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.
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.
Hard 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.
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.
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 Lutens‘ Muscs 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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Speaking 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.
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.
Wauw what a nice review!!!Much information and investigation. Very professional.
I feel like I am pregnant because I am waiting till this new perfume is coming @ ParfuMaria
Thanks for your article.
Heh, you feel pregnant, and I feel heated — Hard Leather certainly has an impact. 😉 lol I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Maria. I hope it arrives at your ParfuMaria very soon. Will you do me a favour, and let me know when you receive it in store so that I can update my link to something more direct instead of going just to your general LM Parfums section? Thank you. 🙂
I promise to do that and I also want to feel heated by Hard Leather. My mission is to stalk my supplier from this moment on to deliver me as soon as possible:)
That must be one hell of a perfume. I might like it but I would bet money that my hubby would hate it. He loves things that are fresh and clean. Often I wonder if I were to replace one of his scents with Windex would he be able to tell the difference… but I digress. Back to Hard Leather. Thanks for enlightening me to the name of that dry, dusty Norlimbanol note. I think I’ve noticed that in other perfumes but didn’t know what it was. It’s fascinating because it really does smell dry but too much and you feel like your throat is closing up. Perhaps it’s a note that takes more getting used to. I admit I can handle dry and dusty much better than the sharp, stabbing effect I have gotten from some other scents.
Windex??! Hahahaha, that makes me think so much of the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” He loved his Windex. 🙂 Yes, I am sure your hubby would hate this one. As for you, I don’t know. I think you would find the opening intriguing and enjoy the end. The Norlimbanol phase though…. hm, I don’t know. Speaking of Norlimbanol, you’re right in noting that it can almost close up your throat in really massive quantities. YSL’s Noble Leather had so much of it, I felt as though someone had flayed the skin off the back of my throat. Here, there was only a mere, brief tickle, and only if I sprayed on a lot of the perfume. So, there is a vast difference in the relative quantities between the two scents.
Wow, what a review!
LOL! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
*fans self* Sounds glorious!
You’re too kind. Especially as I know you don’t like oud at all. I actually would never recommend this for you, Kevin. But I’m glad the review got you all heated. *grin*
Yay! Trying this again now after trying it last night’s preliminary test. 🙂 I do quite like it! Would I get a full bottle? Probably not, especially given the price (even though I know the concentration makes the price reasonable, objectively). I had a similar difficulty with the immediate opening as I did with Mazzolari’s Lui – a lingering fecal smell. I have to say it was significantly less troublesome for me in Hard Leather than it was in Lui. In Lui, it was prominent enough that I questioned whether it was worth the trouble at all. In this one it’s enough that it flirts with the border of being too much for me (it sounds strange to say a fecal smell could me tolerable in any quantity, but I digress). But after those 15 minutes or so? Sexy. Just plain sexy. I have a few leathers, and this fills the sexy void in my collection to be sure. I can absolutely, fully understand how this could intoxicate those who have the privilege of smelling it. And now having smelled it myself, I appreciate the review all the more. Also, I agree that it is somewhat reminiscent of Opus VII (assuming I’m remembering it correctly, and admittedly my paper test is hardly an indicator of how it smells on skin). I am looking forward to trying Opus VII on my skin and doing a compare and contrast.
I think Hard Leather definitely has an animalic note that initially translates as “horsey” or, on some skins, perhaps Fecal. (They’re a little bit of the same thing, but I personally think there are differences.) There is definitely a horsey quality to the leather on my skin too, but it only lasts about 10 minutes, and then it turns more into animalic muskiness of a different kind. But I can absolutely see how you would find the horsiness to evoke Mazzolari’s Lui. That was HARDCORE horsey *and* fecal on my skin for much of its lifespan. For me, it was too much there as well, but I personally wish it lasted a bit longer in Hard Leather because it is calibrated at just the right amount for me. What’s funny is that Cuir de Russie was pure horse feces on me, covered by a soapy foam, but it works so beautifully on your skin and you don’t seem to get that at all.
All in all, I’m just glad that you enjoyed Hard Leather, and I’m so pleased that you find it “Sexy. Just plain sexy.” It really is, isn’t it? And isn’t the Mysore sandalwood gorgeous? It’s really lovely in the drydown phase too, but for me, the animalic, sexy leather is just riveting. Man, if I weren’t currently testing something else, I’d put on the Hard Leather, because it’s really become my favorite in the genre.
It’s even trumped Puredistance M by a hair, and you know how I feel about my M!
I’m still horrified by how Cuir de Russie manifests itself on you. Abysmal. Absolutely abysmal! You know, horsey is probably a better word than fecal as it pertains to Hard Leather – though I think there is a definite overlap. Lui was unequivocally fecal on me, this has the redeeming element of being less purely fecal and much more, as you describe, animalistic.
I really want to smell this on someone else though! I think I’d enjoy it even more than I enjoy it on myself. Of course, it’s too sexy that it might be distracting. LOL. And wow, trumping M! M is truly beautiful (and thank God I have my beloved Bel Ami because it reminds me a lot of M, though naturally there are differences). So is this one, although they are so different I couldn’t bear it to compare the two, even in the most superficial ways. But I can and do completely understand how you fell under the spell of Hard Leather.
M is such a different scent that you’re absolutely right, one can’t compare the two at all! I was only talking about the degree of my love for the two. M’s refinement and molten ambered heart has always made it my favorite quasi-leather. (I really see it as more of an Oriental or Amber, as on me, the leather is only a brief stage of a few hours, but the labdanum amber is much more significant.) The reason why Hard Leather beats it out by a hair in terms of my feelings is that animalic Ooomph and sexiness. It’s a more forceful, passionate, intense affair, than the much more elegantly refined, luxuriously sophisticated M.
Hard Leather feels almost diva-ish in its flair, if that makes any sense, while M is more aristocratic. I can see M as the luxurious Aston Martin of its inspiration, but even more so as a Bentley. Hard Leather would be a flashier car, perhaps a softly growling Ferrari. I love Bentleys and Ferraris both, but a Ferrari is a little more fun. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I gravitate more towards the sensual sexiness, oomph, and flair of Hard Leather, than the more sedate but infinitely more refined M.
You know, I’m surprised you liked Hard Leather at all, since you normally don’t like things with oud at all. Have you worn Hard Leather long enough in your test to experience that yet? If so, I hope it’s at a manageable level for your tastes. The woods were very pronounced on my skin, as were the incense and dryness of the 2nd stage.
Definitely manageable! Yay!
Sexy, sexy, sexy. I almost felt is oozing as I started reading your review. Wow…and the fact that it lasts 8 hours? Who doesn’t want to smolder. Do the abs flat abs come with the perfume?!
Not 8 hours, my dear Mr. Hound. 14.25!! And over 12 hours with a mere solitary spray. On MY insane skin!
I fear the flat abs and 12-pack muscles don’t come with the perfume. I wish that they did.
Sensational review. This sounds so perfect. I will almost certainly be getting this, as soon as it hit’s Harvey Nicks. Thanks for putting this one on my radar.
You’re very welcome, C. You, in particular, really must check this one out. I think it would very much suit your tastes, but I do worry a little about your reaction to that Norlimbanol in the middle. If you don’t go overboard with the quantity or amount that you spray, it shouldn’t be a problem at all. We’re certainly not talking YSL’s Noble Leather!
Am I right that you have placed me in the “Not for you, my dear” category ? You would be right although I am intrigued by the notes..perhaps a sample then when it arrives at OsswaldNYC! I do like Puredistance M a lot even though I think it leans very masculine (even more so than Chypre Mousse) so on me, Hard Leather would be like me being bonked over the head with a flashing MASCULINE sign (hmmm….somehow, I’m just noticing that masculine doesn’t look right capitalized).
Anyway, the last picture reminded me of the Adam Levine picture you posted earlier this year except on this one, the subjects have more clothes on.
Heh, yes, I have actually mentally placed you in the “Not for you, my dear” category. The reason is the dryness in the scent, but more importantly the musk. I don’t see you as being the sort to like a more dirty, animalic musk. And Hard Leather is extremely different from the richer, comparatively sweeter, tamer, non-animalic (imo) M.
Perhaps this following bit will help you: I had both my parents try Hard Leather. My father adores M, but he hated Hard Leather, calling it “dirty.” The animalic edge was not his thing at all.
HOWEVER, my mother (!!!) who doesn’t like M, who hates oud, and who doesn’t like leather perfumes as a whole absolutely loved Hard Leather. She couldn’t stop sniffing her wrists, thought it sexy as hell, and asked how much it was!!! My jaw was on the ground. My mother! She didn’t think it was dirty at all, but then again, she loves Cuir Mauresque (which is much less “dirty” than this is in terms of the musk). Cuir Mauresque is the only leather fragrance she really likes, but I never expected her to be so drawn to Hard Leather. Did I mention that she hates oud?!! For her, I suspect it’s the heavy amount of Mysore sandalwood that is so rare for her to come across these days in perfumery. Plus, I think she may have a taste for more skanky perfumes as a whole as she used to wear vintage Bal à Versailles (the skankiest perfume in the world in its vintage form) and Femme, among others.
In short, for you, as for many other women, I suspect it will come down to the “skank” factor. If you can take animalic musk, then you may be okay, even with the oud and dryness. If not, then all the things together will combine to shriek “MASCULINE” in big, flashing neon.
Hahaha,what a wonderful image of your body and senses surrendering to Hard Leather in a constipated space.
That beginning you describe is stucked in my brain. I love sandalwood so very much, the real thing that is, creamy, floral, sacred, and inviting. That’s the stuff of scented dreams. If in any way Hard Leather resembles my beloved Vintage Opium which to day is among my most treasured scented memories, I may like this leather beast though that oud scares my desire away. The only oud I have been able to enjoy thus far is Amber Oud which on my skin is a lovely soft kitty. However, I still have memories of White Oud piercing my brain and crushing down some very necessary neurons for good. Now if I can only have the first and third stage of this perfume together 😉
I think the oud will scare you away, my dear. The vintage Opium resemblance pertains to the sandalwood and intense smoke from the incense. But the Oud is a much more significant part of this scent, and there is all that animalic musk, too. If the Amber Oud to which you refer is the Kilian one, that is a fragrance which basically has no oud at all in it. It’s certainly nothing like the one here. The White Oud is by Montale? If so, I haven’t tried it, but Montale’s ouds are pretty intensely synthetic and piercing. This is a different smelling wood that is the real stuff (unlike the chemical version used in Montale), but the inclusion of the Norlimbanol would probably make this oud problematic for you for similar reasons.
For me, the wood elements in Hard Leather are much more dominant than the leather, so I really caution those who hate oud to stay away. This won’t be their cup of tea. Hard Leather could just as easily be called Hard Woods, because the leather is secondary after that opening hour and could even be called tertiary for the majority of the perfume’s development.
I absolutely head your words of caution and trust your judgement (oh that messy musc and oh that pain in my nostrils that is oud!). yes, I was refering to both Kilian and Montale, sorry I didnt put the house in a parenthetical note 🙁
Oh, no worries at all, WeFadetoGrey. It’s just that there are a few “Amber Ouds,” as it’s a bit of a common name. But I guessed it was the Kilian one simply because you said that you don’t like oud, and the Kilian is well-known for having almost none of it. Heh.
Oooh, I like the sound of this. And I’m not scared of it all. 🙂
I was wondering in the beginning when you mentioned it was for men, but I see why you said it and I’m still eager to try it.
I love M for me btw and I’m not scared of the “darker” side of perfumes…
Heh, I put that comment about men in the very beginning and upfront in order to be some sort of road-sign or warning for female readers about what was to come. I didn’t want them to get their hopes up, only to have it come crashing down when I got to the discussion of the 2nd stage, let alone Opus VII.
And I’m thrilled to hear that you love M! I think a lot of women would totally fall for it if they ever tested it blindly, but without knowing it was “M” or having the mental associations involved. For me, though, M is not really a leather fragrance, but a chypre-leather-oriental hybrid that is heavily ambered. The gorgeous molten amber makes it wholly suitable for women, imo.
However, Hard Leather is a very, very different fragrance. It’s primarily a woody one, imo, with the leather not being as dominant for the full life of the fragrance. And the “skank” factor of the animalic musk is wholly different from anything in M. As I wrote to Hajusuuri above, my father who loves M could not stand Hard Leather because of the “dirty” side, and he didn’t like the urinous undertone in the opening 10 minutes at all. (He muttered something about horses. lol) On the other hand, my mother who hates Oud, didn’t like M, and doesn’t particularly like leather, went nuts for Hard Leather. She couldn’t stop sniffing her wrists, and said it was incredible, “elegant” and sexy. She loved it so much, she asked how much it was! The difference? She likes a bit of skanky or animalic touches to her fragrances, having worn Bal à Versailles in vintage form. She also likes Cuir Mauresque (though that one is significantly tamer and more feminine than Hard Leather.)
So, if you can take the skanky bits along with the intense, very dry oud, then I definitely think you should try Hard Leather. Hopefully, you’ll have a “When Harry Met Sally” moment like the coffee shop scene when Meg Ryan starts moaning. 😉 😀 Are LM Parfums carried anywhere in Zagreb? I have the impression that most distributors will get it in January 2014, so keep an eye out for it then.
Oh, I don’t mind skank at all. 🙂 I love Absolue pour le Soir after all. 😉 As long as there is no incense, I can take it.
Yes, LM perfumes are available here so I’ll keep my eyes open for it.
There is a lot of incense smoke. lol. But there is incense in Absolue Pour Le Soir, too, no?
I would more than likely truly dislike this one, not only for me, but also on a man, since everything at Jovoy smelled so masculine anyway by the standards I had about perfume. I would actually really like something like parfum d’ Empire Wazamba or 3 Fleurs on a man but nothing truly animalic. And for the people used to the commercial scents pretty much everything niche would be heavy either way, so I can’t imagine how deep the smell of this one would be.
No, it’s most definitely not for you, Vicky.
Nice review Kafka. From LM Parfums I bought the following samples:
I will receive them in December.
Thank you, Walter, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t tried Black Oud, but I’ve heard it’s great. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of Sensual Orchid or, more to the point, the thoughts of the ladies in your family. 😉 🙂
Kafka; I managed to receive a 10 ml Hard Leather sample. I’m very anxious to try it.
Wonderful news, Walter! I want to hear all the details as soon as you get the chance to test it. I’m hoping that you’re one of the lucky ones whose skin works well with the scent. 🙂
Sounds amazing! I just love the detail and imagery in your reviews. But…wow…this is pricey. I understand expensive ingredients but this price point (about $400) is hard for most. What do you think…are these scents that expensive to produce or just marked up for the prestige value? I would love to smell this (you did a great job on that front) but will pass…due to price alone…even for a sample.
Generally, I do find a lot of things to be over-priced for what they are. It’s a familiar refrain of mine, and one that I’ve brought up at least 6 times in the last 10 days. This one, though, I do think warrants a high price. For one thing, it has a LOT of Mysore sandalwood. I’m pretty much a snob about “sandalwood” in modern perfumery and I’m always complaining that fragrances labelled as “sandalwood” have none of it in there. This one does. The real, almost-extinct, priced-beyond-belief Mysore sandalwood — and massive quantities of it at that. It also has extremely expensive aged oud. I found out recently that the price of a single chip of Cambodian agarwood/oud was $600. A single chip! And that was some years ago, not today. So, if a single chip cost that much, then how much would it cost to make up so many bottles of perfume?
Hard Leather is extremely expensive, I completely agree. But this one, I think it’s worth it. It’s also Pure Parfum in 100 ml, and I’ve reviewed a number of fragrances that are much, much more expensive for less. There are Roja Dove fragrances going for over $900 (and in some cases, $1,600 and $4,000) for smaller 50 ml sizes, and some Puredistance perfumes that are over $600 for 100 ml. Xerjoff, Clive Christian, JAR, and some others also have prices significantly higher than this one. Are all of those worth it? I’ve tried a few and haven’t thought so.
But the point is that the price of Hard Leather is nowhere close to the top of the market. Serge Lutens just came out with the limpest, weakest, most indistinct, fleeting lily soliflore that has synthetics and no expensive ingredients in it, and it’s $310 for 75 ml of eau de parfum (not parfum extract). THAT is ridiculous, and priced for prestige. Hard Leather is one of those rare ones where I actually think it’s worth it. And I rarely say that.
“Strap me vitals!”
Heavens, after a great deal of fanning and a lie down in a darkened, velvet lined room I feel ready to respond.
Gadzooks! This sounds more than splendid. Leather as a top not is so underused and styrax quite one of my most favourite of all resins. The urgency of that opening sounds like nothing short of a force of nature. As to the heart, I am normally not as susceptible to the cloying effect that certain synthetics can have, though I may have come across this one elsewhere in leather, wood and resin accords and so have a suspicion I will recognise its rather high pitched tone.
Notwithstanding that, for the outrageously good oud and actual sandalwood, this perfume must be tried.
Unfortunately Knightsbridge is a no go area at the moment, but once the pre-Christmas hoards have cleared I shall be there like a flash to test this one out (by the way, excellent and most comprehensive shopping advice at the end).
All in all this touches so many olfactory erogenous zones that I’m all of a quiver.
More rest required perchance!
The Perfumed Dandy
Ha, at the lie down in a darkened room! *grin* I have SO missed you, my dear Beau. I really think you’d like this one, and I hope you get to try it soon. No worries about the frenzied Christmas madness; I don’t think this will be available worldwide until January 2014 and I think will be exclusive to LM’s Premiere Avenue for this month. Once all the holiday hordes have vanished, you can be free to give it a sniff in the peace and quiet of January. Promise me you’ll let me know what you think? You’re such a leather chap that I’d love to know your thoughts.
Pingback: 2013 in Review: Best of & Favorites Lists | Kafkaesque
Dear K…I am for one love wearing raw oud…i like it coz it will start subtle at first…blooms quietly…but lingers heavily around for hours…when i read your review Hard Leather i instantly understand your words…the raw oud and animalic quality of Hard Leather…i will try to get one…your review is superb…on a shared personal experience of wearing oud.
I’m glad you find Hard Leather interesting, and I really hope you will let me know what you think if you try it. I’d love to know your thoughts on it.
Pingback: New Perfume Release: LM Parfums Hard Leather | Kafkaesque
The Hard Leather, oh my god! How am I supposed to get anything at all done with my face glued to my arm like this??!!!
My partner asked what I was wearing with great interest and I told him the name, and he saids “but oh, there’s wood too, wow” – he’s just beginning to understand perfume notes but he totally got the Sandalwood from this and was highly approving of it.
I’ve gotten compliments from everyone who has gotten within smelling range today, I think it’s a new perfume compliment record!
I’m chuffed, completely and utterly CHUFFED!! Your opening paragraph is exactly the reaction that I’d hoped you would have. Now do you see why I lost it in Paris and made a spectacle of myself at the Hotel Costes? In front of Laurent Mazzone no less! And hurrah for your partner’s developing nose, and for picking up the sandalwood. Then, again, it’s the good stuff! Real Mysore and none of that Australian green or the synthetic beige crap.
I tell you, every time I spray Hard Leather, I fall for it even harder.
I need a sample and cold shower 🙂
My God, how YOU would love this scent. YOU MUST GO TO OSSWALD AND TRY IT. You MUST!!
Will do! But given the review, I may ask for a sample instead of risking it in public 😉
Pingback: Paris Perfumers: Laurent Mazzone & LM Parfums | Kafkaesque
I need this one
It’s fantastic, and my new favorite perfume. I hope you get to try it. Osswald NYC should get it in sometime this month.
…or, if you want to blind buy (bad bad hajusuuri), basenoter Palmbeach has a 2nd bottle he is gathering interest for a split (minimum amount is 20 mLs) 😉
If I end up not liking this, I don’t think I’ll have a difficult time swapping it.
LOL. Good for you! I ended up getting a bottle, and I sent a sample to a friend who expected to love it but, on him, the opening 15 minutes were very fecal. It calmed down after that, and he loved the leather and the rest of it, but I wanted to warn you. I think a handful of others may have had a similar opening. So, if you get that note, give it about 15-20 minutes, and it will pass.
I will be very curious to see your reaction. I have a personal, mental bet on what you’re going to say…. 😉 :X lol
This has got to be one of my favourite purchases ever. It has everything that I love in fragrances – Leather, Oud, Honey, Animalic notes, Sandalwood, Incense, blended to smooth perfection. I have seen this described on basenotes as the best fragrance since Puredistance M and I would not disagree with that. I find it totally unique in that I don’t think that I have ever tried another fragrance that was this raunchy and yet incredibly smooth and sophisticated. It manages to be both suave and raw simultaneously. It’s truly wonderful stuff and for me a 10/10 fragrance.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and views, C. I appreciate it enormously, as I know it will be a great help to anyone trying to decide if they should act on ordering a decant or sample. There really isn’t much more widespread information on Hard Leather, so every bit of information counts.
Thank you also for describing the notes that you detect. A few people seem to have found the opening to be quite fecal, mentioning “barnyards” and cows, but it sounds as if your skin didn’t trigger any of that. I’m glad (and very relieved, as I was rather freaked out by you buying the bottle blindly. 😀 😉 ) Clearly, Hard Leather is a scent where — perhaps more than most — it’s going to really depend on one’s skin chemistry.
BTW, the fact that Hard Leather is one of your favorite purchases ever, and that you’d rate it 10 out of 10… well, it’s rather made my night. 🙂
Pingback: Masque Fragranze Montecristo | Kafkaesque
Pingback: LM Parfums Giveaway: Hard Leather | Kafkaesque
I finally found a 2ml sample of this one, and Oh my God is it lovely. And I’m not even a leather fan in general. I detect nothing barnyardy in it (and I used to have a farm and know my barnyards.) I have some barnyardy ouds and actually like them, within limits, but this one is rich, profoundly smooth, and deeply sexy in a way that manages to be very animal and very elegant at the same time. Wow. I wish I could afford a bottle. I found a split open and dived in. Thank you, dear Kafkaesque, for introducing me to this scent. Introduction completed, the scent invited me to dance, and swirled me to previously undreamed levels of impropriety. What fun.
That said, have to add that it isn’t one of the indecent skanky scents. It is beautiful.
If anyone else is looking for less than a full bottle, a very reliable splitter is willing to accomodate you. On Facebook, find International Fragrance Split Association, request membership, and look for the LM. Parfums split. The Hard Leather bottle is closed, but if you leave a comment saying how much you want in multiples of 10ml, he is willing to open another bottle. Hope this is helpful for others who don’t have 295 Euros to spend on one bottle
What a wonderful summation of Hard Leather! And I’m so, so glad to hear that it wasn’t like a barnyard on your skin! I love how you talk about impropriety, but also find it elegant and beautiful. I think it’s definitely naughty but, for me, it was more like suggestive foreplay than the more… er… subsequent stages, shall we say. What I love about the animalic note in Hard Leather is how perfectly calibrated it is, how balanced and refined, especially in conjunction to the other notes. That’s really why I said in the Montecristo review that Hard Leather is a scent that I could easily wear every day, while Montecristo wasn’t quite that versatile for me.
I’m so glad you’re getting in on a split. I want to hear what your husband will think of Hard Leather! 😀
Pingback: LM Parfums Black Oud | Kafkaesque
Pingback: Hard Leather by LM Parfums | The Scented Hound
After your giveaway I was so anxious to try this perfume that I tracked down a 5 ml roll-on decant on eBay and put it on immediately. Like you, the opening stopped me in my tracks! I can handle a fair amount of skank in perfumes, and I’m not afraid of a masculine-leaning scent–some of my top favorites are vintage Shalimar and Bal a Versailles, and M–but this one was a little too dry for me after the first few minutes. In my first-ever experiment with layering perfumes, I dabbed on a drop or two of Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille over it, and it’s GLORIOUS! I thought I’d end up with a dirty vanilla, but instead UBV sank in and softened up the Hard Leather just enough! I can barely get my nose out of my arm!
Hard Leather can be a bit dry at times, though it was the middle stage for me and not the beginnning, so shat a great idea to layer it. I particularly like the thought of SL’s Un Bois Vanillé, Jessa. If you have any sweet ambers — like perhaps Ambre 114 from H de Parfums — that might work as well. It would be interesting to see what layering combinations work best. 🙂 All in all, I’m so glad you found a way to make it work for you, and to add that one thing that you needed. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, Jessa. 🙂
Pingback: Nasomatto Duro » Kafkaesque
Pingback: LM Parfums Vol d'Hirondelle Kafkaesque
Just got a bottle of this stuff as a present and I’m not quite sure what to make of it… now, the scent itself is great but I’m having some performance issues.
For starters, it does not behave like an extrait on my skin – while the sillage is good (for the first hour at least), longevity is quite poor; after a couple of hours I have to muster all my olfactory might to detect it.
Interestingly, the first time I sprayed it I got an experience similar to yours, but on repeated applications the scent almost immediately jumps to the dry-woody notes and there is this unpleasant alcoholic feel to it. That could be the rum, but it gives off the impression that the whole thing is 99,5% ethanol.
This being my only LM fragrance I have no point of reference, but judging on my bottle the sprayer mechanism is not in sync with the perfume’s high price.
I expected something like a Puredistance or MFK sprayer – smooth operation that gives the user a fair amount of control when spraying the juice. This one is somewhat hard to press, and, in my opinion, wastes it’s precious content.
BTW great blog, and your reviews are really insightful 🙂
Hi Latverian, welcome to the blog. 🙂 Let’s try to figure out what is going on.
First, in terms of sillage, as a general rule, the LM Parfums style seems to be a lot of boldness at first (some more than others) that feels very heavy and intense, but is actually quite airy. The perfumes generally turn into a softer scent about 2 hours, then into something more discreet a few hours after that. Hard Leather is a bit of an exception in terms of the sillage and its potency, but none of them are Extraits in the sense of what Roja Dove puts out, for example, in terms of weight or heft.
That said, everyone I know has reported overnight longevity with Hard Leather, so I’m a bit baffled by what you’re going through. It can’t be anosmia. Even if you were anosmic to the musk, that doesn’t explain the leather or all the Mysore sandalwood, which should definitely show up. So I’m really surprised you’re having detection problems, especially after a mere couple of hours. Is it lying right on your skin? Is it simply so soft in sillage that it feels as though it’s about to vanish? I wish I had an answer for you, but this is the very first time I’ve heard something like this about Hard Leather. How much are you applying?
Second, the development issues you noted were fascinating. When you say “unpleasant alcholic feel,” you first brought up rum, but then you talked about ethanol. From that, I’m assuming the alcohol note you’re detecting is not booziness but something more like rubbing alcohol or antiseptic? Would that be correct? If so, then I suspect you’re picking up on the Norlimbanol but it’s manifesting itself on your skin as more of an ethano-like thing than extreme aromachemical woodiness/dryness. Do you think that might be it? Your skin may be like mine and amplifies the base notes and some synthetics. Norlimbanol is quite powerful, so that is my guess for what is going on. Perhaps you can describe a little more the “unpleasant alcoholic feel” and if you’re talking more about a liqueured note or something more chemically harsh?
As for the LM sprayer mechanism, I’m afraid I’ve never paid much heed to that sort of thing, unless I’m decanting for friends and my fingers hurt in spraying. LOL. Generally, it’s not something I think about, for any bottle from any brand, but now you’ve made me curious. At the first available opportunity, I’ll compare my LM bottles to some others to see how the sprayer feels. 🙂
Pingback: Balls To Bones | theasceticlibertine
I agree that the perfume is great especially after testing it. But wished if they could sell 50 Ml bottles, as it would be more convenient for one with large no. Of fragrances.
I’m very happy to hear you loved Hard Leather, Taleb. Did it just arrive in the UAE? I’d be interested to know how the opening is on you, if you ever get the time. As for the bottle size, yes, I think smaller options would be more convenient for the average perfumista.
At the moment I know none of retailers who sell LM Parfums; I was curious so I ordered a sample and it was great from beginning to finish.
Drats, I was hoping the Souq site would have Hard Leather already. (Isn’t that in the UAE?) Well, I just checked http://uae.souq.com/ae-en/lm-parfums/s/ and you’re right, no Hard Leather yet, though they have other LM Parfums. But the line is exclusive to Harvey Nichols in the U.K., so the Dubai Harvey Nicks should have it too, I thought? I guess it may take a little while longer to get there.
I’m so glad you liked it, Taleb. Hard Leather is probably my favorite new fragrance in years, though SHL 777’s O Hira and Black Gemstone, are giving it a serious run for its money. lol I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of those two when you get to try them.
Pingback: Vintage Bal à Versailles: The Animalic Queen - Kafkaesque
Pingback: Orto Parisi (Nasomatto) Boccanera & Stercus - Kafkaesque
Sounds delectable. For sheer gorgeousness, how would you compare Hard Leather vs SL’s MMK vs Cuir Mauresque? No doubt I would love all three.
Pingback: LM Parfums Malefic Tattoo - Kafkaesque
Pingback: Fragrance Recommendations: Leathers, Vetivers, Fougères & More - Kafkaesque
Thank you for this great review! I know I am so late but wanted to say that. I love to wear M, I can’t wait until I test this fragrance.
Pingback: Les Liquides Imaginaires Peau de Bete: Sex & The Beast - Kafkaesque
I’ve only recently rediscovered fragrances after not wearing any for a bit over 20 years. Your blog is one I return to constantly, not only because of your knowledge but because you’re so eloquent. I think it’s safe to say our sense of smell has some overlap and I enjoy reading your reviews even when I’m quite certain I have no interest in purchase the fragrance you’re reviewing.
I’ve discovered I like some of the things people describe as “skanky” and after some research, and your strong recommendations, I purchased a sample of Dusita’s Oudh Infini, Les Liquides Imaginaires’ Peau de Bete, and LM’s Hard Leather. They arrived today and I’ve had a great deal of fun smelling them myself and re-reading your reviews.
Funnily enough, the order in which I thought I’d like these is reversed now that I’ve smelled them on my skin. I just visited the Middle East for the first time last year and am having my own private love affair with oud. Being a stranger to fragrances for many years, I’ve missed the overdose that many, like you, seem to have lived through. As a result, I was most excited about Oudh Infini. Sadly, I get a blast of those pink, humid roses in the opening moments, and after five minutes it’s all I can smell. I was really hoping for the delicate interplay that you mentioned in your review, as I like the idea of such a traditionally pretty smell, like rose, sparring with the woody, animalic oud — a naughty granny if you will. Unfortunately, on my skin, it’s just dear old granny sitting on the couch knitting.
My skin brought out the ammonia smells in Peau de Bete and after a dirty, earthy, almost petrol-like opening (which I loved!) I just ended up smelling like cheap house cleaning products.
And the one I thought I’d like least, the Hard Leather, is stunning. I get loads of honey and sandalwood in the opening, but with a urinous sharpness to balance it out. The oud moves in rather quickly and the smell reminds me very much of the first time an older Arab gentleman crossed my path and I caught of whiff of his fragrance, not knowing it was oud, or even what oud was.
Thanks for the stories, the eloquence, and taking the time to share your knowledge.