Skip to main content

Boot Lake Sunset, Mackenzie Delta, NWT by Martin Male, Nov. 20. 2005

When I first came across Russian Leather from Parisian niche fragrance house MEMO at Saks, I was immediately taken with it. Something about it just resonated with me. Back at home, I checked it out online where I found the brief for the fragrance:

‘Fougère, frost, the call of the forest, lavandin, echo, large herds of reindeers, basil, no compass, pine needles, guided by the song of the thrush, running free, a carpet of rosemary, on the watch, clary sage, minus 48 degrees, courage, mint, ardour... A caravan suddenly looms on the distant horizon, tonka bean, without a sound, patchouli, sea of blue snow, palace of ice, tall cedars, burning light, hand hovering knife, lichen, ever ready for a fight, wolf leather, pride, a Siberian smile on the lips.’ Then the penny dropped.

I once had a contract to work in Yellowknife, located in the North West Territories, just north of the 60th parallel. I liked Yellowknife, the first few times I went there in spring and summer, but it wasn’t until I went there in the winter that I loved it.  It was, to me, the land of gold and diamonds, polar bears and bison, ice roads, Northern Lights, dog sledding and deep, frosty forests. You can see the dancing Northern lights, hear the howling of wolves, smell the pine forest and take in the cold Arctic air all while standing in the middle of town. This is what Russian Leather brought me back to.

MEMO was founded in 2007 by Clara and John Molloy and Russian Leather is part of thei Cuirs Nomades series which ‘explores the leather note through six emblematic destinations, from Africa to Italy.’ For the Molloy’s, it’s all about the journey.

Russian Leather opens with a green, herbal, minty-tinged note of basil. It’s camphourous facet, makes my nostrils flare. This is followed by a beautiful fougere accord: lavender, medicinal and anisic, it echoes the basil, lichen smells piney and resinous and coumarin contributes its distinct hay-like smell. It ushers in more green notes: clary sage, fern and pine. Together, they give Russian Leather a green, slightly sweet-smelling start that is soothing and surprisingly sensuous.

As it blooms, it gets woody from cedarwood, but what I really get is gust of cool bracing Arctic air blowing owing over it all. It comes from a note of refreshing, green mint. Rosemary, camphorous and herbal, stops the mint from wandering into mouthwash territory. It’s helped by a note of spicy-sweet nutmeg. Then, comes the Russian leather. To me it’s the rich smell of supple, worn leather boots. Guaiac Wood, smoky and tar-like, provides a campfire. Sweet, dark, earthy patchouli is the perfect base for this EdP to rest on.

The dry-down is green, slightly sweet, woody and so sophisticated. It’s green forward more than it is leather forward, but this is the exploration of a leather note from a journey, not necessarily a leather fragrance.

The first whiff took me back to the Arctic winter in December. I’m on a supply plane with a few other travelers. As we approach the landing strip, I look out the window and see Christmas trees on both sides of it, their lights shining bright to guide the pilots in. We disembark on the tarmac. That first deep inhale of icy cold air, filled with the piney smell of the deep, wild forest. In the distance, there is a dog sled gliding on the frozen snow.

Russian Leather isn’t the sweaty smell of trekking all day in the frozen forest. It’s the romantic idealization of it, which makes it the perfect scent for winter.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ll be sorry to see spring come around this year.

Russian Leather is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

Image- Wikimedia Commons


Wood cabin in snowy winter forest, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Brrrrrr! Baby it’s cold outside! 

What’s that we see? The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow… 

Wait! What’s that we hear? Jingle bells jingling… 

Oh, and what glorious smells do we smell?...

It’s the Winter 2019 Decant Pack– just in time for gift-giving. Or for a gift to yourself. We all need some comfort when it’s cold outside…so break out the holiday cheer and add some truly special winter scents to your holidays!


The Winter 2019 Decant Pack

Four 1 ml. decants for $17.50, regular price $22.00, 20% saving….PLUS…Bonus Decant of Christmas in New York by Demeter...see notes at bottom…

Winter Nights by Dasein Fragrances

Notes of "coastal forest, driftwood bonfire, cardamom tea, lavender flowers and wild musk" conjure images…a snowy forest, wood smoke from a fireplace drifting in the freezing air, tea waiting in the warmth of the cabin, a potpourri of softly sweet dry scent from incense and lavender greeting frozen noses as the door swings open. Anyone who likes woody aromatic scents will love Winter Nights, and it’s also reindeer friendly, free of phthalates, parabens, and glycol. 

By the Fireplace by Maison Martin Margiela 

Chamonix, in the French Alps, in 1971. Days spent on the slopes, evenings by cozy, log fires in huge stone fireplaces. A robust wine to go with molten raclette for two. This is the feeling this smoky, warm and gently sweet fragrance evokes. By the Fireplace packs  the seduction of cozying up before a roaring blaze in a fireplace, in a bottle.

Cocoa Woods by NEST Fragrances

Cocoa Woods is a long way from the campfire mug of sweet hot chocolate with marshmallows. This accord is bitter cocoa, dry and powdery with hints of dark-roast coffee, dusted over smooth-as-silk sandalwood, wrapped in the foresty scent of aromatic sequoia and cedar boughs, and sprinkled with the faint sweetness of distant white flowers and gingery spice. If you’re thinking you might like a woody fragrance but aren’t ready for the deep dark forest, try Cocoa Woods. You’ll love it.

Castagna by Tuttotondo 

Mahogany-brown chestnuts roasting over a fire on the street corners of New York or your own fireplace is definitely the winter scent captured beautifully in Castagna. Creamy, sweet, earthy chestnut warmed by spicy clove and sweetened with vanilla-tinged heliotrope. It smells gently boozy and rich. It will make you wish winter lasted all year long.

BONUS!!! With every Winter 2019 Decant Pack you’ll receive a free decant of Christmas In New York by Demeter Fragrance Library…… “Christmas in New York is a special time in a special place. It took the genius of Demeter Fragrance Library to capture that special moment in time in scent: Egg Nog, Spices, Apples and Roasting Chestnuts, all the elements that are uniquely New York at Christmas-time.”

The Winter 2019 Decant Pack is listed in our Decant Store. Four 1 ml. decants for $17.50, regular price $22.00, 20% saving….PLUS…Bonus Decant of Christmas in New York by Demeter.

Photo - Wikimedia Commons, by Patrick Tomasso, November 28, 2015



Welcome to

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.


We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
We hope you enjoy, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.