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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Perfume Review: Lancome Cuir (La Collection re-issue)

From Révolte to Cuir to Cuir re-release, the devolution of one scent illustrates the downhill trajectory of Lancôme's develoment in the sphere of perfume and, I will say this at the danger of sounding too dramatic and making too sweeping a generalization, the trajectory of the whole perfumery.

The new Cuir is not a bad scent - not at all! - in fact, it is very attractive. Those happily unfamiliar with the old version, will rejoice at the fact that Lancôme released a perfume that is not a fruity floral and not another version of Miracle (which is to say, not a fruity floral). Those who, like me, were corrupted by the dark, dirty, sinful beauty of the original Cuir, will find Cuir No 2 lacking ...lacking character, lacking intensity, and above all lacking cuir. There is certainly some leather there but it is buried under a heap of sweet citruses and powdery flowers. The beginning is pleasant, with mandarin adding a candied aspect to the leather accord; the floral heart is very elegant ...but such an emphasis on other ingredients obscures the title note and gives the fragrance an air of dainty femininity. With its powdery softness, the new Cuir is closer to Rykiel Woman Not For Men or even Cuir Beluga than to the 1939 original. Whereas the original Cuir was a barbarian who almost couldn't be bothered to appear refined, the new one is well-mannered, demure, and awfully embarrassed by its disreputable predecessor.

When, a couple of months ago, I inquired about the arrival of the re-released Cuir to the States, the ever-knowledgeable customer service officials at told me that the fragrance named Cuir is not being released. Smelling it now makes me wish they were right. It also makes me wish that Lanvin never attempts a re-issue of Scandal. Let the dead stay honorably dead rather that resuscitating them into politically correct shadows of their former striking selves.

According to osmoz, Cuir is available in select stores only; more information on its availability can probably be obtained from Institut Lancôme, tel : +33 (0)1 42 65 30 74, but I frankly am not moved enough to make an effort.

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Blogger tmp00 said...

Well that's a well deserved stake through this one's heart.

I'm not even interested enough to dial and 800 number, much less pay for an international call.

10:11 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You make me feel like Van Helsing. :-)

10:13 PM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Sobbing. I didn't even know a reissue was in the works. WHY?! Perfection shouldn't be messed with. And if Lancome really wanted to put out a new scent, then why not call it by a completely new name? The embarrassed one should be this obviously polite (snarling just typing that), potentially popular impostor. Grrrrr. Insults like this to beloved vintage leather scents just crush my heart.

10:21 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I understand the desire to capitalize on heritage, but, but...I agree. A new name would have been so much better AND it would have allowed some people (moi) to judge it on its own merit and maybe even like it.

10:29 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad, very sad - it's matching to my mood today and to that grey mess out there (well, Vienna is grey today...). I'd like to quote from Shaffer's Amadeus (but I can't find the page...), where Salieri is talking about the average, about all the undistinguished of this world...

2:04 AM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

I never smelled the original, which might explain that I liked this re-working by Calice Becker well enough to buy a flacon. I find it buttery, smooth and lovely, with more substance (and leather) than Cuir Beluga and a vintage (but non-musty) vibe. It's leather crossed with suntanned skin for me -- not a nice sight to think of, admittedly, but I'm thinking golden tan leather and warmth.
Incidentally, at the Institut Lancôme in Paris the SA told me that production had be stopped. I nabbed the next-to-last bottle. She didn't know about stocks abroad, but there weren't going to be any more in France.
And re: names for reissues, this comes up periodically but it seems that it is not so much to capitalize on scents no one but a few perfumistas remembered, as to use names they have the rights to. With so many perfumes coming out, there are less and less to pick out of.

2:30 AM EST  
Blogger donanicola said...

Like Carmencanada I have not sniffed the original and so am not disappointed by the comparison. I liked this enough to buy it but I must admit I've rather neglected it since. It is more powdery than I usually like in my fragrances and the leather is certainly well behaved. Still I think it is a lovely scent and as you point out, thank god it's not a fruity floral or a sweet gourmandy mess. The comparison is a shame but Carmencanada's suggestion about names is probably at the root of this particular instance.Wonder why they've stopped production? Love the bottle and packaging!

5:57 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am in the same mood and is is the weather here.

6:35 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I wonder what happened, why it had to be stopped. I wonder what happened to Chanel's Eau Premiere as well...if truly anything. Anyway, I digress. They (in general) should put us in charge of choosing name for perfumes.

6:37 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad you are enjoying it! Powder is what more or less kills it for me. I mean, it is powdery to the extent of Lipstick Rose on me.

6:38 AM EST  
Blogger Divina said...

I have not smelled the original, so it sounds like I might actually like this one, being ignorant of its more glorious past... Thanks for reviewing this. Still not available around here from what I know. Will keep an eye out.

6:50 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Then you really should try it! If they ever release it anywhere.

7:09 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely with you, Marina.This "leather" has nothing to see with a true leather.

In my opinion, to give the name of a great and vintage perfume to a completely different fragrance must be prohibited.

7:14 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Exactly! :-)

7:15 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Yeah, I agree. I get more leather and less powder than you ( after our recent experiment, I would say that is the inevitable result of our skin chemistry)--in fact, I get an unmistakable leather. But it's (dare I say) an uninteresting leather that really does nothing for me. And it's definitely damped down by the flowers, etc. Very disappointing (the cuir d'iris that you hate is a million times better than this:) Oh well. I'll stick with my beloved original.

7:35 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Initial first response: *yawn*
And then, a wistful wish to have smelled the real Cuir. *sigh*
If this one does arrive on our shores I'm sure I'll sniff but powdery & fruity isn't particularly how I like my leather. Bah, phooey.

8:21 AM EST  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

What a shame....I have never experienced the original Cuir and now I am longing to. I am sure that I would have loved it. I am really in agreement with you though Marina,I hate it when they reisasue fragrances under exactly the same name. For me, it doesn't seem to respect at all the greatness of what had gone before, sort of annihilating all traces of a glorius past.

8:28 AM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Okay, I was feeling badly about missing this one, but not anymore, thank you!!!!

I don't know why they do that, but I agree, if they can't bring them back properly from the dead, just keep them buried.

10:14 AM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Marina, I have the answer (and straight, as it were, from the horse's mouth - ie someone very, very high up at Chanel -- no, not Karl) about the Eau Première: it's a problem with the cap of the atomizer, not the formula.

10:19 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I blame focus groups and other lowest common denominator styles of thinking and doing.

10:46 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*sigh* Would it be really hard to find a sample of the original Cuir to sniff? I'm longing to try it...

12:30 PM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Gosh. Just as well it isn't coming to the US then, if that turns out to be true.

1:26 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd rather have citrus-amplifying or sweet-amplifying skin than powder-amplifying :-(

9:49 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Bah indeed :-)

9:49 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Don't look for it, because you will love it and your heart will be broken :-(

9:50 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

It's nice, you might even like it, but I also don't think it's tragic that you've missed it.

9:51 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, I hope they fix it soon, because I think the juice is destined for success.

9:52 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I blame those who think focus groups necessary :-(

9:52 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I've seen small vintage bottles on ebay, actually.

9:53 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Who knows, Lancome is being mysterious.

9:53 PM EST  
Blogger Octavian Coifan said...

The drydown is very nice but totally "modern" with ingredients that never existed in the 30's. I was surprised that they still kept the old name. It's not that "cuir" leathery as the name, not even the previous name (revolte) wouldn't fit at all. From all the leathery scents it seems the lightest and innofensive which is quite surprising for the 30's where all leather scents were very strong, animalic, almost barbarian in their attitude.
Cuir is indeed a nice and well donne fragrance but is Cuir 2007 and not quite one would expect. In a way it's not a surprise: the birch tar oil, a common leather note in the past is restricted today and one cannot use at the same level as 60 years ago. It's also the case for animal products that L'Oreal or LVMH do not use anymore.

4:26 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh, birch tar is restricted? I see...That is a shame. Nothing adds wonderful brutality to a leather scent like birch tar :-)

8:05 AM EST  

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