Zara Exclusive N°04 - Leather Jardin by Zara

Zara Exclusive N°04 - Leather Jardin 2021

04.08.2022 - 12:33 PM
Helpful Review

The Scent of Empires

The widespread prosperity of the 1920s ended abruptly with the stock market crash in October 1929 and the great economic depression that followed. The depression threatened people's jobs, savings, and even their homes and farms. At the depths of the depression, over one-quarter of the American workforce was out of work. For many Americans, these were hard times. Even during hard times and wartime, people need to be entertained. The American people in the 1930s and 1940s were no exception. They enjoyed many forms of entertainment, mainly if they could do so inexpensively. With the addition of sound, movies became increasingly popular. Comedies, gangster movies, and musicals helped people forget their troubles. In the early 1940s, some of the great dramas of American film reached theatres. Radio was also wildly popular, offering many programs, from sermons to soap operas. In the 1930s, big bands and swing music were widespread, with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller popular bandleaders. In the 1940s, the bands broke up, and band singers like Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan went out on their own. War songs became popular.
Leather Jardin is the perfume of the Great Depression, between the two big World Wars. The scent of the Empires. I smell this dry and austere perfume, and I can't help but think of a movie star or a jazz set crooner rocking this beauty. Of course, I must admit that it is polarising, highly questionable, and divisive. Whether you are a man, a woman, or any other definition of gender, either you like the fragrance, and it traps you, or you don't like it at all, repudiates you. It may look outdated, venerable, or old-fashioned from other times, but it's actually very modern, almost futuristic. It is a riot of archaic notes, chypre oak mosses, dark flowers, and drenched leather. Mind-blowing. You must search into old-school territory if you want to find something analogous to this precious gem, as Leather Jardin lies among Cabochard (1959) Parfum, Aromatics Elixir Perfume, and Madame Rochas (1960) Parfum masterpieces.

First, from the primary chords for me, the fragrance is amber, aromatic, woody, spicy, slightly balsamic, and bittersweet, but a rich chypre with musky depths. Despite the name, the perfume is a tribute to oak moss, which plays a central role in its development. Leather Jardin opens on my skin with the citrus peel on a mossy, leathery background. There is a rather skanky, intense and penetrating aroma that tingles my nose, so balsamic, so deep, so thick, with a strange mix of floral and smoky skin. In the first few minutes, Leather Jardin opens like a witch's beer with a spicy, dark, portentous and mysterious green opening. Is galbanum the dark green note I get? I can compare it to a spicy condiment, a bit like a Tabasco, not for the smell but for the strength. The first breath is definitely Cabochard (1959) Parfum, then the fragrance becomes slightly soapy and dusty, with shades of dark, dewy flowers, and that's where I smelled the leather that I wanted to stay forever.

In the heart, there is something floral green, slightly burnt. Flowers, greenery and smoky suede. A dark pink facet makes me think of some geranium and a rich damask red rose. But I think it mixes something powdery and indole in the blend surrounding the focal rose. Perhaps the flowers of iris and jasmine add richness to the leather accord. The more time passes, the more balsamic and smoky it becomes like the smoke of an incense stick. The strength of the leather grows over time, and as the initial blast fades, calm darkness takes over the arrangement.

When the drydown comes, I get a tarry edge, like the bottom of a dirty ashtray just emptied, but not in a wrong way. A more powdery shade shares the final chord along with the tar. Sometimes I catch the animal darkness that was common in vintage woods, something reminiscent of castoreum or civet. And tons of oak moss blends beautifully with labdanum or birch to recreate the leathery look and a tinge of dirty patchouli. A bite of creamy woodiness makes me think of sandalwood. It stays dry for the first hour, then takes on a hint of sweetness from patchouli and probably an amber accord.

This surprising and crafty scent, reminiscent of the years between the two world wars, has a smell that goes far beyond expectations and takes me by surprise! It's weird, somehow dirty and dark, but I must say that the leather is quite tempting and, like no other leather I've ever smelled, so unruly. It's a decadent yet elegant take on known classics and smells incredibly expensive. The perfume, in the smell, bottle, and orange box, is decidedly retro. Powdery leather, with a floral touch, timeless and unrepentant. It is not a frivolous or commercial-flavoured perfume. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a pure niche that would please chypre lovers. A stunning performance with above-average projection and longevity holds his magic all night long, leaving a whisper of himself until morning. As for me, I consider it a perfume suitable for mid-seasons and colder days, more for autumn and spring evening outings. Maybe a little too cheeky to go to work and a little heavy for the summer season. I've already written about #universal oud, and now I can't wait to try Zara Exclusive N°02 - Ancestral Papyrus and Zara Exclusive N°01 - Incense Sunset too.

I base the review on a 100ml bottle I have owned since August 2022.

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