LM Parfums Giveaway: Hard Leather

I’m incredibly excited to announce that LM Parfums has generously offered a really huge giveaway of ten (10!) prizes. Ten winners will each get one 5 ml glass decant of Hard Leather, the perfume I fell for so hard last year and which I put as #1 on my list of Best of 2013. It is also ranked #1 on my list of Favorite Perfumes from all current, non-vintage fragrances on the market. For reasons explained below, I’m afraid this giveaway is for U.S. readers only.

HARD LEATHER:

Hard Leather in the 100 ml bottle.

Hard Leather in the 100 ml bottle.

I loved Hard Leather from the very first instant that I smelled it. It was immediate, automatic, and visceral, with the sort of reaction I haven’t felt in years. I’m rather aloof in public or with people who I don’t know well, but, as I wrote in this story of meeting Laurent Mazzone, the founder of LM Parfums, his Hard Leather made me completely lose my crackers in public, and in one of the most constipatedly snobbish, haughty places in Paris. So, what does it smell like? You can read my detailed review, but the short list of Hard Leather’s notes may help in the meantime:

Rum, Leather, Iris, Honey, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oud, Frankincense, Styrax and Vanilla.

Source: 123people.es

Source: 123people.es

For me, Hard Leather is as much about the lusty animalic aspects and the dark woods as it is about the actual leather. It has very expensive aged Laotian oud, but the true beauty is the massive amounts of very genuine Mysore sandalwood. Regular readers know how I consistently go through modern “sandalwood” fragrances with a curled lip, and a dismissive “not real Mysore” response. Infact, one reader has vowed to get me a t-shirt with the words “Sandalwood Snob” on it, and I would wear it gladly. But Hard Leather has the real stuff.

The use of such a rare ingredient in such vast amounts makes complete sense when you meet Laurent Mazzone. He is a man who began his career in fashion, loves opulence, has the highest standards for everything he does, and is intensely passionate about his perfumes. He wants to his fragrances to be a luxury in a way that harkens to the golden time of perfumery through the use of the richest ingredients possible, only done with a nod to modern tastes. He talks of the legendary Guerlains with love, but he is far too aware of current fashions to create something dated or old-fashioned in feel. He always goes for the best, from his choice of the Hotel Costes for us to meet, to asking his friend, the late Mona di Orio, to create one of his fragrances, or insisting on the most expensive raw materials from Robertet. (They are a fragrance ingredient company known for the highest quality naturals, and whose focus is on “cultivating the real thing.” Mr. Mazzone would expect nothing less.)

Source: Tumblr. Original source or photographer unknown.

Source: Tumblr. Original source or photographer unknown.

yet, for all its refined, sexy lustiness and opulent Mysore sandalwood, Hard Leather is not for everyone. It is dark, animalic, musky, slightly raunchy, smoky, and skews very masculine. I happen to think that it is the most refined take possible on animalic leather, but how you fare will depend strongly on skin chemistry. For the lucky ones, like one or two Basenotes commentators, Hard Leather is as good as the revered Puredistance M, and the best release of 2013. Others, however, experienced a fecal note to the leather in Hard Leather’s opening 15 minutes, and really struggled with the scent. So, I repeat, Hard Leather is a complex, elaborate scent that isn’t for everyone.

Hard Leather is not currently available in the U.S., though you can order it from either LM Parfums or Premiere Avenue (which is also owned by Laurent Mazzone). (See, the Details section at the end for full retail information.) Osswald in NYC is the exclusive LM Parfums distributor in North America, but they don’t have Hard Leather listed on their website and I don’t know when they will get the fragrance. None of the decanting services offer Hard Leather. In short, U.S. perfumistas have very limited access to the perfume at this time, unless they pay an expensive shipping fee from Europe.

This is the main reason why I’m limiting the giveaway to U.S. readers. In addition, however, I will be shipping the decants to the winners myself, so I’ll be honest and say that the high international shipping rates charged by the U.S. Postal Service played a small role in my decision as well.

THE PRIZES:

Hard Leather 5 ml decant.

Hard Leather 5 ml decant.

Ten (10) readers will each get ONE (1) 5ml glass dab bottle of Hard Leather which is an Extrait or Pure Parfum. Hard Leather retails for €295 for the 100 ml bottle which, at the current rate of exchange, comes to roughly $406. The retail price of the 5 ml decant is €19, but with shipping, you’re looking at spending well over $50 for the decant being offered here. In short, LM Parfums was unbelievably generous.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

There are two requirements to enter:

  1. You are in the U.S.; and
  2. You have to leave a comment down below, perhaps letting me know your favorite animalic scent or if you have tried anything from LM Parfums.

As a side note, I usually respond to each and every comment left in one of my Giveaways, but I won’t be doing so this time, for reasons of time and a really hectic schedule this week. I hope you won’t think me rude. Rest assured, I’ll be jotting all your names down and answering any questions that you may have.

WHEN DOES IT END:

The entry period lasts until the end of Friday February 21, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) in the U.S. which is -6:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

WINNERS, EMAILS & SHIPPING:

The 10 winners will be chosen by Random.org, and will be announced sometime the next day on Saturday, February 22nd.

Once I post the winners, you have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information. Deadline is end of the day, my time, on Tuesday February 25th. Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with your shipping details.

If you don’t contact me, and if I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give your prize to the next person on the list.

Please be aware that I am not responsible for items accidentally lost or destroyed in transit for some reason. I will bubble-wrap like mad, but one never knows what may happen. The prize cannot be replaced. 

FINALLY:

Laurent Mazzone. Source: love2beauty.ru

Laurent Mazzone. Source: love2beauty.ru

I’d like to express my enormous gratitude to Laurent Mazzone of LM Parfums, as well as to Fabienne who assists him in these matters. He is truly one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in general, but this is an incredibly lavish gesture. I really don’t have the words to properly thank Mr. Mazzone for his generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering such a huge number of decants of such an enormously expensive, but utterly fantastic, perfume. I wish you knew how ridiculously excited and happy I am that more of you will get to try my beloved Hard Leather. I know it won’t suit all of you, but I hope a few of you buckle to your knees as I did. Given Hard Leather’s price and the fact that it isn’t even available in the U.S. yet, this is a unique opportunity for all of you to try the scent, an opportunity which wouldn’t be possible at all without Mr. Mazzone. So, again, my deepest thanks to him.

Good luck to everyone!  

GENERAL DETAILS:
Cost & AvailabilityHard Leather is pure parfum extrait that is available only in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle which costs €295. It available at LM Parfums. You can sample Hard Leather in the 5 ml size offered here for €19, but shipping to the U.S. is high. Premiere Avenue also has a decant of Hard Leather for the same price. (It’s one of Laurent Mazzone’s companies.) In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances are sold exclusively at Osswald NYC, but as of the date of this posting, they don’t have Hard Leather yet. Outside the U.S.: You can find Hard Leather, along with all LM Parfums, and a 5 ml Hard Leather sample of each at Laurent Mazzone’s Premiere Avenue which ships throughout Europe. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is exclusive to Harvey Nichols. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. In the Netherlands, you can find LM Parfums at ParfuMaria or Silks Cosmetics. In Germany, First in Fragrance carries the full line, and sells small samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume site. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.

As a result, I’m limiting this Giveaway to

LM Parfums Hard Leather: Lust In The Woods

Source: Tumblr. Original artist or site unknown.

Source: Tumblr. Original artist or site unknown.

Sex. Seduction. The scent of a man in leather and smoke. The softness of a woman in sandalwood and vanilla. Musky figures entwined on a rumpled bed, in a room filled with the black swirls of incense. The smell of his neck, his chin rough with dry stubble, and the lingering traces of rum on his mouth. Her body golden, smooth, covered with honey, and damp with sweat. Hardness, softness, and always, pure animal sensuality.

The images that come to my mind when Hard Leather first opens on my skin are wholly inappropriate for further description. But it happens each time I smell the new fragrance from by LM Parfums. In the past, seduction has come to mind with a few fragrances that I’ve tried this year, notably Hard Leather’s older sister, Sensual Orchid, and Amouage‘s Fate Woman, but nothing quite like this. Nothing quite so animalic, so overt. This is not about coy, flirtatious seduction, but steamy intimacy.

Source: timeslive.co.za

Source: timeslive.co.za

For me, the opening hour of Hard Leather is primal, purely sexual, and it impacted me immediately from the very first time I smelled it. It made me quite lose my cool, despite being with the actual perfumer in the most haughtily snobbish, constipated place in all of Paris. And every time I’ve worn it since, it makes me feel quite heated. In short, Hard Leather has one of the best openings of any perfume I’ve smelled this year. In many a year, actually. The rest of the fragrance is not quite as glorious, primarily due to a middle phase that I struggle with a little, but the perfume is still incredibly well done as a whole and I think a lot of men are going to love it. 

LM Parfums Hard Leather 3Hard Leather is set to release some time this week or the next in France, so I thought it was time for a full, proper review, beyond just my cursory, initial ravings. [Update: The perfume was officially released a few hours after the posting of this review, and is now available for sale.] Hard Leather is pure parfum with 20% fragrance oils, and part of LM Parfum’s new line called The Intimacy Collection. The press release description sent to me states that Hard Leather’s olfactory pyramid includes:

Top Notes: Rum, Leather.

Heart Notes: Iris, Honey.

Base Notes: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oud, Frankincense, Styrax and Vanilla.

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo,.)

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo,.)

When you smell Hard Leather from the sprayer on the bottle, you are hit with a wave of black incense that is almost fiery and piercing. It is followed by smoky, sweet oud that smells as though it were taken straight from an extremely old agarwood tree in Laos. On its heels is a powerful, intense sandalwood that is most definitely the real, spicy, glorious, and very rare kind from Mysore. There is a dustiness, a dryness to the wood-incense combination, but also a patina of sweetness. To my nose, the aroma evokes both the incense-sandalwood profile of my beloved vintage Opium, as well as the much drier, dustier, more fiery incense-sandalwood-oud combination of Neela Vermeire‘s Trayee. But you can’t judge a perfume by its bottle aroma, any more than you can a book by its cover.

Source: Tumblr. Original source or photographer unknown.

Source: Tumblr. Original source or photographer unknown.

Hard Leather opens on my skin with an initial whiff of honey and genuine Mysore sandalwood, then a powerful, potent burst of animalic, raw, musky leather. It’s as though a light coat of honey was thinly layered over raw animal hides left in the sun, which are then drenched with musk. The leather is initially like that in Montale‘s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, before it turns into something midway between Aoud Cuir d’Arabie and Serge Lutens‘ glorious Cuir Mauresque. By the same token, the musk is similar to that in Serge LutensMuscs Koublai Khan (hereinafter “MKK“), only rounder and generally softer. It has the most fleeting urinous edge, but far less than the Lutens had on my skin. I’m generally not one for very raw, extremely animalic leather, but, my God, it’s sexy here. It’s leather with the scent of skin, heated and musky after sex, lightly drizzled with honey, and wrapped up with tendrils of black incense.

On skin, the oud initially lurks behind the leather, but it rears its head after a few minutes. It smells exactly like the aged Laotian kind used in such expensive lines as Xerjoff, and Laurent Mazzone confirmed to me that it is indeed aged Asian agarwood. The wonderful difference, here, is that the oud never smells fecal, or (even worse) like rotting gorgonzola, the way that Laotian agarwood can sometimes be in perfumery. Instead, it’s smooth, with a bit of that “noble rot” funk that is true to real oud. It’s also sweet, thanks to the honey, and slightly smoking from the incense. The oud is blended perfectly with the other woods in Hard Leather, from the slightly musky, dry cedar, to the gloriously rich, smooth, spicy sandalwood. The latter most definitely smells like the real stuff, and judging by the Robertet name on my tiny decant and the fact that they deal with the most expensive raw materials, I suspect Mr. Mazzone spent a fortune ensuring he got actual, red Mysore instead of some generic beige wood or green Australian “sandalwood.”

Source: 123people.es

Source: 123people.es

The final result is an opening that I find to be utterly addictive, a smoldering cocktail of raw, steamy sex appeal. It’s as though Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque mixed with MKK, Neela Vermeire’s Trayee, Montale’s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, and a dash of vintage Opium’s drydown, only the final result is ramped up by a hundred. It’s Lawrence of Arabia’s swarthy, musky sheikhs, with Turkish harem concubines clothed only in tendrils of incense, having sex in the ancient agar forests of Laos under freshly tanned, cured leather coated in honey and sandalwood.

Yet, for all that the notes may sound aggressive or too much, Hard Leather’s opening is utterly seamless and perfectly blended. The notes fluidly move one into the other, each transforming the next, with no hard edges, roughness, or spiky, prickly bits. In this phase, the incense may be the sharpest thing about the fragrance, waging a war of blackness on the sexual musk and leather, as if to drag the lovers to a Chinese temple. One thing I’ve noticed is that Hard Leather is a fragrance where less is sometimes more at the start, because two big sprays can be quite intense.

Thirty minutes in, Hard Leather starts to shift. The leather loses some of its rawness, turning richer, and more burnished. The musk softens too, feeling a little less dirty or skanky, while the honey blends in the base to add the faintest touch of sweetness. The sandalwood becomes even deeper, and even takes on a floral touch that is quite lovely. Actually, all the wood accords grow stronger, as does the smoke. Slowly, Hard Leather begins the transition to its next phase where the wood elements dominate the scent to such an extent, I sometimes wonder if the perfume might be more aptly named Hard Woods.

An hour into its development, Hard Leather begins its second stage, turning intensely dry. The desiccated feel from the woods and smoke essentially neutralizes the honey, but I think something else is at play. I smell Norlimbanol with its arid and, yes, its synthetic feel. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Norlimbanol is a super aromachemical from Givaudan that puts ISO E Super to shame with its power. It has an ultra powerful, sharp aroma of woodiness with an undertone of leather, but it is always bone-dry to the point of dustiness.

Recently, I spent 10 minutes sniffing just the outside of my little decant of Hard Leather, and there was a definite synthetic whiff of dry woodiness right from the sprayer. On skin, it only shows up after an hour or 75 minutes, but it does show up. A few times when I’ve sniffed Hard Leather on my arm and up close, I get an immediate tightness in my nose and the faintest tickle at the back of my throat. The Norlimbanol is merely a speck at first, but it becomes increasingly powerful in Hard Leather’s 2nd through 5th hours, and I have to admit, I’m not a fan of it. Even without it, I think the new focus on dry woods destroys the perfection of the first hour with its raw animalism and unapologetic, lusty sensuality. Bring back the sex and leather, I say!

Smoke #11   Stefano Bonazzi Selected Digital Works. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Smoke #11 Stefano Bonazzi Selected Digital Works. (Website link embedded within photo.)

About 90-minutes into its development, Hard Leather is a different fragrance. The oud and Norlimbanol have taken over, turning the scent into one of extreme woods and incense with a very arid feel. The lusty, raunchy leather is blended into it, but it is a much more muted layer that lies underneath, and it is no longer Hard Leather’s main focus. At the same time, Hard Leather’s initially powerful sillage drops. With 2 big sprays (or the equivalent of 3 enormous smears), Hard Leather initially wafts about 5-6 inches around you, before dropping down after 90 minutes to a softer, airier cloud that is only about 3 inches. It’s very intense when smelled up close, and remains that way for hours.

The other notes make a valiant effort to counter-balance the the power of the oud, incense, and Norlimbanol. Unfortunately, my skin takes synthetics like the latter and runs with it, so they’re not particularly successful. Still, I really like how the Mysore sandalwood blooms, turning more floral and much creamier. I can also detect the sweeter notes stirring in the base. Styrax is a smoky, spicy, slightly leathered sort of amber resin, and it adds little flecks of golden warmth like fireflies in an extremely dark, smoky forest. The tiniest tendrils of vanilla curl up as well, stroking the woods, trying to tame them with sweetness in order to end the dry spell.

Source: hqdesktop.net

Source: hqdesktop.net

The core essence of Hard Leather’s second stage remains largely unchanged for the next few hours. Different notes wax and wane in prominence or strength, but the intense smoke, dry woods, and oud dominate. The power of the trio and the length of their stay really seems to depend on how much Hard Leather you apply. The more you spray, the longer their duration and force, and the less sweetness the fragrance manifests. Regardless, midway during the third hour, the vanilla starts to play a much bigger role. It’s now quite cuddly, cozy, rich, and sweet. The sandalwood turns even creamier; it’s a very smooth, incredibly luxurious aroma that begins to muscle its way onto center stage. Hard Leather is an elegant blend of dryness, sweetness, spiciness, creaminess, smokiness, leather, and woods, with just a hint of something raunchy, untamed, and animalic at its edges.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

At the end of the fifth hour, the dryness finally recedes, and Hard Leather transitions to its third stage. The primary focal point is now spicy sandalwood and sweet vanilla, followed by oud, incense and increasingly muted hints of musky leather. It is all much more discreet, lying right on the skin, though it doesn’t take any effort to detect Hard Leather up close. Other notes pop up and down like a Jack in the Box. The honey reappears from time to time in the background, adding to Hard Leather’s growing glimpses of sweetness. The base feels much warmer now as well, though the styrax resin never seems like actual amber but something much more abstract in nature.

The oddest thing is the iris. Sometimes, Hard Leather has a definite floral element, but it really seems to stem primarily from the sandalwood. On occasion, however, the iris appears on my skin, primarily as a cool, soft suede with the faintest tinge of soft powder. It’s incredibly muted and weak on me, and I suspect cooler or paler skins may bring out the iris more than my warm, basenote-amplifying chemistry.

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Hard Leather’s final stage begins around the 8th hour. The perfume is a blur of spicy sandalwood with tiny flickers of smoky oud, musk, and sweetness. It feels quite abstract on some levels, though the sandalwood is unmistakable. In its final moments, Hard Leather is merely a gauzy whisper of sweet, slightly spicy woodiness. The scent has astounding longevity on my perfume-consuming skin. Two big sprays (the equivalent of 3 enormous smears) lasted 14.25 hours, though it was quite patchy in spots and I actually thought it may have died after 12 hours. With only one spray, Hard Leather lasts just under 12.5 hours. The sillage is initially quite fierce, but, like all LM Parfums, softens and drops around the 90-minute mark. Using the smaller quantity, Hard Leather became a true skin on me at end of the 4th hour; with a larger application, at the end of the 6th.

I love Hard Leather, though it’s not perfect. I will never get tired of its opening, and how jaw-droppingly seductive it is. It is pure sex on a stick (or, in this case, sex in a bottle). I wish with all my heart that it would last forever, especially as I’m less enthused by the 2nd phase with all its Norlimbanol. Still, the aromachemical is miles away from the demonic toxicity of YSL‘s utterly heinous Noble Leather, and it certainly didn’t impact me in the same way. It’s also much softer and tamer in small quantities, so I’d gladly wear Hard Leather even with the bloody Norlimbanol. That should tell you how much I love that raunchy, sexual, primal start. It’s positively indecent — in the very best way possible! Hard Leather ends on a happy note, too, with creamy, rich, gloriously real Mysore sandalwood, warm vanilla, and, less excitingly, oud.

For all that I would like to drown myself in Hard Leather’s opening, for all its impact on me, I most definitely do NOT recommend the perfume to everyone. Those who disliked any of the fragrances that I’ve mentioned here — from Aoud Cuir d’Arabie and Cuir Mauresque, to Muscs Koublai Khan or Trayee — should stay away. Those who have issues with oud of any kind, especially aged agarwood, or who find animalic scents to be dirty, should avoid Hard Leather as well. People who like their leather to be more like suede or expensive handbags will find this scent to be far too raw for their tastes. And, as a whole, I don’t think Hard Leather is a fragrance that the vast majority of women would like on their own skin, though I think a lot would find it incredibly sexy on a man.

Hard Leather is a fragrance that skews sharply and unapologetically masculine, rendering things like Puredistance‘s glorious M extremely unisex in comparison. (I personally think that M really is unisex, but I know a number of women who feel they can’t wear it. That sentiment would be amplified by a thousand for Hard Leather.) I think the dryness of Hard Leather’s second phase may also be difficult for people of either gender who prefer a little more sweetness with their woods or animalic touches.

Amouage Opus VIISpeaking of that dryness, Hard Leather at the end of the second hour made me think of Amouage‘s Opus VII. The two fragrances are very different, particularly because of the herbal oddness of the fenugreek in Opus VII and the nature of the two musks. On my skin, the animalic elements in Opus VII turned into something strongly reminiscent of a wild cat enclosure at the zoo with peeing lions, instead of the scent of skin during sex. Opus VII is visually greener, with strong spices, and heavily peppered with ISO E Super. Yet both fragrances have an extreme darkness to them, and share oud, incense, sandalwood, leather tonalities, and amplifying synthetics with a bone-dry feel. I think Hard Leather is much less desiccated than Opus VII, and has sweeter, warmer elements, but, in terms of an aesthetic style, the two fragrances share some distant kinship, though I must stress again that they don’t smell anything alike.

Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Still, if Opus VII was your cup of tea and you didn’t find it too dry, oud-y or smoky, then you should definitely try Hard Leather. If neither Opus VII nor any of the other fragrances mentioned here were your style, Hard Leather won’t be either. In my case, I loathed Opus VII (thanks to the peeing lion and the ISO E Super), but I do love Hard Leather because of its greater kinship with fragrances like Cuir Mauresque, MKK, and Trayee. The raunchy sexuality of that opening phase is so beautifully balanced, melded so seamlessly with the other notes, that it is very tasteful in my eyes — which makes it even more seductive and hot. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to compare it to the height of foreplay, instead of anything more… climactic, shall we say. Hard Leather’s subsequent journey into the depths of a dark, smoky forest undergoing a drought is hardly as appealing, but the creamy, sweetened warmth of the final stage takes us back to bed, with a couple now sleeping off the after-effects of both stages in a haze of sandalwood, oud, and sweet muskiness. 

Unfortunately, none of this comes cheaply. From what I’ve gathered, and from my early taste of the 2014 LM Parfums fragrances that I tried in Paris, Laurent Mazzone’s new Intimacy Collection seeks to focus on more complex, sophisticated scents based on the most expensive of ingredients. Hard Leather is the first in that collection, and it is priced accordingly at €295. (The current extraits perfumes are €195, a €100 less.) I don’t know what the American price will be when it eventually hits these shores and comes to Osswald in New York, but €295 is $400 at today’s rate of exchange. On the other hand, Hard Leather is also pure parfum in concentration, and there is a 100 ml of it. It smells expensive; it includes incredibly costly ingredients like aged Laotian oud, iris, and, more importantly, rare, almost extinct Mysore sandalwood; and a single spray has great potency and longevity.

I’m the first one to decry perfumes that are over-priced for what they are, but I think you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with Hard Leather. It is worth every penny. In fact, if the perfume consisted solely of that smoking hot, steamy opening, but cost twice as much, I’d contemplate selling a kidney to buy it. My God, that opening… that opening…. I don’t know if I should take a freezing cold shower, or just spray on some more. 

Disclosure: sample provided by LM Parfums. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is honesty to my readers. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Hard Leather is pure parfum extrait that is available only in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle which costs €295. It was released just today, 12/04/13, online, at LM Parfums. Samples of all LM Parfums extraits are usually available and priced at €19 for 5 ml size, and I see Hard Leather is also listed as of 12/14. Laurent Mazzone’s Premiere Avenue now has a decant of Hard Leather for that price as well. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances are sold exclusively at Osswald NYC, but they informed me on Twitter that they won’t receive Hard Leather until January 2014. I will try to update this post when they do. Outside the U.S.: You can find Hard Leather, along with all LM Parfums, and 5 ml samples of each at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue which ships throughout Europe. Hard Leather is not yet offered in decant form, but you can check back later as the perfume was just released today.  In the UK, the LM Parfums line is exclusive to Harvey Nichols. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. In the Netherlands, you can find LM Parfums at ParfuMaria or Silks Cosmetics. In Germany, First in Fragrance carries the full line, and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume site. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.

New Perfume Release: LM Parfums Hard Leather

As fate would have it, this morning I received the press release for LM Parfums‘ new fragrance, Hard Leather. Just yesterday, I talked about my overall impressions of the perfume which I got to test in Paris a few weeks ago, and absolutely loved. Hard Leather is set to launch in a few weeks, in November 2013. While I don’t have an exact date yet, I do have the notes and concentration of the perfume. [Update: The perfume has released and I have a full review of it. I have also placed it on my Best of 2013 list.]

I thought I’d post the full photographic press release instead of just writing out the text. I think the visuals are sexy and very sleekly cool, and I’m not just saying that because black is my favorite colour.

LM Parfums Hard Leather

LM Parfums Hard Leather 2

LM Parfums Hard Leather 3

LM Parfums HL 4

So, in short, the notes in Hard Leather are:

Rum, Leather, Iris, Honey, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oud, Frankincense, Styrax and Vanilla.

Hard Leather is an extrait (or pure parfum) in concentration and comes in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. LM Parfums’ extrait line usually costs $225 or €195, with the company offering 5 ml decants for €19. I don’t have pricing for Hard Leather, but I assume it will be in the same range. The line is available in the U.S. at OsswaldNY, and Hard Leather should be no exception. In Europe and elsewhere, you can buy LM Parfums directly from Laurent Mazzone’s website, as well as from numerous retailers. Links to online vendors who generally carry the line are below.

DETAILS:
In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances used to be European exclusives, but the range just came to America two months ago. It’s sold exclusively at OsswaldNYC, with samples available for purchase by telephone order. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can buy the perfumes directly from LM Parfums. (There is also this other LM Parfums site.) Samples are available for €14 or €19, depending on the perfume in question and its concentration, and they come in a good 5 ml size. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is carried exclusively at Harvey Nichols. In France, you can find the perfumes, and 5 ml samples of each at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. Germany’s First in Fragrance carries the full line and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Netherlands, you can find LM Parfums at Silks Cosmeticsor Parfumaria. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume retailer. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.

Paris Perfumers: Laurent Mazzone & LM Parfums

Fate, planning, and a little bit of serendipity gave me the chance to meet with three, very different, Paris perfumers during my trip. Actually, to be completely precise, one is primarily based in Grenoble, and one is an actual nose/creator, while the other two are more technically considered as perfume creators with their own houses. Semantics aside, I had a marvelous time with each one, and thought I’d share a little bit of the experience, each of which was very different but utterly memorable. Today, the focus will be Laurent Mazzone and some of the LM Parfums that I tried, including some gorgeous upcoming, new releases slated for November 2013 and early 2014.

LAURENT MAZZONE & LM PARFUMS:

Hotel Costes. Source: hotel-costes.semuz.com

Hotel Costes. Source: hotel-costes.semuz.com

The Hotel Costes on the Rue St. Honoré in Paris is perhaps the pinnacle of stylish, ne plus ultra, sophisticated cool. Velvet, opulence and excess are the bywords for the decor inside, but one of the main attractions is the indoor courtyard. And what a scene it is! Imagine a large, covered, indoor courtyard surrounded on high by Roman statues and greenery. At its pristine, white tables covered with crystal glasses, an array of pencil-thin, black-clad, social x-rays — draped in ennui as much as in Hermès — pose stylishly on thin, black chairs. Their fragile bones seem likely to be crushed by the great effort of lifting their cigarettes. And they’ve clearly followed the mantra and example of Anna Wintour, Vogue’s “Nuclear Winter” editor-in-chief, when it comes to haughtiness. Their male counterparts are all tanned, in dark suits with crisp white shirts that are opened a few buttons, and fixated on their cellphones as they sip a glass of chilled white wine with one well-shod limb elegantly crossed over the other. All around are a phalanx of haughty waiters, many of whom seem to be aspiring models, who look down their noses at your from their great height and seem almost offended that you’ve bothered them with a request. (Or perhaps they’ve simply got issues with people who ask for ice, or for directions to the loo? At the very least, they’ve got issues with a variety of things, and need a serious attitude adjustment.)

Hotel Costes courtyard. Source: lefigaro.fr. photo : DR.

Hotel Costes courtyard. Source: lefigaro.fr. photo : DR.

Outside the Hotel Costes. Photo: my own.

Outside the Hotel Costes. Photo: my own.

As I walked up to the hotel from the aristocratic, luxurious Place Vendome just around the corner, a large chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce was idling, and a bodyguard talking into his microphone. The chauffeur stood in the middle of the road with the famous Chopard jewellers behind him. Hovering like a gaggle of geese, outside and in, were extremely tall, elegantly clad women whose clothing, looks, and attitude marked them as somehow being involved in Paris Fashion Week which was ending the next day (October 2nd).

It was into this overly hip, excessively cool, “in” scene that I arrived — sleep-deprived, with my voice half-gone from the early part of my trip, and feeling rather bedraggled, if truth be told. I was scheduled to meet Laurent Mazzone and Fabienne, the international business agent for LM Parfums, whose incredibly warm, sweet, and friendly emails had resulted in this meeting. We had begun communicating just a few days before my departure and after my enthusiastic, extremely positive review for LM Parfums‘ gorgeous Sensual Orchid.

As luck would have it, Laurent Mazzone was going to be in Paris for the fashion shows. He had greatly enjoyed the thoroughness of my review (happily, my verboseness seems to a positive thing for some people!), and invited me for drinks. When I warned Fabienne that my French was rusty and that I hadn’t spoken it consistently in almost 20 years, she offered to come along as well. (It was just as well because, despite her opinion that I wasn’t at all rusty, I most definitely am! Plus, in the fog of my exhaustion, I often blanked out on words or phrases. Merci, Fabienne, for saving my linguistic hide.)

Laurent Mazzone and Fabienne during Moscow Fashion Week 2013. Source: annarusska.ru

Laurent Mazzone and Fabienne during Moscow Fashion Week 2013. Source: annarusska.ru

I found Laurent and Fabienne easily, sitting at a couple of tables in the corner along with Laurent’s partner, and was greeted with kisses and even a hug. Laurent Mazzone is a very dapper, youngish man in his early ’30s (I think), with a cherubic face, a naughty gleam in his mischievous, warm, brown eyes, and a big grin. He has an enormously exuberant personality, which I loved, and endless passion. Yet, he is also extremely serious when it comes to the subject of perfumery, and has a true commitment to the idea of making luxurious, sensuous perfumes in the grand tradition, but with a modern feel. There was enormous sensitivity in those brown eyes when listening to my comments about some of his line, sometimes followed by a huge, infectious smile from ear to ear when he saw that I understood and appreciated their nature.

Source: uae.souq.com

Patchouli Boheme. Source: uae.souq.com

He had brought a chic, black, and black-ribboned, LM Parfums bag of what I thought would be perfume samples. They turned out to be actual, full, 100 ml bottles of 3 of his fragrances: Ambre Muscadin, Patchouli Boheme, and the new, limited-edition, Chemise Blanche. Yet, despite my patchouli and amber obsession, I never tested any of those perfumes that day and, instead, ended up trying his forthcoming, new perfume, Hard Leather.

Hard Leather will be released in November, and I can’t wait because I absolutely loved it! In fact, I think I may have yelped or cried out rather loudly upon sniffing it because, suddenly, some tables of black-clad, haughty Parisians were turning around with raised eyebrows. I didn’t care, and I think I may have hugged Mr. Mazzone at one point over Hard Leather because it was (and is) absolutely fantastic. Mr. Mazzone describes it as an “animalic leather” that, to my opinion at least, isn’t particularly animalic or aggressive after the opening 10 minutes, but, instead, much more beautifully well-rounded and warm. It might be “animalic” by French standards, but I don’t think it is generally or as a whole, and especially not by Middle Eastern or Amouage standards.

Hard Leather has its musky side to be sure, but it’s primarily woody, sweet, rich, spicy, ambered, and incredibly sensual. From the first sniff, I could instantly tell that there was oud from Laos in it, with its own very unique, aged character, but what I liked about this version of it is that it didn’t smell fecal like so many fragrances that use that particular Laotian wood. Even better, there is none of that revolting Gorgonzola or cheese undertone that very aged Laotian oud can sometimes have. Soon after the agarwood announces itself, there is a burst of pungent civet which quickly calms down (in less than ten minutes), and melts into the rich, well-blended, richly burnished whole.

In essence, Hard Leather smells like your boyfriend’s leather jacket, lightly mixed with his musky scent, along with deep, almost honeyed, slightly smoky oud, and a vague tinge of floral sweetness, atop a base of ambered warmth. At times, it seemed to share some kinship with Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque, which is one of my absolute favorite Lutens fragrances, but there are clear differences in smell. Even apart from the oud, Hard Leather has a little more edge at first, and is significantly more woody. It also seems to have a different (and much smaller) floral vein running through it. I can’t remember the rest of the notes that Laurent later told me about, but, if memory serves me correctly, there is iris absolute in Hard Leather as well. [UPDATE 10/17/13 – I have the official press release for Hard Leather with its sleek graphics and the full list of notes in the perfume.]

I also can’t recall the name of the perfumer with whom Laurent worked, but I laughed at his description of the process whereby he kept telling the nose to put in “more. More, more, more!” Not only is such a comment completely in keeping with Mr. Mazzone’s character, intensity and passion, but the perfume really has deep richness. I was so crazy about Hard Leather that Mr. Mazzone sent his friend up to their rooms to get his own small decant to give me as a gift, which resulted in a further exuberant outburst that undoubtedly horrified the Hotel Costes’ snobs, but too bad. This is such a fantastic perfume! I will do a review closer to the perfume’s launch date, but I’m telling guys, in particular, and women who like masculine, woody or leather scents: you need to check this one out.

Source: Silkcosmetics.nl

Some, but not all, of the LM Parfums line. Source: Silkcosmetics.nl

What I love about LM Parfums is that they are luxurious, sensuous, full-bodied, and rich. Hard Leather, unlike most of the perfumes from the line, is an extrait de parfum (only three of the current LM Parfums have that concentration), and clocks in at 20% perfume oil. All the perfumes, however, have an opulence that really harkens back to the golden age of perfumery. They’re not fuddy-duddy, old or dated in smell, but Laurent is clearly driven by his love for the classic perfume greats. These fragrances all feel like actual, serious perfumes — they proclaim their richness and luxurious nature without hesitation, announce their presence, and feel no shame over the fact that they are both perfume and French in nature.

Yet, the thing I found with Sensual Orchid and Hard Leather is that their richness contrasts with a surprising airiness in feel. These are not opaque, thick perfumes by any means! Based on what I’ve tested thus far from the line, even the sillage drops after about 2-3 hours to hover somewhat discretely just an inch or so above the skin. The perfumes are potent when smelled up close and linger, but they aren’t battleships of heaviness with nuclear projection that trails you for hours. (In all honestly, I wish they were like that, but I realise that my personal tastes are not the modern style, and that ’80s-style powerhouses are rarely made today.) Still, LM Parfums are all very French in feel or spirit. Mr. Mazzone mentioned a number of the perfume legends, like Guerlain’s Mitsouko, for example, and how he wants his perfumes to reflect the same sort of sophisticated complexity with layers of nuance.

His philosophy certainly shows in Hard Leather, but also in another upcoming fragrance called Army of Lovers. It is a chypre and, honestly, this is a true chypre! None of that neo-chypre or wanna-be, pretend, quasi-chypre business. (Le Labo’s Ylang 49, I’m looking straight at you with your revolting purple patchouli!) No, this is an actual, genuine chypre with an amount of oakmoss absolute that you have to smell to believe. It’s beautiful, very elegant, and reeks of class. It was created by Mr. Mazzone with a Robertet nose (I think) whose name I have now forgotten, and the perfume name references a Swedish group that Mr. Mazzone loves. I have to wonder if there will be any trademark issues in using the same name, but the perfume won’t be released until 2014, so I’m sure he has time to work out any problems that may arise.

I wish I could recall the notes in Army of Lovers, but all I remember now is how impressed I was with its elegance. At one point, I had Hard Leather on one shoulder or bicep, and Army of Lovers on the other — and I may have uttered a rather strangled, guttural moan. I certainly did something very loudly that seemed to have (further) shocked the constipated denizens of the Hotel Costes, and I saw a very disapproving gleam in our server’s eyes when he stopped by next. At this point, I most definitely did not care. Laurent Mazzone was spraying me with glee, and then himself, and we were standing up to sniff each other publicly without the slightest bit of thought to those around. I might have entered a slight fugue state at one point as the potent chypre of Army of Lovers, and the spicy, oriental, animalic leather-oud warmth of Hard Leather billowed out around me. I may have this incorrectly, but if I recall, I think Laurent Mazzone stated that Ambre Muscadin and Patchouli Boheme are two of the main corner stones or representational fragrances from his line. I suspect that either Hard Leather, Army of Lovers, or both will be soon joining them.

In telling you all this, I’m being completely honest. Just as I am when I say that there were some things I smelled that day that were not my cup of tea at all. Very well-made, and beautifully blended, yes, but most definitely not my personal style. Mr. Mazzone sprayed me with something and — blame my usual bluntness or, perhaps, massive sleep-deprivation — I instinctively recoiled, my whole body jerked back, and I grimaced. It was some floral fragrance with purple, fruity patchouli and a synthetic element. So much purple, sweetness, and fruitiness! I had blocked out the name entirely due to my sheer horror, but, in looking over the list of names in the LM line now, I suspect it was O de Soupirs.** If I recall correctly, Mr. Mazzone described its feeling or inspiration as something a woman would wear before going to a rendezvous with her lover. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out something along the lines of “Absolutely not! This is for a 14-year old girl!” (Oh God, now that I’m remembering more of the day, I think I even tried to rub it off my arm with a napkin!)  ** [UPDATE: it turns out the fragrance I didn’t like was a new, upcoming, not-yet-released perfume called Lost Paradise. It will be launched in 2014. — Further Update 1/29/14: the name has been changed to Ultimate Seduction. ]

I usually try to be more tactful and polite, so I’m quite chagrined at my rudeness, but I really couldn’t help the outburst or my instinctive, gut-level reaction. There was a pause in the conversation, and Mr. Mazzone blinked, but he was extremely gracious about it, though there was a hurt look in his sensitive eyes. I tried to explain that I was always very honest in my opinions, and that my candour should let him know that I was quite sincere in my raves for the other two perfumes. He actually seemed to like that a lot, but he’s also incredibly polite, so perhaps I’m just hoping that he put it all into context.

Even before this incident, Mr. Mazzone had quickly caught onto my personal tastes, which strongly mirror his own, so it wasn’t a surprise when he immediately noted that I would very much dislike another perfume that he had included in the very generous “samples.” It was the new, recently released but limited-edition Chemise Blanche which — unlike its siblings — is not done in a black, velvet box imprinted with the LM Parfums logo. It’s also not in one of the black bottles that Mr. Mazzone has intentionally made almost just barely opaque, but not quite. He was concerned that perfume owners would not be able to see how much was left in their bottle if it was a solid black, so he specifically had the glass done in a way which would show how much liquid was left if the bottle was held up to the light. I loved the thoughtfulness and attention to detail involved in that, especially as the issue of remaining quantity is a problem that I always have with my old, jet-black bottle of Fracas.

Chemise BlancheInstead, Chemise Blanche is in a clear, glass bottle and in a white velvet box. The reason Mr. Mazzone was sure I would dislike it is because it is very much the opposite of my favorites from his line: it’s a perfume centered around aldehydes and citruses. To me, it very much evokes something crystalline in visuals, almost Alpine, if you will: white, pure, clear, airy, and very light in feel, despite being an extrait in concentration. According to Fragrantica, the notes include:

aldehydes, bergamot, mandarin, iris, lily of the valley, rose, benzoin, tonka, amber and musk.

To my surprise, given my loathing for aldehydes, the note was much tamer than I had expected but, alas, even Mr. Mazzone admitted that Chemise Blanche smelled of soap and dishwashing liquid on my skin. (By now, sniffing yet my another portion of my shoulder, we were really receiving some strange looks!) Chemise Blanche is not my style at all, and my skin is always a huge problem when it comes to aldehydes, but I freely admit that the perfume is very well-done. Actually, with a few wearings, I occasionally persuaded myself that Chemise Blanche might almost be something I would opt for if I were looking for a crisp, light, gauzy perfume with a citric edge. Almost. I’m wearing Hard Leather as I write this, and I doubt I would ever go for crystal white when I could have shades of richly burnished brown, red, black and amber instead!

Nonetheless, Chemise Blanche turned out to be quite a hit with my friend with whom I was staying and who has very difficult perfume tastes. It’s not only that she is someone whose tastes are the polar opposite of mine; it’s also that she finds almost everything to be “too sweet” or “too strong.” She recoils in horror at even the slightest bit of Orientalism or spice, isn’t a huge fan of most pure florals, and adores airy, light, clean and citrusy fragrances. Even in that last category, however, she thinks the vast majority are “too sweet.” (It was quite interesting going perfume-shopping with her one day! No matter what citrus fragrance I found for her, almost all were rejected and, in a few cases, deemed to be “too masculine” as well.) Chemise Blanche, however, smelled lovely on her skin, and she seemed almost convinced that it wasn’t the dreaded, verboten “sweet.” (It is not. Not even remotely!) So, I left her a large decant for her to test out while she decides if it is full-bottle worthy. 

Laurent Mazzone. Source: unique.ru.com

Laurent Mazzone. Source: unique.ru.com

All in all, I had an absolutely wonderful time meeting Laurent Mazzone, his partner, and Fabienne. They were incredibly warm, friendly, effusive, generous, and filled with life. It was truly fun, whether we were laughing over Mr. Mazzone’s astringent views on some of the Paris Fashion Week collections, sniffing each other publicly, or having passionately robust discussions about the state of perfumery in the past versus today.

You know, all perfumers talk or claim that they put a little bit of themselves or their personalities within each fragrance, but it’s not always true. Commercial perfumery certainly doesn’t have that, and neither do some purportedly “niche” lines. Yet, in sniffing the various LM Parfums, I can actually and genuinely see a little bit of Mr. Mazzone in most of them. There is a quietly refined, passionate lustiness or sensuality in the ones that I’ve tried — whether it’s the overtly sexy Sensual Orchid, the smooth, sweetened, goldenness of Ambre Muscadin, the hugely smoky Patchouli Boheme with its almost mesquite-like opening, or the more masculine Hard Leather — that really seems to epitomize different parts of the gregarious, outgoing, exuberantly passionate man I met. Chemise Blanche seems to be an anomaly, at least to me personally, in terms of that character assessment theory, but the line certainly carries something for everyone and its clean crispness should definitely appeal to some modern tastes.

I may end up doing a proper review for Chemise Blanche down the line, but I definitely plan to cover Patchouli Boheme and Ambre Muscadin. Hard Leather as well, when it is released next month. In the meantime, if you have the chance to try any LM Parfums, do give them a sniff. The line is now in the U.S., and is no longer exclusive to Europe. Plus, Osswald in New York has a very affordable deal on samples which should make testing quite easy. For readers in Europe, the line is not hard to find, and LM Parfums sells 5 ml decants at a very reasonable price (€14 or €19). As for me, I suddenly fell upon the genius idea of layering Sensual Orchid with Hard Leather on occasion, and now, I really have to get my hands on a proper decant of both. The people at the Hotel Costes are lucky they’re not around to witness my reaction….

[UPDATE: I have now reviewed Ambre Muscadin and Hard Leather, with shopping information and pricing information provided in the appropriate reviews.]

Disclosure: Some of the perfumes covered in this post were, as noted, provided by LM Parfums. There was no financial compensation for any of this. I don’t do paid reviews or posts, and my views are my own. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: LM Parfums always come in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. The European price is generally either €120 (€125 at some online vendors), or €195 (or £195). The American retail price is either $175 or $225. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances used to be European exclusives, but the range just came to America two months ago. It’s sold exclusively at OsswaldNYC. For some strange reason, the website seems to show only two fragrances now, and not all the ones it had earlier when I reviewed Sensual Orchid. In terms of samples, none of the U.S. perfume sample sites currently carry the LM Parfums line, but Osswald has a special deal for all its perfumes for U.S. customers who telephone the store: 10 samples for $10, with free shipping in the U.S., and it’s for any perfumes that they stock! That means the full, existing, current LM Parfums line (or whatever parts they may now carry of it), and some other goodies only found at OsswaldNY, for less than a $1 a vial! The deal is only available for telephone orders, however, so you have to call (212) 625-3111. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can buy the perfumes directly from LM Parfums for €125 or €195. (At this other LM Parfums site, some of the bottles are priced at €120.) Samples are also available for €14 or €19, depending on the perfume in question and its concentration, and they come in a good 5 ml size. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is carried exclusively at Harvey Nichols. In France, you can find the perfumes, and 5 ml samples of each (usually about €14) at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. Germany’s First in Fragrance carries the full line and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Netherlands, you can find LM Parfums at Silks Cosmetics or Parfumaria. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume retailer. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.