Tough, animalic, sensual, delicate and powerful, or soft and supple: a leather accord in a perfume always gives a special touch. Think of the smell of a leather jacket, suede shoes, the inside of a leather bag, or an old Chesterfield: all rich associations to enjoy.
Real leather is not included in perfumes; a perfumer can create a 'leather accord' in various ways, such as with birch tar, castoreum, styrax, oud, labdanum or quinolines, but also with the synthetic accords Safraleine.
What does leather smell like?
The leather accord in perfumes is characterized by a wide range, from dark deep leather to soft and supple suede. The perfumes often have a dry feeling, the fragrance family is also often described as dry woods. In darker leather perfumes you can smell notes such as: smoky, almost burnt (birch tar), animal (castoreum), salty, woody (oud) and balsamic (styrax). But traces of tar and tobacco can also occur in these perfumes.
The softer suede feel is expressed by warm wood, amber and almond notes. You can smell that very well in the synthetic ingredients Suederal and Safraleine, but also in isobutyl quinoline, which even has some green notes.
Leather gloves: where it all started
The scent of leather has been inseparable from the history of perfume for centuries. From the Middle Ages, tanners settled in the provincial Grasse in France. There was a brisk trade between them and buyers from Italy, mainly Genoa and Pisa.
However, the smell of the tanned leather was so unpleasant that the French noblesse did not like it. In Spain, leather was often perfumed with a mixture of herbal and flower oils. "Peau d'Espagne" (the skin of Spain) was born. In Italy, at the end of the 15th century, people began to perfume the leather with a base of almonds, among other things, a discovery by Marquis Pompeo Frangipani.
When Catherine de Medici received a pair of perfumed leather gloves from the tanner Monsieur Molinard during a visit to Grasse, she was delighted with this fragrant keepsake. The perfume he had used to mask the scent of the leather was a blend of lavender, orange blossom and other plants and flowers from the area.
This gift was such a great success among the French nobility that an industry developed in Grasse around the perfuming of luxury leather goods.
In the 19th century it was customary in Russia for dancers and soldiers to polish the leather shoes waterproof with fragrant essences; of birch tar, styrax, for example, but also the smell of tobacco. How special the shoes of these gentlemen must have smelled! This development led to the creation of Guerlain's Cuir de Russie in 1872, and many other well-known houses would market their own 'Cuir de Russie' in a bottle, such as Chanel in 1924, L.T. Piver in 1939 and Creed in 1953.
In recent decades, leather in perfume has made a comeback, many mainstream brands have launched scents starring leather. It is remarkable how the masking of the smell of tanned leather has eventually become a separate fragrance family!
More masculine or feminine?Leather perfumes are for everyone, this fragrance family is loved by men and women. Tough, elegant, animalistic, rowdy or seductive: everything is possible.
Tip: perfume a leather bracelet or your leather gloves with your favorite perfume and see how the scent of the leather supports your perfume.
Treat yourself to a beautiful leather perfume from the selection below. Here are perfumes where leather is a clear central theme. You can also browse more extensively in the extensive collection where leather is used as an accord in addition to other ingredients.