Armani Privé Oud Royal & Cuir Noir (2013) (Mille et Une Nuits)

Armani is re-releasing some of its limited-issue Privé line, and I obtained samples of three of the fragrances from La Collection des Mille et Une Nuits. This review is for Oud Royal and Cuir Noir, neither of which is complicated enough or compelling enough to warrant an individual review. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if Armani could ever make a fragrance that would move me. His style is simply too bloodlessly refined for my tastes. Plus, for the cost, I keep thinking that one could do better. That is especially true for one of the Privé fragrances which seems to have been reworked into something completely different and rather terrible.

THE RE-LAUNCH:

Refinery29 has the details on which Armani Privé fragrances are being returned to the market:

The brand has been releasing its ultra-exclusive Privé scents in limited-editions since 2004, usually debuting just one at a time in small batches. Once they sold out, they were gone for good. Well, someone over there was feeling generous, because this summer sees the launch of four brand-new scents and the re-issue of all 10 of the previously launched scents. […]

The four “new” scents — Oud Royal, Cuir Noir, Ambre Orient, and Rose d’Arabie — were originally launched overseas back in 2011, but never made it to the U.S. They are part of the La Collection des Mille et une Nuits that was inspired by the classic Arabian tale, One Thousand and One Nights. They showcase notes of oud, leather, amber, and rose, respectively.

There is no word on whether these 2013 fragrances have been re-worked and re-formulated, but I think at least one of those fragrances must have been, as you will soon see.

OUD ROYAL:

Armani Oud RoyalAccording to Fragrantica, Oud Royal was created by Alberto Morillas, while Bois de Jasmin says it is Symrise perfumer Evelyne Boulanger. Some people give the original release date as 2010, others say 2011. Regardless of whoever made Royal Oud or when, the fragrance is certainly described with opulence. In the original press release description of the fragrance, as quoted by Now Smell This, Oud Royal and its notes are described as follows:

“When Giorgio Armani turned his attention to oud, he decided to work it the way he would a heavy brocade lined with gold and silver, leaving its weight, its noble intensity and majestic sedateness. Respectful of its personality, Giorgio Armani set about highlighting each facet of character in its composition: depth is amplified by an amber harmony, the reddish glow is fanned with spices, the dark earth reflections are smoked with a veil of myrrh and incense.” Additional notes include black earth note, animalic notes.

The current description of the fragrance on Armani’s website is largely the same, though much less detailed and focusing more on the mystical nature of oud wood. Thus far, that much is the same. Armani, however, doesn’t list any notes for the fragrance. So, if we take the Now Smell This press release report, and combine it with the notes listed on Fragrantica, the list of ingredients in Oud Royal would be:

Oud from Laos, saffron, amber, rose, sandalwood, myrrh, incense, black earth and animalic notes.

Oud Royal opens on my skin with a very leathery facade, so much so that I actually had to double-check my sample to make sure I hadn’t accidentally put on Cuir Noir. The fragrance is dry, earthy, very dusty, only slightly sweetened by saffron, and reminds me strongly of Dior‘s Leather Oud. There is a subtle undertone of smokiness, but it’s extremely muted. After about five minutes, the saffron becomes a little more noticeable, taking on an almost meaty quality, but, like almost everything else in the fragrance, it’s restrained, refined, and very polite. The rose also makes an appearance at this time, but it’s bloodless, and remains a muted, virtually hidden presence in the perfume’s life.

It takes a mere 30 minutes for Oud Royal to turn into a highly refined, elegant, very pleasant blur. It hovers discretely above the skin as a pleasant haze of soft leather and oud, with saffron and a touch of incense. The rose is barely perceptible, the saffron loses its meaty touch, and the fragrance eventually turns slightly sweeter at the end of 90-minutes. A pretty little pop of sandalwood appears around the end of the fifth hour, but it is very subtle and is largely overpowered by the oud. Those are all minor changes, however, and the core essence remains the same: an extremely pleasant, almost pretty, soft, gauzy leather-oud fragrance that sticks close to the skin. All in all, Oud Royal lasted just short of 7.75 hours on my skin, with weak sillage throughout.

Our Royal is exquisitely blended, very refined, and highly conservative in every way imaginable. I can see its high quality, and even its prettiness, but something ultimately leaves me unmoved. On some levels, it seems like the perfect oud fragrance for those who: 1) dislike true agarwood scents; 2) are looking for a refined fragrance that is highly unobtrusive, in addition to being somewhat blandly safe; and 3) have a lot of money to spend on a prestige name in luxury goods. I think all three factors must apply for Oud Royal to really be worth your while.

The general reaction to Oud Royal is mixed. Bois de Jasmin seems to have been singularly unimpressed, giving the fragrance a 3-star (“adequate”) rating and finding its price (even back in 2010) to be too high for the scent in question:

the fragrances from this collection are in fact quite opulent, well-crafted, made with high-quality materials. Yet, as I am trying to get over the sticker shock of £170 per bottle (according to Harrod’s pricing,) I have to ask myself whether this price is warranted. I really enjoy the decadent sensuality that Oud Royal conveys as well as its prêt-a-porter interpretation of the leather-oud notes that sometimes are quite difficult to wear (such as by Kilian Pure Oud, beautiful though it is.) Yet, it does not strike me as particularly new or original. Or perhaps, something of this Arabian Tale was lost in translation.

On Basenotes, there are mixed reviews in one thread, while a Basenotes poll about the best oud fragrances for men that gives 11 different options has Oud Royal coming in seventh place with 4% of the votes. Are those voting numbers representative or comprehensive? No, and I’m not claiming that they are. Nonetheless, the poll shows that Oud Royal — while being perfectly pleasant and beautifully refined — isn’t necessarily a fragrance that sweeps people away. At the end of the day, the bottom line is that there really isn’t much to say about Oud Royal, and I think it has been intentionally made that way.

CUIR NOIR:

Source: Aishti.com

Source: Aishti.com

I find Cuir Noir to be singularly misnamed, and rather irritating to describe. The fragrance sample I obtained from Neiman Marcus would be more aptly called Saffron Rose, because a leather fragrance it is not. You wouldn’t know that from the Fragrantica description, however, which seems to quote the original Armani press release from 2011:

Cuir Noir was inspired by the art of Arabian tanners. “Leather is an art. From Cordoba, Spain to the borders of the Atlas Mountains. With a wine patina, it takes the name of “cordovan”. Tattooed with gold, it is called “maroquin”.” The perfume composition consists of Australian Sandalwood, Rose essence, Coriander, Nutmeg (in the top); Leather, Smoky Guaiac and Oud (in the heart); Tahitian Vanilla absolute and Benzoin balm (in the base).

I read that description, started testing the fragrance, then immediately stopped in my tracks. Leather? Sandalwood? Nutmeg? Not on my skin, it wasn’t. I double-checked the name printed on the manufacturer’s vial, I re-read Fragrantica, and then I went online to see what some reviews might say, because what was appearing on my skin was gooey, rose syrup with walloping, hefty amounts of saffron, and nary a whiff of leather in sight! I read with confusion Bois de Jasmin‘s bored, negative review of the scent and paid close heed to the statement: “Cuir Noir was created by perfumer Nathalie Lorson and includes notes of Bulgarian rose, nutmeg, coriander, guaiac wood, leather, oud, Australian sandalwood, ambergris accord, benzoin.”

I’ve concluded that Armani must have changed his mind about Cuir Noir, and that it must now be a very different thing from what it was back when it was originally released for the Middle Eastern market. You see, in his current description for the scent on his website, Armani barely bothers to talk about leather at all. Instead, the purportedly black leather fragrance is actually a tribute to saffron, and with rather a different focus from what Fragrantica originally quoted back in 2011:

Cuir Noir showcases the raw material Saffron, a spice with leather accents. The roundness and sensuality of its notes bring suppleness and warmth, reflecting the enveloping sensuality of skin-on-skin contact.  Derived from the crimson stigmas of Crocus sativus, saffron is the world’s most expensive apice [sic]. Its ochre colour symbolises inner happiness, which is why saffron-hued clothing is often mentioned in ancient mythology, tragedies and poetry. In perfumery, saffron lends a full, leathery and sensual note to fragrance compositions.  With Cuir Noir, Giorgio Armani journeys into the heart of an Arabian night. He revisits  the saffron accord to create a captivating Oriental. Golden and voluptuous, saffron infuses a profoundly sensual experience  that recalls the redolence of tanned hides with the wild scent of tallow and  e [sic] smouldering, tarry aroma of black birch.

Well, I don’t smell any tarry black birch at all, but the description does explain why my skin is reeking almost solely of saffron mixed with a syrupy, gooey, jammy rose. It’s revolting, cloyingly sweet, and backed by a sort of chewy darkness that feels like purple patchouli. Cuir Noir is also wholly unoriginal in bent, a retread of very tired old ground walked by so many other fragrances. In fact, the scent reminds me strongly of Tom Ford‘s Café Rose which was the same sort of jammy rose, saffron bomb on my skin.

From beginning to linear end, the same two notes dominate Armani’s Cuir Noir. For the first five minutes, there were flickers of something smoky (though it never felt like guaiac wood), but leather? Bah! BAH, I tell you! My notes are littered with comments about saccharine sweetness, and the complete absence of any mythical tanners from Cordoba. Even the oud is pretty much of a lost cause; it disappears within thirty minutes. Oddly, around the 10 minute mark, there was a momentary pop of a powdered lipstick tonality with a slightly violet aspect, but it vanished within minutes.

Cuir Noir becomes soft and sheer very fast. It takes less than 30 minutes for the moderate sillage to begin its sharp decline and drop; by the 90-minutes mark, the fragrance is a complete skin scent. Yet, Cuir Noir is oddly potent when sniffed up close, and I had almost a burning sensation when I sniffed the saffron, patchouli, rose combination during the second hour. It makes me wonder just how synthetic the fragrance is, and how much fruit-chouli is lurking underneath.

Cuir Noir doesn’t drastically change from its main, boring, sickly-sweet combination until the very end, so I should be thankful that it died so soon. In its final drydown, a rich, faintly custardy vanilla note shows up, along with some abstract, generic smoky woodiness that might be guaiac or ersatz, fake, Australian “sandalwood,” but both notes are as muted and sweetened as everything else in the fragrance. All in all, the fragrance lasted exactly 4.75 hours, ending as a whimper of vanilla sweetness. I know my skin eats fragrances quickly, but come on! For a $275 eau de parfum that is ostensibly made from the richest and best ingredients, that seems rather pathetic. As for the mythical tanners from Cordoba, all I can do is mutter about misleading names, and analogize to that old 1980s commercial for Wendy’s: “Where’s the beef?!”

As you can tell, I’m hugely unimpressed by Cuir Noir, especially in light of its $275 price tag. I never tested the original version released in the Middle East, but I find it hard to believe that the 2011 fragrance whose descriptions and reviews I read is the same one I tested now. The difference between the press release quoted by Fragrantica and what is now on the Armani website seems too vast. I even contemplated the possibility that Fragrantica was incorrect in its description of the scent’s leather, seeming press release quotes notwithstanding. So, I checked the Cuir Noir entry on Osmoz. Nope, Fragrantica wasn’t mistaken. Osmoz usually relies on press release descriptions, too, and its entry for Cuir Noir reads:

The Italian designer was inspired by the refined, ancient art of making leather. He wanted to “recreate the fascinating atmosphere of tanneries, which blend the pungent odor of tallow with the burnt and tarry aromas of black birch.’

Osmoz does reference that “This oriental-leather scent opens with spicy notes of coriander and nutmeg, with a sort of saffron effect.” However, that mere “effect” still differs from the way saffron is highlighted front and center in Armani’s description which, again, states flat-out “Cuir Noir showcases the raw material Saffron.” That seems to be a far cry from Armani’s prior focal point in 2011.

My conclusion about a difference in versions is further underscored by reading the reviews on Fragrantica where very little matches with either Armani’s current description or the manufacturer’s fragrance sample that I obtained from Neiman Marcus. References to leather (subtle as it was even then and lasting a mere 30 minutes) are joined by comments about the vanilla custard drydown, and quite a bit of talk of the amber. One person writes of a sort of industrial machine scent in the fragrance:

My father used melted stannary and resin to glue together small metal parts of broken machines. I used to love to see how the metal melts and the resin melts and evaporates into a wonderful perfume. The melted resin is what this perfume reminds me of.

There is not a single word about saffron. Not one. Not even indirectly. And there is nothing about how Cuir Noir is equally dominated by the rose note, either. The only things that seem to be exactly the same are the vanilla custard drydown, and the fact that the old version barely lasted on people either. There are complaints about its short longevity, with one person saying that it didn’t last above 4 hours.

Bois de Jasmin also seems to be describing a different scent. Her review is brief, so brief as to feel like she just wants to get the whole thing over with. Giving it 3 stars for “adequate,” her entire description of the way Cuir Noir actually smells is limited to four sentences:

Cuir Noir starts out as a big sweet amber and leather in the style of Tom Ford Amber Absolute or Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche. There is a distinctive rose note that lingers from top to drydown. The medicinal, smoky oud is such a rich accent that it makes the leather play a second fiddle. Fans of oriental blends will enjoy Cuir Noir, but if you are looking for a smoky rich leather, it will not satisfy the craving.

Well, I certainly agree with her last statement, but I am more convinced than ever that the 2013 version of Cuir Noir is a wholly different fragrance. My skin might be even more insane than I had previously thought, but that doesn’t change the fact that saffron is the focus of Cuir Noir’s entry on the Armani website. No, this has to be a new version, it simply has to be.

ALL IN ALL:

I was unimpressed with both fragrances given their high price, but if one looks at Oud Royal in a complete vacuum, it isn’t a bad fragrance by any means. It’s actually quite pretty! Oud Royal has the trademark Armani signature stamped all over it: luxury ingredients incorporated seamlessly into a well-blended blur that is hyper-refined and proper to the point of being too elegant and bloodless. It’s just like Armani’s clothes: superbly crafted and reflecting a refinement that is minimalistic, aloof, and understated. Unlike his Privé line of clothing, however, Oud Royal lacks the style to make it really stand out. It’s also linear, uncomplicated, and so refined as to feel rather dull on occasion.

When I tested Nuances, Armani’s limited-edition, ridiculously priced ($500+) iris haute Couture line fragrance earlier this year, I thought part of my discomfort stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t an iris lover. Now, however, I think that the Armani signature simply doesn’t move me. I truly think that, if Armani could sanitize the slightly dirty, earthy qualities of oud to render it as suffocatingly prim as he did to the iris in Nuances, then he absolutely would. Oud Royal lacks the claustrophobic qualities of Nuances, a fragrance so elegant that its refinement gasps for life, but that’s not saying much. After all, there’s only so much one can do to suck all character out of oud combined with leather. That said, I still find Oud Royal to be largely unremarkable, in my opinion, and I much prefer the more nuanced, richer, longer-lasting Dior version (Leather Oud) with its significantly more palatable price tag.

As for Cuir Noir, I’m not sure the 2011 version was much to write home about, but the 2013 absolutely is not! In short, the less said about Cuir Noir, the better. Bah!

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Both Oud Royal and Cuir Noir are eau de parfums that come in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle and which cost $275, or £190. The Euro price in 2012 was €205, but I don’t know if it has been increased for the re-launch. Armani: You can purchase Oud Royal or Cuir Noir directly from the US Armani website, where the fragrances are listed under the Mille et Un Nuit section. However, I couldn’t see either perfume listed on the Armani International Privé section, and I’ve somehow never been able to select a Privé fragrance to put into a shopping cart on that particular site. Maybe you can figure out how it works. Finally, the UK Armani site does not carry Oud Royal, but does list Cuir Noir. In the U.S.: All four of the new Armani re-releases are sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus, which is where I obtained my samples. Outside the U.S.: In the UK, Harvey Nichols carries Oud Royal and Cuir Noir. The Heathrow Duty-Free boutique carries Oud Royal, but not Cuir Noir. In France, the fragrances are listed on the French Armani site, but no prices are given, and it doesn’t seem as though you can actually purchase fragrances directly from the website. In South Africa, I found Armani Privé at a store called Luminance. For all other locations, you can rely on the Index of different geographical Armani websites, or use their store locator within the site applicable to your area. Samples: I’m afraid you have to rely on an Armani store near you for Oud Royal, or the sales counter of one of the handful of boutiques that carries the Privé line. However, Surrender to Chance does offer samples of Cuir Noir starting at $4.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. Given the newness of the relaunched fragrances, I’m assuming they carry the original 2011 fragrance and not what I am testing now.

30 thoughts on “Armani Privé Oud Royal & Cuir Noir (2013) (Mille et Une Nuits)

  1. Lol! And equally LMAO! Dude all I can say is….Google safraleine and see what comes up….do let me know if you see any similarities. Bless Armani for trying to be novel with an over dosage of an aroma chemical. ..think they are trying a Montale!

    • Ha! Yes, Oud Royal may well have large amounts of Safraleine in it, though I don’t detect any tobacco facets at all in the fragrance. How interesting. And how depressing as well, given the price. So, tell me, how could you tell that it was largely safraleine, and not simply a hyper-sanitized, bland leather oud the way Armani sanitizes everything to the point of blandness?

      (For anyone else reading, here’s a link to a description of Safraleine: http://www.givaudan.com/webcom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=abeead07d4279110VgnVCM1000005b53410aRCRD&vgnextchannel=26781398e37a8210VgnVCM1000005b53410aRCRD )

      As for Cuir Noir, no, that is not at all what I smell because I don’t smell any serious leather at all. What is faintly noticeable before it burps and dies really quickly is so damn muted and nondescript, it could be safraleine, but it could also be anything. It’s certainly not spicy, powerful leather with tobacco facets, not by any means. Not even a synthetic version. But there is clearly something synthetic in the fragrance that burned my nose, though I suspect it’s a really cheap form of purple, fruity patchouli.

      • I have not smelt the latest OR however smelt the old rendition couple of months ago, however the way you described both to me has safraleine’s signature all over it….deep leather at the beginning, than a sudden spiciness, also the eventual softness. I’ve the chemical amongst my chems collection and it truly is a chimera. …in high conc smells intensely of warm deep leather with spice in the background almost like a cinnamon spice mix….as it slowly dries down becomes more spicy and sweetness than comes out to eventually drie down to soft saffron and suede. Its quite tenacious but I find in my mixtures the chemical’s tenacity does become rather timid especially when mixed with an oudh. The tobacco note is quite noticeably in the sweetness stage however may have been tempered down with the other notes. When I first received safraleine I was really intrigued as it was so wierd but cool. ….reminded me of my humble childhood. …mum forcing me to try different leather shoes for school in a shop within the spice district near my childhood home.
        Anyway I do believe they may have included real saffron absolute but knowing the price of this stuff I doubt it will be a lot…..it was probably augmented with safraliene but funnily pure saffron to me smells like………saffron with all it warm glowing gloriousness …..you smelt Amouage Asrar?…..now that’s real saffron.

        • Yeah, I’ve tried Asrar. Very rich saffron that has an extremely hot buttered note, just like the real saffron threads melted in butter or Ghee! It has a slightly Tribute like opening for a moment too, though it went away somewhat quickly on my skin. I think I preferred Al Mas, if I remember correctly, though that one is quite gourmand. Since I’m not a real gourmand lover, that one wasn’t me either. TRIBUTE is totally me, but the batch variation issue is disturbing. (And the reports of the line being discontinued outside of the Middle East.)

          As for the saffron in Cuir Noir, I don’t think it smells much like that safraleine you describe, though it’s not like the gorgeous saffron in any of the Amouage attars either. There was no deep leather in Cuir Noir, but I think the opening of Oud Royal could very well be it as it was deep leather with spiciness that eventually becomes more sweet before turning into a softer suede-like scent with oud. The version of Cuir Noir that I tried was so heavily jammy, fruity patchouli rose, you have no idea. But neither one had any tobacco at all in them. I wish you could pop into Harvey Nicks, and try it to see how it is on you. I’d be fascinated to know if you detect any changes from the old version you tried and, more importantly, if you think it bears vast quantities of the safraleine that you know so well! Whatever’s in there, I can tell you that you won’t be impressed by it very much…..

    • Sounds very interesting, Mike, and I really enjoyed your Fragrantica review. I particularly liked your comment about using N10Z to butch up fragrances by using it as a base for other things. Very useful to others, as well as very clever. Thank you for sharing!

      As for Armani’s fragrances, does your perception of sweetness extend to the Privé line as well as the regular one? I certainly agree that none of the ones I’ve tried thus far are hardcore masculine in nature. Not even remotely! But I didn’t think Oud Royal was cloyingly, excessively sweet (by my standards). The Cuir Noir though…. Good God! If perfume could give one diabetes, that one certainly could do it! Terrible. Absolutely horrible! The whole thing was terrible, painfully dull, boringly simple, and with such revolting sweetness that Cuir Noir is pretty much a travesty at $275.

      BTW, have you tried Etat Libre’s Rien? That one may be leather that is almost masculine enough for you. I found it to be very much bondage leather and rubber….

  2. I’m not really into Armani and it’s Prive line. I’ve never been an Armani guy, I could never understand why so many men love Acqua di Gio XD
    Speaking of Armani Prive, I’ve seen and smelled couple of them at Douglas but it was in Warsaw and I live far away from Warsaw. Don’t have any other access to them.

  3. i smelled cuir noir and was similarly unimpressed, although this goes for most scents in the prestige lines i have sampled. often, i find, they are not $200+ nicer than the scents in their regular lines. in the case of tom ford, i even prefer his more widely-available perfumes to his private blends. although perhaps my nose is just not sophisticated enough to perceive any differences in quality ;^)

    • When you smelled Cuir Noir, do you remember an explosion of saffron, Julia? I’m trying so hard to figure out why he may have changed the focus of the scent since no-one mentions saffron at all in the old discussions for the scent. As for Tom Ford, I like some of his Private Blends, but, with a few exceptions, the range generally seems quite expensive for what it is. His Jardin Noir series, in particular, seems ridiculous priced, in my opinion, for the scents in question.

  4. I have 4 of the original Armani Privé line: Cuir Amethyste, Pierre de Jade, Ambre Soie and Bois d’Encens. Can’t recall what I paid for them but I am thinking $175 for 50mls… anyway, the only one I really love is the Bois d’Encens. It is a cool dry incense… I am an incense freak so this is right up my alley (along with CdG Monocle Hinoki… love that stuff). I have seen Royal Oud mentioned favorably on Basenotes, but now that it appears to have been altered, I won’t bother seeking it out. I have lots of Kilian Pure Oud to enjoy anyway. 🙂

    • Tara, the Oud Royal that I smelled seems to be like those described in old 2011 reviews, so I don’t think that one has been altered. It’s only the Cuir Noir that now seems to be all about saffron, when saffron was never mentioned by others previously in old reviews. Judging even by the few comments here from people who tried it, it used to be an animalic leather fragrance instead of a saffron explosion, so…. um???!!!! Still, it was the Oud Royal that appeared to intrigue you before, so don’t hesitate to try it if you see it at a Neiman Marcus. 🙂 I don’t think it’s exactly like Kilian’s Pure Oud myself, but it has some small overlap at times. It might be worth just a quick sniff if you bump into it. But the Cuir Noir….. gah!

  5. I love your comprehensive reviews! 🙂

    I don’t have a chance to try Armani Prive. When I was in Berlin, I sampled them but there wasn’t Cuir Noir. I think there are too many “noirs”. It became very boring. I hope the trend will change soon !

    J.

    And thanks for lovely comment! 🙂

    • Ha, yes, “Noir” may be an even more common descriptor in perfume titles than even “Oud” these days! Cuir Noir seems to have been limited solely to the Middle Eastern market for the short time it was issued, so this may be the first chance for everyone to test it and its 3 other siblings. Frankly, I’d skip it and go for the Oud Royal.

  6. Once again you have me itching to go out and retry something 🙂 I never knew these were limited editions because here in Dubai they certainly have never gone away and are available all over the place including, at a decent discount, at Dubai Duty Free (last I checked they were about $220 per bottle vs. the standard $275 in the city). I only own the Ambre Orient – still one of my favorite yet, linear and not overly unique, vanilla ambers. It just smells high quality and is very long lasting. A great comfort scent that I often wear to bed.
    I know I smelled both of these and neither really called to me although I remember the Cuir Noir being quite a strong animalic leather. But now you have me thinking that I need to try again and see if it is still the same. I’ll let you know what I find out.
    I also really liked Rose de Arabie – especially the “gold” version which, I know was purely a marketing gimmick but, the swirly gold liquid looked soooo pretty in the bottle. Too bad they priced it even higher than normal!
    Obviously Armani knows there target market here in this region – people who, don’t really care about the price, are brand conscious, want things with “oud” in the name and come in pretty gold bottles.

    • The gold bottle is beautiful!!! It doesn’t surprise me that you guys still have all 4 (or more) of the fragrances, but I would bet the Cuir Noir is the old version from the original batch/distribution because “strong, animalic leather” is NOT what showed up on my skin. Not even remotely. Between that, the new saffron description on the Armani website, and how old descriptions never once mention saffron, it must be a whole new kind of Cuir Noir that has hit US shores. I wanted to try Ambre Orient, but they were out, so I got Rose d’Arabie instead. I’ll get around to testing it at some point, I guess, but my motivation isn’t what you would call high right now…. lol. I do know that Rose d’Arabie comes in 2 diff. bottles here now, with one being the “cheap” normal bottle and one being the super-expensive, gorgeous gold one.

      • Update: I tried this on today at the mall. Of course the sales guy had no idea what I was asking when I wanted to know if it was any different now than it used to be. Either way,now it certainly is more what you experienced and not a leather scent hardly at all. I got tons of saffron and eventually a little bit of soft suede like leather but that was quickly overcome by a regular old vanilla scent that lasted for hours and hours on my skin. Maybe they did get did of the leather or maybe I am just forgetting what it smelled like.
        Also, the SA told me that they will be discontinuing Ambre Orient soon and it will be replaced with a new amber scent…intriguing!
        Did you know the gold Rose de Arabie is actually a clear glass bottle and it is the perfume that is gold? Lots of glitter, you shake it like a snow globe and get a lovely swirly gold effect. 🙂

        • Oh, Rose de Arabie sounds beautiful up close. Wow! As for Cuir Noir, hahaha that you went to hunt it down. I’m so glad, because it’s always good to have points of comparison. So, tons of saffron for you and barely an leather. If it always smelled that way, I’m so bewildered by why all the commentators never mentioned it. I mean, how on EARTH could one possibly miss all that saffron??!! o__O

  7. I don’t know if to be glad or upset: I had lemmings for Cuir Noir for a while and hoped to try it once it becomes available at the local Neiman Marcus but now after such a lukewarm description I’m not sure if I’m still interested. Maybe if I happen to be there for some other perfume…

    There are couple of perfumes from thisline that I like and wear. I would have got a couple more – but not at the price they sell.

    • I think my description and assessment of Cuir Noir is more than merely “lukewarm,” darling. LOL! I think you may enjoy the drydown, but I’m not sure about its opening. Let me know if you stumble across it and end up giving it a sniff.

  8. i really liked oud royal, in fact it is probably my favourite rose oud. very pretty, almost noble, linear but not bland at all to me. however, i just couldn’t spring the cash for it. perhaps deep down it came off as….generic. i do have bois d’incens & ambre soie, which are also understated but very distinctive and among my top frags. cuir noir came off as a confused mess to me; didn’t get it at all…

      • just got the sample out……… ok – i get zero leather, a solid whiff of the ‘armani’ rose (it’s in a lot of the privé line), some benzoin, and yes, quite a lot of saffron. but it’s a bizarrely synthetic saffron, which jive with the safraleine reference above. if you want a deep luscious saffron (bathed in woods & booze), go to idole de lubin. anyway 30 min later “cuir” noir hasn’t opened up or developed much. black leather? this is a 200 euro DUD 🙂

        • Aah, so there was saffron even back with the old version?! Interesting! I wonder why no-one talks about it? Glad to know that you didn’t experience any leather either, and it wasn’t just me. As for Idole, I’ve tried it in EDT form and reviewed it. It wasn’t a primarily saffron fragrance on me, but it was nice. Too sheer and light for my tastes, so I’m going to have to try the EDP at some point.

          • i think you will dig the edp if you find the edt too light & fleeting – it is considerably heavier & sweeter but i find the mix is off-balance & a bit ponderous hence losing some of the charm of the edt. the saffron is definitely buried in the edp, another sore point for me. check it out!

  9. I was at my local Armani counter today and noticed that Ambre Orient was missing.. The SA informed me that it has been discontinued (already?!) and that next month a new one in the series will be released- Myrrhe Imperi…

    • Hi Lynley, thank you for stopping by. My apologies for the late reply, but I was away on holiday for two weeks. Like you, I was surprised that Ambre Orient was discontinued. You’re right, that seemed quick! I tried Myrrhe Imperiale while in Paris, and it didn’t leave a very strong impression on me. I’m starting to suspect that the overall Armani style isn’t quite for me….

  10. was reading your review of cuir noir and i wouldnt be surpsised if you actually didn’t smell the real cuir noir. i’ve had similar problems with armani samples before: ambre orient inside a ambre soir sample bottle.

    • That’s very interesting about the samples. Rather fascinating, and frustrating, both at the same time. 🙂 However, I don’t think my manufacturer’s sample (provided by Neiman Marcus) was a mistaken vial, judging by Giorgio Armani’s own description for the scent. At least, his new description, as quoted in the review:

      Cuir Noir showcases the raw material Saffron […] With Cuir Noir, Giorgio Armani journeys into the heart of an Arabian night. He revisits the saffron accord […]

      Judging by his own official description for Cuir Noir, I think the saffron fragrance that I experienced seemed quite true to his goal and focus. I chalk the lack of substantial leather up to a skin chemistry issue, and the power of that very concentrated saffron synthetic, but who knows, there is always a chance that you’re right. 🙂

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