Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SOTD: Chanel Cuir de Russie (Les Exclusifs, EDT)

Head and shoulders of Katharine Hepburn, from The Philadelphia Story, looking severe and serious.
I had high expectations of Cuir de Russie. It's fulfilled them. I want some and I want it now.

This one has been discussed and described so well in so many reviews - see the roundup down there? - that I have nothing new to offer. But that won't stop me.

To my nose, it's all about leather - elegant, fine leather. Soft gloves and well-used bags and well-aged leather upholstery. Upholstery in a luxurious and well-aged car, the kind that ambles along at a deceptively decorous pace until its owner suddenly decides to show off the engine, and then the car is quietly gone with barely a puff of smoke to mark where it was. That kind of leather.

Iris takes second billing. I didn't take to iris immediately, back when I started on this perfume freakery path. I disliked it, and then I tolerated it, and I'm finally learning to like it. I definitely like it here, even the nuts-and-pencil-erasers beginning.

And am I actually liking amber? There's a powdery sweetness late in the development that's lovely, mixed with vanilla. So, maybe I am.

There are other things in here. According to The Perfumed Court, the top notes are orange blossom, bergamot, mandarin, and clary sage, the middle notes are iris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, and vetiver, and the base notes are styrax, leather, amber, and vanilla. I'm not getting even one of the floral and fresh notes. But that's all the more reason to try this one again and again, until I do get them.

But all that is just about how it smells, not how it feels. It feels luxurious. Elegant. Self-assured; it's not the least bit eager to please. This isn't a woman that works and frets to be beautiful; it's a woman who's blessed with beauty and elegance without even trying, and accepts those blessings as her due. Not an altogether likable character, perhaps, but you still can't look away.

Review Roundup: Bois de Jasmin and Now Smell This and PereDePierre and 1000 Fragrances and One Thousand Scents and Grain de Musc and Perfume Shrine and Fragrantica and Basenotes and Suite101 and MakeupAlley and WAFT and Polish, Platforms, Perfume and hortus conclusus and ScentsOfSelf and Perfume Patter and Scent Of The Day.

Link Roundup: Les Tuileries and The Vintage Perfume Vault and hortus conclusus and parfumieren and The Perfume Chronicles.

(Edited to add to the Review Roundup.)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


  1. I'm such a snot about leather-- one of those smells that I love in real life, but when it gets put into perfume, it just goes fumey to me-- I start smelling the tallow and the processing, rather than the hide itself.

    I, for one, love Cuir de Russie-- it's one of the very few that I've found (so far) where the leather element is in balance with the rest of the surrounding elements. And CdR smells soft to me-- so very soft, like the finest suede. I love it!

    Saw you over at Avery's house-- nice to get to know you, and thanks for putting me up on your blog list! I like your links round-up section-- showing your research-- nice touch!


  2. Hiya! Welcome to the blog! And thanks!

    I like a number of leathers, but I fear that Cuir de Russie may have raised my standards. It's rich and soft and, I agree, balanced, but it also has _enough_ leather. The leather didn't fade away on me and make me want to respray, the way polite leather fragrances usually do.

  3. Well, hey, my comment worked for the first time on the Sushi Imp post... I'll try this one again, too.

    I may be utterly alone in not liking CdR. I love the leather in vtg No 19; I adore Jolie Madame, edt or parfum, vtg or no (although the weather has to be *just right* for it to not wear ME). And I tend to like most of the classic Chanels - so I was very disappointed to find a larger-than-life, realistic barnyard in CdR.

    I live on a farm; we raise beef cattle. Cuir de Russie smells to me not like leather seats in a luxury automobile, or the handbag on the arm of a woman carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers (that's Jolie Madame), but EXACTLY like our working pens: Dirt. The dusty-furry smell of live animals. Something medicinal, like the dewormer we give the cattle, or the iodine we put on the umbilical cords of new calves. Even raw, untanned cowhide.

    That's what I got out of CdR, and I'm jealous of people who smell leather upholstery. Curses.

  4. That's interesting, and I did see a similar take in one of the reviews (maybe one of the Basenotes reviews?)

    Actually, I may be getting it too, to some extent. That is, I do get the scent of _leather_ from Cuir de Russie, of actual animal. I get that same feel from Bandit - there, it's a big contented clean but slightly sweaty cat. In the sun.

    And I don't get it from Daim Blond - there it's more the "chemicals used to treat leather" scent. Even though I love Daim Blond, I don't really get any animal from it.



  5. Hey CF-- Thanks for having my back over at Avery's-- nice one-two punch there! (I thought I'd thank you in the relative safety of your own website-- it can get kinda snarky--> nasty over there...) Cheers!

    P.S. The squiggly word I have to type in to prove I'm not a computer? "Uprinate."

  6. Sure! And thanks!

    Heh. That's an entertaining one.