Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Serge Lutens - Cuir Mauresque

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Cuir Mauresque would be making its merry way to our shores (the UK that is; I assume it will reach the US as well) towards the end of this year. Well, the good news is that it is here already, and I've been sampling it on and off over the last week. Cuir Mauresque is usually a Paris-exclusive, available only if you visit the Salon in Paris, or if you order from the Lutens website. I don't know what it is, but I have a thing for leather fragrances. I don't like them all. In fact, quite a few have a habit of turning me off quite considerably, but most leather fragrances at least challenge me olfactorily and I'm never left unmoved. Reviews of Cuir Mauresque range from unadulterated love to repulsion, which doesn't surprise me - in my experience, very few leather fragrances gain wholesale acceptance, which is perhaps one of the reasons why one very seldom encounters a proper leather-dominant fragrance in the mainstream these days. It's hard to find a definitive list of notes for Cuir Mauresque, but they include orange blossom, mandarin peel, clove, cumin, civet, nutmeg, styrax, musk, amber, myrrh, incense, cinnamon, oud and cedar. Now, that is a powerhouse list of notes, and having smelled Cuir Mauresque extensively over the past week, I can confirm that this is not a fragrance for the faint hearted. 

On my skin the opening is a fruity concoction, and leather is apparent from the very start. This is not a girly, fruity-floral mix though. Anyone who is familiar with the Lutens line will recognise those intense fruit notes, more dried fruit than fresh berries, and a barrage of spices. It is also intensely sweet, but like the best of Lutens, the sweetness is immediately balanced by smoky leather and spice, so it never becomes cloying. I've read quite a few reviews that mention the orange-ness of this fragrances, but while mandarin peel and orange blossom are listed, on my skin I don't detect this very much. Having said that, there is so much going on here that it could be that it all balances out very nicely. The leather only intensifies with time, becoming smokier and actually quite powdery in the heart. The spices twirl around, varying in intensity and creating a sensation of being close to a fire, with heat that ebbs and flows, for want of a better description. The heart is probably my least favourite phase, but as the perfume progresses to the dry down, the incense kicks in, complementing the leather perfectly.

Cuir Mauresque has stellar lasting power on my skin, no surprise when you consider the intense notes used. Despite these notes, it is not a loud or screechy perfume. It has presence, but it is very well blended, so doesn't overpower like say Miel de Bois. There is something about Cuir Mauresque that reminds me of Knize Ten, another fantastic example of a leather perfume, except it is not as dry and roasted-spicy. There is a classical feel to Cuir Mauresque though, and the use of civet, musk and styrax does lend a feralness as well. My wife can't stand it - she said I smelled like a wild animal. Let's leave it at that! I for one love this fragrance and highly recommend it. I don't think it is particularly masculine or feminine. It has elements of both. The heart is quite powdery and even floral at times, but the base is intense, spicy, incense-y and very leathery. Some reviewers have mentioned they don't get the leather at all, saying it is all about amber. Well, I do get lots of amber, but the leather definitely stands out on my skin, but I think my skin chemistry tends to amplify leather notes. 

The bottom line - if you can get your hands on a sample of this, try it. You may not necessarily like it, but it is wonderfully complex, intense and even mysterious, and worth trying.


  1. I had a chance to try this a little while ago, and although I didn't dislike it, I thought it was too similar to the superior Knize Ten, which is considerably cheaper. Still, it's ten times better than most of the other releases out there.

  2. Persolaise I see you also found this similar to Knize Ten. Yes, true that that Knize Ten is a lot cheaper. A great leather fragrance but not much talked about.



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