Must Gold Monday: A new addition at Cartier

CartierCartier, oh Cartier, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways …
As you may know by now I’m clearly a Cartier fangirl through and through. My love of the brand began back in the early ‘80s as the line was my gateway drug into elegant, upscale fragrance, starting with the original Must de Cartier EDP, its parfum, and its lighter (or as they called it originally, daytime) sister, Must EDT; then a bit later on, Must II EDP and EDT. Only a little confusion going on there, eh? And last but not least, the hypnotically seductive and rich Panthere. ( I’ve secreted several partial bottles of these beauties away in my perfume fridge because I love them so and want to be able to enjoy them as as long as I can.)

In more recent times, I’ve liked most of the Heures (and even loved several), enjoyed Baiser Vole and was thoroughly delighted with the La Panthere collection; its gardenia, mossy, chypre-ish growl definitely agreed with me. And who could forget Cartier’s sleek, elegant holiday commercials set among the rooftops and streets of Paris?

So when I saw there would be a flanker to the original Must, called Must Gold, my antennae went to full-alert. Somewhere I saw that someone thought it might echo the EDT or one of the II scents; the press info I’ve read calls this a fruity osmanthus Oriental. And that’s what it says on the inside of the sample card, followed by: “A fresh look at the first fragrance of the Maison Cartier … original notes of jasmine and vanilla enhanced by osmanthus.”

Alas, it took a little while for this to get to a store in my territory, but Neiman Marcus, and of course, the Cartier boutique now have it. Cartier was closed the day I went sniffing, so I ventured into NM.

The bottle looked very Cartier-ish, striking in its simplicity, with its sleek gold cap and matching vertically grooved glass body: solid and almost blocky. I happily grabbed its girth and applied a generous spray.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I expected. I’m not on intimate terms with osmanthus upfront and on its own, but in general have nothing against it; however, the oddly sharp tang that rose up at first sniff was a bit off-putting. It just didn’t seem to sit well on my skin. Oh, dear, I thought, not exactly a stellar beginning to a scent I was expecting (hoping for?) great things from.

But after a few minutes, things started to settle down and the echo of a familiar face or two came out to play and I began to recognize Big Daddy Must. But I didn’t see much of the other relatives, particularly galbanum, a fixture in several of the lighter vintage scents.

Forty or so minutes in and I’m thinking they could easily have called this Cartier Must Light, bearing the very recognizable bones of vanilla and amber as it does, sprinkled with osmanthus and jasmine, and with the base note volume turned down somewhat and dusted with a light floralcy.

Overall, I enjoyed its memory lane vibe, and despite the clang-y opening (for me), I could see wearing this classy number on a night out, even in summer (something that would be unthinkable of the original, especially in the stifling, muggy nights of our Southern summers).

I’ll wear Gold on and off, in different temps and seasons, but think I’ll just enjoy it here and there in samples and decants and pass on a full bottle. After all, if I want the full retro ride, I’ll pop open my “vault” and pull out the real thing.

Have you tried any of the Cartier Must family? Or what Cartier scents do you enjoy wearing? March, I think you came aboard the Must train a while back and rather liked at least one of the iterations, didn’t you?

P.S. You may recall Luca Turin’s scathing review of Must in “The Guide,” but as I looked around and researched the time frame, I’m thinking that he might have been smelling not the original 1981 Must, but the revamped one (steeped in vanilla, chocolate and who knows what else) that’s been circulating for quite a few years now. That one is not a favorite of mine either, but even in its altered state, I think it has a decidedly distinctive personality that’s lacking in many modern perfumes; it isn’t afraid to make a statement, for better or worse. I give Cartier props for doing some different and unusual things over the years, especially with Mathilde Laurent.

13 Comments

  1. Hey ann,
    I’ve loved the LHueres and have a couple of the bottles, Baiser Vole is a summer staple here and I have a cartier older men’s frag that I like a lot too.
    But, THAT BOTTLE!! It looks like a vintage cigarette lighter, so glam and fun. It alone could tempt me to a purchase,
    Portia x

    • Howdy, Portia! Glad to see you love some of the line, too. And that bottle tempted me, too — if they were ever to issue it in a 1-ounce size I’d be on it like nobody’s business!

  2. Ann,
    I think my favorite Cartier so far has been Declaration, which is a wonderful summer scent with its cardamom cologne-like breeziness. I need to search through my samples for Must and its flankers, especially if it has galbanum. Thanks for a great review!

    • I found a sample of La Panthere, and I’m wearing it today. It’s nice! Thanks for the rec, Ann!

    • Hi, Dina! Can you believe I’ve never tried Declaration? (Hangs head in shame.). I think it’s just not crossed my path when I’ve been out and about, but I’ll def. look for it next time I’m shopping. Do try some of the Must flankers if you can. And so glad you are liking La Panthere — it’s great in warm weather, I think.

  3. I can’t say that I have tried any of the Cartier offerings. Cartier has never been on my radar for some reason.

    • Eldarwen, next time you’re in Saks up there, maybe slide by the Cartier counter and see if anything looks interesting. It’s not as flamboyant and high-profile a fragrance line as some out there and it might take a little while to get into and explore.

  4. P.S. Posse folks, after wearing Cartier Must Gold on and off for a day or two and not really liking the top notes of it, tonight I put it on and it was beginning to grow on me. Not sure if the temperature or humidity or what was different, but I’m liking this more than before somehow.

  5. Hmmmm, back in the eighties Cartier was too expensive for my college budget, but I appreciated it for the classy feel. I was very careful not to fall in love with Must or Must II. Then I forgot about Cartier for a while and after many years started enjoying (and buying) it with Declaration and La Panthere being my favourites. I love the retro vibe of La Panthere!!!

    • Hi, Neva! Yes, it was on the pricey side but a kind friend gave me a bit of hers and of course, I spritzed madly when in the store. So glad you’re rediscovering and enjoying Cartier now — that La Panthere is seriously yummy juice!

  6. One of my top favorites is So Pretty. My sister-in-law wafted past me one day several years ago with a sillage that knocked my socks off, and I slipped into her bathroom to figure out what it was. So Pretty! I immediately bought a full bottle off eBay. It reminds me of Joy when it first goes on but then meanders on its own way. Rich, smooth, complex. Love.

    • Oh, Alison, thanks — I’d forgotten about that one; it is nice! So glad you stopped by to share. Now I’m off to dig up my sample and wear it.

      • P.S. Do you wear it around your SIL or always wear something else? Did you ever tell her about how she inspired you?

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