Recently come back into their own in perfumed compositions, the olfactory notes denominated “leathery” can be considered part of the historic patrimony of the perfumery. In fact the first leathery notes came from an infusion process of the leather strips recovered from the Perfumed Glove Masters of Grasse, who had launched around 1600 the fashion of perfumed leather. At that time “perfumed leather” through the use of fragrant oils was worn: waistcoats, doublets, shoes, belts, fans, but above all gloves. The tanning of the leather(the treatment which the hides undergo in order to preserve and work them) was done using the bark of the birch tree, very rich in tannin.
Up until 1960 it was very fashionable and was used in women’s and men’s fragrances, giving them character, strength and a rigorous almost military edge to compositions. One of the first successful fragrances to present the Leathery note was Cuir de Russie by Chanel, composed in 1924 by Ernest Beaux. These were the years before the emancipation of women and these “important shades, unconventional and decisive, excellently highlight the new image of femininity.
In the men’s field we can remember some fragrances in which the Leathery note emphasises the rigorous sensuality of the composition: Bel Ami by Hermes from 1986, with spicy hints which underline the strength of castoreum, cistus labdanum and birch in the base notes; Antaeus by Chanel, created by Jacques Polge in 1981, with a woody character, with shades of animalised leather, or Kouros by YSL, again from 1981, a Fougère fragrance with brush strokes of leather which describe the figure of the elegant and virile man. When researching the leathery trend in recent years, fragrances such as Gucci Homme in 2003 or Silver Black by Azzaro in 2005 have been launched; in 2006 Guess Man, with ozone notes which bring freshness and a “burst of energy”, Dzongkha by L’Artisan Parfumeur, a no-sex composition with floral accents, Alamut by Lorenzo Villoresi, a mix of oriental and amber notes, Fumerie Turque by S.lutens, with a strong connotation of tobacco, up until the most recent For Him by Narciso Rodriguez, with a fresh green shade.
But how is it possible to generate today that dry, intense odour with smoky shades of Leather? Strangely not with materials of animal origin, but rather from vegetal sources. §It is exactly the odorous connotation of birch bark which defines the olfactory parameters of the facet. Therefore we can find essence of cistus laudanum, costus, calamus rhyzome (already used by ancient Egyptians in the preparation of kyphi
and styrax, a resin produced by a bush which grows wildly in the south east Anatolian peninsula (Turkey). Among the synthetic notes, Isobutiquinoleine (IBQ). There are also many reproductions
, which give the compositions more velvety inflections, recreating sensations of suede leather. Also the tobacco notes are often associated with the leathery facet.