Reclusive Beauty – Review: Lancôme, Cuir de Lancôme

By Tara

How often can you get luxury for a bargain basement price? Not often, but with Cuir de Lancôme you can smell like a million dollars by spending relatively few. Released in 2007 as part of Lancôme‘s “La Collection” it seems to have barely seen the light of day, going pretty much straight to the discounters. So, for reasons unknown, this gorgeous fragrance has become the famously reclusive Greta Garbo of the perfume world.

Lancôme’s La Collection fragrances are based on their archives of vintage scents and the original perfume that Cuir is based on, dates back to 1936. The modern reconstruction was done by Calice Becker and Pauline Zanoni. It is incredibly well blended with top notes of mandarin, bergamot and saffron, middle notes of hawthorn, jasmine, ylang-ylang and patchouli, and a base of birch, orris and styrax.

Cuir de Lancôme is the finest, creamiest of leathers and it’s that butteriness which helps make it so swoonworthy. It is stylish and feminine, emanating a kind of “pulled together” chic. Subtly smoky, it shares a kinship with Chanel’s Cuir de Russie but Cuir de Lancôme is softer, more floral and less animalic. I’d class it as a “socially acceptable” leather perfume. Not because it’s lacking in character, but because it lacks any harshness.

The opening combines a burst of citrus with a good dose of birch tar, but it soon becomes sweeter and smoother as the florals come to the fore. What really makes this leather perfume special though is the stunning saffron note that’s apparent for most of the development. A dusting of this precious spice gives Cuir a sophisticated and beautiful twist.

Lasting power is excellent and the sillage is just about perfect. I often sit at my desk and wonder “what smells so good?” before remembering I’m wearing Cuir de Lancôme. This is something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like. The bottle is pretty standard with an ill-fitting cap but considering the low cost, I‘m not complaining.

I had to purchase my bottle unsniffed because it’s hard to find in stores, but I’m so glad I took the chance. Cuir de Lancôme is a hidden gem.

Cuir de Lancôme is a 50ml Eau de Parfum


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67 Responses to Reclusive Beauty – Review: Lancôme, Cuir de Lancôme

  1. Parfumista says:

    Totally agree, gorgeous stuff, very feminine to be a leather. Another beautiful female leather-floral is MPG Cuir Fetiche even if I think that one is bolder and leans to be an unisex – frag in character. It has obvious similarities with the Vienna-classic Knize Ten.

    • Tara says:

      Glad you like it too Parfumista!

      I am anxious to try Cuir Fetiche, thanks for your take on it.

      • Philipp says:

        Cuir Fetiche is very, very good. I was surprised by this MPG offering, they usually do not agree with my chemistry. There are many leather fragrances out there, but only a few a truly good.

  2. andrea says:

    I have waited patiently all week (for patient is not my forte) this sounds like a wonderful perfume, thank you for highlighting this one, I think the prices may have doubled on this one after your review. It has a lot in it that I know I will like. Is this one now discontinued? The lancome sa said that it was but you almost expect them to not have the correct information. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Glad it sounds good to you, Andrea, after the wait! As far as Lancome counters are concerned it may as well be discontinued but Basenotes list it as “In Production”, so it’s hard to say.

  3. A buttery leather you say? Count me in!

    I’ve heard so many good things about this one and your review only increases my curiosity. I’m hoping this will be one of the perfumes we get to try as part of Lila’s Leather Event later this month.

  4. Alexandra says:

    It’s funny, but everyone seems to be talking about this. I am definitely having a leather moment: I only recently fell head over heels for Cuir de Russie, but it is almost too elegant for me to actually wear, and I adore PdE Cuir Ottoman but I really can’t go to work smelling like a swarthy Catherine Cookson Blacksmith – this sounds like a softer option, interesting….

    • Tara says:

      Alexandra, I’m glad you’re having a leather moment 🙂

      I’d say Cuir de Lancome is a softer option than the other 2 leathers you mention, though please do wear CdR – I can’t believe it is too elegant for you!

  5. Vanessa says:

    I love this one, and may I join the ill-fitting top club? I wonder if that is the reason for the bargain basement prices – I got my bottle inT K Maxx for 30 quid. I actually find it in between Cuir de Russie and Jolie Madame on the loudness scale, but there is an oily note in the Chanel that bothers me, so this is without doubt my favourite leather scent. I find it quite potent but incredibly beautiful and well blended as you say.

    • Tara says:

      What is it with that ill-fitting top? You wonder how it got through to production. That’s great you got your bottle from TK Maxx, I’ve given up trying to find anything decent int there. Thank goodness for a certain auction site!

      I’m very happy that CdL is your favourite scent. It may well be mine too, mainly because it’s just a tad more wearable than Cuir de Russie, but it’s a close call.

  6. rosarita says:

    Oh, I love this fragrance! I found it by accident through a swap package several years ago and it became a fast favorite. I think I’ll wear it today. 🙂 Thanks for the lovely review.

  7. malsnano86 says:

    I too bought this one unsniffed – I can’t quite remember whose recommendation I was following, but I was baffled by the top being first, too hard to get off, and then, coming apart into component pieces! The metal ring that should be inside the cap had come loose.

    I fixeded it mySEF. (So proud. I’m not very handy.)

    But the juice is so fantastic! It is so much the perfect combination of softness and backbone for me. When I realized how often I was wearing it, I immediately went and bought another bottle. I love that it reminds me of my mother’s good leather purse, ca. 1973: the leather, obviously (but a gentle smell), her lipstick, her handkerchief bearing a whiff of Chanel No. 5.

    I have good memories of wearing Cuir de Lancome the time that my middle child fell off his bike and cut his hand. I had to take him to the emergency room for stitches, and the whole experience took FIVE HOURS (and we only sat in the waiting room three minutes), and we were both nervous… CdL helped.

    • Tara says:

      Congrats on fixing the cap, mals! I’ve given up on it.

      You are so right; it is a great combination of rough birch tar and soft florals/saffron. I love that about it too. I think I will have bought a back-up bottle by the end of today…

      I’m glad to hear CdL brings back fond memories of your mother’s bag and helped get you through a gruelling time at the emergency room.

  8. Suzanne says:

    I thought I had a sample of Cuir de Lancome but was apparently wrong. Even so, I really enjoyed reading this, Tara — you write about these elegant leather fragrances so lovingly. Thanks to Undina, I do have a decant of your beloved Chanel Cuir de Russie, which, if I weren’t wrapped up in vetiver right now, I’d go spray on immediately. It’s beautiful stuff and I’ve been enjoying it a lot this winter.

    • Tara says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about it, Suzanne. Even if you couldn’t sniff along.

      It also makes me happy to know that you think Cuir de Russie is beautiful. It really is. And I love to think of you wrapped up in vetiver!

  9. Alexis says:

    why is it that everything sounds so much better with the word ‘butter’ attached to it? I need to smell this as well!

    • Tara says:

      I know! There’s something very inviting about a soft, butter like texture. It’s definitely more about the “feel” of it though. It doesn’t have that greasy, butter note you sometimes come across, which I dislike.

      Hope you like it if you get a chance to try it, Alexis.

  10. Olfactoria says:

    Thank you for that beautiful review and the matching decant. As soon as I can smell normally again, I’m so looking forward to try CdL properly.

    • Tara says:

      You’re more than welcome! I hope your cold clears soon and your sense of smell returns. You must feel bereft! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on CdL.

  11. susan says:

    I have been debating buying an unsniffed bottle myself. I’m actually fascinated by several from this reissue collection at Lancome…

    • Tara says:

      Hi susan. I read about a new release in La Collection in a magazine last week but I can’t find any info on the Lancome website and it’s useless asking at my local Lancome counter. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place but they don’t make it easy.

      • susan says:

        interesting! I think at one time I saw pictures of a coffret from the collection too?? could be dreaming that part though. I have never seen any of these live in person in the US of A. If they were in stores here, it was very briefly.

        • Tara says:

          A coffret of small sizes would be good. I think the new La Collection release was £115 or thereabouts, which probably explains why they’re not widely available. It’s certainly Lancome’s “luxury” line. I think I’d have to go to Harrods to try them.

      • parfumista05 says:

        hi Tara! I may be able to cure the itch of not remembering “something you read somewhere”! Not sure if you did read about this in a magazin, all i can say is that your remark rang a bell, and this is where it rang the first time:
        In case the url does not work: the fumes you are looking for are Balafre and Peut-être… cheers, Wendy

        • Tara says:

          Hi Wendy,
          That’s so kind of you, thanks very much! I can’t say those names are ringing any bells right now but I will dig out the mag and see if any tie-up. It’s nice to have an article on them in any case. Much appreciated.

  12. Eva S says:

    You make this sound so tempting, and it’s so easy to find it online…The temptation to by a FB unsniffed is almost overwhelming 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Eva, yes this one is very tempting for an unsniffed purchase. Limited availabilty in stores and a relatively low online price don’t help!

  13. Natalie says:

    I loved this review, Tara. You may have pushed Cuir de Lancome to the top of my test list, helped along by the synchronicity that I’m falling in love with so many Lancome scents lately. The image you chose for this post looks *exactly* how I want “my” leather scent to smell.

    • Undina says:

      If you do not have a sample, do not buy it! Thanks to two perfume friends I have two and since, most likely, it’ll become a FB for me this year, I can definitely spare one sample.

    • Tara says:

      Natalie, I love perfume synchronicity! I not got on with the “scary leathers” like Bandit so this is my kind of leather too. Birgit chose that gorgeous pic which illustrates it so well.

      So glad Undina is going to pass on a sample. Hope you love it too!

  14. Undina says:

    Tara, it’s a beautiful perfume (thank you 🙂 ), I agree. I can’t believe Lancome discontinued it. I would have loved your review more after I bought my FB 😉

  15. civava says:

    I’m fond of leathery scents and this nice review confirms my stupidity, not so far ago, for not buying it online here when it was still a chance. I’ll have to digg deeper and around though.

  16. deeHowe says:

    Lovely review of a lovely fragrance Tara!

  17. Joey says:

    I have a decant of this coming my way soon! I know I’ll end up getting a full bottle eventually. I will never, ever understand why the La Collection fragrances were never marketed. Sikkim, Climat…they were all brilliant!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Joey
      It is strange isn’t it? It’s not like they’ve abandoned the collection either because there are still new perfumes being released.

      I hear lots of good things about Climat in particular. I must check it out. Enjoy your decant!

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