Cuir Fétiche by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier is the upcoming new perfume by the Parisian niche perfumery headed now by Jean Paul Millet Lage. The house was originally founded in 1988 by Jean-François Laporte, the founder of yet another reference name in the world of creative perfumery, L'Artisan Parfumeur...
The eau de parfum will launch in October 2011 and is offered as a feminine leather, part of the "Accords Mystères" collection (Mysterious Accords.).
The fragrance exudes an old-world quality and succeeds in offering a slight sense of temporal disorientation thanks to its restrained palette of main notes which feels like a reenactment of the great classical notes of the 17th-18th century.
Cuir Fétiche was originally inspired by a visit Millet Lage made to an artisan workshop located in Les Grands Causses in order to work on his next collection of leather gloves. The perfume house thinking-head was immediately struck by the olfactory atmosphere of the workshop as he pushed open a heavy oak door. Behind it, he encountered an olfactive atmosphere which he says was at once "raw and sensual, animalic and floral." Upon this initial olfactory impression, a visual superimposed itself. In it, leather skins seemed to come to life, and dyed with "...sublime colors evoked flowers and fruits: the bright orange of a mandarin, the velvety violet of an iris, the immaculate white of jasmine."
The name of the fragrance, which means "fetish leather" in French is an allusion to the composition featuring the favorite, fetish perfumery materials of the house, i.e., jasmine absolute, ambergris, rose and musk. The advert for the perfume in its turn plays on the erotic connotation of the name.
Official notes: red mandarin, bergamot, lemon, geranium / leather, ylang ylang, jasmine, rose, iris, vanilla / musk, ambergris, patchouli, cedar wood, sandalwood.
Cuir Fétiche opens on a soft leather note literally melting into an amber which is golden, sweet and light. The leather note has slight animalic asperities - like the smell of its textural grain, pores and hair - but it is mostly a floral leather.
As the perfume evolves, smoky, husky facets rise above the grain of the leather. There are archaic nuances of benzoin, incense. The fragrance offers the strange, exotic slant of a Cuir de Russie smell (Iso E Super has a leathery facet and it seems to have been put to good use here), but there is also a precious, delicate sweetness to the perfume which seems to be due to jasmine and which takes it away from the steppes roamed by the Tatars into a more high-brow, courtly atmosphere.
It feels like it could be the smell of leather gloves abandoned on a card table by a court lady during an evening of games at Versailles, except that in reality they would have been much more violently scented. Headaches triggered by scented gloves worn in closed quarters filled with warm courtiers' bodies were a common phenomenon at Versailles.
Cuir Fétiche conveys very well the sensation of leather gloves having been steeped into perfume essences mingling jasmine, amber and rose to profoundly penetrate the leather skin. It showcases a very delicate and beautiful floral-leather accord which plays out here its subtle nuances succeeding in creating an impression of understated ornateness and slightly more palpable preciousness.
The composition offers an archaic charm, which points to an aesthetic of perfume conceived of as a masterly, quiet blend of well thought-out precious essences. What is less 18th century and more 20th century, is a nuance of oakmoss. But overall, the perfume is a mix of primitive charm and refined sophistication, which seems to allude to simpler, more authentic and qualitative times.
It reminds me in particular of the gorgeous simplicity of Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie by Creed, which is still inspired today by its original 1870 formula - and this sense of inhaling an honest-to-God infusion of the most qualitative essences with nothing else needed to beguile. There is also here the same naturally rich simplicity one finds in M.A. Sillage de la Reine by Château de Versailles, a recreation of an 18th century perfume.
Drawing on the tradition of perfumed glove-making, a way to imprint gender on a leather perfume for women would be to reproduce the scent and feel of kid leather. Jasmine-scented kid gloves called in French "gants de jasmin" were considered feminine items. In this sense, we are able to experience something of a rarefied, historically evocative sensation.
Going the full length, the composition also reveals orris or iris especially more clearly in the drydown, whose powder would have been used to make jasmine gloves. The pungent, animalic musk allied with the very qualitative Moroccan jasmine used here, is somewhat reminiscent of another Maître Parfumeur et Gantier jasmine creation, La Reine Margot, only Cuir Fétiche offers much more filtered emotions and subtler nuances while keeping something of that unfamiliar old-world primitive energy. It's also good to be able to wear a different type of musk than the White one or the Egyptian one, which are both so ubiquitous these days. The fecal nuance of natural ambergris appears as a subtle undertone, adding to the exotic old-world feel.
You could decide that the finish of the perfume is either very 18th century or very 21st century as the fragrance becomes a discreet skin scent, like a natural dying of vanishing natural essences - although the jasmine runs throughout the scent - but also like an understated Iso-E-Super clad skin. Of course, it can be both.