My love for leather in perfume is certainly a work in progress. It was Lila Das Gupta’s Evening of Leather for Perfume Lovers London that helped me forge a new appreciation for the genre, but I’m very much in the curiosity stage and full blown leather-love (which is not as rude as it sounds) is still a long way off. At Lila’s talk two fragrances in particular caught my attention, and Mona di Orio’s Cuir was one of them.
To say I have been blown away by the fragrances in Mona di Orio’s Les Nombres d’Or collection is a vast understatement. Each one is a fabulous and contemporary take on such well visited notes such as; Oud, Musc, Tuberéuse, Vetiver and Ambre and the collection takes inspiration from the golden ratio, a mathematical theory of proportion which is intelligently showcased in each and every one the perfumes.
All of the other perfumes in the Les Nombres d’Or collection have been very easy for me to love and Cuir is most definitely the exception. I still don’t love it, and I don’t think I ever will. You see, Cuir and I cannot be friends, but I admire its balls. It is an extreme, maverick leather that doesn’t care about being pretty, or even pleasant, it just wants to be wild. The Mona di Orio website says of Cuir “In these days of anodyne scents, trans-fat free lives this is a welcome walk on the wild side that would be wonderful on a man. On a woman? Only one way to put it: Cuir is ruthlessly chic.” 
Cardamom, Absinthe, Leather, Cade, Resinoid, Opoponax and Castoreum 
How Does it Smell?
Before we move on to how Cuir smells I have a few safety questions for you. Firstly, are you sat down? Good. Have you got your safety belt on? No? Oh, I think it’s best that you put it on straight away because with Cuir you are in for one hell of a ride! It’s for your own good and you know just how health and safety conscious we have to be nowadays. Anways, now that’s over we can move on. Are you ready?
Cuir opens with the smell of hot and heavily spiced meat, think of chorizo and you are on the right track. This “chorizo accord” as I call it, can only be attributed to a metric mega-ton of cumin that goes a long way to spice things up to extreme levels. It’s not just the cumin that is pushed to extremes, quinoline and birch tar, both of which are notes usually associated with leather, are also amped up as far as they can go, but they full just short of being pushed into unpleasant territory. Note that I say “just short”.
The leather itself is VERY dry, and it feels more like dry, cured meat (perhaps beef jerky?) than soft, supple leather. This arid leather is joined by some rather smelly animalics, namely a dash of civet and a dollop of castoreum (yay for beaver butt!), both of which somehow manage to emphasise Cuir’s meaty facets and add a good deal of raunch to the wild thing.
Interestingly, Cuir really does soften in the base and I do really enjoy the trail of spiced and smoked leather that it leaves on the skin. I like it so much that I would wear it, the problem is that I just cannot get through the first few hours, not even if I really persevere. Believe me I have REALLY persevered.
Despite the fact that Cuir is a bit (very) harsh and way too wild for my tastes, I do think it is great and it is exceptionally well made. It does fit the wild aesthetic that Mona di Orio seemed to be going for and it does succeed in having a touch of something luxurious lurking underneath (that’ll be the bikers Birkin bag then). Cuir and I will never be friends but I am more than happy to admire it from afar.
How you feel about Cuir will entirely depend on how you like to wear your meat. Personally I like my meat on my plate, not on my body.
Cuir is available in 100ml Eau de Toilette for £125.
This review is based on a sample of Cuir sourced myself.
Image 1 Lady Gaga for Vogue Hommes Japan
Image 2 hideandseek.com
,  &  via monadiorio.com