ review. At that time, I said I did not like it enough for a full bottle and I am still of this same opinion; however, were it not for my Boxeuses bell jar (I will get it any day now…my perfume mule got really busy and ground shipping is the PITS), Cuir Ottoman may be on my possible list of perfumes to buy.

        • Good to know that the smallest amount gave you 9 hours longevity, especially when you wore it in and out of the blazing hot heat! As for Boxeuses, I can’t wait for you to get your hands on that bell jar. It’s been a long time in planning and waiting! 😀 But, you know, they are two VERY different leather scents, so if you ever see a decant of Cuir Ottoman going at a good price, it might be a nice alternative to the much sweeter, smokier, woodier Boxeuses! 😀

          • My Boxeuses is sitting in some USPS warehouse that is probably not temperature controlled. Sigh….it probably means I must use it up much faster than my other perfumes…Sigh. I am keeping my eyes out for a Cuir Ottoman decant or will just include it in my swap Wish List.

          • Perhaps sticking it in the fridge will undo any short-term damage? I think you should definitely go that route for a week to see if it can bring it back to long-term health. 😉

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  12. This one was nothing like what I was expecting. Refined leather, not animalistic or barnyard at all, but it isn’t in your face leather at all. There is that vanilla, incense, sweetness in the mix. I like the balance of it. At first I thought I was smelling Coca Cola but that faded after the first few minutes. I wasn’t expecting to like this one at all and I have Leather Oud in one spot, Bel Ami in another and some hours old Anima Dolcis (I can’t get enough of this one so I had to get a bottle. sigh. if it only lasted longer, but while it is there it is great) nearby. I will give Cuir Ottoman another whirl soon without any distractions. Dang, if you aren’t right about there being something compulsively sniffable about this one, Kafka.

    • On the one hand, I am beyond THRILLED that you’ve bought so many of my perfume suggestions, but, on the other, I worry that your wife is going to hate me for it. *grin* For the most part, however, glee is winning out. Isn’t Anima Dulcis gorgeous??! So tell me, are you ordering samples in 2 or three large waves from Surrender to Chance, Luckyscent, etc., or as you go along? How the heck did you get this one so quickly or did you have a large pile of samples untested from beforehand? I know the Hedonist and Neela Vermeire ones should be arriving soon, but I’m curious about what else you have in store for you. You have no idea how much vicarious pleasure I’m getting from going along this ride with you. I actually almost feel as if I were there, as you explore each new scent! I think the ones I’m most excited for you to try thus far are: Alahine and Trayee, then Mohur.

      Oh, since you said you were on a floral impetus at one point, do order a sample of Serge Lutens’ De Profundis! And have you got any Histoires de Parfums to test, or more from Parfum d’Empire? Have you tried anything from Andy Tauer or Amouage?

      • Everyone must try Anima Dulcis. It is completely gorgeous.

        I didn’t even know I had Cuir Ottoman. I have so many samples I haven’t tried yet. This one was a freebee from Luckyscent. When I spotted it I dabbed some on since you just reviewed it.

        Hmm. I actually probably have De Profundis somewhere. I think the only Histoires I have tried is Ambre 114, which was nice. I don’t think I have any others. I have a Parfum d’Empire Musc Tonkin sample I haven’t tried yet. No Amouage. I have tried two Tauer’s: L’air du desert and Lonestar and I have a few others lying around. I guess I would say the were interesting enough and I will get around to trying them again but they didn’t grab me.

        • Musc Tonkin…. that will be… interesting. LOL. Hm. May I suggest MFK’s Absolue Pour Le Soir, as something to try afterwards? It’s a scent I adore. The Musc Tonkin, however, is not for me. As for the two Tauers you mentioned, I’ve reviewed them both, admired them a lot, but didn’t fall for either one.

          Absolue Pour Le Soir…… mmmmmmmmm. FABULOUS!

  13. A really perfect summary of this perfume in my estimation! I love Cuir Ottoman, and I completely agree that it’s a really refined, tame leather compared to others. It’s apples and oranges from other leathers I’ve tried – this one is much more accessible and easily wearable than a lot of others. Great perfume!

  14. I quite liked this too, but then again, I like pretty much the entire line. That being said, it wasn’t the stand-out for me, maybe because it is so refined.

    Good god, you must think that my tastes run towards the very weird and virtually unwearable!

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