Monday, October 17, 2016

Grease-smeared leather: Cuir Andalou by Rania J.


Although leather fragrances are the most challenging ones for majority of non-perfume addict audience, the last years we're witnessing more and more eyes turning toward leathery compositions so this family of perfumes became one of the most popular trends - specially leather and suede with oriental accent. Rania Jouaneh who formerly has entirely occupied me with her nature-loyal, oriental and premium fragrances, has now launched a new fragrance around leather named after the city of Andalusia where historically was a center of tanning and leather craftsmanship.
In this fragrance, she arms the main theme of leather with different layers of notes to give it a distinct feature. What I am infatuated about her fragrances is their hefty amount of high quality and natural materials but Cuir Andalou makes me think if the house is turning a U-turn. Even if it is tempting to talk about a new direction for Rania J I have to name several other examples of thick leathers near to Cuir Andalou to claim my idea.

The first whiff has a bulky amount of dark pitched pharmaceutical leather armored with an astringent and almost antagonistic vetiver. Cuir Andalou is paralleled to Pea d'Espagne by Santa Maria Novella in an article in a famous database, and I strongly deny this theory. Pea d'Espagne demonstrates a traditional and filtered animalic woody theme that is replicated in Lush's massive incense: Breath of God. Cuir Andalou lacks that transparency in darkness and it is more into a foggy and dust-covered bitterness. Surfing in my head for the nearest examples I skipped over Jovoy Private Label's fatty vetiver-leather, and did so on Naomi Goodsir's incense-infused alien mandarin-like woodiness; Bois d'Asc├Ęse, till I finally arrived to the right point: Arte Profumi Fumoir. But still the volume of smokiness in the two fragrances is arguably different. Fumoir is more about a realistic touch of fire smoke on a boozy air, while Cuir Andalou enhances smoke with deep warm notes to bring a wizardry into solid leather.

The fragrance oozes with woodsy leathery combination in which leather contains great amount of saffron (safraleine) to give it a suede impression and oriental relish in contrary to the earthy vetiver (probably an accord containing vetiver, violet and animalic notes) who impregnate leather with heavily salted patch to emerge the effect of hide tanning and raw leather. The opening is a bit of too much violence and has a grease-smeared appearance. There's a battle between two sides of leather: a tactile oriental suede and an austere coarse blackness. This opening gives me the key and I find the very right example this time: Initio Divine Attraction. A notorious extremist leather-vetiver fragrance which turns me grimace-faced badly.

It almost takes hours for Cuir Andalou to turn down into a favorable leathery combination and meanwhile I'm kvetching frequently! The leather becomes rounded and creaking when oud joins the party and not only brings twisty features to soften the leather, but also duplicates its dark side. It is interesting that on my skin no floral effect is encountered but when I spray it on a blotter I clearly get rose and a pronounced anonymous woody theme.

In overall, Cuir Andalou is in different direction to earlier works of Rania J. and I find it more inclined to crowd-pleasing stream of orientalism in today's fragrance market. Spanish leather compositions like Pea d'Espagne is what Cuir Andalou allegedly aimed to approach but it lingers between a classical breathtaking astringent leather and popular trends. The fragrance as expected has very strong longevity but surprisingly very moderate projection on my skin.

Carpe Odor!

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