What is a leather fragrance?
Based on the name of this olfactory family, it’s fairly obvious that these scents are meant to evoke the scent of leather. What many people don’t realize, though, is just how varied this fragrance family tends to be. Though leather plays a pivotal role in any fragrance in this family, the similarities stop there.
Some leather fragrances are sweet, using floral or fruity notes to add lightness to the scent. Others are animalic or musky, using notes like civet and oud to emphasize the natural origins of leather. Regardless of whether you prefer fragrances that are fresh and light or those that are bold and daring, there’s a leather fragrance out there for you.
What’s the history of leather fragrances?
The first leather fragrance was commissioned by King George III. At the time, leather gloves were scented with oils and musk to mask the unpleasant smell of the animal skin. The king was such a big fan of the way his scented leather gloves smelled that he asked the royal glove maker to turn it into a fragrance. That royal glove maker was none other than James Creed, and this request from the king was the first in what would be a long line of fragrances released by the House of Creed. With a single request, King George III started both a parfumier dynasty and a new fragrance family.
What notes do leather fragrances use?
Leather fragrances use both natural and synthesized notes. Natural notes include birch, juniper and cade oil, styrax, cassie, castoreum, myrtle, and cistus labdanum. Synthetic notes include quinolines, safraleine, aldehydes, and synthesized suede nuances.
Ready to find the leather fragrance that suits your style? We’ve included a few of our favorites below that cover the full spectrum of leather fragrances.
Best Sweet, Subtle Leather Cologne
Best Fresh Leather Cologne
Montale Leather Aoud
This fragrance has a spiciness to it that’s irresistible. It’s similar to Tuscan Leather, but the fruitiness of the raspberry in TL is swapped out for bergamot, which gives this bottle more of a freshness to it. The freshness eventually dries down to a refined leather smell that’s reminiscent of a leather arm chair in a men’s club. A note of saffron gives this scent a little extra charm.
Best Natural Leather Cologne
Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur Eau de Parfum
For a leather scent that comes with a feeling of the great outdoors, look no further than Cuir Pleine Fleur. Top notes of violet leaf, Italian bergamot, and cinnamon give way to a heart of mimosa, hawthorn, suede, rose, and honey. The base reinforces the natural qualities of the fragrance, with birch and atlas cedarwood, as well as vetiver and castoreum.
Most Sexy Leather Cologne
Xerjoff Homme is another favorite amongst fragrance lovers. At the start, it has a strong petroleum smell, but then dries down to a sexy, warm, spicy leather scent. Top notes include citrus and spices; middle notes are clove, lavender, and ylang-ylang; base notes are woodsy notes, vetiver, and leather.
Best Evening Leather Cologne
Christian Dior Leather Oud Cologne for Men
Leather Oud is part of an exclusive collection of ten fragrances released by Dior in 2010. This scent, with its blend of animalic and leather notes, screams masculinity. Oud is a relatively new scent in the west and is definitely not for men who want to fade into the background. Civet stands out as one of the strongest notes in the bottle, coming in at the middle of the fragrance and staying all the way through the end.
Most Iconic Leather Cologne
Fahrenheit Christian Dior for Men
If you’re looking for a playful and light fragrance, this bottle isn’t for you. Fahrenheit delivers a strong and long-lasting scent that’s made itself an icon in mens cologne. Like Xerjoff Homme, this has blends petroleum and leather and, if you can handle it, you’ll love this fragrance— but it's definitely not for everyone. Read my full review of Fahrenheit here.
Leather fragrances are not a scent for everyone — if you're used to wearing lighter, aquatic or citrus based colognes, it might take your nose a bit to adjust. Leathers are unapologetically bold and masculine. If you're a man who likes to make a statement with your cologne and doesn't mind a little extra attention, they're definitely worth a try.