Cartier L’Heure Promise

It wasn’t until Monday afternoon that I realized it was the first of March.  March always sneaks up on me.  This year January and February lasted approximately nine years.  But that FAIL post on Monday was fun, eh?    I think everyone emerged in good spirits.

Today I’m blogging about Cartier Les Heures (I)- L’Heure Promise, which is the iris one, which has been criticized (not inaccurately) as wearing lightly, somewhat like Prada Infusion d’Iris, and if that bores you – just please stick around just for this tangential pre-review part of the discussion and then I’ll unlock the door.

The Prada Infusion d’Iris and Narciso Rodriquez EDT were two scents I could not smell, and by could not smell I mean: as far as I was concerned, that NR bottle had water in it.  The IdI I could smell, sort of – just enough to snicker and wonder who would pay good money for it.  It was so … nothing-y.

But I ran into a couple of recurring problems.  First off, “Narciso Rodriguez!” was frequently the answer I received when I asked somebody what nice fragrance they were wearing.  Granted, at that point there were already at least three variations, the oil, the EDP and the EDT, but they were all the same to me – water.  So apparently I could smell it on other people.  Maybe twice a month for a year (or two) I’d try NR on in the store and shrug – nothing.  I joked with a few of the SAs about its lack of aroma, and you could tell they thought I was nuts.  And then … I could smell it.  And I loved it.  I added it to my wallpaper list.  I bought a full bottle (and paid retail! Can you imagine!?)  And now, almost a year after that, as unlikely as it sounds, there are times when NR EDT can be … a bit much, with that orange blossom/synthetic haze, like somebody stepping on the guitar amp pedal too aggressively.

Infusion d’Iris I also kept smelling around me, and I recognized it – it’s distinctive, and a popular scent in my city, being discreet and rather staid.  I also became, over a year or two, increasingly sensitized to its smell.  It’s never overpowering, and it has a charming way of fading and reappearing.  The only reason I don’t own a bottle yet is that somehow I keep winding up with free samples.

So my thoughtful, learned question is: what the hell? If you expose your nose often enough to something you’re anosmic to, can you “learn” to smell it?   If you can learn to smell something, can you unlearn it?   Why should my brain start to perceive these scents after many, many attempts?  Has this ever happened to you?   I recall seeing somewhere (I think it was in comments on a Grain de Musc post) that some folks layer Les Nez L’Antimatià¨re on top of other fragrances, even though they can’t smell it at all, because they enjoy its reflected glow.  (Didn’t Isabelle Doyen do it?  So it can’t just be some cheap trick like Iso E Super, can it?)  They can perceive it only in juxtaposition to something else.  I really need to dig out my sample, at the time it seemed very Emperor’s-new-clothes to me.

So. Cartier L’Heure Promise has notes of petitgrain, fresh herbs, iris, sandalwood and musk.  It’s pretty quiet, as I said, a la Infusion d’Iris, and if you can’t smell that, well, likely you can’t smell this one either.  However, if you can smell it, and you have a bit of patience, it’s a treat.   The petitgrain, with that citrus/baby aspirin smell, magnifies the spicy/rooty qualities of the iris.  Unlike some iris scents, it is entirely free of both powder and that sharp/metallic aspect that I find offputting.  And then!  The sandalwood!   Okay, fine, I got interested in sandalwood at a laughably bad time, right after all the cheap n’ glorious Mysore stuff disappeared and I guess from here on out it’s either Australian or  chemical fakery with a big TM symbol after it, like SANDALIDE or what have you (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)   In Promise, it takes a few minutes for the sandalwood to start to emerge, and no, it’s not going to bring you to your knees weeping in astonishment.  However.  The scent’s constructed in a way I love, with the two parts – the iris and the sandalwood – appearing alternately, like two actors popping on and off the stage, one chasing after the other.  It does another Prada Infusion thing – it’s often easier to detect in the air around me than sniffing the spot I sprayed it on, and the entire scent will seem to disappear completely for ten or twenty minutes, and then – whoosh! – it’s back.    It doesn’t have quite the tenacity of IdI – and no, that’s not a joke, if you can smell it, really, it’s quite tenacious, and on fabric it lasts for days.  If I put Promise on in the early evening, which I’ve been enjoying doing (it’s rather meditative and soothing), I can still smell it the next morning.

So here’s a final happy aspect of L’Heure Promise – iris and sandalwood as a combination.  Or, looked at another way, a sandalwood that has not been contaminated infested tainted by paired up with rose.   The soft sweetness of the sandalwood with the dry, woody iris?  A match made in heaven.  This made me almost as happy as … sandalfig.   I think I’m going to dig up some samples of iris and try them out over some sandalwood.  28 La Pausa over Tam Dao?  Sounds plausible to me.

PS.  Crap, I keep forgetting my sources:  decant of this one, private sample.  Yeah, I know — big help!

78 Comments
snowcrocus March 11, 2010

March! Thanks for the brilliant Iris + Sandalwood homework assignment. A+ for Iris Silver Mist + Tam Dao. Also, that combo is muy powerful, lasting over a day on my jammies into which I just slipped after a long night at the hospital! Thanks!

AnnieA March 3, 2010

I was going to say that I don't seem to be an iris fan; however, I had been saying I wasn't a vetiver fan and now I have a bottle of Guerlain's Veteriver pour Elle to make a monkey out of me...:(|)

Disteza March 3, 2010

I also cannot smell NR, or anything beyond the faintest puff of iris from IdI, but I'm anosmic to musks in general. Seems like I can smell everything else just fine though, sometimes to the point of being able to smell rather too intensely (sliced cucumbers fromm two houses down, I kid you not). I've heard that bit about how you can train your nose to recognize them with enough exposure, but that hasn't worked for me yet. Maybe I just need to strap the L'Antimatiere feed-bag to my face until something happens.... 3:-o

ScentRed March 3, 2010

"there are times when NR EDT can be … a bit much, with that orange blossom/synthetic haze, like somebody stepping on the guitar amp pedal too aggressively." So it's not just me. I do really, really like NR EDT and have a FB to prove it, but was always mystified that everyone described it as so soft and gentle and perfect for the office. Those first few minutes are more than a bit screeching for me. Seems to be worse if I spray at too close a range. Once it settles (30 minutes or so), it's all warm floral musky love. As for L'Heure Promise, with iris AND sandalwood it sounds like a must-sniff for me.

maggiecat March 3, 2010

OK, now you've actually made me want to try this, and I normally avoid iris scents. I can smell them, but get a weird metallic vibe from them that ...well, annoys me is the best way to put it. The annoyance grows until I have to get rid of it. It's like a very, very talkative acquaintance that you don't mind at first, until she really starts to get on your nerves and finally you have to smother her with a pillow and hide the body....ooops, perhaps I shouldn't have written that last part. At any rate, since everyone else loves iris, I feel I should keep trying.

donanicola March 3, 2010

I tried this one, the brilliant one and XII and XIII on the same visit to Cartier and although my attention was grabbed by XII and XIII I kept thinking about L'Heure Promise. It is a "warm" iris and as you so wonderfully and correctly point out, it is untainted by rose - Hallelujah! To me it is that beautiful thing, AG's Heure Exquise without the rose. I want some. Going to root around in my sample stash as I have a vague recollection of receiving a dab or so of the anti-matter and I want to play. Thanks for this :)

Melissa March 3, 2010

I just emptied my sample of the Cartier into an atomizer and sprayed it. I'm not iris anosmic, but I'm having some difficulty smelling this one. :(( What I can detect is the petitgrain, a touch of iris and then it goes bye-bye. Maybe I'll try spritzing it on my blouse?

Kristy Victoria March 3, 2010

I can't smell the iris at all in No. 19. THANK YOU for finally making the petit grain -> baby aspirin connection. I was going nuts wondering WHY IS THIS SO FAMILIAR... and that is exactly it. You're always so on point!

Louise March 3, 2010

I can smell something in the NRs-but I'm stuck at CC's stage of just noting a pleasant orange blossom...but reformulated, you say? I'll give it another sping...:d/ Iris is very trickly for me. I would say I'm largely anosmic to "it"-though I know there are many "irises". I think CC's explanation makes sense-it often plays hide-and-seek with me-so I never know if I've sprayed enough. I do love Iris Poudre'-and can't smell it's sister, Ferre, at all. The clearest smell of iris I can get is the LL-but given all the supporting cast, can when ever be sure what exactly is sensed in the LLs? /:) The Infusion, sadly, is a complete fail-all I smell is pee. On me and on others. Nah, thanks. So-I suppose the Cartier would be nearly silent on me-at least to me, my most important audience :) and I'm a complete snooob on sandalwood-I just really dislike the synethic new ones-they completely ruin the new BdI (sorry-Mr Yuck here), and Samsara, and, and, and...:((

Silviafunkly March 3, 2010

I remember liking l'Heure Promise, but then L'Heure Mysterieuse and especially La Treizieme Heure took up all my love. In general I find that when I sample a whole line at the same time, the quieter scents tend to get bullied out of the nose by the stronger ones. For example of the VC&A exclusives, I could hardly smell Bois d'Iris. However on its own I clearly can and it lasts too :x L'Antimatiere I can smell somewhat, but I am keen to do the juxtaposition experiment. Any suggestions of what could go well with it?

Fiordiligi March 3, 2010

I haven't found that I am unable to smell things (this might get a bit metaphysical) but I have found that I am oblivious to the animalic content of my vintage perfumes - or at least, have never found them offensive in the slightest or thought "I can't wear this in public" (I've never thought that about ANY scent I liked). Maybe it's just that I am so accustomed to these notes, having been brought up on them (the age thing again). By the way, I love iris in perfume. I don't think I've actually tried the Cartier but I know I have at least one phial of it tucked away somewhere...

Zazie March 3, 2010

Unfortunately, I can smell very well l'antimatière, the white-musk drenched drydown of Homage and Lyric (totally spoiling the shimmering beauty of the latter), and the Prada infusions. The NR, a "I'm never going to leave you for the next 24 hours" scent, is not my cup of tea but I don't dislike it either. But L’Heure Promise, that's a different story. Though it is not loud by any means, I got quite a strong sillage; not projecting very far, but definetly very thick around my mortified, astonished, self. The opening seemed a nice, rooty iris... but I must say, that of all the scrubbers I tried in the last few months, this was the winner. I loathed it, and couldn't get rid of it, despite scrubbing and washing and showering.:-&

carter March 3, 2010

I can smell L'Antimatiere. Honest. o:-)

carmencanada (Grain de Musc) March 3, 2010

March, I was also one of the people who could only get the synthetic orange blossom note out of NR for Her. And then, I think it was last year, all of a sudden I could smell it. I thought I'd somehow "trained" my nose, but one of my readers, a perfumer, confirmed that it had been reformulated lately, so that's the answer I believe. About L'Heure Promise: I find it lovely, and smelling it with Isabelle Doyen (who was Mathilde Laurent's teacher at ISIPCA) she commented that there were really high quality materials in it. But I *do* have a lot of trouble smelling it after a few minutes. Mathilde supposed that I had a high threshold of sensitivity to ionones (the odorant principle in violets), which are close to irones (present in iris). Ionones famously tend to become imperceptible after you've smelled them for a while: the reaction is more marked in some people than in others, and clearly, I haz it. This could explain why L'Heure Promise appears and disappears on you too. L'Antimatière, now. It's Isabelle Doyen herself who said it could be used for layering with other scents to bring them out: she says it acts like a pinch of salt. She won't say what's in it but I get some types of musk (hence the anosmia thingie) and oakmoss. It does really work that way: I've experimented it with my 15 students in London and even those who couldn't actually smell it smelled its effects.

aotearoa March 3, 2010

I know nothing at all about this perfume. But I am so pleased to hear other people can't smell sometimes! It's bizzare. Bois des Isles might as well be tap water - less than tap water actually 'cos thats got some chlorine. I have tried so many times and ... nothing. I am sick of reading about it's charms - wah,wah, wah - why can't I smell it too???? Perhaps I should consider pregnancy like Amy K - might be a step too far. Fiona

Amy K March 3, 2010

I couldn't smell Musc Nomade at all until I got pregnant, but I gave it another try a year later and loved it. Then I wore it too often and got bored 8-|

DinaC March 3, 2010

Dear March, My entry into the whole world of perfumes-as-hobby/passion happened to coincide with this huge surge of iris perfumes which couldn't have been timed better for me, because I've found that I love iris in many of its incarnations. I love it blended into No. 19, or in a starring role in 28 La Pausa. I like it arid and delicate like the Prada Infusion d'Iris, and I like it lush and heady in Acqua di Parma's Iris Nobile. I also like it earthy and rooty like in Le Labo Iris 39. And I just recently tried the VC&A Bois d'Iris which is all warm, ambery, woody iris. Obviously, I'm gushing like a raving lunatic, because I admire the way it can be so beautiful, different and appealing in so many scents. I know just what you're saying about the Prada IdI and how it fades in and out. I love that quality about it. I can wear it all day long, and it's not overpowering, and OTOH, it doesn't disappear either. :x Just reading the notes of the Cartier gets me interested, because of what's there, and more importantly, what's not there. (I'm looking at you patch and vanilla!) And the addition of sandalwood sounds awesome, too. I'm a huge fan of Bois des Iles, Tam Dao, and 10 Corso Como. Do the Cartier jewelry stores have the bottles of perfumes from their collection for sale with testers kind of like the Chanel boutiques do with Les Exclusifs? I need to sniff this one pronto!

violetnoir March 3, 2010

Iris AND sandalwood, March? Dang, I need to try me some of that! I think I sprayed it on, went "meh!", and then washed it off after that. Nothing seems to top my beloved LeLabo Iris 39 or SIM, but I need to stop being so dismissive of a fragrance before I have given it a fair chance . I do think you can train your nose to "smell" a fragrance if you just wear it enough. But I must admit that L'Antimatiere, at least for me, is a study in frustration. It weaves in and out, swirls around me like a thin satin ribbon, and then disappears. Sometimes I think I catch a whiff of it, but then I am not really sure. I really don't know why I bought it, but I do love Isabelle Doyen's work. And, I guess I was a sucker for the hype! Hugs!

nozknoz March 3, 2010

Interesting post! I'm a bit fixated on the idea of anosmias and hyperosmias; I'm just certain, based on personal experience and the wide range of reactions of perfume blog commenters to the same scent, that, without discounting huge differences in taste and preference, people often are smelling very different things because their noses are tuned differently. I don't remember the name, but I remember Luca Turin commenting on a particular compound that has the strange property of seeming stronger each time one is exposed to it, i.e., you do seem to learn to perceive it better with practice. It is also possible for the nose to be overloaded by a strong scent, which might explain why you could smell these scents on others but not on yourself.