Is there anything sexier than leather fragrances with their sensual and animalic vibe? The idea of wearing a second olfactory skin is both comforting and exotic at the same time.
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Leather colognes have a long history in perfumery and were often the result of attempts to mask the overpowering smell of real animal hides due to the tanning process, according to Fragrantica.
Modern interpretations of leather run the gamut from the hard and obvious to the more refined and subtle.
As a note, leather actually doesn’t exist naturally. It’s therefore created through a combination of synthetics and/or natural ingredients, in particular, birch tar.
If you’re ready to find the leather fragrance that suits you — this list of the best leather fragrances includes both suede and leather fragrances.
10 of the Best Leather Colognes
Cartier Declaration Parfum
Perfumer: Mathilde Laurent
Keynotes: Bitter orange, cardamom, spices, cumin, cedar, leather, amberwood, benzoin, tolu balsam, vetiver.
Wear it if you want: A classic leather fragrance with a spicy twist. Launched in 2018 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the classic CartierDéclaration EDT, the parfum iteration shares some of the characteristics of the original, in particular the bitter orange and cardamom notes.
But like any good flanker, it’s a standout release in its own right. Where the original was fresh and spicy, the parfum goes in a warmer direction, with the addition of cumin.
The leather note makes its presence felt early in the fragrance’s progression. Rich, dark and full of depth, it’s complemented by a woody base that includes notes of cedar, amberwood and vetiver. Benzoin gives it a tinge of smokiness.
Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous EDP
Keynotes: Clary sage, lavender, bitter almond, vanilla, leather, orris, tonka bean, leather, cashmeran, amber, white woods.
Wear it if you want: A leather fragrance that’s more than just hype. Mr Ford proved once again his mastery of marketing when this provocatively named fragrance was released in 2017. However, in the process, the shock value overshadowed what is a rather appealing leather scent.
From the brand’s upmarket Private Blend Collection, Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous, an oriental, opens with a strong herbal dose of clary sage oil, which has leathery characteristics, with lavender in support.
The leather note that follows is paired with bitter almond oil, giving it a warm effect. Vanilla adds a hint of sweetness. That vibe continues through to the base, featuring tonka bean, cashmeran and white woods.
It’s a seamless blend that’s far more comfy and cozy than its name suggests.
Perfumer: Marie Salamagne
Keynotes: Mountain air, pink pepper, peony, freesia, rose, white musk, leather, violet.
Wear it if you want: Alaia EDP is an impeccably smooth leather fragrance. There’s a good reason why this debut fragrance from the Paris-based luxury fashion brand was awarded the top five stars in the most recent edition of the prestigious Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.
It’s not an obvious leather fragrance. A contrast between cool and warm notes, the Tunisian-born designer wanted it to feel like a second skin. And that’s exactly what the perfumer achieved with it.
The fresh and airy opening progresses to a floral heart with nuances of peony, freesia and rose, settling on a base of leather and white musk.
Officially marketed at women, it’s perfectly unisex, so don’t let that put you off seeking out this example of superb quality.
Widian London EDP
Perfumer: Jordi Fernandez
Keynotes: Oud, cypress, violet, lily-of-the-valley, raspberry, leather, dry amber, musk, vanilla.
Wear it if you want: A sweet leather fragrance. The blue and gold bottle will be the first thing to grab your attention about this 2018 release from the Abu-Dhabi-based niche fragrance company that blends the best of Middle East and Western perfume traditions.
The juice is equally stylish. From the brand’s Sapphire Collection, it opens with the distinctive scent of oud. It’s a slightly sweet and luxurious treatment, which is accentuated by a big raspberry note. Violet adds an element of delicate powderiness.
The leather aspect is present throughout and gives Widian London, a warm EDP, a soft and smooth character. It’s supported by notes of amber, vanilla and musk.
While we don’t get the London inspiration as such, this is a beautifully crafted fragrance from start to finish.
Byredo Bibliotheque EDP
Keynotes: Peach, plum, peony, violet, leather, patchouli, vanilla.
Wear it if you want: To feel like you’re in a world of old books. As Byredo Biblioteque suggests, this perfume (it was originally the Swedish niche fragrance company’s most popular candle) is inspired by the ambience of a library featuring old leather books on wooden shelves.
It’s a well-executed concept that begins in fruity territory with sweet (but not too sweet) fruity notes of peach and especially plum.
The slight sweetness is further developed in the floral heart featuring a peony note. A violet note brings an earthy and powdery aspect.
The leather base note completes the picture with notes of patchouli and vanilla adding to the intimate feel.
Avon Black Suede EDT
Keynotes: Bergamot, soft suede, oakmoss.
Wear it if you: Want a good leather cologne that doesn’t cost you a small fortune. Originally launched in 1980, Avon Black Suede is a worthwhile option if you’re on a tight budget. Like most fragrances from the American company, it’s a simple composition, but that doesn’t take away from its effectiveness.
It opens with a fresh citrus dose of bergamot, which quickly gives way to the heart of soft suede, which is smooth and very wearable. The base note of oakmoss gives it an earthy and woody dimension.
Also try to get your hands on Avon Black Suede Intense if you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph.
Floris Mahon Leather EDP
Keynotes: Citruses, jasmine, vetiver, iris, saffron, leather, amber, French labdanum, musk, tonka bean, patchouli, sandalwood.
Wear it if you want: An old-school leather fragrance with a sense of history. This 2011 release is quintessential gentleman stuff. It’s inspired by Mahón, the capital of the Spanish island of Menorca, the birthplace of the founder of this British heritage brand, Juan Famenias Floris, which can trace its roots all the way back to 1730.
Floris Mahon Leather EDP reveals its charms from the opening jasmine note featuring animalic properties. A big dose of iris adds powderiness to the composition, while saffron infuses it with a spicy leatheriness.
The creamy leather note is perfectly paired with the woody aspects of sandalwood and vetiver, and warm tonka bean.
Memo Russian Leather EDP
Perfumer: Alienror Massenet
Keynotes: Oil of basil, Fougère accord, oil of cedar leaf, oil of Siberian pine needle, oil of coriander seed, heart of lavandin, mint, oil of rosemary, oil of nutmeg, oil of guaiac, oil of patchouli, tonka bean absolute, leather accord, oil of clary sage, Cypress absolute.
Wear it if you want: A leather cologne that will pique your wanderlust. Founded in 2007 by John and Clara Molloy, Memo is a Paris-based niche fragrance house that produces top-notch scents inspired by the founders’ travel memories. Their leather fragrance collection, Cuir Nomades, includes highly recommended variations such as African, Irish, French and Italian.
The intriguing Russian Leather takes its cue from a Siberian forest. It starts its journey in fougère mode with a fern note. Siberian pine needle focus the olfactory illusion, with notes of lavender, rosemary and mint providing herbal and green facets.
When the leather note comes through its gentle and soothing and surrounded by woody notes of cypress and patchouli.
This EDP has a fresh, clean, peppery vibe with appealing contrasts.
Dior Leather Oud EDP
Perfumer: Francois Demachy
Keynotes: Bergamot, cloves, geranium, cardamom, jasmine, leather, oud, sand, smoke, amberwood, birch, patchouli, sandalwood.
Wear it if you want: A bold and uncompromising leather fragrance. Christian Dior launched its private fragrance collection, La Collection Privée, in 2004. Launched in 2018, Leather Oud is a potent standout.
There’s a slight citrus intro and spicy heart, but this fragrance is all about the dynamic between leather and oud. Demachy maximizes the animalic qualities of both to make a powerful statement that’s accentuated by notes of smoke and amberwood. The birch note ups the leather ante, while patchouli adds earthy depth.
Rumour has it that it’s being discontinued, so get your hands on it while you can.
Vilhelm Parfumerie Morning Chess EDP
Perfumer: Jerome Epinette
Keynotes: Bergamot, leather, galbanum, patchouli, black amber.
Wear it if you want: A leather cologne with green overtones. This 2015 release from the NYC-based niche fragrance house opens with the freshness of bergamot.
Morning Chess goes in a green, semi-bitter direction with the addition of a large shot of resinous galbanum. While this note dominates the scentow, there’s no missing the masculine-ish leather note, which lingers in the background throughout. The drydown is deep and earthy, thanks to the patchouli note.
The sharpness of this scent will not appeal to everyone, so, as always, we recommend that you try it before you buy it.
What is a leather fragrance?
Based on the name of this olfactory family, it’s fairly obvious that these scents are meant to evoke the scent of leather. What many people don’t realize though is just how varied this fragrance family tends to be. Although leather plays a pivotal role in any fragrance in this family, the similarities stop there.
Some leather fragrances are sweet, using floral or fruity notes to add lightness to the scent. Others are animalic or musky, using notes like civet and oud to emphasize the natural origins of leather.
Regardless of whether you prefer fragrances that are fresh and light or those that are bold and daring, there’s a leather cologne out there for you.
What’s the history of leather fragrances?
The first leather fragrance was commissioned by King George III. At the time, leather gloves were scented with oils and musk to mask the unpleasant smell of the animal skin. The king was such a big fan of the way his scented leather gloves smelled that he asked the royal glove maker to turn it into a fragrance.
That royal glove maker was none other than James Creed, and this request from the king was the first in what would be a long line of fragrances released by the House of Creed. With a single request, King George III started both a parfumier dynasty and a new fragrance family.
What notes do leather colognes use?
Leather fragrances use both natural and synthesized notes. Natural notes include birch, juniper and cade oil, styrax, cassie, castoreum, myrtle, and cistus labdanum. Synthetic notes include quinolines, safraleine, aldehydes, and synthesized suede nuances.