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?
Roadster 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.