Hermès Cuir d’Ange (Hermessence Collection)

“Angel leather,” inspired partially by Hermès’ iconic bag and luggage creations, lies at the heart of Cuir d’Ange. It is Jean-Claude Ellena‘s newest fragrance for Hermès’ luxury Hermessence Collection, an homage to the brand’s most famous products, and was ten years in the making. For me, Cuir d’Ange is the very best thing that I’ve tried from Jean-Claude Ellena thus far, though it’s not without the usual problems stemming from his minimalistic, wispy aesthetic. It’s a truly beautiful recreation of leather that oozes elegance and refinement. In essence, it bottles the very smell of the leather department in an Hermès boutique, capturing it to an astonishing degree.

Source: bostoncommon-magazine.com

Source: bostoncommon-magazine.com

On the Hermès website, Jean-Claude Ellena describes Cuir d’Ange and his inspiration for the scent as follows:

The softness of leather, a promise hovering over the skin. Engaging, bewitching, hazy.

“For a long time I’d wanted to reveal the importance I attach to literature, and where it meets perfume. More importantly, I wanted to evoke my connection with the work of Jean Giono. Two words from a passage in Jean le Bleu came back to me: ‘cuir d’ange’ – angel leather. Using the smells that are my words, I wanted to write a poem to rekindle the love duet between leather and the skin. Its softness and lightness, its tension and its caress. Heliotropes and hawthorn, leather and musk.”

Source: Hermes website.

Source: Hermes website.

The really important revelations about his inspiration for the scent comes from an interview that Monsieur Ellena gave to Boston Commons Magazine. There, he revealed that Cuir d’Ange had been 10 years in the making, and inspired by a visit to the Hermès leather vault at the headquarters when he was first made the company’s in-house nose:

When Jean-Claude Ellena became “the nose” of Hermès 10 years ago, his first port of call was the maison’s leather vault in Paris. Providing specialized storage for the skins that form the brand’s iconic luggage and handbags, “it was a marvelous treasure,” Ellena recalls, “an Ali Baba’s cave, where each piece of leather was arranged by characteristic and color.

Some of Hermès' leathers from the Hermès Leather Forever Exhibition in Hong Kong. Source:  chinadailyasia.com

Some of Hermès’ leathers from the Hermès Leather Forever Exhibition in Hong Kong. Source: chinadailyasia.com

“There I saw and touched the most beautiful leather, even some that weighed only a few grams in my hand, so soft that I hardly dared to touch it,” he says. “I realized that each leather, tanned naturally, had a different scent, and the most beautiful and expensive pieces smelled of flowers…. I was seized by happiness and decided right then that I wanted to create a perfume inspired by leather.”

This month, 67-year-old Ellena’s dream is realized in the form of Cuir d’Ange (angel leather), a fragrance that’s both gentle and assertive, shifting between delicate heliotropes and woody hawthorn, bashful violets and narcissi, and unrestrained musk.

Hermès Leather Forever Exhibition London. Photo and Source: http://www.fivefivefabulous.com/2012/05/14/hermes-leather-forever-exhibition-preview/

Strips of Hermès’ textiles from its Leather Forever Exhibition in London. Photo & source: Five Five Fabulous at http://www.fivefivefabulous.com/2012/05/14/hermes-leather-forever-exhibition-preview/

The succinct note list for Cuir d’Ange is:

heliotrope, hawthorn, violet, narcissus, musk and leather.

Cuir d’Ange opens on my skin with a light sprinkling of aldehydes infused with floral sweetness that feels like wild, pressed flowers. It’s the hawthorn which Fragrantica describes as “sweetish, hazy note also called ‘aubepine’ recreated through the use of an aldehyde.” The aroma is followed immediately by a flood of airy leather that smells simultaneously refined, clean, new, and redolent of birch tar.

Birch bark. Photo: Hattie Wilcox at Available Light Only photography. availablelightonly.com/

Birch bark. Photo: Hattie Wilcox at Available Light Only photography. availablelightonly.com/

As many of you know, the aroma that we call “leather” is indirectly recreated through other elements, from birch to cade or isobutyl quinoline. Here, the leather smells clearly like birch, mixed in with a touch of quinoline, probably something like Pyrone which is described as having a woody and faintly tobacco-like aroma. There is none of the latter on my skin, but there is a definite nuance of woodiness, as if shavings of the birch’s silvery bark had been tossed in. There is also the faintest soupçon of something rubbery and blackened in feel, though not quite. The birch’s smokiness is more noticeable but, ultimately, all of it is subtle and muted, and lies in the background behind the primary bouquet of very refined, purified leather that has been cleansed with the sheerest dusting of hawthorn cleanness and aldehydes. If one ignores the small puffs of smokiness, Cuir d’Ange smells, for the most part, like brand new, really expensive, leather shoes, handbags, or jackets.

Source: dreamstime.com

Source: dreamstime.com

The unworn, clean leather is wrapped up in abstract flowers, tinged with the most microscopic dusting of their sweet pollen. For a brief minute in the opening, there is a whiff of greenness, crystal clean floralcy, and violet leaves. The latter are not crunchy, peppered, or metallic, but much more redolent of flower stems in water that have been crushed to release a floral greenness that is cool and watery. The liquidity vanishes within seconds, and the aldehydes follow a few minutes later. Both of them are replaced by a clean-ish musk that I think probably includes a drop of vegetal ambrette to give it some warmth. It certainly isn’t a hairspray, soapy, or truly white musk at all but, rather, one that is faintly reminiscent of warm, clean skin.

Hawthorn via Fragrantica.

Hawthorn via Fragrantica.

With the exception of the opening minute, the floral notes are consistently very conceptual on my skin. The heliotrope is truly invisible in any individually delineated, concrete way, but it exerts an indirect influence, creating an impression of floral sweetness. There is very little pollen, no powder at this point, and definitely no almonds, fluffiness, or sweetish vanilla meringue tonalities. The really significant floral influence comes from the hawthorn with its bouquet of clean, sweet, slightly dried wildflowers, but even that feels very hazy and abstract.

All of these things are mere glossing on the real star of the show: the leather. I have to admit, it’s darker and rawer than I had expected from Jean-Claude Ellena and less powerfully clean, particularly up close, but it’s a wholly relative thing. I had expected a positive tsunami of aldehydes and gushing soap lather, with all impurities and vestiges of phenolic tarriness to be stripped away. That is not the case, and the scent is better for it. Plus, I think you do have to sniff close to detect the streaks of smoky blackness in the base because, from afar, it’s almost entirely clean, new, unworn, natural leather that skews a soft, caramel brown.

Hermès Cavale saddle. Source: Hermes.com

Hermès Cavale saddle. Source: Hermes.com

It takes me back in time in a really powerful way. As a child, I used to go to the Hermès Mothership in Paris with my family quite a lot, and my sister and I usually dashed right off to the riding department where we would “oooh” and “aaah” over the saddles. We both had horses, but I don’t think you had to be an equestrian to be awed at the flawless magnificence, beauty, and luxuriousness of Hermès’ riding creations. There wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) anything like them, but I think there is no leather smell as amazingly chic or elegant as the smell of Hermès’ leather department in general. Cuir d’Ange bottles that aroma to a T. It’s astonishing, wholly riveting, and effortlessly elegant.

Hermès Barda calfskin. Source: brandtgroupappliance.com

Hermès Barda calfskin. Source: brandtgroupappliance.com

There is little else to Cuir d’Ange’s primary bouquet beyond this, and very few changes in the hours which follow, either. Cuir d’Ange is a simplistic, linear scent which doesn’t morph in any substantial fashion, but there are fluctuations to the prominence of the nuances or secondary undertones. Near the end of the first hour, there is a subtle streak of creaminess which stirs in the base. It only lasts about 30 minutes, but it diffuses and blankets the subtle smokiness. It’s not powdery or vanilla-ish, but it feels as if tonka had been used. Actually, to be precise, I think it’s the coumarin from tonka beans, because the creaminess has a dry nuance that is vaguely similar to sweet hay on occasion. The overall effect, though, is to impart a supple, buttery smoothness to the leather that turns it into a dual mix of clean, thick, new leather and the softer, more delicate, baby calfskin variety, both infused with the faintest, most translucent veil of clean flowers and a hint of warmth.

Then, the nuances shift. The smokiness returns at the end of the 2nd hour and the start of the 3rd. They’re stronger than ever, blanket the creamy calfskin and, for a short while, seem to wipe out the abstract floralcy as well. Cuir d’Ange is now more obviously centered on birch leather than ever before, with almost a whisper of black rubberiness underneath. However, at the 3.5 hour mark, like a magician’s waving his hand over a crystal ball, it all changes again. The puffs of smoke retreat to the distant sidelines, as both the florals and the calfskin creaminess return. There is now a powdery texture that is most definitely due to tonka and, with every passing hour, it infuses the brown leather more and more. Eventually, it turns Cuir d’Ange into soft suede covered with a veil of abstract, delicate wildflowers, a light sprinkling of powder, and only the quietest, tiniest glimmer of birch smoke. In its final moments, Cuir d’Ange is merely a blur of creamy softness that is only vaguely suede-like.

NuBuck leather via vaskabags.com

NuBuck leather via vaskabags.com

Cuir d’Ange had very discreet projection on my skin, almost no sillage trail, and iffy longevity. Using 3 very large, wide smears equal to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle, the perfume initially opened with about 2.5 inches of projection, but that number dropped to 1 inch after 45 minutes, and Cuir d’Ange was became a skin scent on me shortly after 90 minutes. It lasted just a hair over 6.75 hours in total.

The numbers were much worse on my other arm with 2 good smears equal to 1 spray from a bottle. Then, Cuir d’Ange opened with 2 inches of projection, became a skin scent on me after 75 minutes, and died away a little after 3 hours. There was a moment many hours later when I thought I detected a few puffs of vaguely smoky, suede-ish leather on that arm, but it was so nebulous, tiny, and fleeting that I may well have imagined it. Possibly imaginary puffs don’t really count, so the simple fact is that using the equivalent of 1 spray gave me 3 hours of longevity. While I had better numbers with 2 sprays, I had to put my nose right on the skin after 90 minutes to detect Cuir d’Ange, and that’s really not my thing.

The 50 ml bottle of L'Eau d'Hiver. Source: Barney's.

L’Eau d’Hiver. Source: Barney’s.

Bloggers have given Cuir d’Ange very positive reviews almost across the board. For Robin at Now Smell This, the first thought was Cuir d’Ange’s kinship to Jean-Claude Ellena’s L’Eau d’Hiver for Frederic Malle. The NST review reads, in relevant part, as follows:

the first thing I thought of on smelling Cuir d’Ange was not Kelly Calèche, but another, much older Jean-Claude Ellena fragrance, Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver — Cuir d’Ange could be its leather flanker or somesuch.

The opening is bright zesty citrus, already peeking towards the leather at the base. It’s not, for those of you who are serious leather fiends, your standard perfume leather with its rough edge of birch tar, that said, it does smell leathery, or perhaps in perfume-speak, something closer to suede. So a soft leather, yes, but more direct and focused than the leather in Kelly Calèche, and a leather gently perfumed with the cloudy-grey, velvety flowers of L’Eau d’Hiver: iris, hawthorn, heliotrope. […] It’s musky and lightly sweet, and a touch powdery. If you can imagine a leather comfort scent, this would be it.

One reason why I review L’Eau d’Hiver a few days ago was to see if there were similarities, but there are few on my skin beyond Ellena’s signature minimalism and a common, abstract, soft floralcy. Even that is very different on me, since it is not a cool, iris-driven scent in Cuir d’Ange as it is in L’Eau d’Hiver. As for HermèsKelly Caleche, I’ve never tried it and never will, given how badly the original Caleche traumatized me  as a child, so I can’t speak to any possible overlap.

On Fragrantica and Basenotes, opinions are mixed. A handful of men find the scent to be too feminine and not leathered enough, while a handful of women find it to be too masculine. The exact opposite is true as well. Take, for example, this review from a woman on Fragrantica, “cumulnimbus,” who writes in relevant part:

Suede via unitedleather.com

Suede via unitedleather.com

Cuir d’Ange on me is a beautiful soft light creamy bittersweet still bright leather/suede scent. I really love leather note and here it appears with an original, elegant and I would even say happy tender twist. I really appreciate this aspect of it as my other favorite leather perfumes are a bit blue and gloomy as Jolie Madame or Gomma. Cuir d’ange is playfull in comparison but still holds their dusty classic feel.

Absolutely perfect and exquisitely blended perfume, which works as the softest and most alluring suede/leather layer over my skin. Delicate, genderless and attractive.

Suede. Source: Amazon

Suede. Source: Amazon

Contrast that with these two reviews from men:

  • It is a soft and beautiful fragrance, a leather-musk-floral combo. In fact it is VERY soft and comes across as a kind of powdery though not real powdery, and I personally like my leathers a bit more rough. Thus, I’d rather smell this on a woman.
  • Let me be blunt and merciful…I found Cuir d’Ange to be a big disappointment. Okay, it’s a decent fragrance (nothing bad) but it wasn’t what I was expecting nor do I feel that it lives up to the Hermessence high price-tag.[¶] Light-leather and light-floral is what I get out of this one. I also sensed a fresh marine vibe. Go figure! The leather in CdA has an elegant feel to it, however it was way too light for my taste. No doubt a number of folks will be asking, “Where’s the leather?” For this reason, it comes across being much more feminine to my nose. These buttery soft-leather frags are just not in my wheelhouse. [¶] If Cuir d’Ange were marketed as a women’s fragrance then I probably wouldn’t rate it. I would still sniff it, but I wouldn’t rate it. However, I found CdA to be way too soft and feminine for most men.

A number of commentators have issues with Cuir d’Ange’s sillage. One person said it was a skin scent on them before the first hour was up, another called it “disappointing.” I read one blog review where the chap said he applies 5 sprays to his body and a 6th to his clothes in order to have even a modicum of a scent “halo.” I suspect such quantities would be the norm (or the minimum) if you wanted to detect Cuir d’Ange in an actual scent cloud, or without bringing your nose right to your arm after the first hour.

Some people love Jean-Claude Ellena’s transparent aesthetic and minimalism, don’t mind the discreet intimacy of his scents, or appreciate their thin sheerness. I am most definitely not one of them. In fact, it drives me absolutely up the bloody wall. I’ve tried mere colognes with three times the power or longevity of his fragrances. I once read an article somewhere (which I can’t find now) where Hermès said that it made scents for breakfast and lunchtime, the implication being that they didn’t make dramatic, rich scents for evenings or opulent occasions. Okay, that’s not my style (or an aesthetic that I much appreciate), but it would be less exasperating if Hermès didn’t charge so much for those breakfast scents. Like others in the Hermessence Collection, Cuir d’Ange costs $245 or €200 for a 100 ml bottle, and doesn’t come as anything stronger than an eau de toilette concentration.

The Hermès travel or gift set.

The Hermès travel or gift set.

However, and this part is key, Hermès does sell a travel or gift set of four 15 ml bottles for $156 or €120. You can buy 4 mixed bottles of different scents in the Hermessence line, or all 4 can be the same one. In short, for $156, you would be getting 60 ml or 2 oz of perfume, which is more than the standard 50ml/1.7oz amount from other companies. As such, it is a more reasonable price.

The only problem with this deal is that Hermès rarely includes its entire Hermessence collection amongst the available choices for those 4 bottles on its website. There are usually has only a handful of scents listed, like the vetiver, rose, tonka, or whatever else they happen to have decided to include at that particular moment in time. I’ve rarely seen Ambre Narguilé included, and the new Cuir d’Ange has not been shown on any of the last 5 occasions that I’ve checked. Your solution is to call one of Hermès’ brick-and-mortar boutiques, and to order by phone. It seems to be a common response to get around the website’s limited availability.

Scent-wise, the bottom-line is that Cuir d’Ange is the ultimate, perfect manifestation of the smell of Hermès’ leather creations when brand-new, clean, and waiting to be worn. It’s incredibly refined, supple leather that has been stripped of all its impurities, and it oozes extremely expensive elegance. It’s not a true, hardcore leather scent — and it’s definitely not a dirty, dark, or masculine one, either — but then, it’s not trying to be. It wants to be the smell of Hermès’ leather, and it manages that in spades. I love it, and not only because it sends me back in time; I truly think it’s incomparably chic.

However, I would never buy Cuir d’Ange for myself, not even in the mini-travel form as part of the set. Jean-Claude Ellena’s headlong descent into ever greater wispy thinness, translucency, non-existent sillage, and poor longevity is simply too exasperating for me. Honestly, I’m waiting for him to bottle air any moment now, and to charge $200+ dollars for the fleeting privilege of wearing it. Cuir d’Ange may be the best thing he’s has done in years, but it also comes with too many issues for me, personally. Perhaps you’ll have better luck with it. It’s certainly elegant enough to seek out for a test sniff.

Cost & Availability: Cuir d’Ange is an eau de toilette that comes in two sizes: a 50 ml bottle for $245 or €200; or a huge 200 ml/6.8 oz bottle for $390 or €310. Like all the Hermessences, it is sold exclusively by Hermès itself. You can buy it from the U.S. or French Hermès’ website. The French website delivers to the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and a few other EU locations. You can find delivery information here (in French). For the Hermessence Coffret or Travel Set, it costs $156 or €120. You can find it in this section of Hermes’ U.S. and French websites. The fragrance is also available at Hermès boutiques around the world. Their locations are listed here. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells Cuir d’Ange starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

69 thoughts on “Hermès Cuir d’Ange (Hermessence Collection)

  1. I haven’t had a lot of luck with leathers (haven’t tried Caleche, but I was scarred by Kelly!) – but this one sounds really beautiful. I don’t necessarily love a big scent cloud, so this one could be for me. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to try it someday. Thanks for this lovely and detailed review. 🙂

    • The original Caleche isn’t leathery at all, Sun Mi. It’s an aldehyde-heavy, clean, fresh scent with wispy florals and citrus. (So much soap! *shiver*) The Kelly one is definitely supposed to be the leather variation on it, but I’m not going near it, so I can’t say how it compares to Cuir d’Ange. Still, the new fragrance is definitely worth a sniff. I hope it’s the first leather to sweep you off your feet. 🙂

      • Ah, I had no idea about the original Caleche. I’m not sure I’ll go hunting it down either. I very recently found Atelier’s Gold Leather, which I like *very* much – but it sounds sooo… very different than Cuir d’Ange. And honestly I’m not sure if its the leather I like so much as the spicy jammy plum. 🙂 But I’d definitely like to get swept off my feet by CdA (or any other new-to-me scent, for that matter!)

        • Have you tried any of the Lutens’ plummy fragrances? If not, then they may well be up your alley. I’d suggest starting first with Fille en Aiguilles which has the added benefit of NOT being a leather scent, but a truly Christmas-y, gorgeous winter one with lots of incense smoke to go with the spiced plums, ginger, golden warmth, and crisp foresty notes. Tom Ford’s knock-off “Plum Japonais” is nowhere as good, as perfectly balanced, or as interesting. Give Fille en Aiguilles a try if you haven’t already. 🙂

          • Thanks for the suggestion! I hadn’t put Fille en Aiguilles on my list, but I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

  2. I heard so many wonderful things about Cuir d’Ange. Loved your review, but this perfume was a great disappointment to me. It is a one note scent on my skin. It starts out as a very raw leather that softens after a while. That’s it. There is not even the hint of anything floral, nothing but leather.

    • What a shame. I wish you’d experienced some florals, creaminess, or suede, Maya, because unrelieved leather is definitely far from interesting or elegant. At least it’s money saved!

  3. I tried Cuir d’Ange at an Hermes boutique and fell in love. It went straight to the top of my want list, surpassing Dior’s Cuir Cannage by far. I originally thought Dior had done a wonderful job at bottling soft leather with flowers, but when compared to Cuir d’Ange it pales, and I’m not so sure anymore why I was infatuated with it in the first place.
    Cuir d’Ange is a whisper of a scent, I’ll admit that, but the representation is very realistic IMO, even though it’s still not the smell of leather soles of brand new shoes. I’m still waiting for someone to recreate that specific leather note.

    • I’m so glad it worked for you, Cath, and even better that you fell in love. With regard to Cuir Cannage, I personally didn’t like that one very much, though I admit a lot of it was due to Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque which it copies (and not very well, imo). I think Cuir d’Ange is a much better scent but it’s also a very different one on my skin. Less oriental than Cuir Cannage, different degrees of floralcy, and a cleaner, more refined leather than the Lutens as well. Have you tried Cuir Mauresque? That one is a favorite of mine amongst leathers, though it’s sadly grown more synthetic recently with reformulation.

      • Dear Kafka,
        Yes, I have SL Cuir Mauresque, and while I enjoy it, it’s sweetness, on my skin it’s not very leathery, in the same way as I think Cuir Beluga is not a leather scent either. Chemistry can be a weird thing. I didn’t see the likeness with Cuir Cannage though, mmmm, will have to do a side by side comparison some day.
        To me Cuir d’Ange falls in the category of soft wearable leathers that feel and smell right from the first spray. Other leathers sometimes require an hour or two before I can truly enjoy their beauty.

        • I don’t think Cuir Beluga is a leather scent either. I mean, not at ALL! And I completely agree with you that Cuir d’Ange is a very soft leather that feels very wearable from the start. 🙂

  4. Cuir d’Ange was not in the boutiques yet when I last stopped in back in September (I know I know I could just walk there – heh, maybe when the weather gets warmer). In any case, I am now very motivated to go check it out STAT. As to Kelly Caleche, I had actually drained one 50 mL bottle and it is actually one of my most complimented office scents.

    • I think you’d enjoy Cuir d’Ange a lot, my dear. Plus, I don’t think you’d have issues if it potentially turns too smoky or dark on your skin, as it seems to have done on a few people here. Go try it! 🙂

  5. LOL@ “bottle air” …..you made me burst out loud with that one Kafka! You’re right about SL Fille en Aiguilles- that was was of my first samples and I really loved it.
    Another for my full bottle want list. I’m enjoying my recent haul haha. I wore Alahine today. I can see why you love it. 🙂 Oddly, out of my samples, Cuir Cuba Intense is my least favorite. All the others I’m loving.

    • Cuir Cuba was not for me, but I have issues with strong or powerful aromachemicals. You’ll have to tell me how it is on your skin in the Nicolai thread. And I want to hear all about the Lutens, too, in that review! Hurrah for another success and love.

  6. I’m obsessed with this one at the moment,and I’ll definitely buy a Hermes set including Cuir d’ange and Ambre Narguile.On me it lasts very well, about 6 hours,which is great for a Hermessence and it’s so darn beautiful,so elegant and chic and to me sort of gray,like a soft dove’s chest.A bit alien and cold and honestly,extraordinary. I love it!

    • I can see this one as being very much your thing in its elegance, dear Ana, and it definitely is very chic (though that seems to be a function of skin chemistry, given some of the comments here and a few people’s differing experiences.) It also does skew quite cool, imo, so your grey visual isn’t surprising. 🙂 6 hours is good for an Hermessence, too.

  7. Dear Kafkaesque, as our business is taking on I have more financial freedom and I can afford different perfumes. We were in Amsterdam in the Hermes boutique and my husband treated me/us to a travel set. I love Cuir d’ange, there is something about the early summery late springy scent/sense of hawthorn that I love, and the softest leather, I think it is so chic! I also smell lots of violet which I often find a difficult note, but here I enjoy it very much. I think my skin is the opposite of yours, Cuir d’Ange lasts a full 12 hours or longer. I am on a Amouage sampling spree, as well as smelling different Lutenses. I am discovering my taste for the Orient! Warmest wishes!

    • 12 hours or longer with an Hermessence???!!! My God. Wow. That’s rare, to say the least! You lucky devil, your skin must be amazing. One poor reader got about 10 minutes from Cuir d’Ange with 4 full sprays! I’ve known a few people for whom Hermessence scents last a grand total of 40 minutes, and many (MANY) more who get an average of 2 hours. How truly wonderful that your skin handle perfume so well. 🙂 I’m also glad Cuir d’Ange worked so beautifully on you in terms of the actual notes. I think that, for those with the right chemistry to bring out its full facets (like the florals), it’s a truly chic scent. Enjoy your travel set, my dear. (BTW, congratulations on the business taking off and doing well. *knock on wood, knock on head* I’m VERY happy for you!)

  8. As an aside – I don’t care much for Caleche myself. And Kelly Caleche in the edt does something of that celery thing we were discussing with L’Eau d’Hiver – but the edp is rosier and I find it a really pleasant citrus-rose floral with light leather undertones. And as far as I can tell, KC is entirely unrelated to Caleche.

    Further aside – I like Cuir Cannage. It strikes me as being very Chanel-y, in fact, lipstick and makeup and face powder in a new purse. Which suits me fine, as you might imagine. (For reference, the other leathers I like include Jolie Madame in parfum, which is very richly floral – equal parts bouquet and combat boots – and Cuir de Lancome, which is of course much softer. I like Cuir Ottoman as well, though it seems to veer sweet in the drydown. Tom Ford Tuscan Leather I like; it smells like a study with leather couches. Oh, and Diorling, that’s just beautiful. Can’t wear Cuir de Russie.)

    I narrowly escaped purchasing an unsniffed split of Cuir d’Ange, as my sample showed up right before payment was due for the split. As it turned out, the sample was horrendously fecal on my skin. I mean, for the first hour I could smell nothing but besmirched diaper. Dreadful. I was supposed to leave the house and spend at least a few hours with other people, and people that I *like* into the bargain, so I scrubbed it off. I suppose I should try it again, lest that experience have been unusual. I just haven’t been able to manage it so far.

    • Interesting about Dior’s Cuir Cannage striking you as a Chanel-ish scent. You must have experienced a LOT of iris. On me, it was a poor copy of Serge Lutens’ much more masterful, better balanced, more refined Cuir Mauresque. In essence, an oriental leather, more than a lipstick, makeup leather.

      As for Cuir d’Ange, how terrible that the leather went so rotten on your skin. Sounds a bit like how the birch leather in Cuir de Russie manifested itself on you, if I recall that tale correctly. (Or was it cattle hides and livestock farms for the Chanel? I’m assuming it was a fecal issue in addition to the rawness of the leather there in Cuir de Russie?)

      I’m curious how much Cuir d’Ange you applied. I think the greater the quantity, the more the florals will emerge. I suggest applying a lot of your sample, perhaps while you’re near the sink so that you can scrub it off if it goes horribly wrong on you. But the greater quantity should bring out the florals to a greater extent. Weather/Heat may make a difference, too. If you tried it in the summer’s warmth, maybe that brought out the darker, rawer undertones of the leather and suppressed the delicate florals? I think you should try again, Mals. Well, if you can bear it. 🙂

  9. I didn’t like this one at all – it had a weird petrol smell on me. Usually I get that from narcissus, so I assume that’s what bothered me. Won’t be buying a bottle for sure. And really, I haven’t liked any of the Hermessences since Ambre Narguilé, they have gotten lighter and less interesting each time a new one comes out. Not a JCE fan, I like a lot more substance to my scents.

    • How utterly fascinating about narcissus (or, as I like to think of it, daffodil). Wow, daffodils turning into a petrol note. While I feel badly for you, I’m intellectually intrigued beyond belief. I always think of daffodils as such an innocuous, little thing and, on me, they smell like a dry, vaguely hay-ish, slightly green, but very delicate, sweet floralcy. The only flower that has the potential to take on a gasoline or diesel undertone on my skin is tuberose. Can you tell me the names of other narcissus fragrances that have had a diesel note on you? Has birch or birch tar leather rarely taken on a diesel quality on you?

      Sorry for the digression into daffodils, lol, and going back to Cuir d’Ange, I agree fully with you on the Hermessences seemingly getting lighter and airier with each new one. You and I have enough overlap in our tastes and weight preferences for me not to be surprised at all about your views on Jean-Claude Ellena’s aesthetic. 😉 😀

      • I smelled the L’Artisan Parfumeur Narcissus special edition scent and got a nose full of petrol. Regarding birch tar, such as Profumum Fumidus, no, that doesn’t give me a diesel smell. I got burning tires from Bulgari Black, but not sure if that has birch tar in it or not. 🙂

        • Really interesting, Tara. Thank you for explaining further. I shall definitely keep an eye out to see if narcissus ever turns to diesel on my skin. I’m so intrigued by this. 🙂

  10. I am a big JCE fan (Osmanthe Yunnan is such a perfect olfactory representation of my favorite Chinese dessert, and L’eau d’Hiver is so beautiful, in my opinion) but I agree that his scents could be much better priced for the longevity. plus, Chanel and Hermes have both upped the prices of their exclusive lines by a significant amount in the past few years.

    Jo Malone is the brand whose scents are simply too light for me across the board. I was gifted the Ginger Biscuit scent by a friend who knew I was looking for a gingerbread esque scent, and it literally disappeared for me in two minutes. Nor could I pick out the spiciness of ginger – all I got was some generic baked-good sweetness. Very disappointing. If you know of any gingerbread scents, please let me know!

    Also I forgot to respond to your previous well wishes on my torts exam – thank you! I ended up doing fairly well on the torts exam, but surprisingly poorly on the property exam. Curse you, the unborn widow! *shakes fists*

    • Ps, Kafka, do you happen to know when Mysore sandalwood began to be replaced by synthetics in perfumery? The topic came up on a perfume group I am a part of and I’m also curious. I own a few perfumes from the nineties, but nothing before that.

      • It’s hard to know for certain when Mysore really faded out, because there is a such a transition period in reformulations, so much brand/industry secrecy on the subject, and so much periodic phasing of old-vs-new bottles. That said, I would estimate that the replacement definitely began by the late 1990s and the start of the 2000s. In the late ’80s and early 1990s, the solution seems to have been to dilute and thin out the Mysore note as much as possible, but perfume houses were still trying to use it when possible, I think.

        I vaguely recall thinking, sometime in 1999, that Mysore didn’t really seem to be around or in any scents purporting to include “sandalwood.” However, that was a time in my life when certain personal matters took up my entire attention and I didn’t go out to smell a ton of new fragrances, so my impression is merely a very general one. I can tell you that, by the mid-2000s, I couldn’t smell ANY Mysore anywhere, and I remember my distinct surprise!

        In contrast, my 1980s bottles from various brands definitely have Mysore. My 1992 bottle of Opium has true Mysore, too, albeit, in diluted, weakened form. I’ve read that the 1995 version of Opium had barely any. So, my vague estimation is that the start of the shift away from real Mysore was around 1995 or perhaps a few years earlier, and in full swing by the late 1990s/early 2000s. I hope that helps.

    • Jo Malone fragrances last 20 minutes on me and, if I’m *really* lucky, maybe an hour. Totally unimpressed, especially for the price. En plus, they have the temerity to suggest that one should buy multiple fragrances to layer in order to fix their longevity issues or improve their lifespan. I don’t think so! Bah.

      In terms of actual, almost unrelieved, pure gingerbread scents, I don’t really know of any. Musc Ravageur smells just like gingerbread on me, but that’s hardly intentional and it’s definitely not *meant* to be a gingerbread soliflore!! For intentional soliflores, I believe CB I Hate Perfume has one, but I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how it measures up.

      I’m sorry to hear about your Property exam. For what it’s worth, it was my worst subject first year, too, and the Dec. exam was the worst grade I’ve ever gotten on any exam/test I’ve ever taken in my entire life. LOL. So much so that I’ve never forgotten it.

      Staying on topic, if you’re a huge Jean-Claude Ellena fan, then you must try Cuir d’Ange. I really think it’s the best thing he’s done in ages. Hopefully, it will work out well on your skin, because the comments here do seem to indicate quite a split in terms of experiences.

  11. This was another entertaining, informative, & a couple of times, laugh out loud funny, review! I knew this wouldn’t be for me, but I was curious to know how you felt about Cuir d’Ange. Hopefully, the upcoming leather fragrance from Oriza will be much stronger.
    Even though you had issues with its strength, you described the opening so vividly that I do plan to purchase a small sample, especially since leather is my 2nd favorite note. Too bad it’s more of an expensive “breakfast perfume.” lol.
    What I’d really love to do is get into the Hermes Leather Vault so I could sniff & feel those incredible leathers…wow! I loved that part of the review & it left me intrigued. Thanks & take care
    “bottled air” ROFL!

    • For a leather lover, I think Cuir d’Ange is absolutely worth a testing sniff. Whether it works out or not will depend on skin chemistry but, for someone like you, I think it might be a lovely office scent, Ed. I wouldn’t be surprised if you liked it quite a bit. Fingers crossed!

      As for Jean-Claude Ellena and his “air” …. don’t get me started. Bah.

  12. I tried Cuir d’Ange last week and I have to say…for all the 10 minutes it lasted on my skin, sprayed 4 times, it was beautiful. Just a bit more oomph and I would have bought my first Hermessence on the spot. But alas…
    My absolute favorite new leather release is Cuir Cannage, which I bought on the spot and have been using almost twice a week, though if I recall you didn’t enjoy that one much?

    • 10 minutes… ROFL! With 4 sprays…. ROFL! No, seriously, Hahaha! And I thought my skin was wonky. 😉

      Dior’s Cuir Cannage didn’t have much similarity to Cuir d’Ange on my skin. The Dior was not only an oriental but, more importantly, like a really bad copy of Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque. I love the latter, especially in its unreformulated, original form. It’s better balanced in terms of its notes, bolder, and more interesting, imo. Someone else here brought up Cuir Cannage in the comments and called it a very Chanel-ish scent on their skin, with lipstick and makeup elements (from the iris, presumably). That would implying a softer, cooler leather with more potential for a possible overlap with the new Hermès.

      On my skin, though, Cuir Cannage has little similarity with Cuir d’Ange except in the most reductivist of terms — merely being a leather with florals. For one thing, the Dior has deconstructed, mentholated, camphorated orange blossoms! There are also heavy orange-y notes, along with sweetness and an ambered warmth. It’s not a cool floral, and the leather was hardly as purified, smooth, buttery, and sexless as it is in Cuir d’Ange. Jean-Claude Ellena has really stripped the leather of a lot of its blackness, at least on my skin, though others seem to have experienced more grit or rawness.

      Anyway, I will stick to my Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque for a floral leather, though, again, it’s a very different genre as the Lutens is an oriental scent and Cuir d’Ange definitely isn’t. Have you tried Cuir Mauresque, Alex? If so, how was it on you and did you like it?

      • Actually Cuir d’Ange was quite different to Cuir Cannage. It behaved like a beautiful floral leather, with no harshness or the butch rawness I like in leather. Cuir Cannage is the contrary, raw leather, indolic Orange blossom, and ‘makeup vibe’ powderiness. It’s like a worn leather bag, with a lipstick and powder compact, a cigarette case, and maybe a bottle of vintage parfum! Cuir Mauresque I haven’t tried, but it’s on my Serge list to try along some others that are currently bell jar exclusives.

        • Aaah, that sounds a lot more like the Cuir Cannage that I know!! As for Cuir Mauresque, I think you’d really like it. Such a pity that you’re not in the States where the cheaper 50 ml export bottles are not hard to find, where the scent isn’t limited to the bell jar form if one looks at discount retailers, and where you can order samples.

          Perhaps you can email Serge Lutens International, explain your location, and see if they will send you some of their wax samples. I’ve read of a number of people who did that and got the wax samples for free, and they cover the Lutens range, including the Bell Jar Exclusives! I would love to know what you thought of something like Un Voix Noire, for example. And I think the (non-bell jar, regular line) Fille en Aiguilles would be a HUGE hit with you! So write to them and see if you can get the wax samples.

          Someone posted on Fragrantica in 2013 that they used this email address: contact@sergelutens.com They were in Australia, and said they wrote an “explaining that the range can be hard to find in Australia and asking if they send samples.” They got a great email back! So, if you write, give your location, explain how you can’t get to Paris to try the exclusives, and ask for a handful, they may just send you the regular (non-wax) atomiser samples instead. It’s definitely worth a try!

  13. This one sounds divine. Cuir d’Ange is definitely a must try for me. I love Jean Claude and most of his creations. Yes, they are subtle, they are not dominant “take over the room” scents but I’m not a dominant take no prisoners person either. I just want to go my way and smell the nice subtle lovely scents that I like. I’ll take a JCE creation over a sillage monster any day. There’s an easy solution to the “it doesn’t last” problem, just re-apply my fellow perfume lovers! Spray in the morning, at mid-day and whenever you feel like it. You’ll be glad you did!

    • If you’re a huge Jean-Claude Ellena fan, then you absolutely MUST try this one, Ricky. I think you might really love it, assuming that your skin brings out the florals and the subtler nuances. (Sadly, some people here didn’t get to experience any floral aspect at all.) You’ll have to let me know what you think when you try it. 🙂

  14. On me, it smells like leather being chemically treated. Eh. The chemical aspect fades with time, but it’s never the clean smell of a new handbag. It’s more of a worn, dark leather. I get the smoky aspect too, but it’s never creamy, nor is there any floral element. Also, I sometimes detect the tiniest whiff of soap.

    I also tried l’Eau d’Hiver. It’s nice, but the sillage drops so, SO quickly. It’s almost entirely gone after a mere few hours!

    • What a shame that you don’t get any of the florals and that the leather is so raw on your skin! 🙁 Vraiment, quel dommage. As for L’Eau d’Hiver, I’m not surprised about the sillage dropping quickly, or that the fragrance as a whole only lasts a few hours on your skin. That Jean-Claude Ellena… *shakes head* I think one needs to have perfume-retaining skin that holds onto things like glue for some of his perfumes.

      • Rereading your review, I was baffled to read I was supposed to smell florals. I get none! Zip! Nada!
        I don’t think I would have liked an overtly clean leather. Cuir Cannage bored me to tears. I’d rather own the expensive handbag than smell like it, you know? 🙂 I like my leather to be stronger, with more character. But those chemicals?! Who would want to smell like a tannery?!
        I’m not sure my skin (and tastes) agrees with Ellena. I’d like to try Ambre Narguilé, though. Ah, well.

        • LOL about your bewilderment on the florals. It definitely seems to be an issue of skin chemistry, as you’re not alone amongst the commentators here in experiencing almost pure leather or a raw leather. There definitely seems to a be clear split down the line in terms of the experiences. Either one thing or the other. But I haven’t heard the chemical thing from anyone else. It’s a pity you had to deal with that, and not the nicer parts.

  15. Gah! I gotta turn off the subscription to these comments. My lust for a sample of this is reaching epic proportions! But I just can’t make myself do it…

    • LOL! Do you have an Hermès store slightly, somewhat close to you, Sun Mi? If not, perhaps a sample from Surrender to Chance is in order?

      • There’s one 45 min to an hour away, and traffic may or may not be horrible… Does Hermes give samples or would I just get to spray on skin while I’m there?

        • You know what I’d do? I’d call them, and explain your situation to them. First, I’ve heard some people didn’t get to test Cuir d’Ange in Hermes boutiques because they were out. That happened last year and earlier in the perfume’s release, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hermes were sold out. Second, not all Hermès boutiques are well-stocked with samples of things and, again, Cuir d’Ange is the hot new one. The store near you may be small or they may be out. Better to call first.

          The other thing, though, is that I’ve heard of people writing to Hermes or calling them up to explain that they’re not located anywhere NEAR an Hermes boutique, and asking how they can try the scent. (I think one woman was in Idaho?) Anyway, the store sent her a sample, and the manufacturer ones are pretty big! Your situation is a little different because you have a boutique only 45 minutes away, but I still think it’s worth trying under the same theory. I know Dior in Las Vegas sometimes sends people samples of the Privée line, and Hermes may, too. Perhaps it won’t be the large 2.5 ml glass vials, but they may make some up for you. Try it, give them a real sob story about the distance or your difficulty getting to the city, and you may get lucky. 🙂

          • Brilliant! You mean like my real life sob story of trying to navigate the almost always horrible DC beltway with an 8 month old son who hates the car?? 🙂

          • YES!!! Exactly that! (Maybe you can call him a “newborn” to make them feel even more for you? LOL) BTW, I live in a place with far worse traffic than the DC/N.VA area, but I sympathize fully. I dread driving here except for a few times of the day when it’s only mildly bad, and I actually schedule things, events, dinners, doctor’s appointments, etc. around the traffic cycles. LOL.

            Call Hermès Monday, sound utterly frazzled, sob away to them, and let me know what happens. 😀

          • I finally called today, and sadly Tyson’s didn’t have Cuir d’Ange (but I think I’m getting mals’ sample?!?) – BUT – they did have several others in stock which the assistant seemed happy to send me. Hopefully I’ll find a few loves and I can get that 4 piece mix and match set for my birthday! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

          • I’m glad my idea partially worked out, even if you didn’t get the Cuir d’Ange. At least you can try some of the others without enduring traffic hell and gridlock. I hope they work for you, and that you get the Cuir d’Ange sample at some point, too. You can always order from STC if all else fails.

          • Wow, they 2 day mailed me 6 samples, 4ml each… I mentioned 5 i wanted to try, and they sent all of them and 2 of the vanille galante! I really hope I love some because I’d love to repay the kindness and generosity!

          • I was hoping that they’d send you the long 4 ml glass vials! And how wonderful that they sent you all the ones you wanted to try. You’ll have to let me know if you ever get the Cuir d’Ange and what you think of it, as well as whether Ambre Narguilé meets your expectations. (I know you’d mentioned it before as being one of the Hermessences that you were curious about and wanted to try.) I don’t have a sense of your personal perfume tastes, likes, dislikes, or skin chemistry, but I do hope they all work out for you (and last on your skin).

          • You know – I actually didn’t get the amber (I’m not sure I like amber as a note and I *totally* chickened out!). So I’m trying the Rose Ikebana, Osmanthe Yunnan, Iris Ukiyoe, Vanille Galante and Santal Massoia. Over the next few weeks I’ll get through them (and hopefully the Cuir D’Ange) and I will surely let you know how it goes! =D

  16. Dear Kafkaesque,

    I know this is subjective, but It would be lovely if you could give your opinion on Tom ford’s Tuscan Leather and the cuir dange? Both are extremely clean leather perfumes to my untrained nose, if you could choose either which would it be? Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Marcus, welcome to the blog. 🙂 Your question is a hard one for me to answer for a few reasons:

      1) they are 2 completely different types of perfumes, not to mention leathers. Cuir d’Ange is a pure, very refined, buttery, soft leather with light flowers. It skews cool, and is very light. It’s not an oriental at all. In contrast, TF’s Tuscan Leather is a very oriental sort of leather with fruitiness, spiciness, golden warmth and richness. It is heavy, projects like crazy, and skews warm. It also has a synthetic base, in my opinion. I don’t think it is a floral leather like Cuir d’Ange. More importantly, the leather is not buttery, and definitely isn’t as pure or refined as the one in Cuir d’Ange, either. I personally wouldn’t call Tuscan Leather a clean leather, but a very dark one that is sometimes raw in feel and almost butch. If you think Tuscan Leather feels clean, then I think you might possibly find the leather in Cuir d’Ange to be so clean that it’s actually not very leathery at all!

      2) As I said above, Tuscan Leather has great longevity, big projection, and feels big. So that’s better for me than Cuir d’Ange which is very thin, sheer, light in weight, discreet on the skin, and doesn’t last long.

      3) I really like the smell of Cuir d’Ange but not its longevity/sillage. I don’t like Tuscan Leather so much because it’s too sweet and fruity on my skin and has the synthetic streak, but I like how it lasts and its warmth.

      Ultimately, I wouldn’t choose EITHER one of these for myself, if you want my honest opinion. I would go for Puredistance’s fantastic, superb “M,” which Roja Dove created. It’s a chypre-leather-oriental and one of my favorite leathers of all time. But it’s not cheap. I also love Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque and LM Parfums’ Hard Leather. Both are also oriental leathers. They’re very different from Hermès Cuir d’Ange (which, again, is not an oriental and is much cooler in feel or temperature), but all of these other fragrances project and last.

      If you want a really high-class, expensive leather, you should try Puredistance M. If you want a totally, totally clean leather that is very purified of dark elements, is very buttery and soft, lightly floral, and with very low sillage that makes it suitable for the most conservative office environment, then Cuir d’Ange will work for you better. If you’re looking for a darker, warmer leather with fruitiness instead of florals, as well as spices, smokiness, amber, and serious power, then Tuscan Leather is the way to go.

      I hope you try Puredistance M. It’s an absolutely SUPERB leather, Marcus. Actually, I think of it more as an amber oriental with a leather phase than a pure leather-leather-leather but, no matter how you classify or categorize it, it is one of the best fragrances in its genre. Simply fantastic! It blows Tuscan Leather out of the water, in my opinion. (Cuir d’Ange doesn’t compare because, again, it is a totally different type and genre of fragrance.) I hope that helps. 🙂

      • I own TF Tuscan Leather too, and it’s a favourite. I was looking for “tough” leathers, and TL is the one that blew me away. Cuir d’Ange is a whisper compared to TL. Another easy to wear leather that falls in between these two, though leaning more towards the edgier side is James Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur. Now, for leather, just leather, and nothing else, no extra notes, I recommend Mona di Orio Cuir. WOW is all I can say, it’s extremely realistic.
        I think I need to get samples of Hard Leather and Puredistance M next 🙂

        • Mona di Orio’s Cuir is definitely hard-core. It’s not to my personal tastes, but I can see why some people love it so muhc.

          Cath, you definitely need to try Puredistance M and, if you like animalic treatments, then LM Parfums’ Hard Leather as well!

  17. Really wonderful and helpful review!
    I tried Cuir d’Ange in Vegas this past Oct and was smitten. It’s very pretty and I do love leather and suede notes. My issue, like yours, is its transparency. While I love the idea of a veil of a scent, I also want to smell that veil beyond an hour on my skin. I have this issue with all the Hermessence perfumes but for Vetiver Tonka. I ordered a sample from STC to try a more lavish spraying, but I’m not hopeful given my experience and the reviews to date.

    • Hi Floragal, welcome to the blog. 🙂 I think Hermessence or Ellena fragrances in general work better on some skin than on others. It sounds like you and I are in the same boat, and/or have the same perfume tastes where we prefer stronger, heavier, richer scents. That’s definitely not the Ellena aesthetic (alas), but perhaps lavish spraying will help you with Cuir d’Ange. 🙂 (If you hear the dubiousness in my voice, you wouldn’t be completely mistaken. LOLOL! 😉 )

  18. I enjoyed your post, Kafkaesque! Funny coincidence – I had just came back from the Hermes store having sniffed this fragrance for the very first time when you posted this review. Out of all the fragrances I tried at Hermes, this one and Bel Ami Vetiver stood out as the most interesting.

    Cuir d’Ange smells very much like smooth, dyed designer leather to me. It’s quite nice, and an interesting change from my usual leather (Tuscan Leather) which has more of a rugged leather feel to it. Out of all the leathers I have tried, this one best captures the smell of a designer leather store.

    I know that you are a fan of Puredistance M (and I believe Bel Ami), but I was wondering if you had the chance to try Bel Ami Vetiver. If so, what do you think? I am currently debating between Bel Ami Vetiver, Fetish Pour Homme Parfum, and Puredistance M.

  19. I tried the experiment you dared not try, tonight: Kelly Caleche vs Cuir d’Ange. Cuir d’Ange wins by a landslide. I even had to scrub the KC…too brash and shrieky compared to the soft tenor hum of the Cuir.
    I’m not sure where this connection comes from, but I get a World’s Most Interesting Man vibe…there is a seasoned kind of dignity to it but not too serious or stuffy. Oooh, now a diffuse floral sweetness is wafting in but the leather is still there.
    It doesn’t seem like an illusion of leather, it seems so real it feels like an apparation. I can smell it but can’t touch or see it.
    I can totally see where this aesthetic wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but this is my kind of thing.

    • It sounds absolutely wonderful on your skin, Gigi? I grinned enormously at the “Most Interesting Man in the World” comment. lol. How long does Cuir d’Ange last on you (and with what amount)?

      • Ha! I’m glad that made you smile, I really couldn’t get his face out my mind though. Strange!
        This one really was magic on me, and I got decent longevity from it, about 7 hours. I’m a pretty light sprayer, I think…3 spritzes in all. It is of course a softer fragrance but got much better performance than some other Hermessences (I get two hours tops from Osmanthe Yunnan in comparison)

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