Thursday 23 July 2020

CUIR DE RUSSIE by Farina Gegenüber

You’ll often hear it levelled against the big perfume companies, and sometimes even the niche houses, that they’re constantly imitating somebody else’s successful style. Deliberately copying a fragrance is a different matter altogether, but what I’m talking about is taking a popular trend and putting your own spin on it. If you think about the many fern-like perfumes that came after Fougere Royale, or even the amber-heavy orientals that were hot on the heels of Shalimar, you can see how being inspired by the latest hit is nothing new. It was the same story in 1925 when Farina Gegenüber launched their fabulous Cuir de Russie.

Many perfume styles have gone in and out of fashion over the years but leather fragrances have always been popular. They do seem to have had a bit of a spike in the Roaring Twenties though, which is why you’ll see the name Cuir de Russie littering the catalogues. These Cossack booted fragrances that attempted to sum up the leather-clad, muscular legs of the soldiers were offered by everyone from Chanel to Coudray, and Floris to Farina. They each gave their own take on the well-loved composition that even included a Guerlain version in 1872, but all of them shared a desire for sensuality.

The name Farina Gegenüber may not be one that you’re familiar with, but it’s a very important perfume house. Founded in 1709, the company are arguably the creators of the very first Eau de Cologne. Giovanni Maria Farina was originally born in Italy, later settling in Germany, and he famously gave the world “a scent that reminds me of a spring morning in Italy, of mountain narcissus, orange blossom just after the rain.” His fragrance was exported all around the globe and has never been out of production. Still in family ownership, it’s now the eighth generation that continue the tradition.

In 1925 Farina was 214 years old and, whilst they had released many scents in the intervening years, nothing had equalled the original cologne. So, following in the footsteps of other famous houses, they decided to launch their own version of Cuir de Russie. A complete departure from their signature style, it perfectly tapped into the fashion of the time and became a society hit. Whether you know it as Cuir de Russie or by its German name, Russisch Leder, this sexy, aristocratic fragrance is rarely found outside of its native country these days. However, once smelled, this sensuous leather cannot be forgotten.

Cuir de Russie opens with an aromatic rush of clove and geranium before a citrus blend of lemon and bergamot arrives. It’s this herbaceous start that links perfectly down to the sensual leather that follows. In between comes an arresting combination of ylang ylang and earthy vetiver, so you get an evocative duality, but then the fragrance truly comes alive with the impression of well-worn waxed leather boots. The whole perfume is finally rounded off with a honey-sweetened cedarwood, and the sensual quality continues right through to the end. It may be ninety-five years old, but Cuir de Russie is as beautiful as the day it was first created.

Cuir de Russie is available from the Farina website at priced at €53 for 50ml and €78 for 100ml.


  1. Stephan, you have surpassed yourself with this amazing review. You have a way of reviewing all these scents that seem to be scents that I would fall in love with.

    1. Hello Barry, it's very easy when the fragrance is so great. Best, Stephan

  2. Replies
    1. Hello Catlady, Thank you for your lovely comment. Best, Stephan

  3. Replies
    1. Hello, thank you for your kind comments and I hope you enjoy more of the reviews on the site. Best, Stephan