Bikers. Cowboys. Rock stars. Equestrians. Clotheshorses. BDSM enthusiasts. These obviously disparate demographics all have one thing in common: a penchant for leather. In the thousands of years since our ancestors first used tanned animal hides to protect themselves from the elements, the material has come to serve as one of society's great common denominators, the only preferred fabric of fashionistas and fetishists alike.
Today, leather can be found in crowded marketplaces in Marrakech and hanging in the sterile windows of Fifth Avenue department stores, fashioned into book covers and in the shoe closets of horse girls everywhere. It’s style, it’s sex, it’s utility, it’s death and rebirth, and it’s a fragrance note that turns everything into a deeper, richer, dirtier version of itself.
The worlds of leather and fragrance are intertwined to begin with; what we think of as the scent of leather isn't the dank, decaying smell of stripped and treated animal hides at all, but rather the perfumed components that have been used for centuries to mask and commingle with its true scent. In modern perfumery, those notes are typically rendered from natural non-animal sources like birch tar and styrax, or synthesized with compounds created in a lab.
Because of its versatility as a note, and the potential variations in composition, a leather fragrance is never just one thing. It can be a silver-studded jacket or soft, smooth suede; the dank animalism of a stable, or a sensual floral in thigh-high boots. Ahead, a leather fragrance for everyone — except, perhaps, vegans.
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