Slowly I’ve learned that the smell of leather in modern perfumery comes from a mixture of different aroma-chemicals (very likely birch tar is involved), but not something one would get from, say, soaking a stack of leather hides in some extraction solvent in a sink.
I tend to like perfumes with a touch of the leather note, not a full-fledged leather-themed perfume like Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. (Although I must say it’s a masterpiece.) Leather-themed perfumes are often too “sticky” and too butch for me.
Then there’s the smell of suede in perfumes that I find softer, lovelier, but also unsettling. I often associate the smell of suede to fine, supple furniture or luxury leather accessories, and it gives me anxiety that I might ruin them or nick them with my clumsy ass and Edwardscissors hands.
To make things even more unsettling, when a perfumer adds fruity notes to a suede-themed perfume, such as Serge Luten’s Diam Blond – you have an untreated white suede sofa spread with apricot jam, not only my ass would scratch it, it sticks to it.
I blind-bought Byredo’s Bullion in 2013 on eBay because at that time it was not available in North America and I was very into that brand. I had very little idea what it might smell like despite I had been reading the fancy marketing copy on their website over and over again while waiting for the bottle to arrive.
I tell you, Bullion, was so strange to me – a plum suede. Yes, the smell of slightly sweet gooey plum, spread on some leather/suede, then sprinkled with sweet indolic osmanthus that also smelled like plum and apricot. I wore it to work, and my coworker said, “You smell so nice,” while my stomach was ready to flip and hand me back my breakfast. And the scent lasted a whole day without too much development.
Well, years have passed and my taste and acceptance of certain perfumes/accords have changed. I occasionally wear Bullion and find it very well-blended, quite unusual, and luxurious-smelling. I just make sure I don’t have a full stomach when I wear it.