15 Fragrances All The Cool Girls Are Wearing Right Now

In the world of fragrance, leather notes are in a category all their own. For starters, leather isn’t a scent that occurs in nature — it doesn’t grow in a forest, field, or jungle. It can’t be harvested, expelled, cold-pressed, or cultivated. In short, it’s the manmade equivalent of the scent of animal skins preserved with tanning chemicals. (In perfumery, bitter isoquinolines or smoky rectified birch tar are used to produce the effect.)

But that’s not the only thing that makes leather notes unique. Unlike say, rose, patchouli, or jasmine, because of its varied uses, leather doesn’t mean one thing to every person. Some of us want to smell like an expensive handbag. Others, a plush armchair in a gentlemen’s club. And then there’s the girl who smells leather and thinks of boots and saddles. Or maybe it’s the scent of a lover’s guitar strap. Or the smell of a football, or the chairs at the library, or a harness at an S&M club. The moods and memories leather conjures are limitless. Here, 15 options for every type of leather-lover.
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If you can’t afford Balmain proper, or didn’t have the time or the wherewithal to score any Balmain x H&M, and yet still have #squadgoals of joining Olivier Rousteing’s crew, this lush burst of crystalline rose, nashi pear, and osmanthus with a buttery backdrop of Barenia leather might be your best bet. “It’s like one of our gowns: able to reveal the sensuality of the woman who wears it,” the 30-year-old Balmain creative director has said of the scent.

Balmain Extatic, $115, available at Neiman Marcus.
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You know how some women like to hold onto their boyfriends’ T-shirts to remember each one's ineffable scent? This blend of resin, smoke, clary sage, and lavender team up to create a sensual leather character that’s meant to smell elegant, masculine, and well, like a man’s skin, courtesy of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. Bottom line: Leave his laundry alone and pick up this dreamy concoction, instead.

Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Exotic Leather, $225, available at Dolce & Gabbana.
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In Duel, leathery essence of South American caffeine-rich maté spars with the aura of fresh Paraguay petitgrain, an essential oil extracted from the leaves and green twigs of the bitter orange tree. Like a twist of lemon served with a shot of espresso, the result is earthy and zesty.

Annick Goutal Duel, $149, available at Annick Goutal.
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Close your eyes and think of cowboy boots, horseback-riding, and crackling campfires. (If a real life Marlboro man comes to join you, who’s complaining?) This no-nonsense blend of cardamom, wood, and ambrox takes you there.

Le Labo Santal 33, $240, available at Le Labo.
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When the refinement of Coco Chanel met the untethered rawness of Russian perfumer Ernest Beaux, this blend was born. We’re guessing Mademoiselle Chanel contributed the iris and jasmine notes, while Monsieur Beaux added birch bark and Virginia tobacco. (Cooked birch bark and sap are used to tan leather.) The result is smoky and luxurious.

Chanel Cuir de Russie, $280, available at Chanel.
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If this wasn’t on your father’s dresser, maybe it was on your grandfather’s, or maybe your uncle’s. The 1949 bottle is ubiquitous and a bit on the nose — saddle silhouette, wooden knob — but the amber fragrance that’s inside still holds up. Citrus, moss, and leather create a scent that’s a lot more ladylike than the packaging would let on.

Dana English Leather, $19, available at Drugstore.com.
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At their best, fragrances take one on a journey. With its heady notes of saffron and cumin, paired with the intrigue of smoke and licorice, plus the foreign mystery of guaiac wood and leather, this delicate little bottle transports its wearer immediately to the clanging and vibrant African port on the Spice Route bearing its name.

Diptyque Opone, $200, available at Diptyque.
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First imagine a woven intrecciato Bottega bag. Only this time, think of the vertical wefts as coriander and rose absolue. On the horizontal axis, imagine ribbons of sandalwood, patchouli, and the brand’s very own leather accord. Sexy, fancy, and classy — bottled just for you.

Bottega Veneta, $115, available at Nordstrom.
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In 1919, French perfumer Ernest Daltroff made what could be thought of as a feminist move: He included a leather note in a women’s fragrance. He also included tobacco leaves and vanilla, making it irresistibly reminiscent of a bow-lipped beauty slung in a wingback chair, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes in a bar she’s not supposed to be in.

Caron Tabac Blond, $239, available at Sears.
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One of the first leather chypres to hit the market in 1965, this brew of juniper wood, cognac, and soft leather vibrates with an unflappable confidence. And yet, thanks to grapefruit and white incense, there’s something here that feels soft and sensitive, too.

Aramis Black, $70, available at Macy's.
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Rum, bitter orange, and pink peppercorn create a liquor accord, while sage, neroli, and vanilla provide staccato bursts of musicality: slow, then quick. Soft, then spicy. (The perfumer was trying to capture generations of life in a Brooklyn jazz club.) Here, the leather manages to smell time-honored and well-worn, and yet still full to the brim with vivacity.

Maison Margiela Replica Jazz Club, $125, available at Nordstrom.
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Oh, Tom. Only you could combine night-blooming jasmine, saffron, and raspberry with rustic black suede and create a fragrance we’d like to bathe in — while drinking the most exquisite full-bodied red wine we could afford, of course. It’s exotic, life-affirming, and above all: seductive.

Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, $222, available at Sephora.
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Like a distorted riff on an electric guitar, this 1988 cologne was meant to reflect the clash of unbridled power and masculinity, where patchouli meets honeysuckle, and violet meets hawthorne. “It’s probably the most popular leather in history, and I find it extraordinarily well made,” says fragrance expert Chandler Burr.

Dior Fahrenheit, $68, available at Sephora.
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Recently, perfumer François Demachy reimagined the scent of Dior Fahrenheit specifically for women. The result? Cuir Cannage, combining violet and rose with leather to smell just like the inside of a brand new Dior handbag.

Dior Cuir Cannage, $210, available at Dior.
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You didn’t know that Hermès had leather vaults in Paris? Oh, neither did we. But now that you do, please also know that this warm floral mimics the scent of entering the vaults exactly. “It’s my personal favorite,” says Burr. “A beautifully innovative post-leather leather concept.”

Hermès Kelly Caleche, $118, available at Sephora.
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