I’ve been curious about Cuirelle ever since I heard that it was a different, softer, take on leather compared to the usual animal hide. So I was grateful when the Cookie Queen kindly sent me a couple of samples.
Released with the rest of the inaugural Ramon Monegal collection of fourteen fragrances in 2011, Cuirelle comes in the brand’s striking inkwell bottle.
Cuirelle includes notes of Somali incense, Indonesian patchouli, Bourbon vetiver, Virginian cedarwood, cinnamon, musk and extract of beeswax.
That’s right, your eyes are not deceiving you – there is no leather listed in the notes. Spanish perfumer Monegal sought to portray leather without using birch tar or synthetic isoquinolines. So if you usually find the tarry smoke or tannic fumes of leather fragrances a turn-off, don’t be too quick to dismiss Cuirelle. It is an entirely different (much tamer) beast.
“Not the essence of leather, but an interpretation of it. Cat-like flexibility and musk sublimated with shades of honey and incense and balanced with green cedar and vetyver grass. ”
-from Ramon Monegal website
The opening comes across as honey-coated beeswax, flecked liberally with cinnamon and incense. The combination results in a sweet, almost boozy, ambery nectar.
When it mellows out, Cuirelle has a buttery suede texture. It’s not as cloying as Serge Luten’s Daim Blond or as sweet as Bottega Veneta, but runs in a similar pale suede vein.
There is no hard masculine edge or harsh chemical tinge, only soft curves and plushness. The smooth patchouli and vetiver ground it and prevent it from being overly sweet. They also ensure it stays unisex, though it’s likely to be too feminine for those who like their leather rough and ready.
Cuirelle also contains the suggestion of something cosmetic and silky. It feels as if a honey scented beauty balm has been mixed with face powder and applied to supple suede. At the same time there are contrasting wisps of incense and thick, paste-like patchouli. It’s a very nicely balanced composition.
Probably the best thing to do would be to forget the leather label altogether and think of it as a gentle honey fragrance with dark and earthy tones. Not a suffocating or skanky honey, but one which is subdued, creamy and spiced.
Projection is moderate-to-low, but I would be careful not to over-apply as a little goes a long way. I found it to have excellent lasting power.
I haven’t quite fallen in love with Cuirelle the way I’d hoped, but I really like the way it’s warmly cosseting, casually sensual and effortlessly chic.
I can imagine it leaving a pleasing scent trail in cool weather, but it would work equally well when curled up in bed. It definitely makes a statement, yet it also has a faintly feline, languorous feel.