One of the pleasures of smelling new perfumes is that they sometimes jolt you into spotting undiscovered facets of older favourites. When I first encountered François Demachy's suave Colonia Leather for Acqua Di Parma, I was immediately reminded of Harry Frémont's equally urbane Tuscan Leather for Tom Ford. Don't worry: they're not copies of each other. But they're both the type of leather scent which I am unable to describe without resorting to the word 'tangy'. From within their sinewy blend of tobacco, incense and wood, a piquancy emerges, somewhere between the bite of lime zest and the lip-smacking softness of mandarin. It's not quite bitter, it certainly isn't sour, and it definitely isn't too sweet either. It's just tangy, perfectly balanced between acid and sugar, like the freshly-squeezed juice of a ripe orange.
Tanginess isn't miles away from tartness, and sure enough, the official list of notes for Colonia Leather cites a raspberry accord as a key player in the scent's construction. Once you become aware of the fruit's presence, it's impossible to ignore. There it sits, red, plump and unapologetic, defying anyone to question its position at the top of what is otherwise an assertively masculine piece of work. Once the perfume develops - as it moves from the fruit to the petitgrain and the leather notes - the inclusion of the raspberry makes excellent sense. Its characteristic dryness - there's a good reason why it's called a rasp-berry - fits in beautifully with the metallic gleam of the middle section and the more bitter, desiccated facets of the leathers. Indeed, as Demachy's composition reaches its conclusion, the subtle fruitiness of the musks is especially apt, calling to mind the wonder-blend of ethylene brassylate with blackberry in L'Artisan Parfumeur's Mûre Et Musc.
Of course, all this suggests that, strictly speaking, Colonia Leather isn't a cologne. Indeed, it's sold as an 'eau de cologne concentrée' (which makes it... err... an eau de toilette??) and it doesn't even attempt to fall into line with the herbal zing of the likes of 4711, Cologne Bigarade, Odin's 02, or even a more modern cologne interpretation like Mugler's Cologne. Its name notwithstanding, there's a sense in this release that Acqua Di Parma are trying to hold on to their understated, real-men-don't-wear-that-girly-perfume-stuff image whilst responding to demands for a product which doesn't disappear after half an hour. I gather their first entry in these more heavy-weight, so-called colognes, Colonia Intensa Oud, has been a great success, so it isn't surprising that they've opted to release another instalment in the series. But I wonder how much longer they're going to keep trying to convince their Ferrari-driving, testosterone-fuelled clients that the stuff in these bottles could easily do battle with the tuberoses and the jasmines resting on the dressing tables of their high maintenance lady friends. Or maybe ADP aren't even targeting men. It's no secret that their more traditional colognes are bought and sold by significant numbers of women, so maybe this new juice hopes to work its way into the affections of the sort of perfume-lover who doesn't think twice about pinching her other half's Dior Homme or Terre D'Hermès.
But I digress, so allow me to end by going back to the beginning: why did I mention old favourites at the start? Well, whilst I was doing my research for this review, I indulged in a spot of reading about Tuscan Leather and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that right there, on that perfume's official scent pyramid, there's a mention of... you guessed it: raspberry. I suspect I'll never be able to wear it again without noticing its crimson hue, so I'm grateful to Demachy for inadvertently bringing this aspect of the Tom Ford to my attention. Or maybe I'll just stick to Colonia Leather from now on. I probably won't. The two aren't interchangeable: the Tom Ford is louder, dryer and it displays a stronger rubber + plastic vibe (think: smell of a new car). But they're both tailor-made for donning a crumpled white linen suit and going for a stroll along the Arno... after stopping off at the gelateria for a scoop of sorbetto al lampone.
A few lines on the latest addition to ADP's single-ingredient-focussed, Blu Mediterraneo range of eaux de toilette. This time, the star material is juniper, obtained from Sardinia, hence: Ginepro Di Sardegna. The gin-like transparency of juniper does feature prominently at the scent's opening, but then it becomes increasingly woody, before settling on a fuzzy, musky cedar, reminiscent of the stubble of Dior's Fahrenheit Absolute. Still, it's harmlessly pleasant stuff.
[Reviews based on samples of eau de cologne concentrée and eau de toilette provided by Acqua Di Parma in 2014.]