Imperial Leather Bar Soap (Cussons)

Back in the seventies, PZ Cussons reissued their prewar Imperial Leather brand of colognes and aftershaves for "men of good taste," a move that in retrospect was probably doomed from day one, given the growing popularity of a liquid jetsetter named Brut. I doubt Cussons could compete with Fabergé in the fragrance market, but they weren't limited to colognes. They'd always boasted a healthy range of toiletries, including their flagship bar soap. I splurged on a six pack of soap from UK Gourmet, a lovely little British import shop in Newtown, CT, and I'm pleased to say that I don't regret the purchase at all.

The bars are relatively small, weighing in at about 3.5 ounces. They're narrow and lightweight, their feel in hand similar to Ivory soap, but with a much smoother texture. They're double wrapped in little cardboard boxes and vacuum plastic. Centered on the bars themselves are little sticker labels that peel off. In water, Imperial Leather is a surprisingly high viscosity soap that lathers easily into rich, oily suds that take longer than expected to rinse off. It has an antiquated lavender freshness with a hint of saddle soap and sandalwood, similar to the current Arden Sandalwood. I think it also works pretty well with a splash of the current English Leather.

Of the drugstore soaps I've tried, Cussons' is a step up. Yes, it reminds me of hotel soap, and it's a bit over-packaged (it'd be cheaper without the cardboard), but it gets the job done and smells good. It's also a deodorant soap; its austere aroma fills my bathroom with the same nuclear strength of Irish Spring. Its incredible lather has me wondering if it would make a decent shave soap. I'll try it out and see. The shop also had a bottle of the talc, so perhaps in the future I'll give that a whirl too.


  1. Ah...this is an iconic product from my childhood, moreover it was the catalyst for my British inhibitions to return when I spied a man washing with a bar in a mixed shower block in a naturist camp in France. How I accidentally came to be in a naturist camp is another matter, but hitherto I had been okay with it because the other people were mainly Dutch or Scandinavian and I didn't feel so naked somehow in their presence. But a man from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a bar of Imperial Leather had me scurrying for my towel in a heartbeat.

    1. There's something inherently comedic in the vision of your accidentally finding yourself in a naturist camp, Vanessa. But somehow your seeing a handy bar of Imperial Leather soap there makes it sound like even more fun. It's very high quality stuff, unsurprisingly better than pretty much everything we have here in America.

  2. This soap creates a flood of memories from my childhood..............


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