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!
Can you believe that we’re already heading towards the completion of quarter two of 2015? I certainly can’t! Time seems to be moving so fast and it’s staggering to think that we’re halfway through the year already – it’ll be Christmas before you know it (sorry)! As you may, or may not know, for 2015 I’ve started a new quarterly round-up of all my favourite things which I’ve entitled ‘The Candy Perfume Boy’s Hitlist’. In these posts I take a look back at the fragrances, launches, blogs, books, brands or perfumers that have been taking my fancy over the last quarter.
There are no rules. Well, there are three rules with this series; 1) the subjects must be linked to fragrance somehow (a rule that I’m allowed to bend); and 2) the hitlist is to be published towards the end of each quarter; and 3) the list must include my favourite things, as if I were a fragrant sort-of Oprah (which I like to think I am). So, now we’re heading towards the end of June (my birthday month – just throwing that out there), let’s take a gander at what’s topping my hitlist for quarter two of 2015.
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.
Wow, what a whirlwind of a year 2014 was. The perfume industry has, as always, been nothing short of prolific in its output, with new brands popping up all over the place and the same big names releasing perfume upon perfume, and flanker upon flanker. It has, once again been a very busy year, and the hive of activity within the industry has meant that a great number of wonderful new olfactory treats have been unleashed on the noses of perfume lovers and consumers.
For me, this year has been one of great personal significance. In March I won my first Jasmine Award for my Guide to Violet, and shortly after in May, my best buddy and I tied the knot, only a few days before I presented an award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards. Then in August I was promoted at work, and in September my new husband and I headed off to Tokyo for the honeymoon of a lifetime. In short, it has been a fantastic year and one that will always remain truly in my heart as one of the very best.
To celebrate 2014 from a fragrant perspective, I present to you ‘The Candies 2014’. Those of you who have followed The Candies before will know that they are my annual perfume awards, celebrating the very best, and the very worst perfumes of the year (out of the 147 scents I have reviewed in 2014). Under the jump you will find the winners, losers and honourable mentions filed under neat little categories. So please, don your tux or ball down, break open the Bolly and take your seats for The Candies 2014.
[Also, please don’t forget to head on over to my dear perfume pals, Persolaise and Perfume Shrine, who are both joining me in sharing their ‘best of’ lists today.]
The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is an award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.
Last time we took a look at the humble Violet, and other excursions in the series have seen us delve into the worlds of; the vampish Tuberose, the dreamy Lavender, the prolific Oud, the delicious Chocolate and the incandescent Orange Blossom. If you have any suggestions of what notes or genres you would like to see next then please let me know in the comments box below.
For this latest instalment in the ‘Guide to…’ series, we will be exploring the universe of the lily. I have always felt a great sense of warmth towards lilies – they’re a flamboyant flower, decked out in unmissable colours and usually exuding a ‘knock you off your feet’ volume, and range of smell. These are flowers that demand to be noticed and thrive off attention. They share with you their beauty and all they ask in return is that you sit up and take notice.
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.