Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman eau de parfum can be purchased from, where a 50-ml bottle is currently $75.  If you ask me, that’s a steal.  My review is based on a decant of Cuir Ottoman that I received from perfume blogger Christos of Memory of Scent.

Images: Top, actors Waldemar Torenstra (Frank) and Anna Drijver (Esther) in the 2008 film, Bride Flight . Movie poster, from, shows Waldemar with actress Karina Smulders, who plays Ada.

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman image is from

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us to see the beauty of people who love as Frank and Ada do.  I’ll never be so enlightened as these two—I’m as possessive as anyone else—but I like to entertain such thoughts.  If you’re wondering why I couple it to Cuir Ottoman. it’s the declarative, up-front way in which the hunky Frank lives and loves.  Like Cuir Ottoman, he’s not intellectual: he already dwells at the heart of the matter in all things; there is something both potent and pure about him.

By the way: Perfect movie pairing for Cuir Ottoman, without getting literal (in regard to the Ottoman part of the name): The 2008, Dutch film Bride Flight, which you can watch on NetFlix, if you’re a subscriber.  This film centers on three women and one man, all of them from Holland, who meet on a plane ride to New Zealand in 1953, where they are all looking to start new lives away from war-torn Europe.  All three of the women become tied, in one way or another, to the handsome and strapping Frank, who is a man who knows how to love a woman. Frank can’t be with the woman he falls in love with during the long flight—the innocent yet sensual Ada, who is already married to a young man who has gone on before her to Holland—so he makes time with other women while he holds her in his heart.  If you’re the kind of person who gets turned off by relationships that are not monogamous, you’ll probably find no sympathy with these characters.  But I think one of the purposes of the film is to show how desperately clingy humans are when it comes to love—how clumsy we are about the whole thing, in any kind of relationship, even the ones we have with our children—and it does this by allowing

Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman:

Leather, Straightforward and Sexy

When I cast a quick glance around my home and my personal effects—when I turn an inward eye on my life—I have to ask myself, why the infatuation with leather scents?  True, I grew up riding horses and was well acquainted with leather saddles and tack, but that seems a lifetime ago.  And today, aside from purses, shoes and winter gloves—none of which I collect with abandon—I don’t own much leather. I don’t have a car with leather seats, nor leather upholstery of any kind, and while I’d love to have these things, by the same token, I don’t spend time thinking about them. The thing I do fantasize about, that I associate with leather, is men—yet for as often as I’ve cocked an admiring eye at photos of Johnny Depp in his reckless-bohemian wardrobe of leather jackets and bracelets, my ideal sexy man looks like a cross between George Harrison (who was always the most beautiful Beatle, in my opinion) and the intellectually suave (yet oh so cute) actor Edward Norton. Neither of whom I associate with leather. Still, after checking off my list of things I associate with leather and finding myself delightfully stalled here, in the good-looking men department, I’d have to say that’s the attraction.  Leather smells masculine to me in general, and that’s probably why I will always own more leather fragrances than leather purses. (I’d rather be in the company of a good man—even an imaginary one—than an expensive leather purse.) It’s probably also why, much as I enjoyed sniffing the decidedly feminine leather scent Bottega Veneta this past fall, the leather scents I prefer to own feature a more brooding and intense form of the note. Oh, they can (and should) be offset by feminine notes—as is the one I’m about to review—but there is within them that lean, hungry leather note that is sexy beyond words.

Such is the case with Cuir Ottoman eau de parfum from Parfum d’Empire.  I’m going to give you the list of notes for it, right up front—jasmine, leather, iris, benzoin, balsams, resins and incense—because I won’t be talking about them much otherwise. This fragrance, to my nose, is a play in two parts that can be summarized in two notes: leather and iris.  Scene One, which begins the very instant Cuir Ottoman hits the skin, is when some very strapping, leather-clad man rides up on his horse.  He is not even my kind of man—I’ve never been fond of excessive brawn—but I keep looking (which is to say, huffing my perfumed wrists) because there’s something sooo electric about him. I’m not sure what he did before he came riding up on his horse, but I can guess that he must have whipped a town of bad people into shape and thrown out all the bullies, because his declarative, butch leather says so.  I spend a lot of time admiring his leather until we get to the end of Scene One, but I don’t mind because I am the kind of girl who likes to look, and I get the feeling he does too. Indeed, I detect something that smells like a smile curling the edges of his lips as he takes his sweet time getting down from that horse, and eventually I realize he’s the kind of man who knows when to lay down the law and when to retire it. Because now we’re at Scene Two, in which leather submits to powdery iris.  Sure, I can still smell the leather, but it’s buried in a whirl of petticoats and talcum-powdered sweet nothings and doesn’t seem in any hurry to leave.  This man is declarative all right: To Whip and Be Whipped is what he’s all about.  If I were going to write a two-act play about Cuir Ottoman, that’s what I’d name it.  There’s nothing intellectual about Cuir Ottoman, but neither is it “light reading”: this is a damn fine bit of perfume erotica, and for that it gets my full approval.

January 7, 2012: