Tartar Leather has a rich, spice laden opening paired with a bitter citrus. A sticky bergamot and orange with a medicinal herbal undertone that brings to mind eucalyptus and something warm like nutmeg, falls shortly into an abstract, smooth suede. The top notes create an almost tar like astringency, only soft on the skin. The leather isn’t a literal leather, it is more a mirage of one – some animalics underneath (mainly a soft, ganache-like civet) provide a rich musky texture which paired with the opening astringency give off a faux-suede.
The heart brings rich florals of rose and jasmine, and a hint of oud underneath turns Tartar Leather into a woody/floral more so than a leather. The suede effect seems to dart in and out of focus, drifting further into the background as a wood and vetiver base dominate. The oud is yet again, super soft on the skin, not at all a challenging note and used beautifully to round out the florals along with the merest hint of civet and castoreum. The castoreum comes across like labdanum with a slightly sticky texture on the skin, and I think there’s a hint of incense to go along with it due to a growing presence of smoke.
Tartar Leather is sweeter than Mecca Balsam which must mean there’s a bit of benzoin in here also, unless the florals are giving this a softer, sweeter scent. But in comparison, the labdanum/incense/rose/smoke is similar in both (hence why I paired these together). Tartar Leather is a lovely fragrance, but I’d hardly call it a leather. Instead it is a soft, smoky floral with a rich, woody drydown. Both beautifully blended and full of life.