Last year I bought a new bag made of American buffalo hide to replace my ancient black calfskin bag that has traveled around the globe with me for ages (and is now retired and 'resting' in a cabinet). The moment I held the new bag I felt guilty, for buffaloes are one of my favorite animals. I get excited, and am emotionally moved, to be in the presence of these “beasts” that have always symbolized, for me, the part of the U.S. I love most, the West. Since getting my new bag, I've been in two car accidents (only my car was injured) and lost two jobs. Am I cursed? Are the buffalo spirits I've always admired pissed off, feeling betrayed — egged on by cows ("He never worries much about US!") Anyway, I've not used the new bag at all; it sits pristine in my closet, encased in a soft wool sweater.
I like leather fragrances as I like amber and tobacco perfumes: I need only ONE specimen of each in my perfume collection.1 Likewise, I need only one leather bag (I like simplicity); testing these two leather perfumes has led me back to my bison bag, whose aroma is still present.
Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather
Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather starts off with a leather aroma augmented with red fruit (a jammy, not “fresh” raspberry scent). The leather note is smooth, not tarry or “textured.” A hint of smokiness emerges in Tuscan Leather's mid-development, but the frankincense is not overpowering. On a sweetness scale of 1 to 5, Tuscan Leather, to my nose, is a 3 (right in the middle, even with the fruit). Tuscan Leather's leather eats up any florals that are supposedly present in the formula; night-blooming jasmine is one strong note, but I don’t smell it here (too bad!) The perfume becomes slightly talc-y in the base, with lovely wood and leather notes mingling with fruit. Tuscan Leather has good sillage and lasting power.
Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather Eau de Parfum: 250 ml, $525; 100 ml, $295; 50 ml, $215.
Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather
lime, orange, rose, petitgrain, leather, guaic wood, leather, cedar
As it opens, Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather is brighter, and “happier” in character than Tuscan Leather; it has refreshing fruity-floral aromas — as if you're smelling citrus blossoms and juice simultaneously. In this phase, Colonia Leather reminds me a bit of its namesake: original Acqua di Parma Colonia. As the citrus dries, a leather note begins to peep through. It’s a realistic mid-power leather scent (somewhere between pungent Mexican or Moroccan leathers and boutique leathers); it has a “grain” and semi-musky bite. As the perfume develops, this leather mixes with the base wood accord (a tad smoky)…and I swear there’s a red-fruit aspect to the dry down, too, which comes close to producing an “edible”/cooking-aroma accord if the notes weren't so silky. Colonia Leather has excellent sillage and astonishing lasting power (two showers didn't remove it completely from my skin!); just a few spilled drops of it on my desk scented my study and my wrists for a week.
The basic aroma (the longest lasting aspect) of each of these perfumes is so similar, I might have trouble distinguishing them if someone tested me. Both fragrances wear down to their fruity leather notes; I don’t detect a major difference in quality of ingredients or “style” and “finish.” If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather due to its opening; and overall, it's more buoyant and complex than Tuscan Leather. I’d love either perfume in soap form (with a “tooled leather” design on the cakes?)
As for my unused bag…I will respectfully ask it to let me use it...as a totem of sorts...to hold the idea of buffalo close, for I’ll never be able to pick it up without visualizing a bison. May the bad luck end!
Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather Eau de Cologne Concentreé, 100 ml, $210; 180 ml, $265.
1. Right now, it's Cuir de Russie in the Chanel Les Exclusifs line.