Friday, September 28, 2012

My new (second) favorite leather

For years, Cuir de Lancome has been by far my favorite leather fragrance. I've tried many others, and found some to like, and some to dislike. In the end, nothing really came close to CdL, with its bracing saffron opening melting into the smoothest, most beautiful caramel leather possible. Generally, I've found that leathers, when they fail, fail in one of three ways:

  1. They're too sweet (Cuir de Mauresque, for example, has a fabulous drydown but is a little too sweet on the opening spray)
  2. They're too animalic (this usually comes, I find, from raunching it up with musk, castoreum, dirty patchouli and so forth, rather than the "leather" materials themselves)  
  3. They don't smell like leather (see Bottega Veneta, Kelly Caleche) 

Now, finally, something comes close! And it might be the most underrated perfume on the planet: Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris.

Folks, this beautiful leather fragrance (in a rather beautiful, constellated bottle) is not only still in production (what!), but Natalie and I split a huge (125 ml!) bottle that we scored online for something like $55. What I'm wondering is, WHY is nobody talking about this fragrance?!?! The closest thing I can compare it to is cult-favorite Bulgari Black, but Black has always had slightly too high a vanilla-to-rubber ratio to my nose, and I prefer to smell it on my man J, where the smoky sweetness is disarming (on women, vanilla has come to be expected).

We found Midnight in Paris on the men's counter, but it's actually a gourmand leather, which makes it a perfect crossover hit. Folks, if you like leather, please check out this bargain gem. It's more of a true leather than Black (which smells more like tires), and the sweetness is more almondy tonka and smoky benzoin/styrax (styrax being part of the magic that makes Cuir de Lancome so magical) than straight vanilla. In a word, SEXYDELICIOUS. Well worth the money (and the forearm cramps from sprizting half the bottle into a spare).


  1. Elisa, you have inspired me...I have never seen/smelled this fragrance...The next time I am at the mall I will be on the hunt for it, time permitting...

    Thank you for sharing!!!

    WAHM Shelley... :)

  2. Ooh, I am behind on my French Exit reading and there are all these fragrant treats! Just today I read that the traditional third wedding anniversary gift (I share a wedding date with the Obamas, it seems, though they are up to year 20, when fine china is the traditional gift) is leather, which I believe means I should probably buy a bottle of this for myself.

    1. Happy anniversary! If you can wait I will bring you a bit of MiP when I come to Boston!

    2. Double thanks! I'm too easily swayed by your enthusiasm, but I'll hold off on buying until I sniff it myself. See you soon!

  3. I do really love MiP, which is strongly tonka-almond-suede to my nose. (And you're right, Black is all new tires and powdery vanilla.)

    But since I bought Gaze that mini bottle and he's begun wearing it, it's "his." Can't add it to my stable now. He needs a big bottle for his birthday next week, dontcha think?

    1. Yes he does! Especially when it can be had for such a steal. And the tonka is so nice.