Cuir opens with a gorgeous bitter absinthe/wormwood smell, a hit of pepper – quickly followed by a rough, smoky leather – so smoky it almost becomes “ashtray”-like, only much more perfume-y than that. The leather is castoreum-heavy, maybe too much so. By that, it’s not particularly animalic, and I definitely don’t find Cuir challenging, it just comes across as a very simplistic and straightforward leather note.
Another hint towards the castoreum is that it pushes forward a peanut note on my skin… I know, that sounds wierd - but Cuir begins to smell as it dries down (which is very quickly as the top notes vanish before you even catch them) – almost like a peanut satay. It’s not spicy or curried, just a subtle peanut butter and smoky leather smell. Now, I’d be completely psyched if I read a fragrance smell like peanut butter and leather, but as it is, it’s extremely subtle and very straightforward – there’s not much else going on here.
Ok, so if I wanted to describe the leather that dominates this fragrance a little further, I’d say it reminds me of numerous things: peat for starts. It’s very similar to the peaty/smoky vetiver of Fumidus by Profumum - only much softer and quieter. I also get an ashy, charcoal smell – like a burnt out fireplace, but yet again – so tame and well-behaved on the skin that it smells more like the residue of smoke on your skin after a bonfire the night before. Specific I know – I’m just trying to expand on this!
The peanut and ash are what makes up Cuir until it finishes (with a hint of vetiver and a resinous note in the drydown) - practically whispering the whole way through its life. It pretty much smells like castoreum diluted in alcohol, with a drop or two of isobutyl quinoline… I don’t find Cuir complex, rich, or particularly interesting – but it’s a minimalistic, straight up leather that does smell good and that’s about all.
Thankfully, the smokiness is strong enough to cover Mona’s base which completely turns my stomach – particularly in her Vanille.
You can tell I’m not a Mona fan boy ey? I’m not – but this is my favourite fragrance of hers in the Les Nombres D’Or line-up. In honesty, I don’t find her fragrances particularly complex, original, or even interesting – the bottles are pretty, and I’m sure they’re nice enough quality – all light on the skin and completely harmless (at least to most people). It’s frustrating becuase, I really really want to like this brand, and I’ve been sniffing these desperately on the hunt to find a Mona I love. Cuir has always been the one that has attracted me the most and I have tried it on numerous occasions and have gone through more than 2 samples of this… I guess it’s not meant to be.
Cuir is the perfect leather scent for those who want a smoky/leather in their collection that is refined, and rounded into something smooth, neat, elegant? without the punch it needs to put it into “daring/challenging” territory. Stick with Lonestar Memories or even Fumidus.
Cuir Les Nombres D’Or 100ml EDP Mona Di Orio – £135 Lessenteurs