Recently an exhibition of Hermès in São Paulo, highlighted the nobility and importance of leather for both equestrian sports, fashion and design. In this exhibition, one day attracted the attention of a group of Brazilian and foreign perfumers who work in the country. Leather was seductive. Fine leather pieces, silky to the touch, enchanted privileged noses.

Who would say that the scent of an animal’s skin was among perfumery  favorite scents …

If fragrances can evoke memories, sensations and diverse feelings, the smell of leather from a new shoe, a purse, or the upholstery of a new car … can activate our olfactory memory.

Types of leather notes

The different types of leather smells have their differentiations. Who explains is Veronica Kato, perfumer Natura: “We have several types of leather, the classic is a synthetic ingredient called isobutyl quinoline, reminiscent of a cleaner leather note with a green floral touch; we have leathers of vegetable origin, those who derive from  cistus labdanum which has a more resinous and sweet smell; the styrax that comes from the Estoraque plant, which has a sweet and amber-scented; the cade oil, coming from a Juniperus that has a smoked side of bacon, and finally the derivatives of the birch tar that smells smoked leather, remiting to charcoal and tobacco. ”

Animalic Note

The leather note has a character that we call “animalico or animalistic”. And what does it mean? It means that it is created on the leather fabric, and therefore carries its name, but also it brings a side of the leather in use. “It is a living, primitive and natural note.It is a trend.For bringing strength and personality to a fragrance, especially nowadays, with the focus on the ingredients and fragrances that bring a personal signature.We want to differentiate ourselves and that is why we want go for the boldest olfactory notes, “says Luciana Knobel – Head of Fine Fragrance Creation at  Symrise. 

According to her, trends in perfumery are combinations of events that take place in society with the interpretation of brands about what happens. “It’s an exchange that, to confirm itself, needs to be accepted back in the social realm.”

“The presence of the leather note in a perfume can be translated as intense, animalic, slightly sweet and smoky.” Its use in perfumery is known for its intensity and presence. “In a masculine scent, it represents the virility of man,” says Jeison Moreira, manager of olfactory evaluations of the Robertet Group.

For Veronica Kato, the note evokes a highly attractive list: sensuality, strength, personality, elegance, masculinity, virility.

Leather in the history of Perfumery

Leather is one of the first notes of the perfumery history. It dates back to the 16th century – when coopers began to perfume suede with distilled essences of flowers and herbs. In the same century, French aristocracy glove manufacturers began perfuming models with oils, musk, and amber to try to mask the – somewhat uncomfortable and strong – smell of animal skin. This “bouquet” became popular – rooted in the tradition of Gantiers Parfumeurs, an association of Parisian leather glove manufacturers, until the moment that perfuming the gloves became a habit. From there other manufacturers decided to innovate and to use other types of notes, as for example, the floral ones. It was then that a King finally asked to use these same fragrances in the body, not only in his gloves, and then the first perfume with leather notes was born.

The perfume was Royal English Leather (Creed, 1781). According to the website of the brand, it is the first fragrance made up by Creed – the glove manufacturer of King George III  –  commissioned by his own majesty in 1781. Much later, Royal English Leather was marketed to the general public. It is a leather cyprus, with touch of bergamot and mandarin, body of gray amber and sandalwood. Over the years several reputed perfumery houses have launched perfumes with leather notes such as Chanel, Balmain, Hermès, among others.

Facets

Veronica also highlights Coty‘s Chypre fragrance, which used isobutyl quinoleine for the first time. And the most famous fragrance that gave birth to the leather family in the perfumery with the use of the birch of tar: the Cuir de Russie fragrance of Chanel in 1924.

“Today we allow ourselves to reveal and work on all its facets, from the most animalistic and dark to the most mineral and white, we see multi-faceted and super structured launches that play with high-quality leather notes,” said Renata Abelim, Drom Fragrances Marketing Director

“Its more robust facets, the la gentleman’s club are associated with dark woods, tobacco notes or intense ambares for the masculine market and its smooth effects, soft, nude tones as second skin emphasize sensuality in the feminine releases,” she points out, citing examples:

Male Internationals:

Davidorf
Aqua di Parma – colony leather
Davidoff Leather Blend

CH Men
CH MEN Carolina Herrera
Ange ou Demon Le Parfum Accord Illicite

MalbecNoir

Nacionals Men:

Malbec Noir
SR N Couro

SRNatura

Feminines:
Cuir D’ange, Les Hermenessences, Hermes

HermesGalop
Galop d’Hermès
Fan di Fendi Leather Essence, Fendi
Eau Sensuelle da Bottega Veneta

Fendi

At Casa de Perfumaria Natura, Veronica Kato cites the leather note of isobutyl quinolone, used in large quantities in Sr. N perfume, the brand’s first men’s perfume. “The note has confered a signature, leather, green and lots of personality that made it a classic. “Since then, she remembers, the leather note is part of many company fragrances”.

Launched in July 2018, Natura Homem, from Natura’s line of perfumes and men’s personal care, also brings the touch of leather. Described as woody, intense, for special occasions, brings in the top notes: Aromatic notes (salvia), spices (nutmeg and black pepper). In the body notes: Violet leaves, jasmine, amber and in the bottom notes: noble woods (sandalwood, vetiver, iris, cedar, cashmeran), copaiba, vanilla, musk, suede (leather). R $ 139.90 (100ml)

In international perfumery, the new Bond fragrance No. 9 (Revlon) – New Bond Street, will be launched in the first half of September, reflecting the current style of the New York street where the brand opened its main boutique in the side street of cobblestone in SoHo in 1999. The fragrance, New Bond Street, is a modern oriental gourmand scent. Opens with citrus bergamot, pepper and dewy muguet, which is the only floral of the perfume. The medium notes are comforting, beginning with cocoa, and still have the energy of coffee beans and creamy nuts – followed by patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood mixed with wild leather skin.

Leather in women’s perfumery

Nowadays, leather is already established and very present in both male and female perfumes. However, it is noticed that, from a few years to now, the note is gaining even more relevance in the feminine perfumery, to the point of becoming a trend.

Luciana Knobel comments on the trend, highlighting international creations that reveal, besides a lot of personality, a velvety touch and suede of this material, which appears more sophisticated and without the more “animalic” notes that are common to leather. “Iconic brands that have these facets in the DNA are Hermès and Bottega Veneta – who recently presented fragrances with a touch of leather enveloped by flowers and spices. They are: Galop d’Hermès and the Eau Sensuelle of Bottega Veneta” highlights Luciana Knobel.

“Thus, perfumery continues to reinvent itself and revisit classic ingredients of the past with a touch of modernity. In addition to the desire to bring something more moderate, feminine and sensual!”