With the dry, tangy undertone of Atlas cedarwood as the eye of its storm, Leather Oud whips up a scorching shockwave of cloves, honey and parched leather to create a trail of heat so palpable, it almost literally leaves you gasping for air the first time you smell it. Needless to say, it contains an oud note as well, but not in the manner of the accords present in the output of, say, Montale. Here, it's very much tied into the overall structure of François Demachy's composition, mingling its indescribable, woody-earthy stink with the contributions of all the other materials to create an effect that is both raw and highly polished. Experience it from a distance, and you'll be impressed by its impeccable grooming. But get up close and you'll learn that what it's really got on its mind is an urgent tryst at a Moroccan tannery. In terms of bravery and divisiveness, this is unquestionably La Collection's equivalent of Sycomore: it pushes the limits of the mainstream and re-energises the house of Dior. My critical reserve has been all but devoured by its seductive insistence and I'm one intoxicated step away from granting it a place on my list of all time favourites.
A very similar vibe is created by the aptly named Absolue Pour Le Soir, which in many ways, plays the role of sultry August moon to Leather Oud's blazing midday sun. Atlas cedarwood is given prominence here too, but only after the wearer is allowed to recover from the initial shock - and boy, do I mean shock! - of a gorgeously animalic brew of civet, frankincense and, once again, honey and cloves. The aforementioned tannery has been swapped for a rustic chapel, but you can't relax just yet, because the person sitting across the aisle from you has a curiously crimson complexion and eyes with a demonic glint. Lasciviousness wins again. Not surprisingly, what remains after this feverish physicality is the sense of an afterglow, created by a rapturous blend of sweet musks, darkened with a touch of cumin. If this is how exciting Monsieur Kurkdjian's evenings are, I can't wait for him to make Absolue Pour La Nuit!
[Reviews based on samples of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin. For the record, the other new perfumes in Dior's La Collection are Cologne Royale, Milly-La-Forêt, New Look 1947, Granville, Vétiver and Mitzah; reviews of the last four should appear on Persolaise.com before too long.]