Dubai – City Exclusive – Cuir 28 by Le Labo

Cuir 29 Le Labo Dubai City Exclusive

Love at first sniff. A limb-twister.

Usually I test on the front of my hand. While this area does not have a strong pulse point to warm and therefore dissipate the ‘fume, it is easier to sniff this area compared to continually limb-twisting your inner wrist to your nose. And of course your skin heats the molecules slowly on the front of your hand so you can understand and appreciate the development in slow motion.

For some reason in the case of Cuir 28 I pulse pointed it straight to the inner wrist and then spent the next 7 hours limb-twisting. An opening like no other; the top notes are sticky, tarry and resinous with what smells like a combination of helichrysum, sarsaparilla, licorice root and a suspicion of the methylphenolic smell of distilled creosote. Le Labo are only ‘fessing up to 6 out of the 28 ingredients which are:

animal notes, leather, wood, musks, vanilla absolute, vetiver

Cuir 28 is from Le Labo’s City Exclusive range which means it is only available in Dubai. Periodically they make these scents available internationally and right now is one of those moments. This is the 3rd moment in Le Labo history and these moments seem to happen every 2 years.

In theory I like the idea of journeying and buying scents that are only available in the cities I have visited. However I do not want my holiday plans arranged by Le Labo releases. I can’t see Le Labo or anyone else releasing a Luang Prabang, Vientiane or Trat scent in the near future.

Le Labo City Exclusives, Tom Ford (London), Guerlain (Tokyo, Shanghai et al) and Bertrand Duchaufour’s Mon Numero series for L’Artisan are all exclusives only available in a certain city and in L’Artisan’s case a certain shop in a city. I have wondered what people who actually live in the city think of the scents.

Dubai people, what do you think? I imagine you would be pleased with this scent which has echoes of Tuscan Leather, Black Afgano and even Fate Man. It is not a copy of any of these but would appeal to people who appreciate strolling through that Eastern neck of the woods which is dark, brooding and assertive. In this case the woods are heightened into a manilla (man-vanilla) leather that is smooth and delicious without being anywhere near gourmand. This leather is neither tame nor wild; it is in the process of being tamed and the vetiver is smoked rather than smoking. The top notes are the heart notes and continue to the drydown making this a remarkable linear scent which neither tires or bores. Your opinion may be entirely different. I am looking foward to what Kafka will write about this one.

Michelyn Camen from CaFleureBon succinctly says:

heavy leather

My mate Hamish thinks:

This is definitely a nice oriental fragrance and it is substantial in the Middle Eastern fragrance tradition.

Hamish also wonders:

I didn’t immediately get the leather in Cuir 28, but this is not that unusual for Le Labo. They are known for naming their scents after a supporting player rather than the lead. I know leather in perfume is an artificial construct like amber, so it is made of a chord of notes. There is no one ingredient that smells of leather. Usually when I imagine a leather perfume, I think of birch tar and I don’t detect it in Cuir 28. Le Labo already has a wonderful birch tar and vanilla scent, and it’s called Patchouli 24. I think the texture evoked in Cuir 28 is not a newly tanned saddle or motorcycle jacket, but more the finest lambskin gloves. While I really enjoy Cuir 28, I can’t help but be a little disappointed that Le Labo didn’t release something as daring as Patchouli 24 – more like that motorcycle jacket.

Is this a leather created without birch tar? What other examples are there of leathers created without it?

Well, there is the question; Birch Tar or a synthesized Coal or Wood Tar (creosote)? Creosote itself has been a banned substance in perfumery since 2003.

Also at first sniff, besides love, I thought that the Perfumer was Karine Vinchon Spehner. I was wrong! It is Nathalie Lorson. This is the second time this year that I have immediately liked something new then later discovered her to be the one responsible for such delight. Me and Nathalie go all the way back to Encre Noir and onto Autoportrait and now Cuir 28.

Vetiver Expertise
Nathalie Lorson created one of my best-loved ‘fumes, the warm masculine vetiver that is Encre Noire from Lalique.

Autoportrait is Encre Noire released from the woods and flying above the clouds. The vetiver smells like the roots have been washed by a waterfall leaving a clear hint of something that is usually more vegetal.

Cuir 28 is a sticky leather vetiver which I will be rocking into the weekend and possibly to Monday morning.

If you like the birched out Lone Star Memories, the gasoline pumped Knize 10, the smokin’ elegance of Tuscan Leather , opening the treasure chest of aromatic molecules that is Fate Man, the sticky hash oil turning into smoke of Black Afgano, or the dry dry wind of Chergui then Cuir 28 would be a welcome addition to your wardrobe. How’s that for a 7 day scent plan? You’d be running to florals the week after, searching for Bluebells and bunnies in the Jo Malone meadow or reconsidering your firmly held position on calone.

Side Trips
Kafkaesque – Chergui
Kafkaesque – Black Afgano
Nathan Branch – Encre Noire
Perfume Shrine – Tuscan Leather
Kafkaesque – Lone Star Memories
Australian Perfume Junkies – Chergui
CaFleureBon – Cuir 28 – heavy leather
Australian Perfume Junkies – Autoportrait
What Men Should Smell Like – Encre Noire
Cocktails and Cologne – Knize 10 – like a smack across the cheek with a leather glove

Le Labo City Exclusives
The City Exclusive scents are a tribute to some of the cities that Le Labo has boutiques in.
This is the first time that Cuir 28 is available internationally. Like the others listed below the availability is from today, September 1 until October 15, 2013.

Review links are all by Olfactoria’s Travels unless noted otherwise.

Chicago – Baie Rose 26
Dubai – Cuir 28 – CaFleureBon
Dubai – Cuir 28 – Persolaise
London – Poivre 23
Los Angeles – Musc 25
New York – Tubereuse 40
San Francisco – Limette 37 – The Chemist in The Bottle
Paris – Vanille 44
Tokyo – Gaiac 10

15ml $US116
50ml $US290
100ml $US440
500ml $US1400

Perfume Oil $US240

Travel tube kits and refills are also available – see website.

Available on the Le Labo website and at all Le Labo Boutiques.

41 responses to “Dubai – City Exclusive – Cuir 28 by Le Labo

  1. Manilla (man vanilla) – love this term : ) I’m interested to smell this Le Labo exclusive. I’m always on the hunt for a good leather and there is a canyon of space between a good one and most of the cuirs out there. Thanks for the review!

  2. It sounds extremely intriguing, and I’d love to sniff it. That said, I’m very put off by fragrances that are so exclusive and difficult to get, especially in terms of samples. And the high price for the City Exclusives doesn’t help, either. So, I’d like to try this, but unless a sample falls into my lap, I won’t go out of my way to look for it or review it. Forgive me, my friend.

    • All pertinent points Kafka. Looks like it is off to Dubai for you if we want a review from you. But yes that is a journey in itself and ‘out of the way’. Also interested if your more educated nose finds this to be a journey scent or a linear one. Fragrance for Everybody!

  3. Heya Jordan,
    Thank you for the link love. I was all ready to pooh pooh the Le Labo range and their super hip aesthetic because it always seemed so try-hard to me. Then I spent and afternoon in the Venice LA Le Labo store and fell quite in love with their scents walking out with Labdanum & Santal. Never say never huh.
    Portia x

    • I love Labdanum 18. I sometimes put Santal 33 (or is it 26?) on one side and Trayee on the other side. Nice contrast, strength and delicacy. Venice you say; what a pilgrimage!

      • Venice in LA Jordan, it was quite a pilgrimage but USA not Europe.
        I love that you layer your fragrances, it only happens here as a by product of wearing a few scents during the day or layering with moisturisers.
        Portia xx

          • Yes, we have one at MECCA Cosmetica but it all seemed too wank-ish. It took someone showing me through the range and giving me a helping hand for it to make sense, though I’m still not sure about the theatre of mixing some pre made accords together in shop.
            Portia xx

            • Mixed just for you! I think it a lovely idea though others think this to be a bit precious or as you point out, theatrical. I like the name printed on the bottle though; great touch for gift giving.

  4. Wonderful review, Jordan! Maybe I am behind (I have been in the US for the past month) but, there is nowhere in Dubai to get this yet so, I haven’t smelled it! Le Labo used to be carried at a large fragrance and beauty store called Paris Gallery but, the in store boutique closed several months ago and we haven’t had Le Labo in Dubai since. Rumor was that Harvey Nichols Dubai would soon carry the line but, the manager there told me that neither they nor Bloomingdales (same sponsor company) would have it. So, it is a mystery that I haven’t figured out yet. Personally, I am hoping for a stand alone Le Labo boutique! Maybe there will be a big announcement now that the scent is actually released…. Or please correct me if anyone else out there knows!

    • I love a mystery. Thank you for the information and your encouraging words. I thought this was released in Dubai in 2010. Maybe Dubai did not embrace this as enthusiastically as myself? Safe travels to you; Vaya con Perfume.

  5. I’ll try it when/if I get a chance (I kind of plan to go to the SF store in September to try “our” exclusive perfume and the other new offerings from the line but I hope not to like them: I don’t want to spend money of those and I do not think any of them warrants the price.

  6. You describe Cuir 28, Le Labo’s exclusive scent from Dubai , so lovely. It is such a shame, that I will never get a chance to smell it, as its exclusivity and extreme price are more than my pockets can bear. But fret not, I am not heartbroken by by means. I have more than enough leather scents to keep my nose occupied in the meantime. Furthermore, I am not a Le Labo fragrance lover in the first place so I’m not upset about not being able to obtain this exlusive scent from a faraway land. To me these scents are way overpriced and overhyped and not worth a hill of beans. I’ll gladly take Parfums D’Empire’s Cuir Ottoman, Monotheme’s Leather and Chanel’s Cuir de Russie over this one. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll gladly pass.

    • Thanks for zoomin’ in Dkchocman. We should have our proposed post here about Rose 31 at some stage. Glad your heart is not broken but sure it will be by some other seductress of a ‘fume! Hot Leathers by the way. I will search out Montheme which I have never heard of. Big Thanks.

  7. The city exclusives dodged the price hike, Cuir 28 is pretty amazing , as is Limette, however the real stars of the CE’s are Gaiac, and Vanille. Cuir is not as heavy as patchouli 24 or Oud 27, it does remind me of Sycamore, heavier and dirtier…

    • Patchouli 24 and Oud 27 are scents I can possibly handle the price on if they smell right on me. So Cuir 28 gives you a dirtier and heavier vibe of Sycomore? Hmmm sounds intriguing, but I’ll stick with my lovely Sycomore. It is beautiful just the way it is. I’m not jumping ship to Cuir 28 anytime soon ! LOL

  8. Cuir 28 has been worn for four consecutive days, one thing is for sure, this is a Vetiver scent, the leather weaves in and out to give the vetiver a little tension, the natural vanilla and some sort of licorice/anise note clean all the dirt off the roots, this is where the Sycomore similarity comes in, however, Cuir 28 is very different than it’s Chanel counterpart, it’s much richer, more complex, with a heavier oriental feel. I’ve always had issues with Sycomore, and wished Chanel would make the parfum extrait, mainly due to it’s weak projection, I’ve gone through two 200ml bttls and felt a little bored by the end of both bottles. Yet always a little haunted by that Vetiver/licorice accord once it’s gone.. Cuir 28 is now my favorite Vetiver, Sycomore parfum, dressed in leather, Cuir de Russie is still my favorite leather. they can live in harmony in my refrigerated wardrobe, and that makes me very happy.
    I really hope you smell the Vanille 44…..and Gaiac 10 .

  9. Cuir 28 smells like Encre Noire to me. I get more vetiver than leather, but I still like it!

    Do you know much about the new City Exclusive from Moscow, Benjoin 19? Unfortunately this was left out of the worldwide sale that happens every couple years. I would have loved to see how this one smells.

    • Interesting, that would be Nathalie in action. I know nothing of Benjoin 19 except it may (or may not) contain Styrax benzoin. There are lots of Benzoin Bunnies out there who will be keen to smell this Le Labo version.
      Thank you for the information.

  10. Late to the party but wanted to mention that I got a sample of Cuir 28 from Barneys and it was pretty much love at first sniff. When I layered it with Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee, it amped up the vanilla to the forefront and created this wonderful blend of dirty/dusty leather (but not Lonestar Memory dry) and smoky vanilla. A FB is joining the collection shortly. Thanks for your review and you get an enabler pin 🙂

    • Ha, this party is peaking now that you have arrived Hajusuuri. Love at first sniff too! Thank you for the pin which I will wear on my lapel tomorrow. So you are a layerer? Very clever. I have layered this with… another spritz of Cuir 28 at the 20 minute mark. I am wafting this right now and feeling fine. Very nice of you to zoom in with your impressions and actions when you encountered the scent. I know you ‘smell great’ in Finnish and several other languages. Vaya con hajuvesi.

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