Monday, February 15, 2010

SOTD: Lancome Cuir de Lancome

Based on positive recommendations from some of you fine folks, I snagged this - another reissued classic - when it turned up at a bargain price on Amazon. I finally got my chance to wear it today, and I'm going to need more than one wearing to finish wrapping my mind around it. But when did confusion ever stop me from posting?

My first reaction was that it's feminine. Extremely feminine. This is a lady's scent, a lady who puts herself together with care. Problem is, I can't place where the strong feminine vibe comes from. Leather tends to be daring rather than ladylike, and there is plenty of leather, a rather harsh version for the first few hours. It's as if the leather were a jewel mistakenly placed in an elegantly girly-baroque setting of other notes - a setting that was perhaps designed for a killer indolic floral, but one that turned out to suit the substitution beautifully.

My second reaction is that this is a back-of-the-neck scent, which is why I'm going to have to wear it again to feel that I've really tried it even once. I usually test a fragrance for the first time with nose-to-skin sniffing, and that doesn't work for this one. The leather was too harsh, the spices too, well, spicy. It was aggressive, nearly headache-inducing, when experienced up close.

But the whiffs, as I move, are lovely. Soft but rich and, again, feminine. A very pulled-together feminine - this scent wears high heels, owns a string of real pearls, and never sets foot outside the bedroom without doing her hair. But she's not as distant and elegant as Chanel Cuir de Russie - she's just a nice, friendly, pretty woman. In the movies, she's the one that you want the hero to end up with, because you know that she's better for him than that icy society vamp.

The notes list for Cuir de Lancome includes top notes of bergamot, mandarin, and saffron, middle notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang, hawthorn, and patchouli, and base notes of iris, birch, and styrax. I read that list and nod, and agree that it makes sense - I'd expect richness, and bitterness, and a little resinous darkness, from all that, and that's what I get. But I can't actually pick out even one of those notes - and that'll make it all the more fun to wear again.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Basenotes and The Non-Blonde and 1000 Fragrances and Perfume Shrine (old and new) and mossyloomings and MakeupAlley and Bois de Jasmin (brief mention) and Perfume-Smellin' Things (the original) and Perfume Posse and PeredePierre and WAFT and OpenLettersMonthly (scroll down).

(Edited to rewrite the whole post, because I didn't like it the first time. I'm flighty that way.)

Photo of Myrna Loy and William Powell: Wikimedia Commons.
Brooch photo: By mockbird. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Heyyyyy... you know what they say about great minds. I just posted a review of this one this morning (while waiting for the kids to head off to school on a 2-hour delay, FINALLY).

    I read Cuir as a very Proper Lady scent, too - I think it's that hint of face powder (the orris? the jasmine?). But I didn't get any spices at all; the saffron here is doing that suede impression.

    You know, probably I like Cuir because it's not very leathery. It seems very pleasantly smoky to me.

  2. I do get a fair bit of spice and leather and potent floral notes, and I agree that it can be overpowering close up. Your picture exactly illustrates the sort of Proper Lady I envisage wearing this - is her hair actually in a snood, btw? Because if not, a snood wearer is the precise target market for this scent.

    And it has ylang ylang, and saffron! How did I miss that??

  3. Hey, Mals! I went and burbled on your blog. Yep, I get the powder, too, though there's something deeper and darker that makes the girly - or, really, womanly - vibe for me. I don't get any smoke - I get a mood similar to smoke, the same intense-but-airy feel, the same intrusiveness (in a good way), but I don't actually read it as smoke.

    flittersniffer, I can't tell if it's a snood, but it certainly has the right outline and mood. This scent and most of Myrna Loy's characters seem to be a good personality match - feminine, elegant, intelligent but with humor and warmth.

    BTW, Myrna Loy is also the chilly-elegant-vamp "shrink into his shoes with one raised eyebrow" photograph in my Terre D'Hermes post. ( She's a chameleon.

  4. O-kaaay. Nervous about all things leather, but on the strength of Mals's and your fine recs, into the shopping basket it goes!!

  5. Woohoo! I hope you like it, LCN.