Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather is undoubtedly the most popular leather fragrance on the market today. Released in 2007 as part of Tom Ford's Private Blend lineup, Tuscan Leather has gained such a wide recognition that even Drake dedicated a song to it.
Expand to listen to Drake's Tuscan Leather
In 2013 Drake released Tuscan Leather in which he compares the smell of the fragrance to cocaine. In an interview he explained his reference meant that Tuscan Leather is an expensive cologne.
If you think all this hype about Tom Ford Tuscan Leather is not worth it, you better go smell it...again. The success of Tuscan Leather is not because it is creative. Nor is it because of its high quality ingredients (even though they help).
Tuscan Leather is great because it perfectly blends virility and civility. It is bold enough to define bad-assery and prim enough not to turn people off.
The challenge that Tom Ford Tuscan Leather successfully solves has to do with the leather.
As an accord, leather is challenging to wear. Leather fragrances fall into two general categories: the bold, raw, animalic, crude leather. The kind that either reminds you of a cowhide that has been stripped off the back of a bull. It is also the smoky, machine-oil infused bitter aroma of a biker's jacket.
The other variety is the soft, suede leather. It is the delicate type, the kind that smells like a high end designer purse.
Most leather fragrances tend to fall in one of these two categories. It is rare to find a scent that is somewhere in the middle.
If there is a scent to wear to a hostage negotiation, this is the one.
Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather is one of them. As if it is the child of the hard and soft varieties of leather fragrances. It has the balls and brashness of a cowhide and the sophistication of a Chanel purse.
As a fragrance, Tuscan Leather solves a dilemma every modern man faces: the want to smell bold and aggressive and the need to still go to the office.
Wearing Tuscan Leather no one will accuse of being inappropriate or too aggressive. The people who smell it on you and recognize it will smile and even give you a meaningful nod. Tuscan Leather has turned into such an ubiquitous symbol of modern masculinity and success that not liking it is similar to rejecting a cultural norm.
The success of Tuscan Leather also comes from the fact that it doesn't follow a trend or fall into a pattern. You cannot call it a typical leather fragrance.
Leather accords are traditionally offset with florals or spices (e.g. vanilla) to tone down the harshness. You don't see this in Tuscan Leather. The leather here is balanced with raspberry. This combination has become a signature accord, which makes it immediately recognizable. You smell leather and raspberry and you immediately think of Tuscan Leather.
The blessing of Tuscan Leather is also its curse. Its popularity has turned it into the cliche fragrance in some circles. Among fragrance aficionados it evokes yawns and mental commentary like "yes, we know it's great but can you be a little less predictable?"
My response to such digs is to never bother with fragrance snobs. You shouldn't either. No matter how popular it is, Tuscan Leather smells great. It is my go-to-important-meeting scent. It gives me confidence and communicates power and firmness. If there is a scent to wear to a hostage negotiation, this is the one.
Dig Deeper: What Tom Ford Tuscan Leather Smells Like
Drake says Tuscan Leather smells like a brick of cocaine. I have two explanations for this: either Drake has never smelled Tuscan Leather or he has never smelled a brick of cocaine. I am pretty sure it is the latter.
Tuscan Leather opens with a kick of smoky leather tempered by a note of raspberry. A touch of saffron adds some dustiness to the composition, as if it is blotting up any excess juiciness from the dominant notes.
The leather accord reminds me of a fine leather purse. It is soft in the first minutes of the opening. Oddly enough, when I inhale deeply, I pick out something that smells like a soft banana. I've read numerous reviews of Tuscan Leather and not one mentions anything about banana.
This is why, I suspect my nose must be playing olfactory tricks on me. Most likely what I am picking out as a banana note is an undertone of of the leather accord. It is soft, almost like human skin but with a promise for a denser, more naughty side.
As its development progresses, Tuscan Leather slowly turns smokier. It is never too harsh or abrasive but it definitely shows some challenging character.
When we talk of Tuscan Leather being "challenging" or "having a challenging character" we need to get a couple of things straight.
First, all leather fragrances worth smelling are challenging... or at least what the polite among us would call "interesting". Of course, you have many leather fragrance built around suede - a soft leather accord - and, I guess, many of them smell great. In my experience, however, very few of them are interesting.
Second, whether you find Tuscan Leather challenging depends on your experience with leather fragrances. If you are a raving fan of Aoud Cuir d'Arabie or Hard Leather, then you'll find Tuscan Leather timid, a little shy.
If you are a straight-laced gent who calls the display of ankles a lewd behaviour, Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather may be challenging.
It all depends on your leather thermostat but regardless of where it falls, you'll likely acknowledge that this fragrance is a good rendition of luxurious, soft leather.
To say that Tuscan Leather is not smoky would be unfair. After the first 20 minutes, I detect some smoky bitterness, which probably comes from a touch of cypriol. It starts soft, almost barely detectable and slowly intensifies as time passes.
Just when you think the note will bloom into a full-on bad ass leather whip, it stays low. There are no mass leather explosions here. Just quiet humming.
Tuscan Leather is not a quiet scent though. It has its roar and even a bite. You just have to wait for it and pay attention. On me, the fragrance has an average projection. If I apply it early in the morning, I can usually smell it until early afternoon. This is usually six or eight hours of detectable presence.
At the end of the day, 13 or 14 hours after spraying it on, all that is left is a soft resinous residue on my shirt.
When it comes to the composition of Tuscan Leather, it is a fairly linear one. Through numerous wears, I've noticed that most of the development happens in the first hour or so.
Tuscan Leather goes through a metamorphosis of raspberry, to smoky leather, to soft woody resin. Once the smoky leather accord quiets down, the development of the fragrance is more or less finished. A soft resinous accord remains present until the end. It is pleasant but not particularly exciting.
Where to Rock It
Tuscan Leather is a risk-free scent. Even though many describe it as harsh and virile, which it could be, it is also very civilized.
The generally liked smell of Tuscan Leather would suggest it is versatile. Maybe. There is more than just social acceptance when we talk about the versatility of a fragrance. Here's how I evaluate it.
Tuscan Leather works best in cold weather. I found this bit out first hand.
On a hot summer day when I felt particularly ballsy, I decided to treat myself to four big sprays of Tuscan Leather.
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Everything was great until I decided to leave my air-conditioned apartment. Twenty minutes in a 30-degree weather was all it took for Tuscan Leather to turn heavy and cloying. It was choking me and I couldn't help but feel bad about those around me.
So, take it from me: Tuscan Leather and hot weather don't go together.
Where Tom Ford Tuscan Leather gets its major versatility points is in social settings. You can dress it down or dress it up. This juice will suit pretty much any occasion. I probably won't wear it on the beach but pretty much any other occasion is a fair game.
If you are in your teens, wearing Tuscan Leather will be the equivalent of wearing your dad's suit. You'll smell good but we all will know that this fragrance is not you.
In my books, Tuscan Leather works for any age over 22. This is the time when you would have likely graduated from university and have gotten your first job.
Being 22+ years old suggests you can probably afford to buy Tuscan Leather with your own money. Success always looks a lot better when it is your own.
The Experts Say...
Luca Turin, A Renowned Perfume critic
"Ford's Tuscan Leather, with its transparent, woody smoky tones and light fruity touch in the background, is a nice introduction to the [leather] genre."
Victoria from Bois de Jasmin, Perfume Blogger
"It is not a particularly complex fragrance; in fact, it is almost a single accord. Nevertheless, it features the leather note so well and with such elegance, that whenever I am in the mood for a dark smoky scent, it is the perfume I choose."
Read Victoria's Full Review here.
Derya, featured on Al's Street Scents Series
Al from Street Scents takes Tuscan Leather to the streets. In his series, he gets an average person to smell a scent and share their opinion.
Al's videos are unique and interesting because they bring a new perspective on fragrances. His participants are people who use and wear fragrances casually and are not fragrance connoisseurs.
In this video Derya is in the hot seat sniffing Tuscan Leather. From the start she gets a good quality leather with some smoky undertones.
Derya finds Tuscan Leather to be a mature scent. In terms of uniqueness, Derya says Tuscan Leather is no other fragrance she has smelled before. She wouldn't buy for herself but she thinks it will be a great scent for a "manly man".
*Derya gives Tuscan Leather a 10 out of 10, which would be the equivalent of 5 out of 5 on a 5-star scale. I've converted her rating on a 5-star scale for ease of comparison.
The Bottom Line
Tom Ford Tuscan Leather is a good beginner's leather fragrance. It is interesting and unique without veering too far into the territory of conceptual fragrances.
Would you buy Tuscan Leather?
If you need a scent that is different and yet wearable at a variety of places, Tuscan Leather is a good choice.
Would I get compliments wearing Tuscan Leather?
I find Tuscan Leather to be universally liked. Since it creates an aura of masculinity and roughness, many people may be shy to compliment you on it.
What rating would you give Tuscan Leather?
Tuscan Leather is a unique and interesting fragrance fully deserving a rating of 4 out of 5. I enjoy wearing it but I don't think it has the properties and qualities of a 5-star fragrance for me.
One area I find Tuscan Leather lacking is in its development. For the most part, whatever you get in the opening is a good prelude to whatever you get throughout. I also find the dry-down lacking. It could have been more interesting and inspiring.
Saffron, Raspberry, Thyme
Leather, Suede, Amber, Woods
Bottle Size: 50ml, 100ml, 250ml
Concentration: Eau de Parfum
Where to Buy: Nordstrom
*Price is subject to change.