Monday, 25 September 2017

CUIR DE RUSSIE by Le Jardin Retrouvé

The "leather revival" in the perfume world shows no signs of slowing, although to some of us it never went away in the first place. Those rich, resinous, woody scents exuded power along with a sensuality that ached for experimentation. Lashings of birch tar, labdanum and castoreum gave these fragrances a sexually charged energy that was impossible to resist. The more recent "trend" for softer suede-style scents diluted this effect and they became more refined and less dangerous. Thankfully with the rerelease of Cuir de Russie by Le Jardin Retrouvé we once again get the chance to perfume provocatively.

When Le Jardin Retrouvé was relaunched in October 2016 many perfume fans had never actually heard of this important company. The first “niche” brand, it was founded in 1975 by Yuri Gutsatz and his wife, Arlette. Yuri was born in Saint Petersburg in 1914 but relocated to Berlin when he was only ten years old. In 1933 he travelled to Paris and it was the beginning of a career that would help to shape the ethos of many “independent” perfume brands. Yuri was in love with the artistry of fragrance, the emotional connection to the ingredients, but over the course of his career he would see the industry change.

It was his return from a long stint in India, where he had been working with Roure Bertrand Fils, which saw the first spark in him for a return to the “old fashioned” way of doing things. The perfume industry had become a marketing driven machine where quality was being sacrificed at the expense of profit, and it was not a world that he recognised. He founded Le Jardin Retrouvé with the ethos of providing the “best possible product at the lowest possible price”, and quality was never questioned. This philosophy continues under the direction of his son, Michel, and it is why the company has been welcomed back so warmly.

Cuir de Russie originally launched in 1977 under the name Eau de Cuir de Russie and proved to be an important fragrance for the company. It linked effortlessly back to the classic perfume styles but also added the “Gutsatz” twist, which in this case was an airy expanse that lifted rather than lightened the composition. The scent was also released as a candle and, from personal experience, I can tell you that it really was spectacular. The task of getting Cuir de Russie ready to relaunch fell to perfumer Maxence Moutte from Givaudan, and the results are truly impressive.

Straight out of the bottle you get that wonderful burst of violet which used to be such an important part of gentlemen’s fragrances. It links perfectly to the leather accord which, in Yuri’s hands, is robust yet relaxed and you are drawn into the fragrance rather than observing from a distance. The subtle touches of ylang ylang and cinnamon add a creamy spiced tone that, in my opinion, keeps making you want to smell the fragrance over and over again. I said at the beginning that any Cuir de Russie needs to be “rich, resinous and woody”, and Le Jardin Retrouvé definitely succeeds.

For more information on the company you can click here to read my previous article or visit the Le Jardin Retrouvé website at lejardinretrouve.com where you can also purchase Cuir de Russie.

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