Chanel Cuir de Russie is part of the Chanel range of exclusive (and elusive) fragrances; “Les Exclusifs“. Originally made in 1924, Cuir de Russie was audacious even then, as it was created to complement the then shocking trend of women smoking in public.
In 2007, it was relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs range, and is available at Chanel Boutiques and selected Chanel counters in larger stores, but not widely. Chanel are not in it for the money. They know it’ll sell even if it’s hard to get hold of and costs £200 a bottle.
I have been wearing Cuir de Russie today and throughout the day my opinion has been changing. When I first wore it, I thought it smelt vintage and also very similar to a Frederic Malle, with that same milky, stuffy base note that several of his perfumes have (according to me, at least). There is Iris in there, which maybe made me think of Malle’s Iris Poudre. (This is not a Good thing, I loathe Iris Poudre!). However, my heart was won over by the whiff of Leather and one of my favourite incense notes: Myrrh . Myrrh not only smells archaic and musty and beautiful, but is very hard to spell without a spell checker.
Disappointingly, Cuir de Russie does not have great staying power. I have had to reapply from my borrowed sample several times today (sorry Lisa!) to get the scent going. It’s worth it though, because after a while (and three sprays and a brisk walk), what I got was a new note that I have never smelt in a fragrance before: Horse.
Yes, this leathery beauty smells like Black Beauty. Or Champion the Wonder Horse. Or Trigger. But I happen to love it.
If you find the £200 price tag eye watering (and who wouldn’t? ) you could always try donning a Russian Cossack outfit, climbing on board a sweaty stallion, and riding a leather saddle from the Urals to Moscow. Rub some Myrhh into your legs and then sniff. What have you got? Cuir de Russie.
The Animalic Horsey smell is rather sexy and sets this apart from other Leather classics. Horses smell good, so it is either a stroke of genius or a happy accident that this earthy smell of Hay and Horse has made it’s way into a Leathery Incense fragrance. Fragrantica lists many notes that are contained in this fragrance, but I’m darned if I can smell Bergamot, Mandarin, Orange Blossom or Rose.
It was shocking in 1934 and it’s shocking now. Horse notes? Shocking. Shocking but Great. With a capital “Gee Gee”.