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Monday, March 13, 2006

Perfume Review: Guerlain Cuir Beluga

Cuir Beluga is a part of L'Art et la Matiere collection of scents created for Guerlain by perfumers Olivier Polge, Francis Kurkdjian, and Daniele Andrièr. Each perfumer was more or less given a carte blanche and asked to come up with a scent based on a “noble” ingredient. Kurkdjian has chosen rose, Andrièr angelica and Polge leather. Not any old calf leather, mind you, but Beluga leather. …Seriously though, the name "Cuir Beluga" baffles me. Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) is a small toothed whale; surely, this scent was not inspired by a sea mammal…or was it? “Beluga“ also more or less means “the white one” in Russian (Beluga Whales are also called White Whales), so perhaps the creators simply meant white leather? Then why not just call it Cuir Blanc? Perhaps the Beluga part of the name is referring to beluga caviar, arguably the best kind of caviar, thus emphasizing the exclusive and expensive aspect of the scent, the Beluga of all Leathers … There are all sorts of unusual perfume names out there, from Latin phrases to long book titles, and they certainly are fascinating and fun, but sometimes one gets a little frustrated when facing a meaningless, bizarre name like “White Whale Leather”.

I tried to understand the scent just as hard as I tried to understand its name. After many attempts, I must regretfully admit that I just don’t get it. On me, Cuir Beluga is a blurry, hazy composition heavy on heliotrope and vanilla. The only interesting feature here is an immortelle note, an accord, which, to quote Luca Turin, has “an odd, fenugreek-like smell halfway between curry and burnt sugar.” In Cuir Beluga, in contrast to the understated sweetness of other notes, immortelle actually smells sharp and dry, bringing to mind patchouli and well-brewed black tea. Unfortunately, immortelle alone is unable to withstand the gentle but relentless pressure of heliotrope and vanilla. The two overtake the composition somewhere in the beginning of the middle stage and no amount of amber or aldehydes can penetrate their foggy sweetness. Why don’t I mention the leather accord, you might ask. Well, that is because I smell no leather in Cuir Beluga. Not a tiny little bit of leather, however hard I try. Fans of leather scents, attracted by the name of this perfume, are bound to be disappointed. I would however highly recommend to all lovers of Etro Heliotrope to give a try to Cuir Beluga. Cuir Beluga smells a little rawer and a little less sweet than Heliotrope, but those who like the soft fluffiness of the latter are still bound to be pleased with the former.

Cuir Beluga is available at Guerlain’s boutique at Bergdorf Goodman, $190 for 75ml.

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25 Comments:

Blogger Christina H. said...

Your review was less painful than I thought!It was light on the leather which is why I probably liked it.Thank you for the review anyway!

10:26 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
So did you think it was going to be worse, because I was grumbling about it so much :-)
Wait a second though, you like Cuir Mauresque, which is leather leather and more leather, but you are glad there is not leather here? :-)

10:32 PM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

You hit it! I never got around to wondering about the "Beluga" part of the name, I was so occupied with wondering about the "Cuir." Cuir? Wheeere? Maybe a tiny bit of suede, but. . . . Makes Daim Blond smell like a raunchy black rather jacket! They should have called it Vanille Beluga. Pleasant enough in my opinion, but verrrry disappointing.
PS C. may be coming over to the leather side. She wants to try some KJ (your fault). BWAHHHH!

8:27 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

PPS. Mona Carnation and Nuit Noire at Aedes. Ready your credit cards, ladies. . . (still waiting for samples, myself).

8:29 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

This was such a huge disappointment, from the name to the actual fragrance. It smelled expensive (and it should) but completely forgettable. Some sort of fish-egg marine smell would have been an improvement. I didn't fall in love with the others in this line, either. No skank, no glory. Hmmmph.

8:32 AM EST  
Blogger Christina H. said...

Cuir Mauresque is strangely something I fell head over heels for and I am actually surprised myself!There is no logic to loving fragrances with me!

8:37 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
Vanilla Beluga- haaa! Definitely. Actually, on me it would be more of Heliotrope Beluga. You know I used to be a fan of heliotropes of all sort, I am not anymore, strangely. So this scent comes to me at the wrong time in my life, I might have loved it a couple of months ago.
Still, where IS Cuir? :-)

8:39 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Still waiting for samples??

I am saving my pennies for Nuit Noire...will take me a while :-)

8:41 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
Fish-egg marine smell sounds strangely appealing, emphasis on strangely :-) I would have worn it for breakfast, to go with little blinis...mmmm

8:43 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
As my dad would say when faced with a (lack of) female logic, "Woman!" (said with a heavy Russian accent) :-)

8:44 AM EST  
Blogger katiedid said...

Something I must confess... everytime I hear or read the name the Raffi song "Baby Beluga" pops right on into my head. And it doesn't come out so easily. God only knows the misery I'd dwell in if I had to see it on my dresser top every day.

9:50 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Katie,
Am I lucky then that I don't even know what this song is? :-)

9:54 AM EST  
Blogger katiedid said...

God yes you are. Raffi is the lord high emperor of ear worms. As insanely catchy as Banana Phone is, Baby Beluga is nearly as bad.

10:59 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Don';t know that one either, lucky me :-)

11:04 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Liked this one much, much better than you did M. No surprise there, right? The leather is subtle, but I like my leather subtle ;-)

12:35 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

R,
No suprise! :-) Was CB favorite of the 3 L'Art et la Matiere scents?

12:46 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

R,
Adding to say, it wasn't really the subtely or even lack of leather that made me not like this, it was the vanilla-heliotrope overload. :-)

12:57 PM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I did not think that it was unbalanced by heliotrope-vanilla overload. It is a very well-made, linear composition, but it lacks originality. I would have loved for it to be more daring, rather than just a beautiful, expensive perfume. But then again, I always want more daring from the esteemed houses.

1:11 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

V,
Daring is what I want too. :-) None of the three L'Art et la Matiere scents were daring, in my opinion. Do you have a favorite among them?

1:19 PM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I agree. None are daring. I do like Rose Barbare though. I own all three (as hand me downs from mom, who got tired of them,) but other than Rose Barbare, I hardly reach for them. Plus, right now it is too hot to wear either AN or CB.

2:18 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

It is getting warm here too. I am longing for citruses and colognes. :-)

2:24 PM EST  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Colombina
For me, Cuir de Beluga is a cuir de Cookie, a scent that is driven by marketing (hence the strange name?), that is rather boring, fascinating at first sight, but soon limited to Vanillin, vanillin, vetiver, and... Vanillin.
I am the longer the more disappointed. But you brought it to the point: It is not about leather. Thank you!

11:39 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Andy,
Cuir de Cookie! That is how I am going to call thsi scent from now on! :-)

11:58 AM EST  
Blogger risa said...

i find this so fascinating, since i barely smelled any heliotrope and only the tiniest bit of immortelle. i get not leather, but suede in this one. or as i mentioned in other reviews, i get chamois, the smell of extra-treated leather.

but hey, more for me ;) glad to see any review on this one!

10:12 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Risa,
I imagine it smells wonderful on you. It just did not work for me, so strange, usually it is exactly the type of scent I really like :-(
More for you! :-)

10:20 PM EST  

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