Harsh opening, wow. What a medicinal bomb of a scent. I'm not the biggest cumin fan, for example I don't like Tauer's LADDM, but the cumin in here has its place.
That said though, where's the leather? This is just an ethereal spicy, earthy, medicinal woody scent to me. You have to dig really deep which isn't a given with a scent like this since you have to go past so much harsh notes.
Definitely not a crowd pleaser and even though looking at the reviews on here it seems to be quite the "niche pleaser", I'll have to chime in a negative rating here even if it was just for the sake of counterbalance. First negative rating this gets? Really? I can imagine of all the niche crowd out there that the majority will just not put up with this scent.
In order of magnitude I get: cumin, patchouli, geranium, musk, vetiver and more of an impression of oud than leather deep down.
A hot chai tea, laced with dark caramel honey and deeply aromatic of cardamom, ginger, clove nutmeg and peppercorn… Somehow manages to veer far enough from holiday offerings and pumpkin spice pairings. A green wood, too wet to burn. dried cherry. almond milk, no dairy. A sturdy structure, patina polished to a low matte glow. A cocoa-brown leather jacket, sueded and supple, a second skin.
African Leather goes on with a very brief dash of bergamot citrus, with smooth cardamom and cumin warm spice as the focus with just a hint of underlying barnyard oud rising from the base detectable before transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart the subtle oud enhanced warm, soft cardamom spice remains in full-force with the cumin remaining early but fading and ultimately replaced as co-star, as soft aromatic woody patchouli and dulled fruit-like floral geranium meld with the cardamom creating an overall focal accord with supporting soft suede-like leather detectable after a couple hours. During the late dry-down the supple leather takes the fore, adding a slightly powdery vanilla-like facet as the warm spice and geranium finally vacate, leaving remnants of the patchouli to add support through the finish. Projection is excellent and longevity outstanding at nearly 24 hours on skin.
African Leather has been on the market for over a handful of years now and I confess it wasn't on my radar when released at all. In fact I probably would have never sought it out believing it to be "just another overpriced niche leather offering" had I not gone to my local perfume shop and had them spray it on a card for me, unsolicited. What I sniffed that day on the card immediately showed there was more to the composition than leather. As a matter of fact, the thing that stood out on the card was an amazing smelling soft, aromatic woody patchouli not wholly unlike the one used in the spectacular Javanese Patchouli by Zegna. Further investigation on skin was necessary, and here we are...
On skin that fabulous smelling woody patchouli is still there, but it meshes with some pretty dense warm cardamom spice and what can best be described as almost "fruity" geranium. The geranium is very different smelling than the normal "green" presentation of the ingredient, with this stuff presenting more warm, smooth and deep to match the spice and woods perfectly. As an aside, it took a few wearings before the officially listed oud could easily be detected... Once I honed in on it (as it is really used sparsely, more as a woody binder to the patchouli and warm spice) it is indeed there and works in subtle support as intended. Those seeking an oud forward perfume should continue past African Leather, as oud is definitely not the focus and detecting it may slip past even the most sensitive of noses with only passing exposure. Speaking of slipping past the wearer with only passing exposure, at first I thought "Where's the Leather?" when wearing the perfume the first time. The soft leather really is faint at best until the wearer gets to the latter part of the heart where it becomes more detectable as support, then during the late dry-down when it is the focal note, showing why it is included in the perfume's name. I don't know if the perfume really conjures up "African Leather" in my mind, but I never was much for perfume imagery anyway - all I can say is the composition smells damn good to me! The bottom line is the $300 per 75ml bottle African Leather may puzzle many early about how what they are smelling fits in with the perfume name, but the perfumer successfully composes a warm spicy/woody concoction early before the "big leather reveal" late, earning it an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rating and a strong recommendation to warm spice and supple leather lovers in particular.
The cardamom, leather, and cumin are blended really tightly, so it's not easy to pick up individual notes unless you sniff up-close. Essentially, it's an aromatic, leathery spice. You might not even notice there is a leather accord unless you look at the notes (or the name). It's a linear fragrance and feels like there's a sweet citrusy element in the background that some might find a bit spicy or sour.
The price is a joke, so let's disregard that. In terms of smell, it's fine, but I don't understand the hype for this.
Update: I feel like I was too generous with my initial rating. I'll join Jay-Lux'eau and give this a negative rating. If I have to give away my sample or throw it in the garbage, it doesn't deserve any points.
Not sure what the top note is that catches my immediate attention. Seems different to others but pleasantly satisfying. I have tried many of the leather scents from others and so far this is one of the more unique out there set aside olifant which is way out there beyond unique. I do believe this is 75ml worthy.
Very nice! I see many people mentioned the cardamom, and I do get the spicy-sweet notes from that: however, this must be a very good quality bergamot and saffron because I'm getting natural sweetness there as well, and quite a bit: the sweet-floral aspect of this pairs just excellent with the leather. For the record, the leather here is dry and light: a touch synthetic but nothing that is offputting. I enjoy this scent quite a bit, as it dries down the cumin becomes more accentuated and the musk comes to the forefront, adding a prominent spice to the final hours of African Leather's projection.
Many leather fragrances make you feel like you're at a cheap bondage party: offputting, over the top, and try-hard with their ridiculous machismo. Here, I find the lightness of the other notes with the leather blend to make African Leather very nice for just about any occasion. Furthermore, this is very unisex. Anyone for any time wear.
Great value for the price, I'm very pleasantly surprised by this. I will have to give Memo more of my financial attention moving forward. :)