When you come across the word “cuir” in the name of a perfume you know, of course, to expect a leather-centric fragrance. However, limiting Cuir Ottoman to the class of leather fragrances misses the equally prominent role amber plays in the overall profile of the scent. The amber accord is rich and complex yet beautifully balanced to the namesake leather. I especially like how perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato achieves this balance. I'm drawn to fragrances that are in constant motion; shifting and sharing prominence between multiple notes and accords. Diptyque's 34 Boulevard St. Germain is a fantastic example of this balancing act. In Cuir Ottoman, Corticchiato achieves this with just two accords and I can't help but envision the amber notes dancing in vaporous paisley curls over a ground of warm, soft leather. While leather and amber possess distinct identities, they also have many points in common. This allows the entire fragrance to connect seamlessly from the supple leather, which wears like a second skin, to gossamer clouds of rich, luxurious amber.
Many people find leather fragrances problematic because the elements used to recreate the accord, particularly essences that mimic birch tar and animalic notes, have strong personalities. But nose Corticchiato has found an elegant solution to this problem. Rather than turning to the usual animalic notes, like civet or musk, he uses the indolic qualities of jasmine to animate the leather accord. Jasmine also has the benefit of adding a dark sweetness to the amber accord. Then, rather than overwhelming the fragrance with the acrid, smoky notes of birch tar, Corticchiato uses frankincense to infuse Cuir Ottoman with a subtle, diaphanous incense smoke. The use of frankincense also links many of the the leather and amber notes.
Cuir Ottoman strikes me as being an incredibly versatile fragrance. I enjoy leather fragrances because they work well as casual dress scents. But the elegance of the amber accord also puts Cuir Ottoman in the category of fragrances that would pair well with dressing up for an evening out.
This is my first encounter with the house of Parfum d’Empire and on the basis of my experience with Cuir Ottoman I can’t wait to sample more of their creations.