If there is a single perfume which has always had me giving the benefit of the doubt to Armani Prive it is 2005’s Cuir Amethyste. It was among the first releases in this exclusive fragrance collection for Giorgio Armani. It remains one of my favorite violet and leather perfumes I own. Over the past fifteen years they have only rarely returned to releases with “cuir” in the name. With the latest release Armani Prive Cuir Zerzura they take another try.
Perfumer Nelly Hachem-Ruiz works for the second time for the brand. She previously collaborated on 2015’s Sable Or with Sophie Labbe. Zerzura is the Saharan equivalent to El Dorado; a mythical city of treasure. It was also called the “oasis of little birds”. Mme Hachem-Ruiz creates a perfume which captures the scent of a movie hero in search of treasure the twist is I imagine this to be a leather jacketed woman with a rose in her hair.
Our perfume story begins with our heroine standing at the end of a valley looking at the parchment map that led her here. The valley is lined with orange trees. Mme Hachem-Ruiz uses a rich mandarin oil along with violet leaves and elemi to create this accord. This is the scent of fruit, leaf, and trunk. It is more concentrated giving off less sunniness than mandarin usually does. As she moves through the valley the gates to Zerzura beckon, a fresco of birds above the portal. She settles her jacket onto her shoulders giving the rose in her hair a final opportunity to release its floral beauty. This is a classic rose and leather accord. The difference here is she adds in some of the expansive synthetic florals for lift and transparency. It allows the rose to float above the leather jacket accord. That is the well-worn leather accord anyone who has owned a leather jacket for a long time will recognize. It isn’t animalic or refined, but something in between. Experienced perhaps? The final moments take place as our heroine reaches the soaring cedar gates. Somewhere inside the scent of vanilla greets her.
Cuir Zerzura has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is a perfume which took me to faraway places for fabulous adventures. It is the best Armani Prive with cuir in the name since Cuir Amethyste. Instead of King Solomon’s Mines I felt as if I was at Queen Nelly’s Oasis.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Giorgio Armani.