This is III – the Third Hour. As I write this, there is a CD of birdsong in the background (my nerves are shot – ‘real’ music is out of the question). Normally I think of gentle gardens (this is a backyard birdsong disc – pretty banal)…but I am wearing Cartier L’Heure Vertueuse III, Mathilde Laurent’s most recent addition to Cartier Les Heures..and all I can think of is one of those SyFy movies with the Giant Snake. Or Jurassic Park.
That’s not a bad thing. Truly. The reason those come to mind is the intense, almost primordial GREEN that Vertueuse conjures. Mme Laurent says this about the scent:
It is the time for rebirth, enlivened by the cheerful goodness of wild herbs. A moment of well-being for the body and soul, which are soothed by the playful greenness (absinthe) of this miraculous antidote with plant notes of rosemary, myrtle, thyme, verbena and lavender that calm the spirit. “All herbs, aromatic, wild and medicinal, even lavender, even absinthe, as fresh as the moment they were picked.”
Well, let me tell you, I get ‘wild’, that’s for sure. I certainly don’t get ‘cheerful goodness’ or ‘herbs’ – but I think I know why: when I think of herbs I think of carefully planted and tended knot gardens. This? This is a possibly poisonous variety of prehistoric lavender that is crouched under the leaves of a highly aromatic Gunnera Manicata the size of your average gas station. And it’s just rained and the rivulets of rainwater, picking up the aroma of the leaves, has a narcotic, absinthe tinge…the people under the leaves gather small amounts of the tinged rainwater to use in their rituals. Carefully administered, it will invoke the gods. Careless application ends in death.
And there is a snake. Oh, yes. And he is big. SyFy big. King Kong Big. If he’s recently fed he’ll just scare all the hair off your head. If he’s recently fed. If not….
Can I tell you just how insanely HAPPY this makes me? Oh, it does. Charming (Promise), Urbane (Brillante), even a touch foreboding (Mysteriuese) , all the previous Les Heures, are beautiful. But they have felt like Cartier, finely-crafted perfumes, obviously created in a structured environment by a creative and cultured perfumer. Like they belong in the lovely, urbane Cartier boutiques. This one? It’s as if Mme. Laurent said ______ , then loosed herself from her cultivated chains and let herself run buck-wild! Obviously she kept her disciplined, structured mind intact – this is every bit as ‘crafted’ as the others – but there’s something completely different at the core of this one, as if she totally embraced the primordial/primeval nugget that still holds a tiny place in all of us. I sniff this and envision her in a clearing, deep in a primeval rainforest, crafting this in a teakwood bowl at the beginning of our time on this planet. I don’t know how to explain the green, when there is so much lavender – but it smells like the lavender is being stomped on by the green (this is good. I am not a fan of a strong lavender note).
And yes, those snakes are there. But she doesn’t fear them, nor they her. They are her servants and her friends. This one is off-the-chain weird. And oh, SO fabulous!
I don’t think I could wear this all that often – I certainly couldn’t wear it at work or in polite society. But I . Must. Have. It. Even if I only wear it in the privacy of my own garden, on alternate Tuesdays, when my Tardis takes me back 2000 years. It makes my mind spin, makes me want to climb a tree and ululate at the top of my lungs. Dance around like a dervish. Smear plant sap in my hair and on my face and chew betel nuts and throw aromatic branches on a smoldering fire and breathe the hallucinogenic smoke until I see visions of the rainforest gods and maybe tie some buff young warrior to a tree. May I just say? I’m happy as hell I didn’t sniff this in front of James at my Cartier boutique. I would never be able to live it down.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go float around the room some more, maybe smear something green on my face….wait for my people to bring me that buff young warrior…(Mme Laurent is going to take out a restraining order against me, isn’t she?)
Notes are : absinthe, rosemary, mastic, thyme, verbena and lavender (cribbed from Cartier.com and fragrantica) Available at Cartier boutiques 75/ml $260. My sample came from a generous friend who is cackling evilly, knowing I am going to have to get this!