BLUF: Starts as a fun, and almost memorable, modern transparent smoky birch leather, ends as the world's most boring vetiver.
I enjoy the leather accord in the top notes/early mid. I think it falls somewhere in the middle of Cuiron's modern, transparent, almost watery suede/brown leather combo and Mona di Orio's birch smoke/spice/nigh-animalic Russian style leather. It smells good and comes off as fine-tuned and polished.
A neat party trick, that transformation from leather to vetiver, but rather a let down for this wearer because the part I like disappears and is replaced with something I don't.
If I try to have a sense of humor about the development, I do appreciate that Le Labo built in the namesake accord rather blatantly, as they often do not. But as soon as you start thinking "Cuir is actually a cuir!" it begins to lose the leather accord I like and a dry, electrical fire-y, unrefined woody vetiver comes into the mix. You got me again, Le Labo. Hilarious.
I'm a big fan of vetiver in almost all shapes and sizes, and this is easily among my least favorite portrayals. It simply doesn't smell good to me, it smells industrial and lifeless, and not in a modern, edgy way, it just smells half-assed.
Starts as a thumbs up, spends most of its life on skin as a thumbs down. Nets a neutral, like most from this house.
One of the few Le Labo scents that is true to the name stickered to the bottle: Cuir 28 Dubai is definitely a leather-centric scent that uses vanilla absolute, woody notes, vetiver and musk to dress up the leather.
Overall, this is a very pleasant expensive oiled leather jacket like scent, injected skilfully with dry wood and mossy green elements as well as a yummy vanilla, touched off appropriately with animalic muskiness. It is quite rich and layered, full of personality despite seeming so simply formulated.
I could almost give this a neutral instead of a thumbs up if I were letting myself be influenced by the hopes I have for this house, and the prices they charge. I want their fragrances to be outstanding, comparable to releases from the 1980s.
This one is not so outstanding, but it's ok. For a modern, woody leather, it does what I might expect.
Le Labo, though, which is my favorite house to sample when I'm in Barneys, has fallen behind 4160 Tuesdays and Etat Libre d'Orange in my niche houses of interest. Those houses are better able to create moments to rival the glory of the 1980s and earlier. Le Labo does ok, passably competent, within the post-2010 context.
Cuir 28 is a fine enough fragrance, and its, without a doubt, a leather-forward scent. But, at the price point Le Labos playing in, fine enough doesnt cut it.
I dont find this one to be all that refined. The birch tar/smoke aspect overwhelms at the opening, and it seems at odds with the rest of the composition throughout. On paper, they make sense together, but, in practice, they seem to maintain a tense relationship with each other, never quite settling into any sense of cohesion.
The effect doesnt ruin the fragrance, by any means, and in some ways it seems quite fitting for a Le Labo scent to behave in this way. Its something that simultaneously amps up a sense of more-than-adequate sillage, and it hearkens back to Le Labos all-natural bent and individual approach to order fulfillment.
Still, while it may function as something of a calling card for the house of Le Labo, it does so at substantial cost to overall smoothness and sense of refinement. And thats not something Im willing to spend $290 on.
But, the most shocking thing about Cuir 28, especially after experiencing that almost assaultive opening that seems to suggest this scent will last on you for a week, is its awful longevity.
I applied a good amount of C28 just about 3 hours ago, and all that remains is a slight/powdery skin scent. So, while this beast might snarl when first approached, it also whimpers away with its tail between its legs far too soon. I feel like a broken record here, but I find that unacceptable at this price point.
If Cuir 28 cost a fraction of its going rate, I would consider giving it a neutral rating. But, I expect near-perfection at this price point, and Cuir 28 is resoundingly imperfect, earning it a thumbs down.
Le Labo Cuir 28 Dubai is mostly refined, semi-dirty, dark leather fragrance that is among the strongest EDP members in the city exclusive line in terms of quality and power of the juice, alongside Poivre 23 London. Cuir 28 is, unsurprisingly, comprised mostly of leather. I get almost a dirty tar vibe out of it, with something slightly sweet to prevent it from getting dirty and earthy in a patchouli way. Still, I'd argue that this is far more to the dirty side than the sweet side, just not wholly committed to dirty. In that respect, it's a little less refined than Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, which I regard as more inviting. I generally don't opt for leather fragrances, but Cuir 28, (like Tuscan Leather or Coach Leatherware No. 3), is one I could wear, and wear often.
Unfortunately, the cost is prohibitive at $290 per 50ml, as with the rest of the city exclusive line. I'll at least defend Cuir 28 in that it has the projection, longevity, and utility to make it more worthwhile than some of the city exclusive line, but it's still almost inaccessible at that price point, specifically when, at $70 cheaper, Tom Ford Tuscan Leather largely accomplishes the same feat. Granted, no one should quibble over price at that point--they should simply get what they want.