We fans of floral leather fragrances may be in the minority, but we’re passionate. There’s something about floral delicacy playing against rough, salty leather, and even better when the leather is softened by moss. If you love floral leathers, the Prism Parfums reissue of Geminesse won’t cause you to abandon your bottle of Chanel Cuir de Russie, but it’s worth a sniff — especially at its price.
Max Factor first released Geminesse in 1974. The original Geminesse’s notes included thujone (a plant material that smells like menthol), citrus oils, bergamot, gardenia, coriander, jasmine, rose, orris, narcissus, patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, amber, castoreum and vanilla. I smelled vintage Geminesse once, when a vintage clothing shop owner showed me a demure-looking bottle wrapped in a pale green ribbon with a Barbie-sized bouquet of flowers wired to it. I sprayed it on and prepared myself for a tame floral and instead got a wicked leather with a real animalic growl. I thought, This is what Tigress should smell like.
Of course, smelling vintage Geminesse is not the same as smelling Geminesse in 1974. (Are animalic notes like chili, where the heat builds over time?) The Prism Parfums release of Geminesse doesn’t smell like the vintage Geminesse I sampled. It’s less skanky and spicy, for one thing. But it’s still a floral leather.
If I had to sum up the new Geminesse Eau de Parfum in a few words, they would be “orange blossom leather.” Geminesse kicks off with an aldehydic top register and a burst of dry citrus neither as sharp and green as Piguet Bandit nor as wet as Christian Dior Diorling. Geminesse’s leather is right up front. It’s thick saddle leather, not the creamy suede of, for instance, Lancôme Cuir de Lancôme. It’s neither as tender as DelRae Mythique, nor as tarry as a classic Russian leather. Its leather lasts all the way through the fragrance’s wear.
Geminesse’s floral heart flattens to soapy orange blossom for me, and this is where it parts ways with some of my favorite floral leathers. Wet, earthy violet tempers Pierre Balmain Jolie Madame’s leather. Fuller white flowers with a touch of rose gives Diorling body. Woody spice adds dimension to Lanvin Scandal. I like the soft dampness of a fuller floral heart, or the clear statement of a tart green leather. Geminesse tosses aside romance and attitude and lands on plain old soapy leather.
Maybe that’s good. A light-wearing, clean leather might be just the ticket for days when you want no-nonsense leather but don’t feel like getting pushy about it. In any case, even if you simply use Geminesse to make your Ford Fiesta smell a bit more like a Rolls Royce, it won’t break the bank.
Besides the floral leathers I list here, I like Ann Gérard Cuir de Nacre, Balmain Miss Balmain, and Heeley Cuir de Pleine Fleur (and probably loads more I'm forgetting). Which floral leathers would you recommend to someone new to the genre?
Prism Parfums Geminesse’s list price is $54 for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum and $44 for 100 ml of Eau de Toilette. Online, you can find it discounted to $32.99 and $22.99 respectively.