- They're too sweet (Cuir de Mauresque, for example, has a fabulous drydown but is a little too sweet on the opening spray)
- 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)
- 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).