Cuir Fetiche is a name that might conjure up thoughts of fetishes, whips, and bondage leather, but put that aside completely and think instead of grand floral oriental classics. Specifically, vintage Bal à Versailles, perhaps with a tiny drop of Serge Lutens‘ Cuir Mauresque added in as well. This is not the world of 50 Shades of Grey or Etat Libre‘s Rien; it’s the 1950s world of Dior, Cecil Beaton, and Jean Desprez where women swirl in ball gowns and long gloves amidst clouds of sweet, lightly animalic floralcy, although some people think of Cuir de Lancome, Cuir de Russie, or Knize Ten instead.
Regardless of which fragrance classic is referenced, you should put aside all thoughts of modern or masculine leathers with their smoky, tarry, blackened birch and you should think of clouds of flowers instead. They are infused with citrus and chypre-ish elements before being placed atop iris chamois or suede gloves that have been coated with civet, resulting in a sweet, lightly animalic floral bouquet that gradually turns more oriental through golden flourishes of amber and cinnamon-scented resins laced with vanilla. That’s Cuir Fetiche in the broadest of strokes. It’s an incredibly pretty fragrance, one that I’ve been tempted to buy for myself on several occasions, but it’s also sufficiently familiar that I’ve held off in actually doing so.