Mon Cuir (Ramón Monegal)

People who are not from New Jersey profess some pretty strange beliefs about our state. Apparently, we all live exactly halfway between the Short Hills Mall and the Shore, in a land from any point of which the Manhattan skyline can magically be glimpsed. We breakfast on toxic chemicals drizzled over U-Pick farm tomatoes, then trundle off to our day jobs doin' contract hits for the Mafia. (It's true!)

Even within our three-million-some-odd square miles, debate rages as to what kind of New Jerseyans we are. North, South, Central, Shore? Do you live closer to New York or Philly? Do you root for the Giants or the Eagles? Are there sprinkles or jimmies on your cupcake? Taylor ham or pork roll on your breakfast sandwich? Where do you go for summer vacation? Since I grew up on the coast -- where summer is no vacation, believe you me -- I never went down the Shore as someone from Camden or Perth Amboy might. And anyway, only bennies have time to waste lolling around on a beach, am I right or am I right?

For any local hoping to cull out the newest crop of Jersey-come-latelies, one simple shibboleth will do: Say the name of our state. We call her New Jersey. Some of us drop the "New", which makes the rest of us narrow our eyes (come on, man, show the lady some respect). But the true tell, as they call it, lies in the pronunciation. Nobody from here says "Joisey". Nobody. Ever.

Fashion is a touchy subject for the so-called Jersey Girl. In the minds of many, we all dress (and act!) like stereotypical Bon Jovi groupies circa 1988. Jackets covered with studs, bleached-denim skirts shorter than a summer night, lace and fishnet tights, thigh-high dominatrix boots with heels to make a hooker die of envy-- and of course, lots of leathaaaah. The past decade (which has foisted various Sopranos, Real Housewives, and Bridezillas upon us) has only compounded our image crisis. The reality? Cotton halter dresses and Havaianas in the summer; stretch leggings and fleece pullovers for cold weather. Our Mid-Atlantic winters sure can be bitter and slushy. If you're going to wear leather, better get a good, sturdy pair of boots... and mink-oil the bejesus out of them.

The leather I wear is entirely embodied in Doc Martens and perfume. Don't I adore me some vintage isoquinoline, as found in Jolie Madame or Cabochard! But today I'm wearing Mon Cuir (My Leather), which doesn't even smell like leather-- more like pleather or PVC dusted on the inside with talcum, à la Bulgari Black. It borrows its orange blossom from the same unpleasant source as Maison Francis Kurkdjian's APOM Pour Femme; even its cistus smells vaguely, coldly chemical, like some acrid emission from an industrial smokestack. (Is this another joke on Jersey? Jeez louise.) Isolated, Mon Cuir's flaws are extremely off-putting; however, they've been juxtaposed just skillfully enough that they mute (if not cancel out) each others' ill effects. The result smells like a new shoe fresh from the Payless factory... but I would really have to like shoe-shopping more than I do to find this an attractive trait in a perfume.

My leather? No, thanks. I could cuir less.

Scent Elements: Leather, orange blossom, nutmeg, patchouli, Australian sandalwood, musk, labdanum