Rose et Cuir by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Notes: Pepper, Geranium, Blackcurrant, Vetiver, Cedar and Leather

To get the best out of trying Rose et Cuir – the new Frederic Malle release – for the first time, I think it’s a good idea to manage a few expectations:

Firstly, this is not a rose perfume. Secondly, it is not a birch tar leather. Thirdly, it is a departure from Jean-Claude Ellena’s work at Hermes.

Now on to what it IS.


Rose et Cuir is a dark and stealthily dramatic leather with a bitter heart. I have been struggling terribly with sweetness in perfumes recently so this is not an issue for me but I can see some people finding it a turn-off.

On spraying, I get the rosy greenness of geranium with tremendously smooth pepper. The dewy rose effect is made all the more beautiful because you are experiencing it through a tangle of thorny brambles. It represents the last rays of sunlight filtering through the trees before you’re drawn deeper into the forest.

When most people think of a leather fragrance they think of the rich, smoky aroma created by birch tar in perfumes like Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. Ellena has chosen instead to work with Isobutyl Quinoline; a powerful synthetic which was used to create classic leather perfumes like Piguet’s original Bandit and Cabochard by Gres but has fallen out of vogue for some time. It has a distinctive, grainy, quality with an odour profile that is more like leather being processed at the tannery than the thick, smokiness of raw birch tar. The fact that it doesn’t overwhelm in Rose et Cuir is surely down to the perfumer’s skill.

The base is a cool green vetiver with no hint of swampiness and incredible lasting power. I prefer vetiver as an accent rather than a main player but it fits the character of the fragrance perfectly. A cosy amber or bland woodiness would have been a cop-out and this perfume doesn’t do compromise.

Frederic Malle has said this marks the start of a new era for Ellena and Rose et Cuir is a very modern take on a statement perfume. Even with all that moodiness, it never feels in the least bit heavy, floating airily just out of reach. There is no extraneous ornamentation (which is very Ellena).

Although it looks like it’s being marketed as a rugged, outdoorsy fragrance I feel it’s much more sophisticated and cerebral than that. It sets up an eerie tension between the potently poisonous and the painfully vulnerable.

Most of all Rose et Cuir is an intensely interesting perfume. Val the Cookie Queen and I have never talked so much about a new release (see her post here). We think it will be divisive but that’s no bad thing in my book. At least it’s creating a reaction in people. A fragrance of this quality that is so against the tide might not have existed without the full artistic freedom that Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle affords perfumers.

Do you like the sound of a sheer yet striking perfume or does the thought of a sharp green floral leather put you off?



Filed under Perfume Reviews

22 responses to “Rose et Cuir by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

  1. Great review. Sounds wonderfully unique. Must try it soon.


  2. cassieflower

    Put me off? Not likely. On the contrary, can’t wait to get my sniff on it. Great review, Tara.


  3. Tara C

    I tried it, it didn’t do much for me as I found it quite sheer and vegetal. I will try it again (with a lot more spritzes) if I happen to come across a tester bottle. It felt very Ellena to me, and I am not a big fan of his sheer, barely-there style, so I wasn’t really expecting to love it.


    • It’s a strange one Tara C.
      It’s sheer but has such a strong character. I’d say it’s worth another go. It is very green though, so if that’s not your thing it may still not work for you.


  4. cookie queen

    Such a brilliant piece. I am so thankful there are still beautiful and original perfumes bring created by real perfumers. It is an art form and not something that can be made out of a create your own perfume kit. Although that may surprise some. 😁


  5. Hey Tara,
    Val reckons I’ll hate iRose et Cuir, and I trust her nose, but can’t wait to get my sniff on it. Bandit and Cabochard have been firm favourites for years. Also, this idea of a geranium vetiver floating in and around the leather sounds pretty darn good to me.
    As you know, I love quite a lot of JCEs work from First through to Monsieur Li so hopefully it will hit the spot when it gets to Oz.
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. No phase of this perfume’s development sounds like my thing, to be honest, but I loved every eloquent and evocative facet of your review!


  7. Is there a true parfumista out there who doesn’t admire JCE? however, it’s not the same as loving his creative output. Ive always wanted to find a JCE to love, but with no luck. I suspect it’s my problem with short formulas and his cedar note that have been culprits. I’m very curious about Rose & Cuir, and that’s already something, as I can count on one hand the new releases which have had me excited this last year, but as you suggest I’ll tame my expectations, even if the fact that it’s not Hermes style makes me hopeful.
    Thank you for the wonderful review as always 😘


    • Thanks, Asali.
      I would say it’s worth a try for you as it’s a nod to leathers of the past. You know, I don’t think I own any of his creations either at the moment. I did have Osmanthe Yunnan for a while. Unfortunately I can’t handle the rubbery leather in Cuir d’Ange.


  8. Hayley

    Hi Tara
    This sounds super intriguing I really like the sound of it.
    I’m imagining a bit Chanel 19 with a touch of rose, probably off the mark there!
    Hopefully will get to try soon.


    • Hi Hayley
      It’s a lot darker and earthier than Chanel 19 with more of a bitter edge. I think it’s worth trying even if it’s not your thing just because it is so intriguing.


  9. Leah

    Hello! Was looking for review of this, since it’s taken my heart – this one def describes it’s experience for me! (Do think there’s a lot of Un Jardin En Mediterranee in it). Love this quote! “It sets up an eerie tension between the potently poisonous and the painfully vulnerable”.


  10. Pingback: Updates from the Cookie Kitchen. | A Bottled Rose

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