Puckrik on Perfume

Katie Puckrik ON Oct 23, 2009 AT 3:06 pm

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Cartier Les Heures du Parfum
By Katie Puckrik

My favourite perfume discoveries are the ones that happen in the middle of doh-dee-doh-ing. The other day, I was noodling around in a department store, with nothing bigger in mind than scoring a few more free samples of By Kilian Back to Black. (How many tiny vials of B2B can I reasonably cadge from sales assistants before I go from “engagingly interested” to “peskily tragic”? I’ll let you know.)

So there I was, lurking around the By Kilian perfume casks, when I spied a perfume display that looked like a set of red-leather bound encyclopedias. Or more accurately given their small size, like those Reader’s Digest anthologies of abridged potboilers. It was Cartier’s new high end line, complete with a primo price point: Les Heures du Parfum.

What? This was news to me. And I’d never even smelled any Cartier fragrances, so I had no context to work from. But just looking at the hokey “Masterpiece Theatre” packaging, I figured they’d be a bunch of bombastic cheese, like Clive Christian perfume.

Well, you should never judge a perfume by its Reader’s Digest abridged potboiler anthology cover. As I sniffed blotters sprayed with each of the five Heures du Parfums, I began exclaiming loudly to no one, “I LOVE this. Oh, and I love THIS! And I LOVE this one!”

Cartier Les Heures du Parfum

Cartier Les Heures du Parfum

I sniffed and exclaimed some more, grabbed samples and beat it home. I was astonished that an entire, brand-new line was blowing my tiny little mind. The astonishment abated somewhat when I learned that the perfumer behind Les Heures du Parfums is Cartier’s new in-house nose, Mathilde Laurent. Laurent had done me right with her Attrape-Coeur for Guerlain, so I hunkered right down to get to know her Cartiers a little better.

I L’Heure Promise is all about the iris, with its curiously arid, leather-carrot character. Pettigrain’s cloth-y citrus, along with a hot cotton musk, emphasizes the dryness of the iris. The initial starchiness of this eau de toilette gradually relaxes into a lingering sandalwood. Mmmm…I love sandalwood. It lends a nuzzly, slept-in smell to anything it touches.

The effect of L’Heure Promise on the skin is that of squillion dollar soap: discrete and expensively clean. A classy rich guy, too classy and rich for Gendarme, would enjoy wearing this. And though I don’t fit my own profiling system, I too would enjoy “rocking” this, as the soccer moms say.

VI L’Heure Brilliante is the line’s straight-ahead cologne: fizzy, lemony, gin-and-tonic-y. This drink is served extra dry, without the neroli sweetness of say, Chanel Les Exclusifs Eau de Cologne or Tom Ford Private Blend Neroli Portofino. Remember, it’s always cocktail hour somewhere in the world, so bottoms up!

Click here to read part 2.

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