Let’s finish up with the Cartier Les Heures. I am very much relishing these as an artistic theme. It allows me to overlay my own interpretation within the framework Mathilde Laurent has set out.
There are only five of the thirteen released right now, available at Saks in NYC for about $250 for a 75 ml bottle. Do we need to even complain anymore about the exclusivity and the price? No, it’s the standard complaint that nobody is listening to, so just insert that boilerplate bitching in here.
VI, L’Heure Brilliante (the shining hour) is an “aldehydic cocktail,” with a lemon, lime and gin accord. It’s pretty much the Happy Hour perfume. Happy, bubbling laughing just a little too loud sometimes, but not so much that it raises eyebrows. And then it quiets down into a cozy conversation with a man who has admired her for ages, with soft, trilling giggles and sighs of contentment. You know, that vaguely sounds like a happy ending, and it is, but not that kind. The one where things do turn out okay, even if it’s not the way you want.
I, L’Heure Promise (the promised hour) has notes of green iris, petitgrain, fresh herbs, sandalwood and musk. A stunning iris scent. This scent is so very much about spring and earth, with some carroty notes on the open and then it relaxes into that smoothed-out iris that wears like a perfectly tailored pair of suede gloves. For those of you that like your irises incredibly silky, but not as sweet as some like Guerlain Iris Ganache, not as rooty as, say, Iris Silver Mist, or leaning heavily on woods, this is a great camel that threaded the iris needle. Is it beautifully rendered on me with no touch of melancholy, just hope unblemished by reality.
XIII, La Treizieme Heure (the 13th hour) has notes of leather, mate tea, birch tar, narcissus, bergamot, patchouli and vanilla. This just chugs patchouli-infused smoke on the open, like you were sitting on the back of an old locomotive. Of course you all know I mean that in the good way. The tea, tar and narcissus fuse together to give this smoke fullness and interest, but it doesn’t feel as heavy as Le Labo Patchouli 24 or Bvlgari Black. Can I just say that VII and VIII are amazing together? Yes, pretty sure that I could. This, along with XII, will absolutely be the best-sellers of the five released so far. Partly because they are done beautifully, but also because they are perfect for winter – when we all like to fanny about trailing smoke and incense like Cathedrals on the Orient Express.
Now, how does this collection compare to the Van Cleef & Arpels, which is another very cohesive collection released this year? They just have different themes and approach. As a set, at least those released so far, they adhere to their theme very cohesively. The VCA CA’s are set around nature and do an excellent job of showcasing some beautifully rendered florals. Cartier LH revolves around distinct periods and has a pretty wide latitude to interpret what the hours of the clock means for you. The five I have smelled, while all very differen, mesh well together, and several can sit next to each other happily and make an even more beautiful and complex scent.
Like Monday, we’ll do comment entries for another set of samples of these. I’ll announce the winners of the two sets next Tuesday!