Venemous leather…what an evocative title! But don’t be scared of this reinterpretation of such a traditional note. Here it’s softened, modernised and tamed.
Orange blossom, leather, cedar, musk, honey, myrrh.
Pierre Guillaume and Parfumerie Generale are staple favourites of us here at The Sniff. PG makes scents which are accessible, easy to wear, good quality and chic. We’ve reviewed many of their line before including PG 04 Musc Maori, PG 5.1 Suede Osmanthe, PG 16 Jardins de Kerylos, and PG 16.1 Bois Naufrage.
PG 03 Cuir Venenum is an interesting scent. It’s one of those chameleon fragrances that changes significantly depending on your own chemistry. The first notes we get from it are pleasantly dry, slightly astringent and yet soft at the same time. It’s orange blossom with those beautiful bitter undertones turned up to the point that it almost smells a little woody and herbal.
From the top notes, you might get the impression that this fragrance is going to be a really angry, really venomous brew but what happens next is a bit of a surprise…
One of the things we really enjoy about PG scents is the way that they shift between notes. They manage to do this in a way that blurs the line between one note and the next. One second you are certain that what you are smelling is this bitter, herbal and yet floral orange blossom, the next it’s definitely leather, and you can’t remember the join, can’t see the change, it’s just happened and suddenly you are transported somewhere else. It’s really brilliant.
There’s no mistaking the fact that there is leather in the heart of this scent; it’s most definitely there. What makes Cuir Venenum different though, to many other leather scents, is just how soft, fuzzy and powdery it is. It’s the scent equivalent of the most buttery, malleable leather you have ever run your fingers over, and that piece of soft leather is placed gently on a bower of blossom petals.
We struggled to find any of the poison, any of the rage, in the heart of the scent. It really is rather kind and fluffy instead. The leather is gentle, feminine almost, and very wearable. The bitter notes recede into the background and, on our main tester’s skin at least, what was most noticeable was a sweet gentle quality.
As the perfume wears, it becomes smoother, creamier and the introduction of myrrh in the base has the lovely effect of referring us back to the bitter notes we noted at the start. For us it wasn’t quite potent enough in the mix to fully do this 100% successfully, but nevertheless it’s a very pleasant experience.
There was a quality about the base of the scent that really reminded us of being a child and playing about with your mother’s cosmetics. The way those creams, potions and pastes smelled, especially the ones that had been sat unused for a while. The base of Cuir Venenum smells a bit reminiscent of lipstick, face powder and something one of our grandmas used to call ‘cold cream’. It’s the powdery, feminine and reflective quality the base of the scent has that made us feel that way. Sure, there is a delightful honey note to sweeten the mix, the cedar evokes a certain gentleness without being particularly noticeable, and the leather is still there embracing everything in it’s warm protective layer. But this is one of those scents that is more than the sum of its parts because together those notes transport you elsewhere, to a time when life was simpler and potions and lotions were a thing that grown-ups did.
Cuir Venenum is charming. It’s a really easy to wear a leather scent, especially if you like fragrances which tend towards sweeter, more floral nuances. It might start off as a venomous leather, but it ends up as a first-aid salve.
The other stuff
The longevity of Cuir Venenum is excellent. After being applied at 7:30am every day we tested it, it lasted until at least 5pm, sometimes longer. It really has great staying power.
The sillage, or projection, of the scent is also good. It appears to project to a bit further than handshake distance and leaves a pleasant wake when you walk past wearing it.
In terms of the gender of the scent, we felt that it fell on the more feminine side of the spectrum, but it is so easy to wear, and does have this chameleon-like quality that in reality we could see the appeal of this one being quite broad.
PG 03 Cuir Venenum is available from our friends at Bloom Perfumery London. It is priced at £132 for 100ml EdP, £88 for 50ml and £61 for 30ml.
Cuir Venenum is also available from the Pierre Guillaume web boutique in all three bottle sizes.
The Sniff purchased a tester of this scent in order to review.