I was deeply tempted to use another image for this review: the famous Rene Gruau illustration (1955, originally for Diorama) showing a woman's hand resting casually on a tiger's paw. But I still have to actually write about vintage Diorama while Mon Cuir by Ramon Monegal is a modern perfume that came out last year and has nothing to do with Dior. It is quite feline, though, and more than a little dangerous.
Obviously, Barcelona-based perfumer Ramon Monegal created Mon Cuir as a leather fragrance (he also offers another one, Cuirelle, which I will discuss another time). Leather and orange blossom, to be exact. This note combination is wonderful: some of us have been layering Fleurs d'Oranger and Cuir Mauresque (both by Serge Lutens) for ages. Then there's the delicate Infanta en Flor from Arquiste, a Spanish-themes perfume that puts the softest leather and powdery soapy blossoms in a trousseau together with some hopes and dreams. If there's a spectrum of this kind of scents, Ramon Monegal's Mon Cuir lives much closer to the wild side of Uncle Serge's perfumes than it is to the Infanta.
Mon Cuir is distinctly animalic from the very first leathery whiff. But it's what happens next that makes it so beautiful to me. The orange blossom used here is borderline indolic and quite dirty. It also develops into a rich and sweet(ish) honeyed glaze when I wear it, so there's no powder or soap. It's quite the opposite of powder and soap, actually, which can be magical for some or a complete scrubber on others. "Others" in this case includes my poor husband. The Blond loved Mon Cuir on me, but when he tried the tiniest drop on his wrist he couldn't deal with it and I don't blame him. The beast within the juice (birch tar) took over, making him smell unwashed and zoological. As much as I adore Mon Cuir I had to agree: the husband should not wear it.
As for me, I receive compliments every time I wear Mon Cuir. People who got close have asked me to spell "Ramon Monegal" for them because they wanted to know more. There's a lot of depth and complexity to the sweet flowers and leather over a rich and opaque oriental base. Mon Cuir coats my skin and becomes part of it. However, as sexy and intimate as this perfume can be, my sillage is pretty low: it's there for the better part of the day, but not aggressive or invasive. When I wear Mon Cuir it feels lived-in and comfortable. There's no musk or civet listed among the notes, but the overall cuddly and warm effect reminds me of the way Muscs Kublai Khan behaves on the fortunate among us.
Notes: Russian leather, orange blossom, labdanum, nutmeg, Indonesian patchouli, musk, Australian sandalwood.
Ramon Monegal- Mon Cuir ($185, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus locations (in Europe ramonmonegal.com as well as exclusive perfume stores). A press sample was sent to me by the company.
Image: Beauty and The Beast, Annie Leibovitz for Vogue, 2005 (with Drew Barrymore).