I consider Cuir Beluga as Guerlain's gift to loyal fans and customers. This 2005 release from L'Art et la Matiere series is exactly what those of us who want to be embalmed in a classic Guerlain could ask for. We tend to love smooth, soft leather notes, rich powdery ambers and everything that reminds us of the good ol' days of real perfumes.
Of course, this also means that Guerlain and perfumer Olivier Polge didn't take much of a risk in creating Cuir Beluga, but I'm not complaining. Compared to so many of the other Guerlain releases of the last five or ten years, Cuir Beluga is as close to the classics as one can get nowadays. More Shalimar than Mitsouko, this is not a difficult perfume in any way, and the large doses of very sweet vanilla make it go down easily for just about anyone (other than vanilla haters, but if you're one, chances are that Guerlain is not really your thing to begin with).
What little drama we get in this perfume comes from the smooth leather. Some smell suede and compare Cuir Beluga to Daim Blond, but I don't agree. To my nose it's the finest most luxurious leather you can find. I have a pair of tall Jimmy Choo boots that feels this soft and timeless. It's something that could have existed 50 years ago and has both an air of mystery and a determined backbone, despite the softness and the obvious sex appeal. I love touching and smelling my boots (us scentheads tend to shove our schnozes into the weirdest things and places) as it gives me a similar thrill to experiencing Cuir Beluga. I just wish the leather note in the perfume would have lasted longer before it becomes all vanilla, all the time.
Cuir Beluga ($230, 2.5 oz) is available from select Guerlain boutiques around the world, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks flagship store in in NYC. Since I don't wear it too often and it only takes two sprays to last all day, I'm living on a large decant I bought from The Perfumed Court.
Photo of Babe Paley circa 1945 by John Rawlings from myvintagevogue.com.