R de Capucci (Roberto Capucci)

Leather fragrances are an odd bunch because most of them don't smell anything like leather, at least not to me. English Leather comes the closest, but my over-sensitive nose has no problem dissecting EL's simple structure. There's really no such thing as a "leather note" and EL certainly doesn't have one. It uses a clever leather analog of dry lime, wood, and pine to create the olfactory illusion of treated hide. 

Quorum does the same, with grapefruit instead of lime. Luxury brands resort to sophisticated blends of birch-tar and floral notes to get there. Avon utilizes a blatantly synthetic suede note in its leather scents, which I suppose is somewhat accurate, but then again suede never smelled like leather to me, either. When I was a kid, I visited the gift shop of a Native American museum, and purchased a rabbit skin. It smelled amazing, and has been my standard for leather ever since.

R de Capucci is right up there with English Leather as coming closest to the leather illusion, without relying on synthetic nuances. Released in 1985, this classically composed chypre bears a resemblance to other chypres of its era, including Z-14, Fendi Donna, and Antaeus, but doesn't share their distinctiveness. RdC's characteristics extend from the bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss framework of older references like Coty Chypre and Mitsouko, with masculine flourishes of lemon, lavender, carnation, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, and the faintest touch of rose. I was fully aware of RdC's complexity prior to wearing it, but was a little disappointed by the result.

The freshness of lavender and citrus on top of R de Capucci has promise, but my chief complaint is that it doesn't hold. After five minutes, the bracing aromatics give way to sweet powder and sandalwood, with a hint of moistureless greenery on the periphery. Some say the powder is tempered by the greens; I find the plush heart too overpowering. Its dryness yields a smooth animal-skin effect, a commendable rendering of leather, but its density kills RdC's appeal. This is the definition of "perfumey" to me, albeit a pleasant scent. 

If I want lavender that slips into softness, I'll use Pour un Homme de Caron. Its lavender is better rendered, and its vanilla-musk closing feels classy, not dated. Meanwhile, R de Capucci is very dated, but has appeal for being structurally faultless, obscure, and classically composed. I guess it's good for the office, but I think you run the risk of being labeled "cologne guy" by your coworkers.