Cartier Roadster ~ fragrance review

Cartier Roadster cologne for men

Roadster is Cartier’s first men’s fragrance launch in 10 8 years (Déclaration Must de Cartier Pour Homme was released in 2000) and Cartier hopes Roadster will attract a younger male consumer to the brand’s fragrances (apparently, Cartier men’s colognes are sold mostly to men over 45 years of age).* The Roadster fragrance is named after a Cartier watch (you guessed it — the Roadster; see below) and is contained inside a bottle whose cap design was inspired by the watch’s crown. Roadster is a perfume with a vague “automotive” connection (see the tire rim-like rings on the bottle’s collar?) Philippe Nazaret, assistant vice president of Cartier's North American fragrance division calls Roadster “a gemstone” referring to the "transparency and luminosity" of Roadster’s bottle — “a bottle designed to stand on its side to suggest motion.”* Pardon me if I’m a little confused.

One thing I do understand: Cartier Roadster is minty. Perfumer Mathilde Laurent built a fragrance around mint — accented with bergamot, vetiver, labdanum, patchouli, Cashmere wood and vanilla. Even though I like every listed fragrance note in Roadster, minty colognes are problematic; they remind me of chewing gum and breath mints and worst of all — dentists’ offices. Mint aromas I love: succulent mint leaves and stalks and fresh mint leaves steeped in hot water with green tea and sugar. Roadster’s “fate” (as far as my personal opinion is concerned) rests on Roadster’s mint presentation.

Roadster opens with a strong vetiver-citrus blast followed quickly by the aromas of fresh, crushed mint leaves and herbal-labdanum notes. I love the sharp, slightly earthly, faintly sour fragrance of Roadster’s greens; the greens smell dark and forest-y, not grassy-green. Roadster’s fougère aspect reminds me of Polo by Ralph Lauren and as the fragrance segues from green to woody notes, I’m also reminded of Frederic Malle Bois d’Orage (aka French Lover). Cashmere wood and mint-tinged vanilla intrude on the interesting middle notes of Roadster and the fragrance ends in territory we’ve all visited before: the realm of cedar-y woods mixed with vanilla and sprinkled with “dry,” silky musk. Roadster’s ingredients are high quality and the fragrance has no ‘hygienic mint’ connotations.

On the first day I sampled Roadster, I sprayed it on my arms and was shocked at the quick development of the fragrance, and I “mourned” the speedy loss of the great opening and middle notes. The next day I wore Roadster, I sprayed the fragrance on my chest and put on my shirt while the perfume was still damp on my skin; this application resulted in a more interesting Roadster experience. On fabric, just like I found with Kenzo Power, Roadster blossoms and holds on to its middle notes (in Roadster’s case, its fougère/green-labdanum aromas). Why, all of a sudden, are perfumes’ most intriguing aspects captured best on fabric?

Cartier Roadster watchRoadster has good lasting power and can be worn in any season. I think Roadster skews more masculine than unisex but several women I let smell this scent disagreed with me. So far, in this fast-paced fragrance-debut cycle, with a pile-up of fragrances on my desk yet to be sampled and reviewed, Roadster is my favorite new men’s designer perfume.

Cartier Roadster is available now at Bloomingdale’s and Cartier boutiques; the fragrance will be more widely released in October. Roadster Eau de Toilette comes in 50 ml ($80) and 100 ml ($105).

*Via Women's Wear Daily, 5/9/2008.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great review! Very, um, timely as I am contemplating purchasing a Cartier watch (not the Roadster, one of the Must 21 series). Eau de Cartier is one of my staples on really warm days, another fragrance that is considered unisex by some.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Rivercat: Eau de Cartier is one of those I've never smelled…but reading the ingredients list, it sounds nice…esp. the yuzu/bergamot opening.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nice review Kevin!! Well… Cartier fragrances usually aims for a classical/formal/older image on men. The Santos has a classical 80's dark woody aroma, and Pasha also had a traditional old minty note on top. Declaration was on middle… half woody, half bitter orange. The younger one is Must pour Homme, more anised but still classical.

    PS: by the way… I believe Must pour Homme was the last masculine one, around 2000-2001.

  4. Anonymous says:

    QOT: hmmm…did WWD lead me astray? HA! I know that limited editions/flankers are not “counted” when it comes to all-out Cartier men's fragrance launches, so perhaps Must de Cartier pour homme (2000) is considered a flanker of the feminine version…. That's my theory!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it has a smooth citrus opening then settles into what I can only describe as a “chilly” vibe… I've heard it compared to gin and tonic.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I can't even begin to say how much I hate this fragrance. To me, it's like the smell you get when you walk into a house that was abandoned years ago and has serious rising damp and mold. It has a dirty wet moss/earthy smell. I couldn't get it off my skin fast enough!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Riverwide: I guess we can say you are NOT a fan of the fougere family? I can't get enough of “dirty wet moss/earthy” myself!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I'm not one for the “mossy” fragrancesI have to say. I guess this fragrance is lost on me for sure!

    Interesting review though!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Great review! Cartier did a Master Class for Sniffapalooza this past Saturday at Bloomingdales, and we were fortunate enough to be able to test & play with Roadster for a nice long while. It was basically love at first spritz for me,& I ended up buying it, as did several other women.The mint & vetiver are an extraordinary combo for someone like me who loves her scents dry & crisp as a piece of parchment paper. I also bought the deodorant, and the parfum strength of Panthere -but I fear by this timeI had succumbed to the Cartier-branded champagne, LOL!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello Kevin,

    Actually Roadster isn't Cartier’s first men’s fragrance launch in 10 years. Must de Cartier pour Homme was released in 2000.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wrong theory. One doesn't use the word flanker for a masculine (or afeminine) version of another fragrance. Journalists often write unchecked information. That's the reason why WWD made the mistake.


  12. Anonymous says:

    clarestella: baby bottle…true!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Liongirl: ah…so women don't find this too masculine at all…it was only in the drydown that it truly smelled a bit “manly” or I guess I should say: “smelled like a man's cologne.” Champagne and perfume…what a combo…I take it no headache was prompted? HA!

  14. Anonymous says:

    ambroxan: thanks; I should have checked that “fact” on my own!

  15. Anonymous says:

    How does Cashmere wood smell like?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, that bottle keeps reminding me of the motor of an older airplane like a DC-2 or DC-4.

    The propellors are just missing.

    This juice sounds really interesting esp. because it contains mint. I just wonder why it doesn't contain some good tobacco.

  17. Anonymous says:

    No headache… just an overwhelmimg desire to buy more perfume!

    And so it came to pass that besides the Panthere I bought my first bottle of Angel that day- a scent I never thought I'd own – and I replenished my

    Caron Aimez Moi. The moral of this story is that one should be cautious if shopping while tipsy… but I don't regret any of it!

  18. Anonymous says:

    MW: HA! Don't bring an airplane into the mix! I'm confused enough with the watch, the car, the gemstone…and what MINT has to do with any of them. But it's a nice fragrance.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Lavinia: the note, at least in this case, smells mildly sweet-cedary.

  20. Anonymous says:

    “Why, all of a sudden, are perfumes’ most intriguing aspects captured best on fabric?”

    Because the sales focus of fragrance development is biased towards how it will smell on a paper strip.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Carlos: true, often I get a “gasp” from a sales person when I spray on perfumes…they REALLY want me to use cards. They don't seem to understand that to many people…that is implying the perfume smells better on paper than on skin.

  22. Anonymous says:

    PS/Carlos: PERFUMERS are to blame too for not making sure their concoctions smell best on skin. Of course chemistry comes into this discussion…and I readily admit my shortcomings in that area.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I have it, I love it. As I began reading your review, I though, oh no, he doesn't like the mint… but I was so happy to read that you do!

    I gave it to my husband who is not nearly as interested in fragrance as I am, and he has yet to wear it. So I've been wearing it around the house.

    I think Roadster is going to do well, because as much as I love (and show) Pasha, younger customer's feel it's too 'heavy'. I think Roadster will fill that demographic.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin, alas we are all of us: perfumers, brands, and frag junkies, victims of the paper-strip selling technique. Given that most frags sell from the first impression of topnotes off the strip, these highspeed transformations are only going to become more common I fear. Whats worse is fragrances that hit you with everthing at once from top to basenotes – a method introduced by AXE, I belive, again because scents sell from that first sniff or never for most buyers.

    BTW, thanks for the review. I have yet to make friends with a fougere but I've been looking forward to trying this one. I have be

  25. Anonymous says:

    bartamy: I wonder if Cartier will really start advertising Roadster in October? So far I have not seen much about Roadster in magazines…surely a video/film is in the works….

  26. Anonymous says:

    I dont think i've ever seen a mass market mens fragrance so expensive. $105.00 for a 3.3 ounce!!!!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree! When I first saw it I imagined a small child playing with it as their stand-in for a real, whole toy plane. But don't get me wrong, I think it's a fun, creative concept that does indeed imply movement.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Steve: every fragrance type seems to be inching up in price…niche scents are edging towards $200 now for 100ml for many new releases! Cartier's male customer is usually 50-plus and “successful”…that may account for the higher price.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, I'm looking at my product sheet on Roadster and there is a mag ad photo. I can't remember where the ads are going in, sorry.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Mathilde Laurent said she wanted to use mint instead of lavender because it reminded her of kissing.

  31. Anonymous says:

    This scent sounds great for both hubby and I! And the bottle is really cool!

  32. Anonymous says:

    I love mint. I already own a bottle of Cartier's Pasha – Fraicheur Menthe, can anyone that has smelled both tell me hopw they comparet one another? I'm assuming that Roadster is less clean smelling and more dry, but I'd love to hear anyone's comments on the two.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I think it definitely has that “battery-operated boyfriend” look to it. I'm just sayin'.

  34. Anonymous says:

    This certainly sounds worth a try. I love fougeres, and also the minty notes Fath's Green Water, and in the Herba Fresca & Mentafolia Aqua Allegorias. I think I remember reading a complimentary review of this Cartier on PST recently (I'm too lazy to look that up right this minute), so it does sound promising. The chances of me buying a bottle are probably next to nil though.

    Regarding your testing experience: I always try to get at least a little perfume on my clothing — at least on my undershirt (although I found that Lancome Hypnose stains terribly!). I catch nice occasional whiffs of it that way, but I must be quite a sight later in the day if anyone catches me at my desk putting my nose down my shirt to get a better reminder of whatever deliciousness I'm wearing. I'm not sure what looks stranger — that, or constantly sniffing one's own arm in public.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Joe: It ALL looks weird: smelling a card on the street, sniffing a wrist/arm in public, and pinching the front of a shirt and pulling the fabric in and out to get a whiff of scent!

  36. Anonymous says:

    And best places to be sniffing like that are public transport, walking on the streets and waiting for your drink in a restaurant.

    This is the secret language of a perfumelover..

  37. Anonymous says:

    Love a green mint note. Sounds quite classical for sth aimed at young buyers. Does indeed look like something aimed at young buyers, though…
    Love Must pH, it's in my top ten, but embarrassingly I always thought it was a classic from the end-sixties! That probably meant the original women's version then…
    The bottle though, I think it's really bad. Liquid belongs in a standing bottle or at least a container with the opening at the highest point. I think it's psychologically unwise to design a bottle that's lying on it's side. And of course it takes up much more space this way. Stupid design. I also agree it looks like a baby bottle.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Lars: agree…a bottle on its side takes up the space of two standing bottles at least; guess we can be glad they didn't put it on sterling silver wheels! (Maybe they'll save that for the anniversary special edition)

  39. Anonymous says:

    To my nose, this is a nice version of Narciso Rodriguez. In fact if NR had smelled more like this I would have been able to live with it and it wouldn't have been sold on Ebay.
    It's like Cartier giving NR a lesson in how to create an elegant fougere. Cartier do great fougere's, like Pasha and this is another one.
    It's a very elegant and well developed fragrance which I will almost certainly be dallying with at some point!

  40. Anonymous says:

    Bought Declaration Bois Bleu today. LOVE it! While I was in the store, I smelled Roadster on a scent strip and found it intriguing. The mint is there but not in a “minty” way, very creamy, restrained. I'm going back soon to try on my skin as I was covered in “Bleu” today. Finding the Cartiers lovely. The fragrance houses all seem to have “bases” that either work for you or don't and Cartier is no exception. I can't wear a single Lutens or Guerlain, but there isn't a Dior or Montale that I can't wear. From Bleu I am sensing a note that I smelled in “Le Must de Cartier” in the early '80's when I was too student poor to buy, but spritzed myself heavily every time I walked through The Bay in Calgary. Heaven. I am happy to hear that Roadster is mossy and dank, I love my fragrances to intrique and challenge. Fougeres and chypres are in my DNA. Thanks for the great review Kevin, I knew I wasn't wrong to be hooked by Roadster. By the way, I too am finding that Bleu lasts much better on my clothes than skin, thank god it isn't orange!!

  41. Anonymous says:

    Hollyc: now YOU'VE made ME curious about Bois Bleu. And too bad your skin won't let you wear Guerlains!

  42. Anonymous says:

    Not sure it has to lie on its side, pretty sure the one I tried in Shoppers Drugmart was standing upright, I think you have the option either way.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Yes, my skin is traitorous in the extreme as I love, almost without exception, the openings of most of the Guerlains I have tried. Tried the Roadster yesterday. Got a very subtle vetiver with creamy mint that was really nice, but on me (or my t-shirt to be exact) it turned very (read VERY) dry and spicy. Not my cup of tea. I think this is one that does not cross the gender line for me. While in the store, I got all the SA's trying the Bois Bleu and it seemed a huge hit with them. Hope you'll get a chance to offer a review when you've tried.

  44. coffeecup says:

    have it, love it. masculine and elegance! :)

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