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Monday, August 14, 2006

Perfume Review: Farina Gegenuber Kolnisch Juchten and Russisch Leder (Plus a Prize Draw)


A couple of months ago I discovered, fell in love with and wrote a rave review about Kölnisch Juchten by Parfums Regence. Not much is known about that scent apart from the fact that it is based on the old perfume of the same name created by Farina Gegenüber. I have been very fortunate to obtain a bottle of vintage Kölnisch Juchten, in amazingly good condition, and wanted to share with you my impressions.

Whereas the new Kölnisch Juchten is a robust, tough barbarian, its vintage counterpart is rather more civilized. The birch tar note in the new Kölnisch Juchten is overwhelming, it rules the composition, it is meaty, it is smoky, it evokes an image of drunk highwaymen (and-women) roasting a whole pig on the campfire, singing wild songs and shooting pistols just for the fun of it. After a while the smokiness subsides, but only slightly. The modern Kölnisch Juchten never crosses the line to the sphere of elegant, urbane leathers. Farina Gegenüber’s old version, on the other hand, more or less stays within that cultured sphere. It starts with a vaguely citrusy-fruity note that is not as sharp as in many leathers (for example, Guerlain Derby) nor does it have a candied feel of the citrus note in Piver’s Cuir de Russie. This very pleasant, balanced note is quickly followed by the leather, which here is much less smoky than in the new Kölnisch Juchten. I detect much less birch tar here, but I do smell certain woodiness, quite a bit of mossiness and, in the drydown, a little bit of dirtiness probably due to the presence of civet and/or musk. On the whole, the vintage composition successfully balances on the very edge between the civilized and barbarian, leaning ever so slightly towards the civilized. If you have the new Kölnisch Juchten and were considering trying to find the vintage version, I’d say go for it, the two are different enough to warrant owning both.

Thanks to a lovely perfume-friend, I have also been able to sample another leather blend by Farina Gegenüber, called Russisch Leder. Whether it is another version of Kolnisch Juchten or an original creation in its own right, I could not tell you, but I do tend to think that it is a different beast altogether. And what a beast it is. While the drydown of my vintage Kölnisch Juchten has SOME animalic goodness about it, Russisch Leder is all animal on my skin, from the very get go to the drydown. H&R Fragrance guide gives the following notes for this dirrrty concoction: bergamot, lemon, petitgrain, lavender, rosemary, basil, fern, cedarwood, vetiver, geranium, carnation, patchouli, aldehydes, origanum, leather, moss, vanilla, castoreum, labdanum, musk and civet. Whether because of the age of my sample or for whatever other reasons, the scent foregoes its supposed bright citrusy opening and the sharp, spicy, green notes of the middles stage almost completely. Without much ado it goes straight to the good stuff, i.e. The Animal. The blend of leather, musk and civet is sexy as all get out, in the perverse, unspeakable kind of way that Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan or Lancôme Cuir are sexy. After a while the animalic quality subsides and one is left with a straightforward and actually quite subtle sort of leather, but that glorious skanky beginning is enough reason for me to love Russisch Leder and to want to get my greedy hands on a big, full bottle of it. Again, this scent is different enough from Parfums Regence Kolnisch Juchten and Farina’s Kölnisch Juchten that a leather fanatic like yours truly might want to find a way to obtain all three. To do so, I’d recommend you relentlessly stalk eBay, since once in a while these perfumes are listed there and usually are not too expensive.

If you would like to try a sample of my vintage Kolnisch Juchten, please let me know in your comment and I will enter you in the draw.

The image of Kolnisch Juchten is my own. The photo of Russisch Leder is from H&R Fragrance Guide.

48 Comments:

Blogger The Scented Salamander said...

what a coincidence! I just got a bottle of vintage Kölnisch Juchten too. It's a different shape than yours.
I was thinking about you yesterday when I was sampling Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums; it's a leather perfume. Have you tried it? I was blown away by the composition but right now I'm on the fence regarding the quality of the ingredients.

11:11 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Where are these vintage bottles hiding? I've been trolling eBay pretty regularly...

Of course, I would love to be entered into the drawing..

11:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Christina H. said...

wonderful review M! You made me laugh when you about highway men shooting guns for the fun of it and roasting whole pigs!Your description of that is very accurate to how it smells to me too.I think the the older version sounds more appealing to me just because you mentioned that it less "rough". Please enter my name in the drawing!

11:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous zeram1 said...

Please enter me in the drawing as well. BTW, what year was this fragrance first introduced?

12:43 AM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

May I please be added?

Highway marauders is right up my alley- you're talking to a woman who still wants to be a pirate!

Long may skank reign!

6:46 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Oh, that Russisch Leder sounds divine! I'm actually disappointed that so few of my vintage scents have lost their top notes, since I almost always want to dive straight into the base notes of a scent - especially w/ leather or tobacco scents. *Love* your description of the new KJ - exactly my sort of fragrance. Relentless stalking of ebay for those two vintage scents starts now. :-) Thanks for the great reviews!

6:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Anya said...

Vintage! Something I've never heard of! Must have! ;-) It's early, no coffee yet, strange words like leather and skanky got my attention...I'm easy.

7:50 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Putting on my (new) vintage KJ in your honor:) It is definitely more civilized than the Regence one; I like it a lot, too, but I think this is actually one case in which I prefer the reformulation (hoping my example arrives soon so we can compare).
My understanding was that the Russich Leder was a different composition, that it was meant as a men's cologne (I'm pretty sure of this part), whereas KJ was actually meant for women. What does HR say?
Tom--they are on Ebay from time to time; keep looking, and don't forget to check the "worldwide" button.

8:18 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

H,
I want a different shape botle too! Why? Because I am nuts :-)
I haven't sampled any Histoires scent, must remedy the situation very soon, especially since de Sade sounds so appealing.

8:21 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Tom,
As Judith suggests below, try Advanced Search. Click on "Available to The US". Seach, Save search as your favorite. And when eBay has new listings that match your serach, they'll send you an email. I am sorry if I am repeating what you already know!

You are entered in the draw.

8:24 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
Thank you! Well, it is a barbarian kind of the scent (the new KJ). You might really like the old one more, and you are entered in the draw!

8:25 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Zeram,
I must admit I don't actually know when it was first introduced. There is little to no information on KJ. Perhaps someone who knows would comment.
You are entered in the draw.

8:26 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Chaya,
You are added in the draw! The vintage KJ is much less pirate-like than the new one, but you still might like :-)

8:27 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Elle,
What I am worried about is that another bottle of Russisch Leder might not even smell the same dirty way. They all probably age differently. Still, I Want One!

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Anya,
With words like that, skanky and leather, I am easy too. :-D

8:43 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
I actually like both. I like ALL leathers :-) I strongly believe you are to blame or thank for my obsession :-D

8:44 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Well, Farina Gegenuber was founded in 1709. But a comment on the internet says that "KJ was made by a group of monks in the 16th century-- [it is] older than "4711" by Echt Kolnisch Wasser introduced by Wilhelm Muelhens in 1772." If the poster really means the 16th century that would put it in the 1500s, but s/he may mean 1600s.

I pretty much like all leathers too, but birchtar and I have a particularly close relationship:)

8:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Lucy said...

Wow, love the packaging, seems like a message from another time and world, so deeply foreign and mysterious. Great enthusiastic post, gives the sense that the scent would inspire me to shoot arrows off into the air, in conjunction with all those pistols going off in exuberance, then run around the block three times, and finish off by dancing around the house...

8:58 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
Those monks clearly had some suppressed issues and urges to create this :-D Wow, that's really old then.

9:01 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Lucy,
That's exactly the effect KJ has one me. That is, it would if I had any pistols in the house. Thankfully, I don't. :-D

9:03 AM EDT  
Anonymous sybil said...

How could I NOT want to try some of this stuff...as usual, you made it sound amazing!

9:25 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Sybil,
Well then, you are entered in the draw!

9:40 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved reading your review and would love a chance to try it--so yes, can I be entered into your drawing? thanks! Sara

9:49 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Sara,
Of course! You are in the draw!

9:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Ina said...

Sounds cool! Please enter me in the draw, pretty please. :)

10:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Solander said...

Oh, I'd love to try some too, I'm a leather addict and I'm addicted to that savory, dirty note in Muscs Koublai Khan...

10:54 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Ina,
But of course!

11:32 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

S,
Dear fellow leather addict, you are entered in the draw, thank you for participating!

11:33 AM EDT  
Anonymous patchamour said...

The roasting of pigs cracks me up. I love all things leather -- so I'd appreciate being entered in the drawing.

12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Heh heh heh -- that sounds like some excellent dirty juice!

I'm still giggling over Mr. C saying MKK smells vaguely familiar...

12:05 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

None of these sound like they will tempt me...but love those bottles!!

12:09 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

P,
Thank you for participating, you are entered in the draw.

12:58 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
I am thinking of making a version of Colombinade with Kolnisch Juchten (vintage) for you to try. :-D And to the problem of me no having a certain very important ingredient for Colombinade...I am 99,9% certain it will be in my possession, hopefully tomorrow. :-)

1:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Robin,
I don't think any of these are your thing, but of them all, the vintage KJ is probably more to your liking than the new one or Russisch Leder.

1:01 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Is tomorrow The Big Day, then? Congrats!!!

5:41 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
Small day, tiny little day :-)

6:43 PM EDT  
Blogger moon_fish said...

We leather addicts should keep in touch! :)
(Even though I never been lucky to win in any kind of lottery)

5:32 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

well, as you know I finaly broke down and got a bottle of the new stuff. It's definately different than the version I remember my Dad wearing; perhaps it's the difference between the buttoned-up blue-eyed blond father and his wilder green-eyed auburn haired kid. I'm crazy about the pork-pull in bondage accord that i almost want to run amok myself. I can't even imagine what I'd do with Russich Leder.

Who knew the combination of a New Englander and raven-haired Irish lass could result in a closet Mongolian?

12:22 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Closet Mongolian!! Ha ha ha!

8:55 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just found a bottle of Echt Kolnisch Wasser. A round flat bottle gold lid rubber cork. Says Johann Maria farina am Dom zu Koln on one side and a factory or church on other side on gold plastic and says under building Domzukoln. Do you know the year and Value??
Michele

12:17 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Hi Michele,
Sorry, I am not a specialist :-( It sounds nice and old to me, that's all I can manage to say. Sorry!

9:25 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in San Francisco during the 60's and 70's I had the pleasure of enjoying Farina's version of Kolnisch Juchten from Jacqueline's on Geary and Powell. Quite a place!
the scent always reminded me of moody medieval castles and smoky candles.The newer version did not come close. Still, the memory apprreciates Farina's version. Please enter me into the drawing!

5:29 PM EST  
Anonymous Tim Moyler said...

Plesae enter me in the draw too! I am a Russisch Leder fan (missing it desperately!) and would love to try your Kolnisch Juchten! Thak you. Tim

4:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous passion said...

please tell me where can i get a bottle of russisch leder for my husband. It was the fragance he used 35 years ago when we met and we love it.

5:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Passion,
You would have to look for it on ebay.com.

5:22 PM EDT  
Blogger a.badkitty! said...

OOoOooo This sounds right up my alley-I'm slavering just contemplating it! It's So difficult to find the fabulous vintage fragrances these days. I would love to be included in the drawing please.

12:47 AM EDT  
Blogger awesomesunshine22 said...

I came upon Farina Gegenuber in the book Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Thinking that it was non existent, I decided to google it up. Found your blog and thought, wow it is real.
Is it sold anywhere?

3:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Gary said...

My dad always had a bottle of kolnisch juchten starting in the late sixties. Then I started using it. I still have an old bottle from the early seventies. I baby it !!

9:50 PM EST  

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