Cuir de Russie is a perfume version of a sleek, quirky, man-made bibelot (my house is full of these, too; see my current lemming — the eyeball paperweight from L'Objet —below). Bandit is more of a stand-out 'natural' object that's showy and hard to miss: a glossy chunk of red coral, say...or a hot-pink seashell the size of your head, a Haida basket full of aromatic betel nuts from India. Monsieur's raunch and libertine paunch prompts a "leather" virtual reality experience: a noisy leather-making factory in Morocco (there's dim light, Hasna blaring on the radio, sloshing of animal skins in vats filled with urine, merde du pigeon and the like). Cuir de Russie, Bandit and Monsieur are leather fragrances, but they have lots more happening in their development than leather — spices, aldehydes, galbanum, sonic patchouli, iris and other floral and fruit notes.
Compared to Cuir de Russie, Bandit and Monsieur, Cuir Impérial from Ormonde Jayne is rigorous, almost austere in character. To me, the "imperial" doesn't represent a life of luxury in a palace, but a no-nonsense, "big man on a big horse" cuirassier style. (Is there a perfume named "Cuirassier"...if not, why?) Like Monsieur, Cuir Impérial is a masculine take on leather, but with less liquor, sweetness and "roundness."
Cuir Impérial* starts with notes of "cognac" and a hint of camphor mixed with bergamot and bright cardamom; there's a medicinal aspect to the opening. In mid-development, a sage-y smudge stick aroma, smoky and autumnal in character, appears. From this point, tarry birch emerges and takes over for the duration. Cuir Impérial's base has residual booze and birch, smooth cedar and light musk. Overall, Cuir Impérial is a forceful perfume (a few spritzes of Cuir Impérial on my chest produced enough sillage to scent several rooms in my house — admittedly mine is not an imperial-sized abode). You'll want to apply Cuir Impérial lightly the first times you wear it to gauge its impact on you...and those around you. If you apply Cuir Impérial on clothing, watch out: the sillage and lasting power will become astonishing.
Cuir Impérial is made with wonderful, high-quality ingredients; there's not one moment that feels "off" or strident. If I were headed to the high desert this winter, Santa Fe or Taos, Cuir Impérial would be my trip perfume, to augment the New Mexican scents of wood smoke from fireplaces, piñon incense, creosote and rough landscape. Cuir Impérial would be a perfect angular addition to my favored leather perfumes.
Ormonde Jayne Cuir Impérial is a limited edition and is exclusive to Harrods in the UK, £195 (US, $220) for 50 ml Eau de Parfum.
*Listed notes of cognac oil, clary sage, bergamot, cardamom, pink pepper, orris, raspberry, rose, freesia, saffron, leather, tonka bean, patchouli, sandalwood, cedar, musk, incense and vetiver.
Note: top images of La Grande Armée de 1812, 7th Regiment of Cuirassiers, Officers Full Dress by Carle Vernet via Wikimedia Commons.