Révolte was relaunched as Cuir in 1939. A new version of Cuir was launched in 2007

Cuir / Révolte (original) fragrance notes

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Latest Reviews of Cuir / Révolte (original)

Révolte by Lancôme (1936) is an interesting perfume created just before the outbreak of World War II by Lancôme founder and principle perfumer Armand Petitjean as a man's fragrance, likely in response to the success Caron Pour Un Homme (1934) and Dunhill Cologne (1934) were having with men. Révolte eventually saw more use by women and means "uprising" in French; but the scent was unpopular with men in South America as it also translates loosely as "anarchy" in those regions, although the original 1936 blurb for the stuff really sends the message that it was a masculine fragrance by intent. The 1936 blurb reads: "Révolte, by Lancome, is worthy of its elders; a tenacious, fairly complex fragrance reminiscent of scents of leather, and which, as it develops, exhales a very captivating floral note. The bottle corresponds to the originality of the perfume: it is a block of raw rock crystal, in a natural-colored parchment box." Révolte was renamed "Cuir" and re-issued in a new bottle for 1939, the eve of WWII's outbreak, thus seeing limited distribution as Germany invaded France. By 1945, when the war had officially ended and production was ramped up, a new marketing dynamic suggesting unisex appeal was issued, reading: "Fragrant, vibrant, dry, softened by delicate touches, marrying smells of fine skin and flowers with strange scents of leather. Refined pretty flowers to be a delicious perfume for a woman, also discreet, insinuating that it is necessary to take rank among the best perfumes of man." By 1952, all marketing to men had ceased, and "Cuir de Lancôme" (as it became known) was marketed primarily as a competitor to things like Miss Dior by Christian Dior (1947) in the women's leather segment.

Smelling very dark and raw upon initial opening, Révolte/Cuir doesn't feel very much like a floral leather, with heavy aldehydes and a rubbery-anisic feel that leads into big styrax and birch notes, I mean like twenty-feet-tall big. The violet and carnation do eventually show up, but not until long after everything else swirling about, including a rather hirsute tobacco note, finally calms down enough to let the rest of the scent do some talking. I can totally see how this might have been more intended for men who enjoyed wearing things like the aforementioned Dunhill, itself a leather/tobacco mix kind of deal, or more of a Chanel Cuir de Russie (1924) vibe with big old birch tar notes. Honestly, Révolte/Cuir feels more like a higher-quality version of what Creed was trying to do with its various long-gone gray-cap leathers, or what Pinaud still does with its plastic-bottle "special blend" scent. Furthermore, I see a lot of what inspired Avon Leather (1966) turning up first in Révolte/Cuir, just tuned to be smoother with heavier amber notes. Any notes of rose or sandalwood here are pretty much trounced upon by the styrax, birch, Mousse de Saxe accord, and oakmoss, revealing a heavy animalic side that feels like worn saddle leather still on top the horse. Perhaps like so many other leathers of the period, women took a turn towards this while men ran towards powdery, lavender-forward scents because the latter had a growing link to the increasing popularization of wet shaving, while women would eventually play a more dominant role in civil society as men were drafted to fight in the war. To me, Révolte/Cuir feels very much masculine, and lasts a good while on skin.

Due to the age of my sample,. there is likely to be some degradation of the alipathic aldehydes used in the opening, as they were all the rage in the wake of Chanel No. 5 (1921) becoming the gold standard of their use, so perhaps that explains why this plunges into base materials so quickly while heart floral components shimmer in behind them, almost backwards to how you'd think they'd develop. In either case, the expedited dry-down just gives a glimpse into how this wears throughout the day, although I would liked to have smelled this vintage Armand Petitjean creation when new to get a better feel for how it was meant to open, then progress through the mostly dandy-floral heart into that eventual monster leather base. The world may never know however, and the more-recent Cuir de Lancôme (2007) reconstructed by Calice Becker and Pauline Zanoni has been noted to be sweeter, more floral, and more towards the intended women's leather market where the original Petitjean version eventually went. Make no mistake though, there is nothing modern about the newer version, despite being made in 2007, as it was just a re-tuning of the concept using available materials, as there wasn't really Mousse de Saxe or plentiful Mysore sandalwood to be had anymore by then. In either case Révolte/Cuir by Lancôme is still a very interesting oddly-fated perfume, an outlier in the classic leather genre that never got its due or found its proper audience over the years it was initially offered. having an almost brooding atmosphere and animalic undercurrent that would have better served it in the men's fragrance market of the late 1970's or early 1980's. Thumbs up
9th April 2023