There are so many fragrance launches each year it’s difficult to write about them all. Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you to the point reviews fragrances that are quick and easy to digest. After all, sometimes all one needs is a few lines to capture the essence of a scent. Speed Sniffs are perfume reviews without all of the faff and tell you whether the subject is something you want to sniff or not. So hurry up and read, because we don’t have much time…
I reviewed L’Envol de Cartier in its original Eau de Parfum concentration last year so I am designating this Eau de Toilette as a speed sniff, mainly because the differences between the concentrations are not huge – but they are notable, which is why L’Envol Eau de Toilette is worthy of a review. The first flanker to L’Envol presents a fresher signature, taking the honey, mead and iris notes of the original and making them weightless with citrus and gaiac wood. The result is a fresh oriental that gives wings to the complex richness of the original.
Cartier’s in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent is one of the greatest olfactory artists living today. She has an innate ability to subvert familiar fragrant themes, twisting them with a dash of something unusual or humorous. At Cartier she has consistently created surprising and fascinating scent pieces, elevating the Parisian jeweller to it’s current position as a go-to fragrance house for those looking for luxury, quality and artistry all wrapped up in a beautiful package. Mathilde Laurent is a living legend (and if you need further proof you can read my interview with Mathilde here).
Cartier has recently launched another Laurent composition entitled ‘Baiser Fou‘ (‘Crazy Kiss’) – a scent inspired by lipstick kisses. Baiser Fou follows Baiser Vole in Cartier’s series of floral-focused fragrances and where the Stolen Kiss was an ode to lilies, it’s bonkers counterpart is a celebration of the orchid, with Laurent inspired to recreate the elusive smell of lipstick using the “intense powderiness and sweetness” of the orchid. Now, orchids aren’t exactly known for being particularly fragrant or you know, having the actual ability to yield a fragrance oil, so all orchid fragrances are very much a construction and Baiser Fou is exactly that – a fantasy flower.
Usually, I can tell whether I’m going to like a fragrance or not from the first sniff. Sure, things can change with development but usually after one wear I can make a judgement as to whether a scent is for me or whether it’s perhaps best suited to someone else. Of course, when reviewing I wear something at least three times to get a good impression of the nuances, but you catch my drift. Sometimes though, a scent will perplex me and it will take me much longer to decide whether I like it or not. Cartier’s latest masculine fragrance ‘L’Envol‘ was one such scent.
I wouldn’t be dishonest if I said that I have gone back and forth on Cartier’s L’Envol whilst I’ve been testing it over the last month or so. At times, I couldn’t quite understand the positive reviews I was reading and wondered what others were seeing that I was missing. At others, I sensed a deeper sense of intricacy that elevated L’Envol above the many other masculines it shared its shelf space with. So, it would be fair to say that L’Envol is a fragrance that doesn’t reveal itself entirely upon first sniff and that it also makes one think. For that reason, I haven’t given up on it.
L’Envol, which literally translates as ‘the flight’, is inspired by aviation. Cartier’s in-house Perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, was inspired by “the mythical ambrosia of the Gods on Olympus, a mead drink believed to confer immortality”. Laurent says that she wished to create “a light fragrance” one that “conjures up a personal and spiritual journey from within”. I have great admiration for Mathilde Laurent (you can see an interview with her here) because she is able to think about perfume abstractly and cerebrally, and has taken the house of Cartier to entirely new heights. L’Envol is yet another surprise from a body of work that has proved to be entirely fascinating and forward thinking.
Now we cannot talk L’Envol without touching on the presentation. That bottle, you guys! Honestly, I thought Cartier would have a tough job one-upping the marvellous flacon for La Panthère, but somehow they’ve managed it. L’Envol, in the 100ml size, is a detachable tube housed within a glass cloche. There’s no bottom to the glass dome, which leaves the fragrance suspended gracefully in midair. The bottle was designed to ensure that the fragrance never touched the ground, hinting at the fragrance’s aviation-based inspirations. It is nothing short of a work of art, but does the fragrance itself live up to the beauty of the bottle? Let’s find out!
For my Escentual column this week I’m taking a look at Cartier’s brand new ‘Légère‘ edition of their wonderful La Panthère fragrance. Created as a lighter, more radiant version of the original, Légère extends the feline signature of La Panthère’s musk and gardenia, taming the wild cat with the sweet, and tropical note of tiare. The result is a flanker that feels lighter, yes, but also warmer. La Panthère Eau de Parfum Légère glows, and it’s rather beautiful. Click here to read my review, and click here to read a conversation with Mathilde Laurent, Cartier’s in-house perfumer.
In the office of Cartier’s in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, there sits a proud statue of a velvet panther. Serving more than ornamental purposes, this handsome wild cat stands guard over something really quite precious – not expensive perfumes, extravagant jewels or fastidiously crafted timepieces, no, this panther protects something altogether more priceless – the heritage of the house of Cartier. It seems to be working too, because in the modernist glass cube of the Jean Nouvel-designed Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain building that houses Laurent’s laboratory (i.e. where the magic happens) as well as a conceptual art space, this spirit of the brand is alive and kicking.
Cartier is not a house hung up on the past, however. They acknowledge their heritage and look firmly forward to the future, seeking to create perfumes that bring something new to the industry as well as to express emotion. Currently, the house has an extensive back catalogue of scent which is widely available (Eau de Cartier, Déclaration and Le Baiser du Dragon etc,) as well as an exclusive collection entitled Les Heures de Parfum. Since joining the house, Laurent has taken Cartier in a new direction, most notably creating the thoroughly modern Baiser Volé and La Panthère, as well as the aforementioned Les Heures de Parfum. In these new fragrances, Cartier and Laurent fuse tradition and heritage with a thirst for pushing the boundaries and adding something new, and worthwhile to the industry. This marriage between history and modernism, and Cartier and Laurent, serves to preserve the spirit of this legendary house – to protect the soul of the panther, as it were, and drive it forward for the years to come.
Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to Paris to meet Mathilde Laurent and sit down with her, and a group of fellow journalists at the Fondation Cartier, to discuss her work for the house. During the enlightening discussion Laurent spoke about IFRA and the impact reformulations are having on the industry, as well as covering her creative process in detail, in addition to discussing the inspirations behind fragrances such as La Panthère and L’Heure Perdue, the latter of which is the latest addition to Les Heures de Parfum and a gorgeous condensed milk cuddle of a scent. I left Cartier with a new-found respect for the house and a desire to discover Laurent’s work in more detail. In the ensuing discussions, you will see that Laurent is refreshingly candid and a marvellously talented and creative individual – a true representative of the ideals of Cartier.
It would be fair to say that I’m not a massive fan of Cartier’s perfumes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike them by any means but none of the ones that I have tried have blown me away or sent me reaching for my wallet. Enter Cartier’s latest feminine fragrance ‘La Panthère‘ – a perfume that has been created as a feline and feral take on gardenia that pays homage to the brand’s mascot.
Whilst La Panthère is a bit too modern and clean to be classified as an animalic in a way that would be pleasing to perfume lovers, I must admit that I really enjoy its more abstract take on the gardenia flower and it calls to mind the bright sunlight of fragrances such as Elie Saab Le Parfum and Amyris Femme. To read my full review of Cartier’s latest scent, please click here to head on over to Escentual.com.