Russian Leather formulas

Discussion in 'Scents' started by PLANofMAN, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Preface: For those not familar with Russian Leather fragrances, the golden age of these colognes and perfumes was the 1920's and 30's. The height of their popularity was in the 1950's and 60's, when the scent trickled down from the perfume houses and became cheap drugstore brands. It's enjoying a bit of a resurgence, as people are gravitating towards loud, unapologetic scents once again, and away from sweet, generic, non-offensive florals.

    Russian Leather is not a "leather" scent. It is a smokey Birch tar scent that is associated with the smell of actual russian leather goods, tanned in the traditional manner.

    I am a huge fan of vintage Russian leather colognes as well as the more modern (yet vintage inspired) Barrister & Mann Cologne Russe which is a thowback to the original Farina Gegenuber's Kolnisch Juten (or one of that cologne's many copycats).

    I thought that one of these days I would try some of the blends others have come up with, and saved these recipes years ago. After losing them, refinding them, and losing them again, I've opted for a slightly more permant (and easier to find) place to store them, the links to them, and excerpts from the websites. Spelling and grammatical errors in the following recipes are the fault of the respective authors, and not mine.

    The following two recipes are from
    PLANofMAN: The first formula appears to be based on Chanel's Cuir de Russie, a feminine fragrance. The second formula is either also a Chanel reproduction or is based off of the later men's aftershaves like Imperial del Oro.

    "Cuir de Russie - (Chanel 1924)

    Cuir de Russie - (Chanel 1924) - If perfume allows the imagination to paint vivid pictures, Cuir de Russie is a fragrance that seems to embody a whole story. From the shimmering dry aldehydic top to the warm leathery base, it unveils one image after another. One can almost envision an elegant woman reaching into a black leather handbag, her hand rummaging through its contents: red lipstick, powder compact exuding an aroma of violets, a silver cigarette case... The owner of the fragrant handbag also seems to be fond of listening to jazz in smoky clubs since Cuir de Russie has an alluring note redolent of soft tobacco pervading its leathery smoothness. It is indeed a scent of the fine handbag and the warm skin of its beautiful owner.

    Cuir de Russie, "Russian Leather" was a popular theme at the end of the 19th century, with similarly named fragrances offered by houses like Guerlain and LT Piver. Created in 1924 by Ernest Beaux, the fragrance was intended to provoke and shock, being dedicated to the woman who is not afraid to neither smoke in public nor speak her mind..."

    Formula -
    Cuir de Russie Elements


    15 Solution Iris
    1.5 Vanilin
    70 Bergamot
    8 Bulgarian rose
    20 Artificial Rose
    40 Birch tar
    6 Lemon
    12 Ambra - (Amber)
    50 Ketonmoschus solution (Musk Ketone)
    75 Ambrettmoschus solution (Amber Musk)
    12 Rose liqued
    5 Jamin liqued
    10 Orangeblossom
    20 Resinoid Opoponax
    3 Sandal
    5 Cassie ligued
    2 Cumarin
    2 Civet artificial
    5 Patchouli solution
    10 Neroli
    4 Macis - (Mace)

    Subtotal: 375.5

    CCM (unknown unit of measure, perhaps cubic centimeter? Both these measurements and the above subtotal are added together at the end, so I will assume that these are also in grams)

    500 Vanilla tincture
    120 Moschus tincture (Musk Deer tincture)
    200 Civet tincture
    300 Castoreum tincture
    3500 Alcohol

    Subtotal: 4620

    375.5 + 4620=
    Total Count 4995.5

    Cuir de Russie (Russian Leather - Jellinek)

    PLANofMAN: 'Jellinek' probably refers to one of two people, both authors.

    Dr. J. Stephan Jellinek
    "The Use of Fragrance in Consumer Products"
    "The practice of modern perfumery"
    Paul Jellinek
    "Psychological Basis of Perfumery"

    All measurements in grams

    Birch tar oil 60
    Castoreum 10% 150
    Rose otto 20
    Styrax resinoid 100
    bergamot 100
    sandalwood 10
    Patchouli 5
    jasmine absolute 50
    musk ambrette (use ambrettolide) 50
    musk ketone 80
    exaltolide 10% 20
    vetiver acetate 100
    tonka resinoid 30
    vanilla resinoid 20
    vanillin 50
    labdanum resinoid 100
    clary sage 5
    oakmoss decolorized 10
    tuberose absolute 7
    acetophenone 3
    cassie absolute 10
    lemon oil 20

    The following two recipes are from

    "After reading through the early history of Russian leather and its scent, I thought to create a perfume which might capture something of its beauty as well as the spirit of the times when it was in vogue. The purpose of this Cuir de Russie recipe is not to copy any existing perfume, bouquet or cologne of that type but simply the feeling I got from reading about the subject.

    There is then a simple version of Russian leather which does not have any of the floral notes that later came to be associated with this category of perfumes. This is my idea of what a book bound in scented Russian Leather might smell like."

    PLANofMAN: The first formula is what I think of as a "Russian" leather. Smoky and heavy on the Birch Tar. Of all four formulas, this is probably going to be the closest to a 'pure' russian leather. The second formula is another Chanel homage. I am intrigued by the author's statement, -"The purpose of this Cuir de Russie recipe is not to copy any existing perfume, bouquet or cologne of that type but simply the feeling I got from reading about the subject." Who knows what the end result smells like? A fascinating mystery to be sure.

    Cuir de Russie-Simple

    2 ounces Labdanum absolute
    2 ounce Choya Loban(cedarwood based)
    1/4th ounce Birch Tar Essential oil
    1 ounce Virgina cedarwood
    1/2 ounce Tonka Bean Absolute

    "It is thought that by 1830's, the French perfumers had discovered the secret of Russia's scented leather and had commenced distilling it themselves. A lot of effort was devoted to producing it as this particular aroma some how captured something of the spirit of the times as one encountered it in many different forms(books, clothes, furniture etc) At this point though the perfumers created a whole new branch of perfumery, the so-called "leather notes". Drawing on their already extensive knowledge of natural perfume materials such as tuberose, violet, jasmine, orange blossom, rose etc, they incorporated birch tar, and related materials into them to create their version of Cuir de Russie.

    During the ensuing years several Cuir de Russie type perfumes came into being which gained more less popularity. It wasn't until the 1920's when the House of Chanel introduced their Cuir de Russie that a sophisticated perfume with a leather base became truly popular...

    Many other perfume houses followed with their own versions of Cuir de Russie and the fragrance remains popular to this day.

    I decided to make an attempt at this sophisticated type of perfume as well drawing upon the light citrus notes topnotes, sweet floral heartnotes, and deep leathery, smoky, amber notes that give this essence its character."

    Cuir de Russie Supreme

    1 ounce Petitgrain Combava essential oil
    2 ounces Lime essential oil
    1 ounce Neroli essential Oil
    1/4 ounce Rose Otto
    1/2 ounce Jasmin grandiflorum absolute
    1/2 ounce Ylang Extra
    1/2 ounce Labdanum Absolute
    1/2 ounce Amber essential oil
    1/8 ounce Birch Tar essential oil

    "Please note that those who are interested in creating the above two perfume concentrates need to allow them to age for 6 months after they are blended. Then they can be further diluted in an appropriate base(alcohol or carrier oil) for making cologne, perfume, toilet water, etc

    * Perfume extract, or simply perfume (Extrait): 15-40% (IFRA: typical 20%) aromatic compounds
    * Esprit de Parfum (ESdP): 15-30% aromatic compounds, a seldom used strength concentration in between EdP and perfume
    * Eau de Parfum (EdP), Parfum de Toilette (PdT): 10-20% (typical ~15%) aromatic compounds, sometimes listed as "eau de perfume" or "millésime"
    * Eau de toilette (EdT): 5-15% (typical ~10%) aromatic compounds
    * Eau de Cologne (EdC): Chypre citrus type perfumes with 3-8% (typical ~5%) aromatic compounds. "Original Eau de Cologne" is a registered trademark.
    * Perfume mist: 3-8% aromatic compounds (typical non-alcohol solvent)
    * Splash (EdS) and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compounds. "EdS" is a registered trademark."
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
    RyX, gorgo2, BigMike and 5 others like this.
  2. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    Chanel Cuir de Russie is one of my favorite perfumes in with the new formulation or vintage. I don’t find a lot of the birch tar In Chanel’s version, it’s subtle and in the background. Here are a few that are close to your description:

    Santa Maria Novella Peau d’ Espangne
    LM Parfumes Hard Leather
    Knize 10
    gorgo2, PLANofMAN and brit like this.
  3. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    SMN Peau d' Espangne is a Spanish Leather, not even in the same ballpark.
    Knize 10 is a leather, barely, but not a russian leather in my opinion. It is a nice scent.
    Hard Leather I have not heard of.

    Agreed on the Chanel. They had to tone down the birch tar due to EU regulations.

    A lot of oakmoss heavy scents are pale shadows of their former selves due to EU regs.
    gorgo2, Keithmax and brit like this.
  4. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    gorgo2, Keithmax and brit like this.
  5. brit

    brit in a box

    awesome thread.want to try the wickham 1912 russian leather soap..
  6. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    Spanish leather is the name but it has a very prominent birch note. The birch note is much stronger than even in my vintage Cuir d' Russie (late 70's early 80s).

    The three are very different in style, Chanel is very elegant and can wear anywhere but the other two are 'very aggressive' leathers and not suitable for any occasion.
    brit, gorgo2 and PLANofMAN like this.
  7. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    I'll have to give the Santa Maria Novella some closer consideration.

    I've used the old vintage Farina Gegenuber Kolnisch Juten. Any floral top notes had long since disappeared. I could tell that it was once a great fragrance, but had more of a "eau de concentrated antique shop" smell now than a well balanced leather. As you so well put it, "...not suitable for any occasion."

    From a basenotes forum post, typically the two basic notes any "Russian Leather" are based on were (are) Castoreum and Birch Tar Oil, Rectified, which is very "phenolic" and is a smoky smelling, dark-colored stuff.
    brit, Keithmax and gorgo2 like this.
  8. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    But what of bland, nonthreatening, unisexually safe aquatics? TELL ME, MAN, WHAT OF THEM??
    RyX, PLANofMAN, brit and 1 other person like this.
  9. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    :rolleyes005: this thread is for dirty, animalistic leather scents. :shocked029: Sorry can't give you any guidance on safe aquatics.

    RyX, brit and gorgo2 like this.
  10. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Technically, all fragrances are unisex. Even the "if your grandfather hadn't worn it, you wouldn't exist" Old Spice. Which was originally sold and marketed as a woman's fragrance.
    If we burn them all, then the men's bodywash selection will be reduced to Old Spice Krakenguard, and Sport scents.

    I don't see this as a bad thing. *shrug*

    I'm still irate that Hawkridge body wash has been more or less discontinued. It hasn't been available in any stores within 50 miles of me for nearly a year.

    I like to think of it as a politically correct way to inform both sexes (and the handful of deviants who identify as "other") that you are feral and should only be approached cautiously.
    Keithmax, brit, RyX and 1 other person like this.
  11. brit

    brit in a box

    i like the ambassador scented body wash and deodorant.gone as well..fantastic scent..
    Keithmax likes this.
  12. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    I spotted that in clearance cologne. Wasn't a huge fan, but did grab three of the Pinnacle cologne for $2.50 a bottle. Haven't been able to find it at a reasonable price since.

    Both Pinnacle and Ambassador were an Old Spice 'blink and you'll miss it' product. I was barely aware they had been introduced when they were discontinued.
    Keithmax and brit like this.

Share This Page