Cuir De Lancome is a reinterpretation of the classic 1936 fragrance, Revolte by Lancome. Armand Petitjean founded Lancome in 1935, launching the brand at the Brussels Universal Fair. His collection included five fragrances said to appeal to women from different continents, Tropiques, Tendres Nuits, Kypre, Bocages and Conquete. Petitjean previously worked under Francois Coty but separated after a disagreement taking with him Coty’s studio head and chemist. Revolte was launched the following year and was renamed in 1939, simply to Cuir. Revolte was considered too provocative given the political climate of the time and it was a name that did not fit the luxury image Petitjean wanted to communicate. In 2007 Lancome celebrated seventy years of perfume history marking the occasion with the launch of La Collection. This was a series of re-releases from the Lancome archives. Calice Becker who authored the Kilian collection and Pauline Zanoni were asked to reinterpret Cuir as part of the series. Their creation was short-lived as Cuir De Lancome disappeared from La Collection and at the last minute was pulled altogether from the American launch. Rumour has it the re-edition became too costly to produce.
It is generally agreed that Becker and Zanoni re-engineered Cuir for a contemporary audience. Most modern women would find classic leather fragrances harder to wear being raised on soft florals and sparkling musks. Women’s leather fragrances are much more attractive to me than the men’s which are often cliché smelling of lavender and saddle soap. Cuir De Lancome is an example of a women’s fragrance that smells great on men. Modern leathers often take you on a safari of exotic ingredients, thick resins and unusual spices. Oud wood and leather pairings are currently very en vogue. Lancome’s Cuir is a much more traditional affair. It doesn’t hold much in the way of sparkling citrus top notes. Mandarin and bergamot are used to modify a floral accord of ylang ylang, jasmine, hawthorn and iris. Saffron adds an interesting effect towards the start of the fragrance until the heavier notes come into focus. Styrax has a caramelizing effect on the leather accord that contains birch and patchouli. Leather fragrances can sometime feel cold and unfriendly, like the feeling of slipping into a leather jacket on a winter morning. The leather takes time to warm against your skin. Lancome’s Cuir is more like entering a car in summer, the sting of hot leather on your bare skin.
Cuir De Lancome for men is a quirky fragrance choice. On an older man it could be perceived as old fashioned and this vintage scent may not fit the context of a younger wearer. On the right man, used sparingly it can create a subtle scent suitable for the office and evenings in winter. If you are an adventurous male when it comes to your choice of scent, this one is well worth exploring if you get the chance to sample the remaining bottles that are slowly disappearing from the market.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Al Oudh, Montale Oudh Leather, Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman, Chanel Cuir De Russie, Lanvin Scandale, Santa Maria Novella Peau d’Espagne
Perfumer: Alexandra Kosinki, Calice Asancheyev-Becker (Givaudan – Quest)
Bottle designer: George Delhomme, Serge Mansau (Exergue)
Release date: 2007 (first edition 1939)
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Dry Woods