Master fragrance notes

    • key lime, Bitter Orange, Mandarin, cognac, lychee, Rose, Jasmine, vanilla, cocoa, tobacco, orris, Saffron, frankincense, cypress wood, cedar, Oud, leather, Civet, Vetiver, Sandalwood,

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Latest Reviews of Master

Master by Clandestine Laboratories is a charismatic but incredibly comfortable wear. The opening is brightened with a great citrus blend that brings to mind a peel expressed over a glass of brandy...several in the collection showcase a really compelling citrus-led top note, and quite varied as well. I find the leather here rich and comfortable, like a rich uncle's study. There's this major chord with a friendly oud/incense and iris (reminiscent of how it presents in DHI).

The texture is supple, but not louche. While it has just a smidge of vanilla and baking spice softening the effect, it's certainly not sweet. I laughed out loud at ELDO's Tom of Finland for offering us a basket of oranges—the twinkle in his eye instead of the harness and boots. No worries here, Master is not laughing.

While the collection appeared as a flurry of options, it's clear these were no rush job. Everything I've tried in this line has been blended and buffed to a shine. Not a rough edge in sight, these sniffs are refined.

It's hot here in Florida, but I wore Master out to dinner and felt like a million bucks. This is a full day wear and then some with arm's length scent trail. Bumped about 10 other scents behind it to spring for a full bottle pronto. Bravo!
20th August 2022
I've been trying for the last eight years to enjoy leather fragrances. While there are aspects of some leather fragrances I like to some degree, I have to say that they just aren't my thing. Master is a well made leather fragrance. The opening is actually extremely nice. I love the key lime note with the orange and the lychee. Add in the cognac and the opening is truly excellent. Once it drys down, and becomes all about the leather aspect, that's where I get lost. When I say that, I'm speaking of all leather themed fragrances. I guess I've come to a place where I don't need to search for a great leather fragrance, because I've realized I'd rather wear a good conifer fragrance, or a fougere, or certain Chypres, or certain orientals or gourmands. If you do love leather fragrances, then I must say that Master by Clandestine Laboratories is one you should at least sample. It is very well made and would be high on my list if I was a leather aficionado.
5th March 2022

The leatheriest leather to ever leather.

A deep, rich, straightforward leather with a lot of presence. It's not a harsh chemical leather in the way that many modern leathers are; Master is soft and supple and warm. It's still a statement-making creation, though. Tobacco with a bit of orris helps round it out, but this is dark leather all the way, so it's only for the leather-lovers out there.
30th January 2022
Master by Clandestine Laboratories (2021) is a fragrance that I didn't really see coming, nor did I really see a house like this coming along either, but I guess that's the point with a name like Clandestine Laboratories. People familiar with artisanal and independent perfumers know that they usually fall into two distinct categories within this community, the first of them being the all-natural hand-distill-everything types like Areej le Dore or Bortnikoff, that usually bring along with them a very vocal minority of sycophants that end up paradoxically hyping and gatekeeping these brands to death. No offensive to anyone meant because we love what we love, but the Papa John's ethos of "better ingredients, better pizza" tends to leave a lot off the table both creatively and in terms of how these perfumes continue maturating and wearing over time, even if there is definitely a strong appeal to smelling things like oud and sandalwood in the raw. The second variety of artisanal perfumers, and the far-less celebrated it seems, are the ones like Fzotic's Bruno Fazzolari or Grey Matter's Joey Nieves, who use industrial aromachemicals alongside naturals like any perfumer working for big labs such as IFF, just often with a self-taught or apprenticed background versus an academic one. Clandestine's Mark Sage also falls into this category as well, and it allows perfumes like Master to both be more abstract and conceptual than anything strictly relying on rose oil and ambergris tincture, but also more "synthetic" and "modern", adjectives that are often given a pejorative spin by the congnoscenti of the online space. However you feel about Master though, I assure the perfume itself doesn't care, nor does anyone wearing it, because this is an out-and-out butch black leather fragrance to the extreme.

Master is very much in the modern leather vein which seeks to be photo-realistic, but unlike many of this type, does not have that annoying raspberry touch found in such leathers like Tom Ford Ombre Leather (2018). In fact, this pretty much eats Ombre Leather for breakfast and then looks for more, because it is just so jet black and brazenly strong. Like the name suggests, this is for the big BDSM power tripper in everyone, whether it's Fifty Shades of Grey or your local Eagle bar. The opening goes quite bitter with a chemical "new leather" smell, offering up dry lime and bitter orange alongside a boozy note that the brand calls cognac. There are a ton of notes listed, but I am only going off what I smell. Eventually things settle a bit and get a little less "leather shop" and a little more "black leather chair" in vibe, with dried gourmand tones of vanilla and cocoa mixed in with incense and saffron. The base is really jam-packed with things like an oud accord, some cedar, civet, and tobacco notes, but ultimately most of that is superseded by a light clean powderiness of orris. Obviously, most of these representations are synthetic ones, but the quality of blending and density of the overall composition is such that you don't ever think about that (nor should you). All told, Master ends up being a dense woody tobacco leather scent with a thin veneer of clean powder, never too sweet or animalic, not pissy or scratchy, just leathery above all else with a vanilla smoothing. The black polished leather harnesses and tight pants is what this smells most like to me, and I've been in those shops, so I know what I'm talking about. Wear time is going to be literally all day, although projection is thankfully more moderated. This is an eau de parfum, but I swear it has the tenacity of an extrait. Best use is up to you, as this perfume is too dominant for context, although feels best for colder months.

All told, this is probably the most like-leather fragrance I have ever smelled. This is not a spiced carnation chypre like Moschino pour Homme (1990), greened mousse de saxe like Piguet Bandit (1944), castoreum and dried petrichor like Caron Yatagan (1976), or the pyralone bombs of Knize Ten (1924) and its ilk. I love all those too, but this is leather and leather and leather and leather plus leather with leather added. The softness of the orris and dry vanilla comes only after an hour or so settled on skin, although you can probably reach this conclusion sooner with a finer application. You certainly do NOT want to over-spray Master, unless you fancy a trip to a ventilator. Because this is so resolute and to the point, Master may only appeal to the hardest of the hardcore leather fans, and the kind of people that weren't happy with Etat Libre d'Orange's take on a perfume for Tom of Finland. If you veer more to the chypre side of the leather spectrum, you may want to pass on this too, as there isn't much by the way of detectable oakmoss or labdanum here. Like the blurb from the brand, this one really does speak of intelligence and good "breeding", but there isn't a ton of subtlety here, so some of you may feel Master is a bit too on-the-nose (pun intended) and maybe gimmicky. Really, it all depends on what you look for in a fragrance, and the brand as a whole may have already lost those of you who only buy natural perfumes or things made before 1990 or whenever IFRA destroyed the world et al. The big ask here of course is price, as this is an artisanal perfume made by hand regardless of materials, and sells for about $125 for 50ml or $195 for 100ml. Considering what many designer prestige brands want for their takes on this genre though, this still may be a steal. Thumb up
8th November 2021