Fragrance Review: Miller Harris, Cuir d’Oranger (2005)

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Summary: From perfumer Lynne Harris comes this Nouvelle Edition selection that is anything but your standard leather scent. A typical chypre (dry, mossy) aroma with only faint hints of orange blossom and leather.

Pros: A completely different take on a leather aroma – neither sweet nor buttery but rather a floral-tinged, dry, leather note that pays homage to the classic chypres of yesteryear..

Cons: Too dry for my tastes and far too much ciste and oakmoss. I was hoping for something sweeter, smokier, and with a more prominent orange blossom note; Niche price tag.

Reminds me of: Robert Piguet Bandit Eau de Toilette; Ivoire de Balmain; Versace L’Homme.

Notes: “Orange oil Valencia, pettigrain Paraquay and shimmering orange flowers Tunisia are fused with jasmin Egypt and orris absolute. This scent rests on a rich base of leather with birch tar, Spanish ciste, oak moss and patchouli.” Saks.com

Designer’s Description: “Cuir d’Oranger is thoroughly reminiscent of times gone by, it is extravagant, luxurious and smells of tradition. It has a green Mediterranean note with fleur d’oranger to prevent the leather notes becoming too dry or powdery. It smells of delicious gentlemen, or how you would like them to smell. Exuding style, the scent was blended for the chic and sophisticated.” MillerHarris.com

Number of times tested: 5 times from 2 different sample vials sent to me by friends.

Number of sprays applied for this review: 6 or so dabs to back of hands, wrists, and neck.

Fragrance Strength: Eau de Parfum

Development: (Linear / Average / Complex)Like many a Miller Harris scent, Cuir d’Oranger moves from heady top and middle notes directly to oakmoss. The floral notes are barely perceptible on my skin and the leather aroma becomes nearly undetectable as the scent dries down.

Longevity: (Short / Average / Long-lasting) 4-6 hours.

Sillage: (A Little / Average / A Lot): I was a little overwhelmed at first, but then the fragrance quickly calmed to average.

Where can I buy it? $145 US, 3.4 oz EDP spray, TulipShe.com.

Packaging: Flat, square bottle with black signature Miller Harris botanical print in a shiny black box with botanical relief.

The Bottom Line: The first time I tried this scent, I was enamored because after sampling fragrance after fragrance (like the unparalleled Knize Ten, the Lutens wonder Cuir Mauresque, etc), I was surprised by Cuir d’Oranger’s mellow tones. In fact, here’s what I originally wrote in August of 2005:

This is the ULTIMATE Miller Harris scent and is at the top of my wishlist. If Rochas Lui was a hint of what could be done with orange blossom and patchouli, Miller Harris takes it a step further and gives us a scent a la Caron. This is Narcisse Noir without the sandalwood and replaced with a buttery leather note, woody birch and green patchouli.The scent opens with Tunisian orange blossoms, but “opening” is not quite accurate…the entire composition is present, sparkling and exotic. As the scent progresses, the hint of white jasmine petals can be detected, adding a radiant depth to the fragrance as it morphs from floral to leather, woods and grasses. The base is magic…and subtle….this is not primarily a leather scent, but as the name implies, a balance between leather and floral…the balance is constantly present as each of the base notes reveals itself, the watery freshness of the floral notes echo throughout. The oakmoss and birch add a nice earthy touch, calling to mind the drydown of Terre de Bois, especially when the patchouli arrives…albeit extremely subtlely.After about 45 minutes, the scent has softened and I’m left somewhere between Narcisse Noir and Tabac Blond, though let’s face it, those are two masterpeices of perfumery, but if you could imagine their lovechild, Cuir d’Oranger is it!

Well, here I am 7 years later and I’m pretty floored that I was so full of praise. It’s not that Cuir d’Oranger is a bad scent, but I find that after multiple wearings, there’s something missing here. In looking at my first and perhaps somewhat premature review, I wonder where the spark in my sparkling comment disappeared to. The few times I’ve tested the scent in the last few days, the leather was anything but buttery and the florals anything but radiant. Moreover, this review was inspired by a fellow Basenotes member who commented that the few times he sampled the scent, the aroma seemed to be unique upon each wearing. Is it possible that something has changed in the composition since 2005?

What I mostly feel while writing this review seven years later is the desire for a glass of water – Cuir d’Oranger is so dry this time around that I’m left thirsty and parched. Had the orange in question been a sweeter, fuller orange blossom and the leather more of a sueded, buttery note, I would undoubtedly be happier. By all means try this one if orange blossom, leather, or oakmoss intrigues you. For my tastes, it was just far too much of the oakmoss and far too little of the others, especially as the scent dried on my skin.

I believe the scent has been discontinued as it is no longer listed on the MillerHarris.com website nor on Saks.com. Perhaps the ingredients had been difficult to source reliably or consistently and that’s why it smelled so different the various times I tested it. Anyhow, I’m glad I got the chance to sample this creation as I typically enjoy perfumer Lyn Harris’s compositions and look forward to seeing how Miller Harris might interpret a leather note nowadays.

As I’ve lived with this sample for 7 years, it might be time to pass it on…who wants it??? Leave a comment below!

Note: I couldn’t find a large image of Cuir d’Oranger and so used an image of Feuilles de Tabac instead…

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9 Responses

  1. Suzy says:

    I am always a student in perfumery and life. The old saying you can learn as much from the failures as the successes applies here I’m sure. This perfume has both in your estimation so what a great vehicle to learn from and enjoy. I’m assuming this is a draw and I thank you for that. Great review…or rather re-review.

  2. Maria says:

    Would love to take a sniff at it. I like dry perfumes! It is quite usual to change your mind about perfumes over the years. Kepp going!!

  3. cheesegan says:

    If it smells like Robert Piguet Bandit Eau de Toilette; Ivoire de Balmain-I will probably love it.
    Thanks for the blog and for the review.

  4. Gina Thompson says:

    Hi Marlen, being a leather lover I can’t resist. I’d love to try it. Thanks for another great review.

  5. Lindaloo says:

    I’d certainly be interested in trying it as I’m willing to try anything that purports to be leather. The only Miller Harris scent I’ve tried so far is Fleur du Matin (only in the body products) which I find coolly refreshing.

  6. Arjun says:

    First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick quisteon in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Kudos!

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