Cartier knows its strengths. From watches worthy of a White House wrist, to necklaces that cost more than your average three-bed, the brand is almost a synonym for luxury. Since the early 1980s, that’s included fine fragrance, even if that arm of the Cartier empire isn’t as well-recognised as its jewellery.
But that is changing. Since 2005, the brand has had its own in-house nose – Mathilde Laurent – a sign that the marque takes the business of scent seriously. Her latest creation, L’Envol de Cartier, is Cartier’s first new men’s scent since 2008, an entry in that ‘affordable luxury’ space crowded by the Chanels and Pradas of the world. New fragrances need something to shout about. And to some extent, L’Envol (French for ‘take off’, big clue) does just that.
It’s a scent that deviates from what you’d expect. There’s the traditional Gaïac wood muskiness (the bread and butter of old-school aftershaves), but also a spritz of freshness, elevated by light, honey notes. It’s less Mayfair members club, more Mediterranean dew.
Then there’s the bottle. To create the illusion of suspension, the vial (refillable, because environment) is housed within an elongated bell jar, which clicks neatly into place. L’Envol makes for strong bathroom cabinet décor if nothing else.
But it isn’t all nice smells and nice bottles. Alberto Santos-Dumont, noted aviator and giver-of-name to one of Cartier’s leading watch lines, inspired the new fragrance, which is, supposedly, an olfactory spin on his ingenuity. The first man to fly a heavier-than-air machine outside the US, he also built his own hot air balloons, and Cartier wanted to infuse L’Envol with the same ability to look beyond convention. To see the world as it was and build something entirely new.
The result is a refreshing scent ideal for events that require some polish – the smart-casual of fragrances, if you will. True, it might not launch your nose into the stratosphere, but it is a promising turn for any future fragrances. And in that sense, L’Envol really does live up to the name.
Available at Harrods, priced £97 for 100ml of EDP.
Bottle: A crisp, click-and-refillable bell jar that’s more botanist’s lab than back of the bathroom cabinet.
Head notes: floral, powdery notes;
Heart notes: oriental blossom, honey;
Base notes: Gaïac wood, patchouli oil.
Best for: Post-polo mojitos.