Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d'Empire

Year: 2006

Notes: Egyptian jasmine, iris, frankincense, leather, styrax, cistus, benzoin, tonka bean, vanilla, Tolu balsam
Cuir Ottoman is based on "the secular tradition of leatherwork in Anatolia", during the Ottoman rule.

The opening is very alluring, with an authentic leather accord that's slightly smoky yet unmistakeably clean (as opposed to animalic). Combined with dusty florals, the composite aroma is extremely reminiscent of brand new leather goods, with fresh trails of leather finishing chemicals greeting the nose. Furthermore, one is also able to discern olfactory parallels between Cuir Ottoman and Bulgari's Black, but Cuir Ottoman is far less dark, smoky and synthetic, with a much more refined and feminine demeanour.

As the composition further evolves, a combination of iris and frankincense further supports the opening until the leather is more suede-like. With a base of balsams and resins, the eventual drydown is gentle, warm, creamy, slightly smoky and bittersweet. And as amber subtleties intermingle with remnants of frankincense, suede and a lipstick-like iris, Cuir Ottoman's drydown is highly reminiscent of Guerlain's Bois d'Arménie.

All in all, it's an elegant, versatile and easy to wear fragrance, but its performance on the skin could have been better. Still, Cuir Ottoman is a remarkable creation that acts as a feasible alternative to Serge Lutens' relatively smoke-free Daim Blond (but with apricot kernel and white musk instead of a resinous-balsamic foundation).