A cashmere cloud of cream and pink, with the soothing comfort of Mary Poppins telling you take a spoonful of sugar at bedtime. There is no medicine to go with that sweetness in this case, only marzipan treats, powdered meringues, and vanilla milk. It’s an absolutely addictive spoonful of deliciousness that, alas, fades away to a lingering whisper all too quickly.
Cuir Beluga from Guerlain reminds me of Mary Poppins, the comfort of the nursery at bedtime with softened lights adding a warm glow, and endless plates of almondy confections with marzipan, all accompanied by vanilla cream. I have never been so enchanted by the opening of one of Guerlain’s modern, niche perfumes, or more crushed when it evaporated to a silken wisp less than 20 minutes in. It remained there for many more hours, but the true glory was gone astonishingly quickly, and that is a serious problem for me.
Cuir Beluga is part of Guerlain’s exclusive L’Art et La Matière Collection which was launched in 2005. The name of the line means “Art and (raw) Materials,” and represents Guerlain’s goal of creating olfactory Art through the use of the finest raw materials in perfumery. As Fragrantica further explains, “L’Art et la Matière” is also “a pun after the French expression L’Art et la Manière – the art and manners.” As for the “Beluga” part of the perfume’s name, I’ve read that it refers to one of two things: either the word for “white” in Russian, or to the whiteness of a Beluga whale (which is also sometimes called a “white whale”). In either case, the point is whiteness, with a pun on the luxurious of caviar, but the scent has absolutely nothing to do with fishiness whatsoever.
Cuir Beluga is an eau de parfum that was released in 2005, and was created by Olivier Polge, the son of Chanel‘s famous in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge. On its website, Guerlain describes the scent as a “velvety oriental” and writes:
Light and shade meet on the skin.
With Cuir Beluga, the Guerlain perfumer chose to interpret the softness of white suede in an absolutely luxurious and addictive version. Like an intense, warm light on the skin, the fragrance opens with an aldehyde mandarin accord drawn out into an everlasting flower note and then wrapped in a voluptuous cloud of amber, heliotrope and vanilla. An intense and totally unexpected sensorial experience.
In a different part of the same Cuir Beluga entry, Guerlain adds that the leather is “a white suede for women and men, as enveloping as cashmere,” and also says the fragrance is:
Luminous, rare, enveloping.
Top notes: aldehydes, mandarin.
Heart notes: patchouli, everlasting flower [Immortelle].
Base notes: vanilla, amber, heliotrope, white suede note.
It is impossible to analyse Cuir Beluga without discussing heliotrope, so a brief description of the note may be useful for those unfamiliar with the name. Fragrantica has a great explanation of both its aroma, and how it appears in the other, well-known, heliotrope-centered fragrances:
The odour profile is powdery, like vanilla meringue with a helping of almond. The characteristic comforting scent of heliotrope has been proven to induce feelings of relaxation and comfort, a pampering atmosphere that finds itself very suited to languorous oriental fragrances and delicious “gourmands”.
In Kenzo Amour the heliotropin take is on the vanillic side, boosted by milky notes. In Love, Chloe we encounter the retro-smelling pairing of heliotropin and violet notes producing a powdery effect, reminiscent of makeup products. […] In Lolita Lempicka eau de parfum heliotropin takes a anisic mantle and becomes a full-blown gourmand, while in the older Cacharel Loulou it’s the comforting billowy background alongside tonka bean (with which it shares an almond and hay facet) and orris, producing a true floriental. In L’Eau d’Hiver (F.Malle) heliotropin is almost reduced to its pure state: fluffy, like a late afternoon cloud. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
In the past, Guerlain has loved using heliotrope in conjunction with other elements, but one of the goals of the L’Art et La Matiere collection is to highlight a single raw material. Cuir Beluga may have leather in its name, but, in my opinion, the material being highlighted here is actually the Heliotropin of so many old Guerlain masterpieces. As that Fragrantica page explains:
classic scents have also greatly benefited from heliotropin, notably the nostalgic L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain which pairs the vanillic facet of heliotropin with anise on top, soft flowers in the heart (violet and carnation) and benzoin, iris and Tonka bean in the base to compliment the floral-oriental character of this iconic composition. Or the more ethereal Guerlain Apres L’Ondee which is mainly the pairing of warm heliotropin with cool and shy violets. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
Cuir Beluga opens on my skin with a brief touch of light boozy sweetness, followed by heliotrope and a hint of honeyed floral Immortelle, all wrapped in a soft, rich, deep, amber embrace. The heliotrope smells simultaneously like delicate flowers, almond paste, meringues, powder, and sweetened Play-Doh. It’s an incredibly soothing, comforting mix, and instantly made me think of Mary Poppins wrapping someone up in a warm, pink flannel, while telling them to have a spoonful of sugar. The boozy touch quickly vanishes, as does the immortelle. The latter never smells of any of its usual manifestations on my skin. It’s not dry, dusty, green, curry-like, or heavy maple syrup. Instead, it was merely a brief touch of warm flowers, that accentuated the delicate floralacy of the heliotrope.
Within minutes, Cuir Beluga turns into a deliciously pillowy, fluffy blend of Play-Doh (one of heliotrope’s main characteristics) with almond-y marzipan and a whiff of flowers in a vanilla cocoon that is just barely flecked with amber. I have a massive soft spot for heliotrope when it’s done well, and it most certainly is in this instance. Marzipan is also one of my favorite confectionary sweets, which pretty much makes me a goner for Cuir Beluga’s opening minutes. I’ve tried the perfume a few times over the last few months, and the beautifully balanced sweetness of the marzipan, almond vanilla grows more addictive with each wearing. It’s never cloying, heavily sugared, cheap, or artificial in nature.
Instead, the perfume takes a mere 15 minutes to turn into the epitome of creaminess. Every note in Cuir Beluga is streaked through with something that, alternatively, makes me think of Carnation condensed milk, sweetened milk, ice-cream, or pure cream infused with vanilla and almonds. It’s perfectly balanced, luxuriously rich, but incredibly airy all at once. As the almond meringue and Play-Doh aspects of the heliotrope grow stronger, along with the subtle whiff of sweetened powder, I think back to Fragrantica’s description of heliotrope as an aroma that induces relaxation. I would love to wear Cuir Beluga to sleep and sprayed on my sheets, because it’s so incredibly comforting.
If only that gloriousness lasted…. Cuir Beluga starts as a very soft scent that hovers 2 inches above the skin, at best, in its most concentrated, opening minutes. With the equivalent of 2 sprays, it takes a mere 30 minutes for the perfume to drop to something that lies right above the skin. It slowly begins to soften even more, losing minute by minute what ever richness and weight that it had. My skin has problems with longevity but almost never with sillage, so I was taken aback by the speed with which Cuir Beluga started to vanish from the aether.
A mere 75 minutes in, Cuir Beluga is a complete skin scent on me, and I’ve tested it a few times. I suppose you can push that time frame more if you apply a lot, but I doubt even a massive amount could give you more than 2.5 hours at most before the perfume slips away into a gauzy whisper. Plus, given the cost of the perfume, do you really want to be dousing yourself with 5 or 6 (or more) sprays each time? Of course, there is a chance that it might merely be my skin, but given other reports elsewhere (that we will discuss in a minute), I doubt the problem is unique to me.
Despite the unobtrusiveness of the scent, Cuir Beluga is still very pretty. At the end of the second hour, the notes all blur into each other, leaving a general impression of creamy Play-Doh, sweetened almonds, milk, and Tonka vanilla powder. You may notice that I have not mentioned the word “leather” even once in my descriptions thus far. Well, for me, and on my skin, Cuir Beluga is a “leather” scent the way Queen Latifah is the Queen of England. The mere use of a word has absolutely nothing to do with reality. Near the end of the second hour, for a fleeting moment, I had the impression of sweetened, white, leathered suede, but honestly, I’m pretty sure it was merely a figment of my imagination. In any event, that tiny whiff of “suede” vanished within minutes.
Cuir Beluga is a very simple, uncomplicated, linear scent on my skin. It never changes in any substantial way, except to become even more discreet and harder to detect. About 3.5 hours into its development, it is the merest gauziest trace of heliotrope Play-Doh and vanilla on my skin. It’s far too thin and translucent to be creamy in the same way that it once was. In the same way, it’s too sheer to even come across as heavily powdered in the usual Guerlain way. Both elements are there in the most muted, muffled way imaginable, but Cuir Beluga is largely a vanilla and heliotrope scent on my skin, then just vanilla with some powder. In its final moments, the perfume was merely a blur of sweetened powder. All in all, Cuir Beluga lasted just over 9.25 hours with two sprays, and just under 8 hours with one.
The most important of all perfume critics, Luca Turin, doesn’t seem to think much of Cuir Beluga. In Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, he categorizes Cuir Beluga as a “powdery amber,” and spends a good portion of his three-star review talking about how Guerlain used the L’Art et La Matiere collection to finally acknowledge the impact of niche perfumery — primarily and specifically of Serge Lutens. (He more or less implies that Guerlain flat-out copied Lutens “in the structure of the fragrances, their cod-poetic names, and the tall rectangular bottle.”) When he does talk about the actual fragrance, Luca Turin doesn’t seem very enthused, and he certainly didn’t consider Cuir Beluga to be a leather scent:
Cuir Beluga’s name, with its suggestion of large sofas and small portions of caviar, is no doubt intended to flatter a French fondness for naff luxury. The fragrance is basically a light, heliotropin vanillic amber with a touch of floral green notes in the heart and a smidgeon of suede. It has a pleasant color and texture, and no discernible shape at all.
I agree with him on almost all of it, but I like the scent significantly more than he does. At least, I do until I remember the price. $250 for an uncomplicated, linear, simplistic Play-Doh, vanilla scent that becomes incredibly hard to detect in a short amount of time seems a bit like Rolls Royce prices for the most souped-up, luxurious, opulent Honda around.
I’m not the only person who had some problems with Cuir Beluga’s sillage. On Fragrantica, one person writes:
I love this pretty scent, but it is the quietest of skin scents on me. I’d have to douse myself in it to be able to smell it, which is a disappointment.
Quite a few others talk about something similar. Of course, there are people who adore discreet, wholly unobtrusive fragrances, but I think the majority of them would like to be able to smell their perfume even moderately if they are paying as much as $250 for it.
Putting aside the wispiness of Cuir Beluga, it seems much beloved by those who have tried it, though the majority of its fans seem to be women. There are some critics, however, and a number of men seem to struggle with the fragrance’s sweetness, lack of leather, or its simplicity. Here are a range of opinions:
- Cuir Beluga is not a leather perfume; nor is it particularly sexy or exciting. It smells to me of tapioca custard, i.e. a fairly simple, cozy scent. There are plenty of other, far less pricey, cozy fragrances out there.
- Extremely sweet. A vanilla invasion for the nose. Powdery, and floral as well. Don’t see my self wearing this alone, maybe mixed. This to me will fit a woman better. Great quality.
- I love leather perfumes, that slightly animal and sensual vibe a good leather perfume has, but this is much more soft and in the line of Daim Blond and Cuir de Lancome. Not leather but suede. It’s so elegant, and for a vanilla perfume not really gourmand or extremely sweet. Very wearable for many occasions. [¶] Sadly, sillage was very weak on me and therefor I’d think I’d prefer the more daring SDV or the powderpuffy Tonka Imperial over this. But she’s really interesting and really something to try if you like understated chique yet comforting scents.
- I feel a velvety aurea, comfortable, looks leather with caramel, amber acts that way, blended with vanilla, I feel in a Rolls Royce in the streets of Monaco, eating a caramel trifle. [¶] Rich, important and compelling for all these aspects, Guerlain as always sensational.
- This is my Shalimar! It is classic, refined and rich in every sense of the word. A decadent feast of powdery vanilla with the subtle essence of leather in the background. I find myself craving this scent. It is almost intimidating how elegant it is to begin with, but then it softens and becomes a beautiful comforting smell that I liken to someone of distinguished esteem. It smells wealthy without the pretentiousness.
- I agree that this has a wonderful vintage feel and where Shalimar for me is unwearable (Oh the horror!!!), this works. As soon as I sprayed it I immediately thought even if my bottle didn’t have a label this is so absolutely recognizable as Guerlain you would know what house created this scent. For me, as with some other Guerlain scents, this one needed 15 minutes to relax a bit. As is typical with Guerlain, this scent is all about powdery vanilla leather. If you love Guerlain and its beloved Shalimar this is sure to move you. I know I always rave about Guerlain (what can I say…I’m a fan) but this scent is blended so beautifully resulting in this rich powdery soft vanilla.
I found Cuir Beluga to be too gourmand, simplistic, and sweet to really be akin to Shalimar, at least vintage Shalimar with all its complexity and its strong backbone of leather and smoke. However, The Non-Blonde found a similarity in the classical feel or style of the two scents. In a 2010 review, she writes:
Guerlain and perfumer Olivier Polge didn’t take much of a risk in creating Cuir Beluga, but I’m not complaining. Compared to so many of the other Guerlain releases of the last five or ten years, Cuir Beluga is as close to the classics as one can get nowadays. More Shalimar than Mitsouko, this is not a difficult perfume in any way, and the large doses of very sweet vanilla make it go down easily for just about anyone (other than vanilla haters, but if you’re one, chances are that Guerlain is not really your thing to begin with).
What little drama we get in this perfume comes from the smooth leather. Some smell suede and compare Cuir Beluga to Daim Blond, but I don’t agree. To my nose it’s the finest most luxurious leather you can find. I have a pair of tall Jimmy Choo boots that feels this soft and timeless. It’s something that could have existed 50 years ago and has both an air of mystery and a determined backbone, despite the softness and the obvious sex appeal. I love touching and smelling my boots (us scentheads tend to shove our schnozes into the weirdest things and places) as it gives me a similar thrill to experiencing Cuir Beluga. I just wish the leather note in the perfume would have lasted longer before it becomes all vanilla, all the time.
Even if the leather note didn’t last long on her skin, she obviously experienced a lot more of it than I did. On me, the leather was nonexistent, and I suspect the suede was a figment of my imagination. I didn’t mind, though, because I loved my marzipan-almond meringue and vanilla cream, and found it delectable while it lasted. I would absolutely wear Cuir Beluga to bed, if I didn’t have to spend $250 for about 30 minutes of true, undiluted gloriousness.
Obviously, skin chemistry is going to make a difference in terms of how Cuir Beluga’s sillage, sweetness, “leather,” and powder manifest themselves on your skin. Given the perfume’s cost, I would recommend more than ever for you to test it first or order a sample. However, I must emphasize that, if you go into Cuir Beluga expecting a true leather scent, you will probably be disappointed. This is a primarily a gourmand fragrance with sweetness, powder, and vanilla. It also skews quite feminine in my opinion.
I think Cuir Beluga is very over-priced for what it is, but cost is a subjective determination and, in the case of this particular Guerlain at least, there is the quality and luxuriousness to back it up. In short, to paraphrase Mary Poppins, you may want to take a spoonful of sugar to make the price easier to swallow, as you wrap yourself in the pillowy, cashmere softness of Play-Doh, almond marzipan, and powdered vanilla.
Never heard of it, although I must have, as I have read Luca’s review in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide eons ago. Interesting name and that is about it on a personal level but great to read your analysis. Beluga is a faint memory here in terms of caviar.
I don’t think Cuir Beluga would be your cup of tea at all, Jordan. LOL.
It does sound yummy but very similar to Lush Snow cake which is a fraction of the price and can be detected on my skin the morning after I wear it to bed.
The thought that Lush would have a similar scent made me look it up. People seem to describe it as cotton candy or bananas, before it turns to marzipan. Either way, Snowcake seems to have been limited-edition for the holidays, and is completely sold-out or unavailable everywhere I looked. But at $39.95 to $48.95 for a bottle, if you were lucky to get one, then it’s obviously a much better deal. I’m not sure I can believe it is the same quality at that price, but then again, it obviously doesn’t disappear off the skin either. So, good going, Vicky. You made a great score and buy. 🙂
I got a decant from a dear perfumista friend and given Snowcake’s scarcity I’m glad I did.
Sounds like I should stick to my LUSH Snowcake like Vicki above :-). I tried Cuir Beluga at stingy Saks and it didn’t do anything for me. If some came my way free, I wouldn’t refuse to wear it :-). Great review!
Do you also think Cuir Beluga is like the Lush Snowcake? Or only indirectly and subtly? I’m quite curious about this Lush limited-edition thing now. lol. As for Cuir Beluga, if Saks didn’t give you enough to spray on, I can definitely see you feeling underwhelmed, especially given that you don’t usually test right on the skin but in an air cloud. This is one fragrance that one needs quite a bit of, and to put on the skin, I think.
I will satisfy your curiosity, dearest. I liked the Snowcake soap better but they were sold out pretty quickly of that. I don’t recall what Cuir Beluga smelled like – I was THAT underwhelmed.
I’m shocked that the Guerlain girl and lover of gourmands was more underwhelmed and less enthused by a Guerlain scent than I was. What is happening to the world? Has Hell frozen over??! Oh, right… given the Polar Vortex, it actually has. 😉 ;p lol
I have a split of Cuir Beluga coming my way from a FFF in France. I am buying it as a work scent, unobtrusive and sweet powdery cushioned warmth that hopefully only I can smell. Which is the point of a work scent.
It would have been really great if there was a leather accord. You nailed its attributes exactly. As you say, so it is. It is still and all despite it’s failure to be any leather at all, a very wearable scent to overspray with abandon. Soft, billowy, powdery and very very under the radar.
Hahaha, “failure to be any leather at all.” You too, huh? Talk about a misleading name. Still, it’s a very pretty scent, especially if you overspray with abandon. (Even then, the sillage is….) The fact that Lush made a fragrance that reportedly similar but cost about $200 less makes me laugh though. Oh Guerlain, you and your ridiculous prices for these ultra simple, one-two note perfumes. When you think about the fragrances they once made with their 20+ elements, and their pioneering uniqueness….
I recently bought Lush’s Rose Jam (unsniffed) based on rave reviews. I absolutely can’t stand it, but I really tried! I dab or spray whatever I’m testing on the inner aspect of one elbow. After several tries over several days, I just ‘fessed up and accepted I don’t like Rose Jam at all. So I scrubbed thoroughly and packed it up to return. Over the next couple of days I forgot which elbow I’d spritzed it on, and wanted to test out something else. I kept smelling Play- Doh, and thought my goodness, that Rose Jam is tenacious.
After decades of wearing perfumes, I realized my own skin scent is Play- Doh. I suspect this might not be what anyone aspires to, but it’s nice to read about Guerlain producing a perfume with this note. If it were not for the almond, I might even think that Cuir Beluga would be a subtle enhancement of my own natural chemistry. I actually enjoy very subtle, ephemeral perfumes. Either I’m sensitive or I think I need to struggle to enjoy something. Whenever “almond” is mentioned though, I shut down. It just does not compute with me at all. I wonder what that chemical actually is?
Thanks again for another excellent review.
How fascinating that your own natural smell resembles Play-Doh! I don’t think I’ve ever read that before, but it sounds very nice. 🙂 As for your mental block against almonds, we all have a note (or three) that is like that for us mentally and intellectually. In your case, it just saved you $250. lol 😉 😀 But I do have to emphasize that Cuir Beluga doesn’t smell of almond almonds; it’s not bitter or nutty. Instead, it is primarily vanillic, and smells of powdered marzipan and vanilla meringues. Small difference, but given your issues with almonds perhaps still too big of a problem for you, I know.
I should probably find out what is the chemical that produces that note. I find it in marzipan and Amaretto. Neither one of them computes as almond to me at all. I do recall that there is a process of removing the skins from almonds…. maybe that’s part of it? I’ll need to so some research.
Without seeing the other comments, we’re all talking about Lush. I find that fascinating! I haven’t tried Snowcake. I ordered some stuff from Lush, and I can attest to the fact that their stuff has amazing sillage and longevity. I returned what I ordered as it wasn’t right for me, and the rep was so nice she actually made my day. If I want to baby myself cheaply, I like Demeter’s Angel Food.
I’ll keep that one in mind, thank you. 🙂
Surprise surprise (or not?) my skin reacts the same way as yours to Cuir Beluga. I kept wondering where the leather was, and could only smell Play-Doh. I do like it, a lot, it is so comforting and I keep sniffing my arm, but it’s not worth the bucks.
I have tried Snowcake, and to me it was soft almond marzipan, very linear, and not very long lasting. I’ll stick to Jour de Fête for my almond fix. JdF has better longevity and is more complex. And as for a Play-Doh scent, on my skin Kielh’s Cedar Vanilla smells like Play-Doh, and lasts longer than the Cuir Beluga. I wonder if anyone else gets Play-Doh from the Kiehl’s.
Haha, Play-Doh and no leather for you, too! Yeah, it’s definitely hard to justify $250 for such a simple scent, no matter how comforting it is. You should have seen my face the first time I tried Cuir Beluga, as I kept trying to sniff out the leather, and wondering why I was getting dessert instead!
Very interesting about the Snowcake not lasting long on your skin. I think Lush scents have the general reputation of being quite long-lasting. Overnight fragrances, some seem to say. Obviously, you and I are in a different category when it comes to longevity. I haven’t tried the other fragrances you mention, but I’ll look up Jour de Fete. Thank you for the tip, Cath.
I have a few Lush fragrances in the black bottles and those are very long lasting. I don’t know what happened with Snowcake. I tried it in the shop, one spray on my wrist, and it became a skin scent almost immediately and was near gone in about 4 or 5 hours. Tuca Tuca though can last more than 12 hours on me. IMO the limited Christmas scents were of a different, inferior quality than the black bottle perfumes.
Anybody tried Arsene Lupin from this line? (at least I think it is part of this line) Supposedly a leather.
I sniffed it in Paris, but was largely under-whelmed. I can’t remember now the details of how exactly it smelled, but I remembered thinking that it was quite thin, light, and lacking distinction. I expected to like it a lot, but I just sort of shrugged and moved on. I was so uninterested, I didn’t even ask for a sample. In contrast, I liked Heritage quite a bit, and asked for that one to test later in full. It’s not a leather scent, but that one stood out for me along with L’Instant Eau Extreme or LIDGE. Arsene Lupin was a study in blandness, to the point that I have no memory of its smell at all.
Another one for the PASS list!
One of the reasons I love reading your blogs is to narrow down the things I still want to try. Sweet. No. Marzipan. Probably not. In the style of the classics. Not particularly likely, but maybe. And I suspect heliotrope and I may have a different perspectives on how perfume should smell. All of that together probably adds up to a big, fat No. So, I don’t think this one will be making it onto the list. Yay!
Great review as always, Kafka.
“I suspect heliotrope and I may have a different perspectives on how perfume should smell” — HILARIOUS! I can’t stop grinning. So wry and dry. The best kind of humour.
As for your list of “No” factors, don’t forget to add: “$250 for a powdered vanilla scent that you can barely detect on your skin unless you bathe in it.” 😉
I like heliotrope and so I like Cuir Beluga a lot; it’s my favorite comfort scent, for the 30 minutes it lasts on me. It is then gone, ashes of dollars falling in its wake. If I could find something comparable for, say, 50 dollars a bottle, I would douse myself every 30 minutes and be happy. But unfortunately it is comparable in longevity to Demeter Wisteria, while costing 12.5 times as much, making it hard to justify
30 minutes, period? THIRTY MINUTES?!! All in all??!?! @%^&#@!*&@#@%*!!!!
Man, I would not be happy in your shoes. Not one bleeping bit. Only if you actually burned money would you be losing it faster.
Fortunately I got a tiny decant first so not much money was lost. But I am disappointed, because it would be a perfect comfort scent. And in strict point of fact, maybe there was something after 30 minutes, but if you have to wonder whether you’re smelling anything or not, I don’t think that the perfume can be given credit.
At least you didn’t buy a full bottle, though decants are not cheap either. I can’t get over how your skin is even more problematic than mine! That said, you’re hardly alone in having duration problems with Cuir Beluga. The poor sillage really doesn’t help matters much when attempting to decipher its longevity.
Maybe if I had put my nose right on my skin something was still there, but I don’t want to root at myself to smell my perfume, especially at $250 a bottle.
I would basically own all of the L’Art et Matiere series if they weren’t so expensive. I really enjoy the smell of all of them but not for that amount of money, unfortunately.
Really, all of them? Wow. I’m afraid this was the first one of them that I liked. Mea culpa. What are some of your favorites?
Not Ines but since it is in context, my most delicious gourmands are Guerlains. From the L’Art et la Matiere series: Iris Ganache (FB), Spiritueuse Double Vanille (FB), Tonka Impériale (FB), Bois d’Arménie (decant) and from the Les Elixirs Charnels series: Gourmand Coquin* (FB), Oriental Brulant (FB from a generous swapper).
*toothache inducing due to its sweetness – I LOVE IT (it happens to be SOTD)
I feel the deluge of sweetness pouring out over me from your words alone…. *gulp* I’m afraid it’s not quite my thing, especially the description of Gourmand Coquin, but I’m so glad you’ve found a line that works for you so well. I’m sure there are many salivating over your collection. 🙂
Actually, yes, I really like them and if I had them, I’d wear all of them. My favorites though are SDV, Cruel Gardenia and Gourmand Coquin, quickly followed by Tonka Imperiale and Bois d’Armenie.
That Cruel Gardenia has been calling my name for a while now…
I gave a very brief,cursory sniff to the L’Art et Matiere line while in Paris,last June and to be honest I can’t recall the smell of any of them.They all seemed so pale,so evanescent,so bland.I was happy to save my money.
I felt that way about Tonka Imperiale. HATED it. Hated its blandness passionately, and that was actually one of the words I used often in my review of it. It reminded me of a cookie-cutter, beige McMansion in the suburbs with endless taupe and beige shag carpeting, in a sea of conformity, beigeness, and, did I mention, blandness?!! I hated Angelique Noire for a whole different set of reasons, so I was quite surprised by my reaction to Cuir Beluga.
“… is a leather scent the way Queen Latifah is the Queen of England”.
How I roared.
Such instructive metaphors in this review, the conceit of Mary Poppins is perfect, for was she not also but a passing ray of sunshine as quickly gone (and forgotten) and she came?
Indeed , in stage productions the sadness that Mary might feel at being removed from scene after scene at the moment she brings happiness is brought to the fore. Perhaps that emotion, that sense of being robbed of the fulfilment of promise is also what colours our perception of this perfume.
I’m with you: luxurious, grand opera opening, soap opera conclusion (rattling on inconsequentially almost ad infinitum).
I’ve often wondered if Arts et Matiere was also a play on Arts et Metiers the museum, institution and university of the same name that literally means ‘arts and crafts’ but actually specialises in engineering.
Perhaps there is a connection between the construction of a perfume and an automobile. If so I wish Cuir were more a Mercedes, reliable, robust, long lasting and less a Fiat, fun and at first tempting but with very little under the hood.
The Perfumed Dandy
Hahahaha, I’ll tell you a funny story about Arts et Metiers. When I was having lunch with one of my oldest friends in Paris, I kept mentioning Arts et Metiers for the metro stop and where I had to go later in the afternoon to meet another friend around the Marais. I noticed her looking oddly at me, and then she finally paused and said gently, “It’s Arts et Metiers.” I said, “Isn’t that what I said? Ohhhh…… Art et La Matiere! Ooops, sorry, that’s a Guerlain perfume collection.” She just gave me a sidewise glance at that, and shook her head. lol. Obviously, my mind had completely substituted the Guerlain name, as if there were nothing else. An extreme example of perfume taking over the mind and tongue.
Anyway, silliness aside, I’m glad the Queen Latifah comment made you laugh so hard. I can’t see you — the leather aficionado — thinking much of the form of it in this fragrance. At least we have Mary Poppins…. 😉
I remember thinking “hmmm, pretty” but that’s as much as I remember about it. Which to me says enough about the perfume. On my skin, it suffers the same fate as many of the newer Guerlains – poor longevity and sillage, and not a whole lot of character.
Indeed, it would be lovely sheet spray if you had money to burn. Seems like something Gwyneth Paltrow would recommend on Goop! LOL. “Tired of boring sheets? For only $250 for 75ml, you can have beautiful play-doh scented sheets!” 😛
Hahahahahahaha, I almost choked on my coffee when I read your last paragraph. You know both me (and her tendencies) all too well. In fact, you actually mimicked her really well. The silly cow.
For some strange reason I thought you’ve previously reviewed this perfume. A false memory or a glitch in Matrix? 😉
Cuir Beluga – same as the rest of the line, if not to count Cruel Gardenia and Angélique Noire, which I love, – smells pleasantly for me and I would happily wear any/all of them if I hadn’t owned many other perfumes that I love (so I don’t even have to go into the price territory to explain why I won’t). My main complaints about Cuir Beluga would be also the complete absence of leather (which I kind of want there because of the name) and its short life span on my skin (which I strongly object taking into the account the price point).
Speaking of prices (not Cuir Beluga-related), have you heard that Dior raises their prices for the Privee line 20-25%? I got an e-mail from Las Vegas Dior a couple of days ago that the price hike is due today but on Dior’s website the prices are still the same.
And now I’ve got the correction e-mail saying that price increase won’t effect Beauty Boutiques.
I didn’t get any such email, but then I’m not signed up for any such notification. 🙂 I try to avoid email subscriptions like that from all companies as it feels like spam and cluttering up my Spam folder agitates my OCD tendencies. *grin*
So no leather in Cuir Beluga on you either. How long does Cuir Beluga last on you?
With Dior it’s not a subscription, it’s from a real person (whoever replaced Karina – or what was that girl’s name?).
About CB: I don’t remember 100% but I think it was a couple of hours of an actual distinctive scent and then just a general base common to that line.
I re-checked: I could smell it for 1.5. Then it was just a memory of the perfume. Not acceptable for the price.
Totally unacceptable for the price!
How interesting – I’m really surprised how massively your skin seems to gobble up Cuir Beluga (& especially it’s suede facet). Almost baffling for me how that’s even possible !?? 🙂 … For me CB is quite possibly my fave comfort ‘suede’ frag, even managed to overtake my beloved Dzing!, (not to mention probs one of my fave vanilla note/accords too). Just sooo delicious !
However on me it’s most definitely a suede frag – no SUEDE frag – first & foremost from start to finish. It’s without a doubt the note that’s most prominent to/on my nose/skin, all the other notes merely just ‘colour’ that suede. … I also get no problems with both longevity & silage – easily over 12h on a moderate hum. (Probs even the best performer out the ‘Matière’s’ range for me, oddly enough.) Certainly waaay above a ‘skin-scent’, in fact I have to be careful not to overspray or I find it can even become a little too obtrusive. …
On the other hand, oddly enough Bois D’Armenie (my other fave L’Art frag) is the one that on me much quicker dies down to quieter than I’d prefer. After it’s midpoint it mutes down so it becomes on me it seems just like what CB becomes on you, rather unfortunately ! 🙂
Glad you’ve had such luck with it, Julz. The interesting thing is that I actually had MORE luck than other people here did with Cuir Beluga. I suspect we would all rather envy your skin. 🙂
Yeah, and here I was one of those that took quite a lot of convincing re the whole ‘skin-affects-frags’ debate. 🙂 – (I used to think it was rather ‘all in the nose’. – or basically more to do with how different people smelled/picked up different notes, or different nose/sniffing capacities.) …. BUT have slowly been converted to believe it’s possibly both.
Am now wondering how suede-y is Dzing! to you for example ?? – (Or do you have a hard time finding the ‘suede’ in D! too ?)
Let’s not talk about Dzing, as it is an experience that I’d like to forget…. lol. 😉
Ha,ha – OK just caught up to your traumatic views on Dzing! :), & must admit they came as quite the surprise. As much as I’m usually in close agreement with most of your views/tastes, it seems I’ve just started unearthing that small % where surprisingly I’m obviously NOT. In fact I’m afraid I may have just found THE one review where I probably couldn’t disagree with you more or more severely. I think it’s rather a pity you’re unable to see/appreciate the fine cloth this Emperor is draped in, as he is most certainly NOT “naked” ! 🙂 – Personally I think D! is an unusual & smart composition. – (Also, surprisingly even to me, probably one of the most ‘compliment-eliciting’ frags in my ‘drobe.)
However I think I may also have an idea of part-why you might find it so objectionable. On me the majority of D! is it’s prominent photorealistic suede accord. And unlike a ‘leather’ accord which can usually be replicated by more natural smelling ingredients (‘traditionally’ so at least), the same is not the case for a true smelling ‘suede’ accord which usually relies on overt synthetics for true accuracy. On me the majority of D! (by the time it settles down for the long haul) smells exactly like the smell you get on opening a box of expensive brand new suede shoes. (which I happen to find both pleasant & evocative.) – I think it’s these synths that might be swaying the whole of D!’s composition to the unpleasantly synthetic/plasticy side for you.
I also think the whole hype & ad-copy behind it did it more bad the good ultimately. I believe most people would feel very different about it had they blind-sniffed it completely oblivious/divorced from it’s concept & what it’s ‘meant’ to evoke. The power of suggestion is deceptively powerful when it comes to scent, and I think it’s been especially so here, however more so to it’s detriment ultimately.) As a standalone frag I think people would perceive & think of it very differently. … Tho’ I’d luv to have you re-sniff it with no notes-list or preconceived notions, unfortunately that’s no longer a possibility. However I do wonder if re-sampled after some time perhaps you might feel differently ??
So, if I might rephrase my question – is there actually a ‘suede’ centred (NOT ‘leather’ !) frag that you actually find pleasant ?? … (As I imagine the likes of for ex. Bulgari BLACK would have u running for the hills. 😀 – Tho’ granted that one is more ‘vinyl-y’ really.) 😀
I don’t mind vinyl notes, depending on how they’re handled with other things. Suede depends too. I’m not a fan of irises in general, let alone powdery stuff, so it all comes down to the overall bouquet. As for the hype, I didn’t pay heed to it. I didn’t for something like Secretions Magnifique which, imo, is the best example of the power of suggestion, and I didn’t do so here. I just don’t operate like that when I test a perfume, primarily because of the detailed nature of my focus on the development of the notes. In other words, I take a macro look and sniff, not an overall one that just goes by overall impressions and feel. If I did, I would probably be more susceptible to what you’re arguing. Perhaps you simply can’t accept that I hate Dzing, and that there may be legitimate reasons that go far beyond the power of mental suggestion?
In terms of your question, I’m not sure how to answer you given how you’ve phrased and defined things. There have certainly been scents that smelled like new shoes that I liked, like Cuir Ottoman, though they are not very much me at the end of the day. I suspect we simply have to chalk this one area up to a difference between us in terms of perfume tastes. It doesn’t happen often, Julz, as we’ve known each other for long enough now to know how much of an overlap that we have. 🙂 But it may be better to just let this one go.
Ah, no worries really. But please don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t get riled by differing tastes/views on a scent I might otherwise like, (even rather prefer being the less ‘common denominator’), nor do I get vexed or even as much as mind a negative review. (Thankfully I don’t suffer from a need for validation, & certainly not over such ‘no-right/wrong’ triviality even if I did.) 🙂 … It was really more about trying to comprehend why this frag (D!) in particular would elicit such unexpected & atypically supercilious-y shaded vitriol. Also trying to understand the odd anomaly in our heretofore usual in-sync nose/tastes/note-detecting skills. (Pretty sure you’d be just as surprised if actually aware just the extent of said ‘in sync-ness’. (It’s even a little disconcerting rather than say ‘affirming’ if I’m honest.) 🙂
But it’s really interesting and even more surprising that u bring up Cuir Ottoman in particular, which only deepens the mystery for me. As beyond CO’s ‘meaty’ leather beginning, I’ve been told by more than a few ‘fumistas that if I luv D! then I must try CO as they’re mostly very similar. (with practically the same suede & vanilla note/treatment & overall ‘feel’). Unfortunately I’ve yet to sniff it, so can’t attest if I actually agree, but really biting at the bit to do so now. – (And I’m not even much a fan of ‘powdery-suedes’ usually, preferring my ‘skin’ ‘fumes a little ‘butcher’. – Well I suppose I quite like Dior Homme Intense, often considered one, BUT then I don’t find it particularly, if at all even, leather or suede-y really, so … .) *shrugs shoulders* 🙂
BUT, I’m more than fine to just “let this one go”, no probs ! (+ real sorry I failed to realise what a bomb I was stepping on) 😉 – Methinkz I’ll just have to placate my curiosity by putting it down to the possibility I may just be either somewhat hyperosmic to, or have suede hyper-amping skin. (& matters not if I do, as I happen to like the smell thankfully.)
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