YSL Noble Leather came out in 2013 as part of the designer's Oriental Collection. While the line offers some scents worth sniffing (e.g. Splendid Wood), others are complete head-scratchers. Is Noble Leather one of them? Let's find out.
The problem I encounter with many designer leather fragrances is that they tend to fall into two categories. Those that don't smell like leather and those that smell like Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather. YSL Noble Leather belongs to the second camp.
YLS's website describes the perfume as
"The potent and deep scent of leather fervently states its case and whispers an elegant, raw and carnal sensuality. The ambery wood accord embraces languid vanilla and the earthy scents of patchouli before giving way to intermingling tanned leathers. Enhanced by a dash saffron notes and softened by the candied sweetness of the dried fruit accord, this skin-deep fragrance leaves an unforgettable impression."
Unpacking fragrance blurbs is usually a futile exercise. They often are pure BS written by people who have never smelled the juice.
The ad copy put out by YSL for Noble Leather, however, is fairly accurate. The fragrance smells as described except for the "potent and deep" part but let's just say its intensity is open to interpretation.
If the YSL's copywriters were lazy and unconcerned about their jobs, they could have just as accurately described Noble Leather as "Tuscan Leather for the faint-hearted."
Upon my first sniff, I got the impression Noble Leather was not particularly original. Something was nudging me that I had smelled this before. Surely enough, jogging my memory while still holding the paper strip in my hand, I realized I was smelling a version of Tuscan Leather. Not a bad one but nothing bold and innovative either.
What makes the two fragrances smell similar is the leather jacket accord positioned against a melange of fruit. In Tuscan Leather, the proverbial jacket is the one belonging to a biker, while in Noble Leather it is the one worn by Ivanka Trump. The fruit note in the former is raspberry and the fruit accord in the latter is dried fruit.
In other words, if you like Tuscan Leather but you find it too harsh, Noble Leather would be a good alternative. The quality and price are more or less identical, so you won't compromise in those departments.
Dig Deeper: What Does It Smell Like?
Noble Leather opens with a biting accord of saffron. It has a dusty, a bit sour-y feel to it, which compliments the leather background.
The use of saffron is a nice touch but also a little bit of a cliche.
Undoubtedly, one of the reasons why YSL created the Oriental Collection was to appeal to the Middle Eastern market without offending the senses of the brand's Western patrons.
The thinking is that to get such appeal, you need to use traditional oriental notes. This is why we have leather and saffron here. It's a popular combo, which can work great.
The problem with Noble Leather, however, is that the saffron here is hardly given the opportunity to shine. There is a touch of it in the opening and nothing else.
Unidentifiable fruit accord also emerges in these early minutes.
Usually fruity-floral notes play a supporting role in leather fragrances. They are meant to balance the astringent sourness of the leather.
In Noble Leather, however, the dried fruit accord is weaved deeper into the DNA of the fragrance. It defines its nature. Therefore, if you call Noble Leather a fruity-ambery scent, you won't be very far off.
Once the saffron has played its part and the fruit melange has taken over, the leather intensifies. It is the kind that smells like a purse or a brand new leather jacket. It is similar to the leather accord you find in Tuscan Leather but it lacks its smokiness and rough edges (mind you, Tuscan Leather hardly has any rough edges).
The leather accord is most dominant after the first half hour and continues to shine until the one-hour, one and half-hour mark. Then, it gives way to softer amber and vanilla accords.
The composition of Noble Leather is not particularly interesting. YSL sticks to its roots of creating fragrances with wide appeal and this one is no different.
While YSL's approach is appropriate and to-be-expected when it comes to mass-market fragrances, I wanted something more interesting from an exclusive line. There is nothing in Noble Leather that I couldn't get from a designer fragrance at a cheaper price.
Noble Leather apologists may argue that, yes, the composition may be mainstream but the quality of the ingredients is high.
Again, I beg to differ.
In Noble Leather I smell an unidentifiable sweetness. It appears chemical and synthetic but is never unpleasant enough to turn me off completely. I also detect an aspect of oiliness. It is similar to the one you find in Mitsouko but here I find its presence a little strange.
Noble Leather has a decent longevity and moderate projection.
How to Wear YSL Noble Leather
Noble Leather is not a hard fragrance to pull off. You can wear it virtually any time and any place.
Leather fragrances tend to work best in cold weather. The same rule applies to Noble Leather. It is soft and fresh enough to put it on in the summer but where it really shines is in colder weather. Fall and winter is when I would personally reach for it.
If you are looking for an office scent that doesn't smell like citrus, Noble Leather will be a good choice. If you spray it in moderation (2-3 sprays) you can even get away with wearing it in a scent-sensitive environment.
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After the first hour or so Noble Leather stays close to the skin is unlikely to offend anyone. If the occasion calls for some presence and oomph, you are better off looking elsewhere.
By definition, leather fragrances tend to work better for a more mature audience. The same is true for Noble Leather. I don't see it appealing to a younger crowd (under 25).
It takes a serious push of my imagination to come up with a scenario where a 20-something could own this scent. I'll be happy to be proven wrong, though. If you can think of a scenario, drop a line in the comments.
The Experts Say...
Kafka from Kafkaesque. A Fragrance Critic
"Nothing in this fragrance “celebrates the mysteries and refinement of a land of infinite richness.” What it celebrates are laboratory concoctions. An invitation to travel? Where? To see the scientists at work in the bowels of Givaudan..."
"Well, Noble Leather opens like a toxic cloud of chemical napalm on my skin. There is a momentary pop of saffron, rich rose, and then a powerful, unexpected burst of an oud-y woodiness, followed by a tidal wave of synthetics."
"That makes Noble Leather’s $300 price tag simply insulting. Sheer venal greed for a totally crap, cheaply made, chemical perfume that is a tsunami of toxicity."
Star Rating: None given but I can't imagine it will be more than one star given the above.
Read Kafka's full review here.
Sebastian Jara & Lanier Smith. Fragrance Critics
Sebastian: "Noble Leather is leather but with lots of dry fruity notes."
Lanier: "This one [Noble Leather] is a bit sweet, a bit less dense [as compared to Tuscan Leather]...it is much more casual. I love this [Noble Leather] but if I have to choose, I would pick Tuscan Leather.
Star Rating: None Given
The Bottom Line
Noble Leather is a fragrance for those who like the idea of wearing an expensive niche fragrance but don't like taking the risk of wearing one. If you are looking for a leather fragrance, you are better off looking somewhere else. No matter how inviting the name Noble Leather sounds, there is little in this perfume justifying a purchase.
Would you buy Noble Leather?
I love leather fragrances but Noble Leather is one I would pass on. Frankly, I find it confusing. I don't see much coherence in its notes and composition. I am perplexed as to what it tries to achieve.
Would I get compliments wearing Noble Leather?
Noble Leather is not the type of scent to grab compliments. It has a decent projection but the fragrance itself doesn't lend itself to being perceived as such. To a passer-by, Noble Leather may come off as a smell, something you got a whiff of and you didn't know what it is.
What rating would you give Noble Leather?
Anything over 2 out of 5 would be too generous. There isn't much to unpack here besides the fact that Noble Leather is a soft leather scent with a dried fruits undertone.
Dried Fruit, Leather, Saffron
Amber, Vanilla, Patchouli
Bottle Size: 50ml
Concentration: Eau de Parfum
Where to Buy: major high-end department stores.
*Price is subject to change.