Esteban Paris is a low-profile brand, at least here in the US, especially since Takashimaya NYC closed its doors. Their Paris boutique in the Marais is lovely but seriously under-ventilated, which makes testing and sniffing the various home and personal products a difficult task. Still, at least in Paris you can actually find the entire Esteban range in one location and play with it to your heart's desire. I dearly wish someone local will pick up the line and make it more accessible.
I first tried Esteban's Cuir at Takashimaya a couple of years ago. I ended up with a bottle of Ambre, but Cuir was a strong contender. It's an easy to love and wear leather scent that's more of an oriental than an animalic or an avant-garde scent. This particular cuir opens up herbal and light with unisex-to-masculine leanings (it's the whiff of cool lavender, I think). It sweetens up considerably, becoming a warm and spicy leather-amber concoction that is irresistible to someone like me who can't get enough leather in all its shapes and forms.
I don't know if I'd declare Esteban's Cuir is particularly feminine, but the amber and sweet chai make it softer and cuddlier, so it has a good chance of appealing to feminine sensibilities who find Tom Ford Tuscan Leather or Etro Gomma a bit too butch. Since it's not really floral (the violet here is barely noticeable if at all-- this is no Cuir Amethyste or Jolie Madame), men and women who have issues with Cuir de Russie or Cuir de Lancome will find none of that in this Esteban creation. It may be a simple perfume and almost linear, but Cuir feels luxurious, sumptuous and very well dressed. Kind of like an autumn in Paris perfume. Who can resist that?
Notes: cardamom, lavender, fresh mint, violet, pink peppercorns, clove, patchouli, vetiver, leather, amber.
Esteban Paris- Cuir ($95) is available from estebanparis.com.
Image: fashion illustration by Sophie Griotto.