You better hold onto your seats because I’m not in a good mood. In fact, I’m in a distinctly vile mood, thanks to Noble Leather, a new fragrance from YSL that was released last month in very limited distribution.
Ignoble Noble Leather is one of three scents in the new Oriental Collection that is meant to honour the brilliant Yves St. Laurent himself.
All I have to say to that is that the poor man would cry in his grave if he smelled this fragrance. He happens to have been a personal idol of mine, a man I practically worshiped in my youth, and whose creations were once a huge part of my life in numerous different ways. He would cry at the toxic horror that is Noble Leather, and I would join him — if I didn’t feel like taking a sword and stabbing it through L’Oreal‘s heart.
The most common, frequent description of Noble Leather lies through its teeth when it states:
Yves Saint Laurent has drawn its inspiration from the splendours of the East to give birth to an exceptional collection. In honour of its creator and his never-ending passion for the elsewhere, the Oriental Collection celebrates the mysteries and refinement of a land of infinite richness. The potent and deep scent of leather fervently states its case and whispers an elegant, raw and carnal sensuality. The ambery wood accord embraces languid vanilla and the earthy scents of patchouli before giving way to intermingling tanned leathers. Enhanced by a dash of bright saffron notes and softened by the candied sweetness of the dried fruit accord, this skin-deep fragrance leaves an unforgettable impression.
The most complete and detailed information I found for the fragrance comes from Ozmoz. It states that Noble Leather was created by Julie Massé of Mane, and it provides both a description of the bottle and the full list of notes:
Sensual and animalic, Noble Leather is a fragrance in Yves Saint Laurent’s Oriental Collection line. Inspired by the mysteries of the Orient, the collection is an invitation to travel. Noble Leather is composed around a leather accord that’s sweetened with dried-fruit notes. The cubic bottle is sheathed in gold and nestles in a golden box inspired by an Oriental palace. Available from selected points of sale only.
Top : Violet Blossom, Saffron, Tangerine
Heart : Tobacco, Leather, Dried Fruit
Base : Vanilla, Patchouli
A pack of lies, if you ask me. Nothing in this fragrance “celebrates the mysteries and refinement of a land of infinite richness.” What it celebrates are laboratory concoctions. An invitation to travel? Where? To see the scientists at work in the bowels of Givaudan creating vats of cheap Norlimbanol, the ISO E-like Kephalis, cheap purple fruit-chouli, and Safraleine? As for the Orient, bah! It would join Mr. St. Laurent in weeping copious tears of shame that its name has been linked to this over-priced, outrageous hot mess. At least one of them should sue for defamation.
And L’Oreal, you should be utterly ashamed at what you’ve done to the Yves St. Laurent name, a name that was once highly respected, and my own personal favorite amidst all the perfume houses. For shame. FOR SHAME, you revolting, mercenary creatures. Stop picking at the Yves St. Laurent carcass, like the maggoty, mangy, flea-ridden vultures that you are. Haven’t you done enough with the emasculated eunuch and abomination that is the current Opium?
I suppose I should get to what this vile horror smells like, but I’ve been trying to put off revisiting the memory from sheer misery. Well, Noble Leather opens like a toxic cloud of chemical napalm on my skin. There is a momentary pop of saffron, rich rose, and then a powerful, unexpected burst of an oud-y woodiness, followed by a tidal wave of synthetics. That artificial “oud” is highly peppered and dry, to the point that it feels prickly, spiky, and almost sulphurous. It actually doesn’t smell like the real wood, but my brain is clearly making the connections between the chemicals that often accompany agarwood in fragrances like Montale’s Aouds, and interpreting it as “oud.” Only here, it smells like a really bad, cheap version of Montale’s “oud” — which says something….
In these opening minutes, it is genuinely difficult for me to detect much in Noble Leather behind the deluge of chemicals that are, alternatively, profoundly peppered, aggressively sharp, sulphurously smoky, prickly, and syrupy sweet. My nose is pounding from some sort of piercing dryness, while a sudden pain shoots behind my left eye. But, eh, I’m generally used to such things when there is a gallon of synthetics involved, no matter how miserable the experience. What I’m significantly less used to is the feeling that someone has taken the edge of a sharp kitchen knife and scraped it all along the back of my throat. It feels raw, scratchy, and then it starts to burn. What the hell is in this bloody perfume?!
It is a rhetorical question because I actually recall the unpleasant medley of toxic chemical smells from a prior experience, though it had been faint in comparison then and it never — ever — triggered a reaction like this. This smell that is almost like ISO E Super, but not quite; this olfactory cocktail that begins with a slightly astringent (and quite oud-like) note, before quickly radiating a spiky, smoked, highly peppered cedary dryness, with amber and the vaguest undertone of leather — this medley feels extremely familiar.
Early this summer, I came across a discussion about the synthetic aromachemicals, Kephalis and Norlimbanol on the blog, Scent Intoxique. I am forever indebted to Duke Hunt whose invaluable description taught me to recognize the cocktail of synthetics that I detect here (only Noble Leather has them amped up on steroids, if you ask me). In his review for Nasomatto’s Black Afgano, Duke Hunt wrote:
Straight out of the bong you’re greeted with a dense aroma chemical sucker punch made up of synthetic Givaudan oud, coupled with an underpinned cedar effect in the form of Kephalis (which is an Iso-E-Super substitute, only with a more woodier/smokier feel).
Finally I can make out some quite prominent vetiver/tobacco notes, adding to the “greenness” which the general nose picks up. I may be off, but I definitely feel like I’m picking up one of the main players here and that’s Norlimbanol™, which is described as an “extremely powerful woody/animal amber note. That has a dry woody note in the patchouli direction”.
As described by Chandler Burr, “Norlimbanol is one of the most amazing scents around, a genius molecule that should be worth its weight in gold; Norlimbanol gives you, quite simply, the smell of extreme dryness, absolute desiccation, and if when you smell it, you’ll understand that instantly—the molecule is, by itself, a multi-sensory Disney ride.”
It’s this same compound which I believe gives the scent its subtle leathery undertones along with the amber. [Emphasis in font to the names added by me.]
Almost everything he’s written — not everything, but almost all — I detect here. From “the subtle leathery tones along with the amber,” to the spiky, peppered, almost greenish notes that resemble smoked cedar, to acutely dry, astringent, almost sulphurously burning woody-amber notes. The patchouli he mentions, well, that is provided in additional form with the actual note, as is the supposed tobacco (which is probably just more Kephalis in disguise). And the whole, utterly heinous, indescribable abomination is wrapped up with an ISO E Super-like bow that explodes at you right out of the starting gates. I sharply and vehemently disagree with Chandler Burr that this is genius gold.
To me, Noble Leather’s toxic brew is a chemical hell on earth that is the perfume equivalent of napalm. Each and every time I sniff I my arm, the back of my throat burns, and I get a spasmodic pain behind my eye. I have smelled a lot of ISO E or synthetic fragrances, and, while I may hate the aroma, I don’t get physical reactions unless the quantity of aroma-chemicals is really enormous. And I certainly can’t recall the last time I had a physical reaction that was this strong.
Minutes after the traumatizing tsunami of toxicity that is unleashed on me, more notes arrive on the scene. There is a jammy patchouli that evokes the aroma of syrupy red roses dominated by dark fruits, then small bubbles of a sweet tangerine and a powdery violet. At first, the citric element is a bit juicy and tart, but it soon takes on a plastic synthetic profile. You know those cheap “Made in China” plastic toys? Well, imagine the smell of one of those just barely infused with something orange-like. As for the violet, it’s delicate, but also somewhat woody and is quickly transformed with a peppery bite from the other accords. Much more prominent to me is a note that distinctly smells like jammy roses, even though there is none listed in the perfume. I assuming it’s my mind making those connections again, as fruited purple patchouli often accompanies a rose accord in perfumery. Whatever the reason, there is a fruited floralness in Noble Leather that goes beyond mere “violets” and which I’ll just call “rose” from this point onwards.
Then, there is the saffron. It starts off being a little fiery and spiced, but soon takes on a warm, almost leathery bent. It is most definitely Safraleine, a Givaudan creation that the company describes as follows:
Safraleine has a very unique warm and vibrant character offering a new alternative to existing spicy odorants. Safraleine exhibits warm, powerful, leathery and tobacco facets but its complexity also reveals characteristics of spices reminiscent of natural saffron, enriched by rose ketone-like floral aspects.
The shrieking madness finally starts to abate about 10 minutes into Ignoble Leather’s development. Now, it’s only a moderately aggressive chemical bath of violet, jammy fruited patchouli, plastic orange, fake oud-y woodiness, and highly peppered, ISO E-like sharpness. For the first time, the tobacco and leather appear on the scene. The former is dusty, dry, and smells a bit like a stale, unlit cigar. The latter smells like suede infused with cheap, pleather vinyl. Yet, neither one feels distinctive or much like the notes in their own right.
The best way to explain it is that the tobacco doesn’t smell like the actual tobacco found in other fragrances focusing on the note. It smells like an abstract approximation of what “tobacco” is supposed to smell like. My guess is that there is no actual tobacco in Noble Leather but that the aroma has been artificially created by Kephalis, that cousin to ISO E Super. Duke Hunt talked about Kephalis in the section I quoted above, but Givaudan‘s description of the synthetic is useful:
Kephalis is a very versatile and rich product, used as a long lasting heart/basic note. It blends well with floral notes (jasmine, rose, violet, lavender, etc.) as well as sophisticated amber, woody-aldehydic, tobacco and masculine creations.
Thirty minutes in, the balance of power in the perfume starts to shift. As the super-shrill astringent, sulphurous, dusty and dry woody synthetics abate (a little), there is a matching rise in the fruited patchouli. It becomes heavier, more prominent, and suddenly, Noble Leather feels even sweeter. The most positive thing that I can say about the whole ghastly concoction is that the violet is pretty. Oddly enough, the peppered ISO E-like note seems to give the sometimes wan, frail note a little oomph. As a whole, though, the violets are never a significant part of Noble Leather on my skin. How could something so delicate withstand the power of a super synthetic like Norlimbanol?
At the end of the first hour, Noble Leather is a slightly softer mess of sharp, dusty, woody dryness with spiky, peppered ISO E-like notes, a syrupy pink rose, sticky fruits, cheap vinyl-smelling leather, hints of violets, stale tobacco, and synthetic, buttered saffron. It starts to devolve, with the fruited patchouli becoming more prominent, the fragrance taking on an amber undertone, and the woody notes turning more abstract.
In the middle of the second hour, Noble Leather feels more and more like a vaguely floral patchouli with fruited molasses, amber, and ISO E, over a base of extremely dry woodiness that, at best, resembles a sharp cedar. The vague abstraction of cheap leather retreats to the sidelines. The whole thing is much softer and, though I’m not keen on patchouli rose, Noble Leather smells better. It is almost pleasant — albeit on the most relative of absolute scales fabricated in the bowels of Hell. Perhaps it’s the relief talking, as Noble Leather’s soft cloud is now radiating only 3 inches off my skin, instead of punching me in the head like Mike Tyson.
Regardless of what the notes may say, Ignoble Leather has a definite underpinning of amber. I suspect it stems from some combination of the synthetics together. Whatever the precise reason, by the middle of the second hour, Noble Leather smells of a soft, “oud”-y rose with fruited patchouli, dusty saffron, dusty and stale tobacco, dry cedar-ish woods, and Norlimbanol amber. The perfume’s sillage drops, but the notes are still forceful when smelled up close. In fact, each and every time I sniff my arm, it feels like someone has taken an old-fashioned 18th-century straight razor to the back of my throat.
At the end of the fourth hour, Noble Leather is a woody, dry amber fragrance with tobacco, saffron, and that patchouli rose. There is the vaguest hint of suede that pops up every now and then, but leather? Elvis left the building a while ago. Taking his place is a subtle, very dry vanilla that starts to rise to the surface. Noble Leather turns increasingly abstract and hazy, and its final moments consists primarily of an amber with indistinct, super dry woodiness and vanilla, atop an amorphous, slightly fruited sweetness. All in all, the bloody perfume lasted just over 9 hours on my perfume-consuming skin with sillage that was initially fierce, then strong, before it turned soft about 2.5 hours into Noble Leather’s development. As you might have gathered by now, I was not a fan. Of any of it.
In fact, I wasn’t a fan even in my first encounter with the perfume. I actually smelled Noble Leather while I was in Paris. It was on a paper mouillette, but I was taken aback even then by the sharp wave of horrors that came at me. I didn’t know Noble Leather’s official notes, but I recall telling the sales assistant that I smelled oud, and asked if it had ISO E Super. When she stared at me blankly, I wrapped things up by simply saying that I was tired of safraleine-oud-rose fragrances. I could smell much of it, even back then from mere paper. But on actual skin…. it’s a whole other matter entirely.
On Fragrantica, the main focus of people’s discussion of Noble Leather is Tom Ford‘s Tuscan Leather. I took out my sample of the latter today to give it a cursory comparative test, and the two scents are simultaneously extremely alike and nothing alike. Yes, the perfumes have an extremely close olfactory bouquet but, at no time, does the Tom Ford fragrance hit you with a tsunami of toxicity. There are definitely traces of Norlimbanol in Tuscan Leather, and it has an incredibly dry, peppered base, but the relative degrees are night and day apart. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, the amount of synthetics used in Noble Leather would rate a solid 10 in the opening minutes. Tom Ford’s would rate a 1.5, which rises to about a 2 or 2.5 as the Norlimbanol starts to stir and become more prominent. For what it’s worth, Tuscan Leather triggered some scratchiness in my throat as well, so I’m clearly sensitive to that particular aroma-chemical in ways that I am not even to ISO E Super. But it is more like minor irritation, a small cough, as opposed to feeling that my skin has been scraped raw by a straight razor.
I realize that the degree of my fury may seem quite disproportionate to the situation at large. I am sure many of you think that the perfume can’t possibly be that unpleasant, and that my nose is simply much more sensitive than the average person. I concede that last point. I always had an acutely sensitive nose but, the more I sniff perfumes daily, the more sensitive it becomes, since, in essence, the nose is merely another type of muscle. Exercising it daily makes it much stronger. But, in my opinion, Noble Leather really is that bad. For all that people think it’s a clone of Tuscan Leather, the latter is an infinitely better, smoother, more well-rounded, high-quality, expensive-smelling fragrance. It lacks Noble Leather’s sharp, bony, spiky elbows and prickly roughness. Noble Leather amps up the chemicals to a shocking degree; it’s vats of the stuff, instead of a few table spoons.
One of the reasons why I’m so angry is the cost of Noble Leather. YSL is charging £185 or €177 for an 80 ml bottle. At the current rate of conversion, £185 is $301. That is completely outrageous given the ingredients used in the fragrance. Yes, real saffron is bloody expensive, and a lot of perfume companies use Safranal or Safraleine instead. But the ISO E-like tobacco, Kephalis? Norlimbanol? I can go out right this minute and buy 4 ml of Norlimbanol in undiluted concentrate from The Perfumer’s Apprentice for $3.99, or a large 80 ml bottle (the same sized bottle as Noble Leather) for $36. I can buy 80 ml of Kephalis for $18. Given that L’Oreal undoubtedly gets a massive discount for wholesale orders of the stuff, the cost to them would be even lower. Plus, since all this stuff is subsequently diluted in an perfumer’s alcohol base, 80 ml of either chemical could probably make several hundred bottles of perfume.
That makes Noble Leather’s $300 price tag simply insulting. Sheer venal greed for a totally crap, cheaply made, chemical perfume that is a tsunami of toxicity. Yves St. Laurent was the epitome of elegance, luxury, seductiveness, and opulent orientalism. This “homage” to him is an utter abomination. I can’t even bear to talk about it any more.
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at your reaction to the abomination that is YSL (Ig)Noble Leather. You poor, poor thing, but you persisted to give your readers the entire agonizing experience. Ah, and I know you always provide purchasing info, but on this one, you went the extra mile to record where it’s available even though, based on your description, who would want to go near this chemical soupy mess.
Thanks for the great review as always and have a fabulous Thanksgiving!
I also meant to say that I like the bottles and if discounted enough, I would buy it for the bottle and throw away the juice.
The bottles are nice in person, but they look FAR better in the photos. Up close, and in person, the top looks a little cheap to me. The body is nice, though.
Believe me, there were more than a few moments when I felt like scrubbing it off, review be damned. I was SO incredibly angry last night, you have no idea. (Well, after this review, you might have a small idea…. lol) One of the blog’s Facebook readers just wrote that he was as shocked as I was after smelling this at Harrod’s, and that it was a toxic chemical bomb on him too. That actually made me feel better because I know there will be some people who are skeptical, and think I’m just exaggerating or have a super-sensitive nose. Nope, it really IS that extreme. For $300, it’s an outrage.
I should say that my first reaction after reaching the end of the review was also a surprise that you went into all these troubles to give your regular full purchasing information. I understand going anextra mile for the perfume/brand that you like but why bother for the perfume you hated?
Freedom of choice. Offering people the right to make their own decisions, especially if they disagree with me.
If they disagree with you, their search is as Google as yours 😉
But I understand your position. Don’t agree but understand.
when fragrance cost a lot , it should be a reflection of the ingredients. It is a shame when a past reputed renouned group like YSL tries to pawn cheap quality but tagging it in the high range. People are going to smell this.
Your honesty is what makes you so reliable. Thank you again and again for your blogs. I look forward to each and every one.
Thank you for your kind words about the blog, Mammy. As for people smelling the cheapness, I don’t know. I would hope that the aromachemicals are noticeable to everyone, or, at the very least, that there is something a bit wonky about the perfume that may give them a headache. But what I’ve sometimes noticed is that people don’t realise that aromachemical synthetics are the problem and, instead, just think that ALL perfume is bad. No, it’s not. Good perfume shouldn’t and won’t give you a headache, because it’s not filled to the brim with chemicals.
But most people are probably just going to think, “Oh, YSL!”, try it, like it or hate it. But, either way, most people will completely fail to realise that what they’re smelling is NOT the way it’s supposed to be. At least, not for the prices in question.
Sweet merciful Jesus, that sounds abysmal. Oddly, I just heard about this for the first time and I thought it sounded quite nice based on a cursory reading of the notes. With that said, given how massively our tastes overlap, I completely and wholly believe your experience was as abysmal as it sound. If it makes Montale seem cheap and synthetic…well, I can’t really fathom it! I’m still nursing my Aoud Lime napalm wounds!
The notes sound nice because you’re reading “tobacco, leather, saffron,” instead of Kephalis, Norlimbanol and Safraleine. This perfume is astonishing chemical, to a degree that makes the $300 price tag an exercise in cojones the size of a bowling ball. The nerve of L’Oreal, the sheer nerve of them.
P.S. I totally agree something like this s**ts all over the memory of YSL. He was indeed a visionary and supreme artist, so it’s disappointing to see his name is used for the middling/atrocious offerings of the YSL brand today. I saw a documentary about him a few years ago and it was so interesting. What a shame.
Oh I’m sorry you’ve been through such a pain with this one!While I don’t share your strong reaction towards largish amounts of synthetics in fragrances(as a proof,you know I love Dzing and like Rien quite a lot,also own and love Montale Our Cuir d’Arabie),I must confess I didn’ t like this YSL line at all.Seemed terribly derivative and outrageously expensive.It gave me headaches too,which is never a good sign for me when it comes to perfumes.It means they are indeed filled to the brim with chemicals.Ah well it’s not like I had big hopes for the line anyways!
If it gave you headaches too, when you can take almost anything….!!! :O I’m really glad you wrote, Ana, because this way, people will not it’s not just me and that the Oriental collection is “indeed filled to the brim with chemicals.” Thank you. I really appreciate hearing about your experiences and your reaction, though I’m sorry you had a bad time with it too. I can’t believe the price they’re asking for this. I simply can’t get over it.
Terrible. Shame on L’Oreal.
L’Oreal… L’Oreal….. what they’ve done to YSL Parfums….. And $300??!!! @%&^%$#@&^@$!!!!!!! It makes me so angry, I can barely speak coherently.
I could get a boatload of better quality fragrances for that $$$. That’s only ONE level on which this is so shameful.
I have a half-ml of this somewhere unsampled, largely because I am a great admirer of some YSL vintage stuff and anticipated disappointment. But now I will find it and try it, absolutely wriggling with anticipation of being disappointed, because I’d forgotten what fun a major writing-off could be. Thanks for letting us know what you really think about this juice.
I agree. This one was a real shocker to me and it’s certainly not worthy to be connected to YSL. How very odd that the IFRA are stomping down on so many natural ingredients, some of which have been used in medicine for hunded’s of years and are giving environmentally unfriendly garbage like this the thumbs up.
I’m VERY glad to hear that it’s not just me! Thank you for sharing that, and for mentioning that you too found it full of aromachemicals.
What I think is the most valuable insight, however, is a point that I hadn’t thought of in the context of Ignoble Leather: given my physical reaction to the stuff, how come things like Norlimbanol and the like are unrestricted, or that ISO E Super can be up to 21%, while natural ingredients are treated as dangerous hazards? Judging by my throat all last night and this morning, Noble Leather is infinitely more toxic than some poor fragrance which includes oakmoss. Why the double standard for plant/floral-derived ingredients, when super synthetics are allowed free reign??!
This, I think, is the really important question. I can’t see any answer other than ” botanicals are largely produced by small independent producers, while the aroma chemicals come from large corporations with plenty plenty leverage.” Simple as that.
Excellent point, Feral Jasmine, but what interests me is how they are white-washing or glossing over this huge discrepancy. In the piece I wrote on Viktoria Minya and the life of a nose, I quoted some chap from IFRA who essentially claims that the organisation is the perfume industry’s savior and responsible for protecting certain notes from complete eradication by lobbying groups. How can IFRA justify its actions with regard to natural elements like oakmoss with a straight face? How is it that they have not been confronted with the huge discrepancy that “C” pointed out here, and how do they get away with it? The brazenness of IFRA claiming innocence in everything and blaming everything solely on the EU…. it’s rather insane. IFRA began all this back in 2007 or so.
And if the EU’s ostensible reason for all this is to protect an even SMALLER minority group (the minuscule fraction of people who have allergies), someone should point out the discrepancies regarding the much larger group of independent producers. But I suppose logical consistency doesn’t matter much to either the EU or IFRA at this point.
Fascinating, Kafka. And scary. I have approached this on the level of “corporations with big money are probably bad,” and I forgot to factor in the appalling self-righteousness that leaves them saying above the destruction “we are saving [the American way, the economy, safety, world peace, perfume, whatever.] I need to study this more carefully.
WOW! NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL CRITICISM!
My sincerest commendations to you my dear K for exposing these extortionate cretins!
Heh, thank you, my dear Sultanpasha. I know there are people out there who think Norlimbanol is the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m afraid I will never agree. Especially not with this amount of it, and at these prices. I almost hope you can go to Harrods to try it for yourself to see just HOW bad it is, as I know you play around with a few of these accords for yourself. 🙂
The problem is out of all the aromachems, norlimbanol has eluded me the most……it seems I’m totally ansomnic to it whilst everybody else around me can smell it. I just get a faint smell when I put my nose right against my arm that reminds me of very slight sour aastringecy. So far I’ve tried 2 versions. …one by Hermitage oils and other by perfumers apprentice but alas the same dissapointing results. Remember the story I told you about my bottle spillage……..it was norlimbanol.
Guess I’ve hundreds of oils and aromachems in my room. ….I’m like Grenouille from Suskinds Perfume, I want to learn the smells of everything and possibly possess them all….natural and unnatural alike
Norlimbanol was one of those bottles you dropped and which exploded everywhere???!! O__O God, I…. I…. can’t even imagine what it must have smelled like! I hope you got Mrs. Sultanpasha a fantastic gift for putting up with it! If my partner/spouse/SO had done that, they would be paying for the most expensive hotel room until the odor cleared! 😉 And, yes, I know that it took over a week in your case…. lol
What I would give to be anosmic to all these crappy synthetics!
Hahahah…..hahah gonna sound like a chick right now….the chicken kind that is.
Smelt Noble Leather today in Harrods and overall impression was:
CHEAP! CHEAP! CHEAP!…..errr Cheap!?!?
What were L’Oréal thinking. This composition would suit a generic brand release like many of the Boss, Armani, CK etc, etc.
But to dedicate this chemical dribble as an homage to the great man himself and at this extortionate price?!? Wow! the audacity….
“Chemical dribble” …. heh. That coming from the chap who is anosmic to Norlimbanol! I can’t even imagine the rest of what you smelled, Sultanpasha! What was it like on your skin?
Amusingly enough, just yesterday, in a perfume group, I read a rave review for Noble Leather. He started off talking about the “oud”, and I felt like responding with what it really was, but I held my tongue. Still, I’m glad he enjoyed it. It takes all kinds and the world would be a boring place if we all felt the same way.
Well it started of like a synthetic soup with quite a sharp labdanum like nuance than once it started to warm up and unravel I could sense cheap playdoh note with something very astringent in its edge. After an hour or so the playdoh calmed, smelt warm and started to smell like safraleine possibly infused with kephalis and coumarin or the likes. At this stage it almost smelt like diluted burnt plastic but after 3 hours or so I definitely sensed the very suttle astringent sour notes of norlimbanol even more which I could feel right at the back of my nose and throat which made the whole composition quite prickly. Believe it or not when I smell nnorlimbanol this is all that I experience especially when undiluted from the bottle. I have to breath it in deeply to perceive it in anyway. Now I’ve read left right and centre people stating that it’s one of the most intense aromachem they have smelt even at 2% dilution but at that % all i can smell is the diluent. Maybe it shows up more in combination with other materials but I’ve yet to discover Mr Burr’s wonderment and reasons to such high praises.
It sounds almost as bad on you as it was on me! How interesting though that Norlimbanol — for all that you can’t really smell its nuances — has the same impact on the back of your throat as it does on me. My throat was scratchy and burning in a bad way, and it lasted for almost 24 hours on me! Interesting that you got Playdoh notes and coumarin, in addition to the ISO E-like Kephalis. The burnt plastic must be from the Norlimbanol. Ugh. I’ll never understand Chandler Burr’s praise for the synthetic as something worth its weight in gold. Really???! WHY?! So, so odd.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with Noble Leather, my dear. xoxox
I do love your passion, Kafka, even about something awful.
And good Saffron attars from India aren’t so cost prohibitive that a perfume company can’t use it in perfume and charge the usual indie prices, especially if they are boosting “radiance” and longevity with choice synthetics. I know because I purchase it in bulk myself for some of my own perfumes, and I tell you what, a little Saffron goes a longass way, that is some strong stuff. It seems way more cost effective in a perfume to me than, say, Oud. Of course, very few are using natural oud either, sadly.
I don’t hate aromachemicals obviously, or I wouldn’t own so many weird Lutens’ creations, heh, but I DO absolutely abhor, yes I said ABHOR, IFRA. Oakmoss, as you know, is one of my absolute favorite ingredients in perfumery…. IFRA has made most modern chypres into a skeletal joke of the old beauties. And has turned me into a vintage chypre hoarder, hmph.
I hear Guerlain is using an extract of oakmoss that has the “dangerous” component removed in some of their new formulations, as opposed to just crappy aromachemical equivalent. I wonder if IFRA will go after that too…
Cacomixtle, just curious. What is your perfume company’s name? Would love to check out what you’re doing.
Oh, I don’t want to use Kafka’s blog as self promotion, but you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a free batch of samples if you like 🙂
Wahoo! Will email now.
I’ve heard about Guerlain’s new oakmoss variation, and how it is supposed to make the latest incarnation of Mitsouko quite lovely. I haven’t tried it, but I’m definitely intrigued by it. With regard to IFRA, they’re terrible because they started the ball rolling on all this, but it is really the EU who is in the driver’s seat now. Of course, that makes IFRA throw up their hands, claim innocence, and try to act like they’re actually the perfume industry’s savior…. which is the height of audacity, if you ask me. Bastards, the whole lot of them!
Oh, I didn’t realize that about the EU, although a perfumer friend from France now living in the States did mention something like this recently, ugh. Bastards indeed.
I am eager to try the newest incarnation of Mitsouko, I would love a bit more moss and a little less of that pissy smell certain formulations can have.
Not a good good perfume day for you! It is a shame that many of the french designer houses are not daring to be different anymore. Where are the groundbreaking or even interesting perfumes from them? I would think that Hedi Slimane (if he has anything to do with the perfume) would try to push things a bit further than this chemical concoction. You obviously have a highly sensitive / fine tuned nose and I’m quite keen to have a sniff of this to see if I have a similar reaction with my less evolved nose.
I would love to know your reaction to either of them, Megan! Re. Hedi Slimane, he’s the director of YSL fashion which is owned by PPR, while YSL Beauté is owned by/licensed to L’Oreal. There is little connection between Saint Laurent fashion, and the cosmetics/beauty/fragrance division. I haven’t a clue as to who really runs their fragrance subdivision, but it has to be someone approved/appointed by L’Oreal…..
I’m not sure where these will be available near where I live but the next time I go to Paris (hopefully in the not too distant future) I will be on a sniffathon and these should be at Printemps or one of the big stores there and I will try them. I have to say that even without your reviews they didn’t really strike me as something that I was dying to get my hands on. YSL haven’t released any beauties lately have they? I’m sure someone will prove me wrong on that front though.
No, YSL hasn’t released anything of merit or beauty in years, I think. The whole thing is an incredibly sore subject with me, actually. I’d write more, but I’m having huge computer problems and my battery/adapter seems to have suddenly died, so I hope you’ll forgive the shortness of this note.
I’m sorry you had that bad experience but great public service! I didn’t plan on seeking this perfume and now I will probably avoid it even if I come across it somewhere. There are many nice(r) perfumes out there, forget about this one.
I think one of the ones in the line might be more your thing, but it’s not Noble Leather! 🙂 Reviews for the other two will be next. Happy Thanksgiving, Undina.
Happy Thanksgiving to you too, dear Kafka!
Current YSL releases are more and more failure.
Unfortunately, that does seem to be the case, yes.
Good for you giving L’Oreal hell for what they have done in the name of Yves Saint Laurent. There is nothing more upsetting to my nose than to be assaulted by a toxic perfume sold as something beautiful. Brava! Well Done!
Thank you, my dear Lanier. 🙂
These pseudo-Middle Eastern fragrance launches have got to stop! I honestly wonder who is fuelling this trend, because as far as I’m concerned, the majority of these releases are synthetic cocktails that cost close to nothing. If we factor in that the companies don’t do crazy marketing for these exclusives, their profits are immensely high per bottle. I propose we bloggers create a new regulatory organisation à la IFRA but instead of banning raw ingredients, we ban bad fragrances instead! 😀 We can call ourselves… Out With the Lousy, or OWL. Heh!
I’m having huge computer problems with a battery/adapter that has suddenly died on me (despite being plugged in), so I’ll just say quickly that I very much agree with you. I know that you said on Twitter that Noble Leather was an immediate scrubber for you, but did you try the other ones in the collection?
I absolutely LOVE the organization name that you’ve chosen. It sounds so very Harry Potter-ish! 😀 BTW, if I don’t respond to you further, please know that it means I’ve basically lost all computer function!
Oh dear. This sounds ghastly. I can feel your pain from here!
Words cannot even BEGIN to describe this one!
Pingback: YSL Majestic Rose & Supreme Bouquet (Oriental Collection) | Kafkaesque
Oh God. Yes, pass.
How in the world did I miss this scathing review! Chemical napalm… the best line ever! I shall stay away.
Heh. I certainly was not a happy camper when I wrote this one. Or the next two in the line. Terrible perfumes across the board, though the rose-oud and the fruity-floral were not as bad as Ignoble Leather. The whole thing put quite a damper on my Thanksgiving. lol
Last time I smelled some Ysl perfumes I didn´t find them so bad, but then again my nose is not the greatest nor the most discerning one. Then again I was predisposed to think that everything Ysl, Guerlain, Chanel or Givenchy is of legendary elegance and quality. I cannot doubt that this perfume is made of pure cheap chemicals since I distinctly remember being in the perfume section at the mall and getting a headache from smelling the perfumes, a specific one even get me nausea (I´m not sensitive, don´t get headaches or nausea easily). I´m afraid Ysl is not the only one since the easy to find commercial fragrances smell of Ajax cleaner as of lately or sickly sweet, one of the sickly sweet made me almost vomit I had to run away to get air. Niche perfumes and commercial ones smell like two entirely different things, many of the commercial ones smell of cheap sythetics. Well Ysl makeup is still of good quality in my opinion, 🙂 love the lipsticks and the faux cils mascara, that is a really good one.
Commercial fragrances for women definitely tend to run to extreme sweetness! Part of it is the terrible purple, fruited patchouli they use in so much of it. Ghastly.
Pingback: LM Parfums Hard Leather: Lust In The Woods | Kafkaesque
Wow, this fragrance is actually very beautiful and made with oils… A true understanding of yves himself, his loves and inspirations would help you understand the development of the fragrance
And the only thing which has changed in Opium is where the sandalwood is sourced
I strongly disagree with every part of that statement, so let’s just agree to disagree.
Fair enough, the world would be a less interesting place if we all felt the same way
Thank you. And I agree, we all have different opinions to which we are equally entitled. 🙂 Happy holidays.
You too, and I’m sorry for my rudeness, I’m just another yves saint laurent fan and loreal enrage me also but I simply adore this fragrance.
Have a wonderful Christmas from the UK xxx
I’m always happy to meet another fan of the great Yves St. Laurent. He was one of my idols. Let’s agree on his magnificence and on the issue of L’Oreal. Enjoy Noble Leather. 🙂
Pingback: Noble Leather by Julie Massé of Mane for Yves Saint Laurent 2013 « AustralianPerfumeJunkies
Thank you for this very detailed critical review! Wow… just blown away by the details you covered. And I was lucky enough to briefly sample this as Bergdorf Goodman. I feel you are spot on.
This blog is wonderfully objective. And you know, I’ve now written off a few other reviewers like Katie Puckrik, who gave a “warm and cozy” review of this toxic mess. I think a well researched critical review is a necessary thing. I’m growing less tolerant of these reviewers who are so quick to find “all the good” in every fragrance. Some of them deserve a prominent thumbs down. Thanks again, Kafkaesque!