Leather fragrances all fall somewhere on a spectrum that spans from ‘Expensive Handbag’ to ‘Cow Hide’, with a great distance of space between both polar ends. On one side we have the likes of Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum and Dior’s Cuir Cannage, olfactory interpretations of luxury leather goods, and on the other we have fragrances such as Mona di Orio’s Cuir, which is essentially chorizo in a bottle. Somewhere smack bang in the middle of this spectrum of suede is my favourite kind of leather – the “hell yeah I’m sexy” kind of leather.
To me, the ideal sexy leather fragrance is undeniably Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather. Even the name is evocative of tumbles in the hay under the hot Italian sun – what could be more enticing, right?. Released in 2007 as part of the original crop of Private Blends, Tuscan Leather is not only dashingly handsome, it’s also the perfect scent for this chilly weather we’re having – it’s warm, enveloping and totally sexy. Too sexy, in fact. It’s use has to be restricted in our house because it is, without being distinctly raunchy, completely and utterly delectable. Did I mention that it’s sexy?
Top: Saffron, Raspberry and Thyme
Heart: Olibanum and Jasmine
Base: Leather, Suede, Amber and Woody Notes
How Does it Smell?
Tuscan Leather opens with a surprising, yet wonderful blast of dried fruit. There’s an attractiveness to the dusty pith of aged raspberries permeating the top notes that feels almost fluffy in texture to begin with. As the initial accords develop this idea of dry, and milky red berries moves into position to allow a seamless transition into the leather and suede notes that dominate the heart. What could have been a harsh and overbearing composition from the start, as is the case with many leather-centric fragrances, turns out to be a multifaceted and uniquely textured affair that never feels too heavy or too ‘one note’.
The heart is all about leather, as one would expect. The leather note itself sits somewhere between ‘new car’ and ‘leather briefcase’, but at the same time it comes across as decidedly more abstract than that. The leather is sweet, soft and delicately meaty, bringing to mind luxurious pieces of rich brown hide. It’s sexy of course (I’m labouring the point, I’m aware), this is Tom Ford after all, but it’s not animalic in any way, and when taking in big huffs of Tuscan Leather it’s clear to see that this is very much a ‘fashion leather – a leather fragrance that looks smart, smells attractive and speaks in a sexy southern drawl. Much like, Mr Ford, for that matter.
Leather notes have a tendency to become very dry as they travel into the base, and to a certain extent, Tuscan Leather follows this trajectory, displaying a subtle roughness as it dries down. That said, there’s a ton of plush amber, which is rich in vanilla and benzoin fuzz, and some smoky wood notes that soften things overall, whilst providing a palpable tension between the sweet and the spicy.
As far as perfume categories or genres go, leather probably wouldn’t be at the top of my list. Tuscan Leather is the type of fragrance that makes me change my mind. I love it. It manages to be luxurious, sexy and comfortable all at once. It’s bold in the way that all Tom Ford fragrances are and strikes the right balance between dry and resinous, and soft and plush, creating a remarkably enjoyable texture that smells really, really good. I’d highly recommend it. I’d also like to mention that it’s sexy, one last time.
Tuscan Leather is part of Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection and is available in 50ml (£142), 100ml (£215) and 250ml (£330) Eau de Parfum.
Sample via Tom Ford. Image 1 is David Agbodji for Calvin Klein by Steven Klein, via fashionadexplorer.com. Image 2 via londonprettyboy.com.