We’ve just had our first cold mornings here. Which means I reached into the closet for my leather jacket. I’ve owned it for over twenty years. I don’t remember exactly when I purchased it, but it is old and I’m happy it still fits. When I slip it on the first time two things always happen. I smile at the history that jacket and I have lived through. Then I walk back to the perfume collection and find my bottle of Knize Ten.
Knize Ten is the one of the original leather perfumes, created in 1925. Joseph Knize was a Viennese tailor who had royalty for clients. He wanted to offer a fragrance for his male clients which was not the typical floral constructs favored by the dandies of the day. He enlisted perfumers Vincent Roubert and Francois Coty to formulate that alternative. They landed on leather as the style of perfume they would create. This time in modern perfumery it was the birch tar laden Cuir de Russie-type leathers which were in vogue. Messrs. Roubert and Coty had a different vision while creating Knize Ten. What they made was a mannered leather fit for Hr. Knize’s clients.
Knize Ten opens with a bracing citrus focused top accord around petitgrain. The perfumers use tarragon and rosemary as herbal interrogators of the green within petitgrain. It turns decidedly spicy as cinnamon and clove enter the picture. All of this is prelude to the leather accord. At first it has a powdery effect enhanced by iris. It is an interesting part of the development. It seems like the perfumers maybe wanted to entice the dandies in with iris before unloading with a full leather. That full leather comes next. Early on I read someone’s description of this as the smell of an oil change in a garage. Every time I wear it, I see this. There is a greasiness to the early stages of the leather. It continues to intensify at the same time sandalwood arrives. As it settles in for the long haul it is the scent of my well-worn leather jacket.
Knize Ten has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I have always considered Knize Ten as a timeless leather perfume. Almost one hundred years after it was first released it still holds up. Just like my leather jacket.
Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.
As I mentioned back in the fall a very generous reader sent me a box of discontinued samples because they enjoy this particular column. It has allowed me to try some older perfumes I never had the chance to previously. One was what I call “The Fourth Coty”; L’Aimant.
The history of Francois Coty as one of the original artists of modern perfumery is well-known. Once I began to want to understand the history of this art form I was going to track down the original trio of perfumes by M. Coty; L’Origan, Chypre de Coty, and Emeraude. I thought I had covered the early history of Coty as a brand. Then I was told there was a fourth early Coty release called L’Aimant. Because of my reader’s generosity I have completed my education.
One of the reasons I was so interested is this was a collaboration between M. Coty and perfumer Vincent Roubert. M. Roubert is responsible for two of my very favorite perfumes; Jacques Fath Iris Gris and Knize Ten.
As always when approaching a vintage perfume, I know that any citrus notes will be long gone. They are listed in the top notes but when I tried this sample I got the other ingredient exclusively. That other ingredient is a full-throated roar of aldehydes. In 1927 aldehydic top notes were all the rage and in L’Aimant Messrs. Coty and Roubert seemingly used all of them. I had heard L’Aimant was a soft floral the first few minutes were hard aldehydes. I wonder if the citrus notes were present if they wouldn’t have softened the edges; probably. The soft floral was on its way as rose pierces the cloud of aldehydes. Along with the rose, jasmine brings along some indoles to match up with the spicy rose core. Ylang-ylang provides an oleaginous floral fruity effect. Together this produces the lush soft floral I had been told about. It begins to turn quite powdery as the rose gains ascendancy. It finishes on vetiver and vanilla with some civet.
L’Aimant has 24-hour longevity and above average sillage.
L’Aimant lasted well into the 1960’s before fading away as far as I can tell. It was resurrected in 1995 for a short time. That one I understand falling; right in the middle of the desire for fresh and clean perfume L’Aimant is not that.
I am happy to have closed the loop on my experience with early Coty releases there is a reason L’Aimant is not as highly spoken of as the other three. It has a kind of brassy take no prisoners style which sometimes turns into the perfume wearing me than vice versa. I at least feel like I can close the book on this part of perfume history.
Disclosure: This review based on a sample provided by a generous reader.