Cartier, 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.