Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon ~ fragrance review

Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon perfume

You know how there are people in your life that you can't really say you like — oh, maybe you did at one time, but not so much now — but you appreciate them? Maybe a person you otherwise had nothing in common with helped you out by incidentally imparting wisdom just when you needed it. Or you learned by example how not to do something. You don't really care to spend time with these people, but you're happy for what they've contributed to your life. This is how I feel about Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon.

When I first encountered Le Baiser du Dragon, I fell madly in love with it and bought first the Eau de Parfum and then the Parfum. Now it feels to me like an itchy fur coat on an August day — it swelters me. In the meantime, Le Baiser du Dragon taught me to avoid fragrances that overwhelm rather than enhance who I am, and it trained me to pay more attention to nuance. It also showed me that I adore a good patchouli. For these reasons, Le Baiser du Dragon is like an ex-husband that I meet on the street and am surprised that we ever had a life together. At the same time, I wouldn't be who I am without him.

Alberto Morillas created Le Baiser du Dragon for Cartier in 2003. Morillas knows how to put together both blockbusters (Kenzo Flower and Estée Lauder Pleasures) and rule breakers (Yves Saint Laurent M7 and S-Perfume Lust), and I can imagine Cartier eagerly handing him photos of their vaguely deco, Chinese-inspired line of Le Baiser du Dragon jewelry and asking him to make a perfume that reflected its aesthetic. Morillas handed back a perfume that is as solid and dark as the jewelry, but with little of its delicacy.

Cartier's website describes Le Baiser du Dragon as a fragrance that takes vetiver, which they deem as traditionally masculine, and gives it a feminine twist. It lists Le Baiser du Dragon as having top notes of amaretto accord, neroli blossom, and gardenia; a heart of iris, cedar, musk, and Bulgarian rose; and base of vetiver, patchouli, benzoin, and amber.

When I smell Le Baiser du Dragon, whatever vetiver might be there is overwhelmed by an aldehyde-boosted brew of sharp cedar, sandalwood, sweet almond, and gardenia. The Parfum shows more rose than the Eau de Parfum. Le Baiser du Dragon is warm, woody, sweet, and insistent. It sits on my skin rather than melding with it. It reminds me of a charming guest who bursts loudly into the party and needs to be part of everyone's conversation. At first, she's fun and knows all the best gossip. After half an hour, you're looking for the door. At the next party you simply wave at her from across the room. Both the Eau de Parfum and the Parfum last for hours and hours, and my favorite part of the perfume comes the morning after wearing it when most of what's left is a sexy patchouli.

Although I've long ago swapped away my bottles of Le Baiser du Dragon, from time to time I reach for the half dram of Parfum I kept behind. It's a nice reminder of how much my sense of smell, and even my sense of self, has evolved over the past five years.

Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon comes in a 30 ml spray bottle of Parfum; in 50 and 100 ml bottles of Eau de Parfum; and in a 50 ml bottle of Eau de Toilette. I haven't tried the Eau de Toilette and would love to hear from anyone who can compare it to the Parfum or Eau de Parfum.

Note: image via Parfum de Pub.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Angela, this is exactly how I feel about a discontinued fragrance, Alchimie by Rochas. When I was 14 years old, and all of my friends were using Coty body mists, I fell in love with “the real, grown-up perfume”. I bogut a biiiggg 100ml bottle of this, and spryed it happily all over my body and clothes… I got lots of compliments when wearing Alchimie, and I was absolutely aware of my unique tastes. I was proud of my bottle, and I loved the scent. For about 2 years I didn't even want to recognize any other perfumes as my HG, or maybe just sometimes I wore something else. I liked the fact that Alchimie was described as a “spicy oriental”, and was far more interesteting than the other fruity mess my friends used to love.

    What happened? I have stopped using Alchimie, I don't even remember when! I do have an unopened bottle, and I am going to keep it that way, as a collectible. I also have another bottle that's half-full and I am definitely not trying to finish it. This fragrance means a lot to me, without it, I wouldn't be who I am today. I know it so well. I know it's every single note, it's all olfactory stages, I know it so well it really feels like an ex-husband to me! But then, it's all past, I will never feel the same way about it anymore. Alchimie is a closed chapter, a legend, a beautiful story, with a twisted ending. Alchimie's sweet amber-vanilla overwhelms me. I grew up, I'm not 14 anymore. I prefer the bitter-sweet aroma of Piment Brulant and let's leave it that way…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Flirt by Prescriptives. For high school through college. I mean, really? Fruity floral mess that it is.
    Smelling it now is like cringing at pictures of yourself in unflattering or outdated clothes. But still…I hoard my one discontinued bottle that hasn't gone off yet.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Also – I absolutely love how you captured that emotional relationship with fragrances in this review, Angela. Really well done.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You describe perfectly about how I feel about Le Baiser du Dragon! I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people have this sort of “past love” perfume in their lives.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I know just what you mean. It's sort of like keeping your prom dress. You can look back from time and time and say, “Wow, and to think I thought I really looked hot.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I'll have to smell this someday, just for fun.
    My ex-husband scent, sadly, is Chanel No. 5. I wore it when I was about 13, and when I put it on now, I just can't go back. I still remember my step-uncle, only a year older than me, showing me a gift box and saying “guess what I got you” and I said “Chanel No. 5”. He said, “how did you know??”, and I said “every woman alive wants Chanel No. 5!”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Fragrance can really remind a person of a time, too. I bet lots of people can't wear certain perfumes because they remind them of a bitter divorce, a death, or something else they don't want to dwell on.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wow. This really sounds like a floriental with balls. Maybe an outsized personality like Opium without the same amount of emotional baggage?

    I'm always astounded — and almost a little embarrassed — to recall that I once wore Kouros regularly. I guess I can chalk it up to being in my early twenties — and most of all, that it was the 1980s, when we all probably did much that we need to be forgiven for. And the secret truth is that I still indulge in a tryst with that YSL civet-bomb from time to time, for old times' sake.

  10. Anonymous says:

    By the way Angela, I must admit, the bottle of Le Baiser du Dragon is simply gorgeous!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Oh, that's precisely how I feel about Basier Du Dragon, as well. As I've come to appreciate more subtle scents, I'm shocked that I ever dallied with such an attention hog.

    Another odd relationship I have is with Kenzo Flower. I love it (LOVE IT) but haven't worn it since I left my giant bottle of it in China, where I lived for a few months. I simply cannot separate the scent from the period of time and the location in which I wore it, and smelling it now at work makes me nostalgic and melancholy, even though it's a gorgeous powedery floral that works well with my chemistry.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I can understand how you feel about Kenzo Flower (another Morillas scent!). So many perfumes are emotional triggers–good and bad.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I've been working my way through Dynasty on DVD, and it brings to mind lots of regrettable things from the 1980s–mostly style transgressions in my case, since I wasn't anywhere near Studio 54. (What was with that trashy-Prairie-girl-with-feathered-hair look anyway?) My big '80s perfumes were Coco and Chloe for the most part.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It really is!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Great article, Angela. I am sure many of us have one or two of these “exes”…

  16. Anonymous says:

    i, too, have a love and hate relationship with le baiser, upon first sniff i was horrified, thought it so loud and aldehydic it would kill me but after a couple more sniffs at a later point in my life, i realised how much i like its almondy boozines and the masculine drydown. and i still love it, although, there are months i as much as can't stand it and months when i wear it each day, just like these days. but it's a keeper for me and one of my favorites.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think I'm the only person who loves Cartier here rsrsrsrs Thanks for your review Angela! I really can see Le Baiser as an annoying persona, but on hot days. To me, it's one of that fragrances that have a certain period of the year the be used and fully appreciated. At winter, on low temperatures, on my skin it turns to a gorgeous dry-almondy fragrance, with a masculine pronounced touch of vetiver. It's really like a classy fur coat, that it only can be appreciate on winter, because if you use it on days that are warm or hot it can cause you harm. Although Lucar Turin trashes it and gives it a poor note, I think for the unique perfume it is (to me this little preciousy it's as good as a expensive niche fragrance) deserves 10. The great is that you can find 15ml versions of it, that is the enough amount to apreciate this fragrance.

  18. Anonymous says:

    To me Le Baiser du Dragon is more like one of those loves that takes you out of the tracks for a while, then you forget it, but everytime you see it (it's essential to not see it a lot of times), you feel the same way as you felt when you see it for the first time.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Maybe part of my problem is that I wore it too much at one point! It's such a particular personality that I may have overdone it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't be surprised at all!

  21. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you're not the only that advises keeping Le Baiser for special times, for just when it's the right thing.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like it smells absolutely terrific on you! I guess the comparison to a fur coat is a good one, and I love it that you can buy it in 15-ml amounts.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Angela, You made me remember when you made the comparison that In general i use him with my black overcoat, and it matches it well rsrsrs The 15ml amount is also a good version because it doesn't have spray, so you can dose it on the right amount, as if you're regulating the chat amount of that gourgeous but annoying friend that you like but can't stand. It pops on ebay generally, and it's not expensive. And the bottle it's cute in this mini version rsrs

    Well, i think it sounds terrific in me too rsrs One day I dared to mix it with M7 to see what would happened, and It turns that the both mixed together enhance the dry and woody aspects of each other. It's an interesting, and dangerous, combination.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I've spent the greater portion of 2008 on a quest to find bottles of all my long lost perfume loves. Slowly, but surely, I've been creating an olfactory autobiography. In the process, I've nodded my head sagely and thought “ah yes, now I remember why I loved this scent when I was 20/30/40” and i've also had my share of 'what possessed me?' moments. As you might expect, I've discerned a pattern in my choices, but there is one glaring exception…..Ombre Rose. It doesn't fit with anything else I've ever worn, and it really doesn't seem to fit who I am (or have been) at all. I do occasionally take a sniff from my bottle because it's not at all a bad scent, it just isn't me. And I'm sure it in some way left its touch on me. After reading your article, I'll have to give that some thought. You've made me curious. And that's a wonderful gift!

  25. Anonymous says:

    I can see where not having a spray would be an advantage for Le Baiser so that you can “regulate”, as you say.

    Le Baiser with M7? Intriguing!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Yet another instance of perfume as psychotherapy!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Angela, great review.

    I've been wanting to try basier here in Argentina, but it have not seen it prominently displayed around here.

    The analogies with exes reminded me of the Lauren Hill song.. Ex Factor. :-)

    I feel like you do with the Original Joop Homme.

    It is great, original for it's time. I wore it a lot. It was a wake up call as to the possibilities in perfume.

    And still I wouldn´t wear it today. It is just too much for me.



  28. Anonymous says:

    Just a brilliant review, Angela, in every way: beautifully written, and constructed around an idea that's ripe for exploration.

    I think that when we any of us falls in — and out — of love, it's only natural to experience a complex tangle of feelings to do with the “ex,” whether the ex is a fragrance, a lover, a place, or a chapter in our lives. I love what everyone has had to say; what a lovely read for a cool, wet day here in Vancouver.

    I thought I could no longer wear Je Reviens because of its bittersweet associations, much as love it, but a dear friend gave me some vintage extrait and I was surprised and overjoyed to find that I'm ready to add it back to my rotation. Time can heal some of the pain of the past, and it's an amazing feeling to have that symbolically manifested by fragrance. Those of us who really love fragrance are fortunate indeed.

    I'm by turns melancholy and happily nostalgic as a result of all these memories you've stirred up. I think I may just dig out some other old, once-beloved fragrances and see if I can wear them with a mended heart. Thank you so much!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Henrique and I have the same body chemistry… I adore Baiser du Dragon! It's absolutely a winter fragrance for me. It has the perfect dry-down on my skin – powdery even. The amber is exquisite. This is the one perfume that I will get more compliments on than anything else. If there is a fragrance that I loved when I was 13 it was “Ma Griffe”. When I smell it now it reminds me of my knee-highs and mini skirts and feeling sophisticated at my young age… doesn't do it for me now – Its my Baiser…

  30. Anonymous says:

    i have an opposite impression of it. upon spraying i get very dry amber a la ambre sultan but then it calms down. i get pretty much no flowers at all from it and i enjoy it more as it dries down. that being said, i like to wear this (EDP i believe) at night so its less of a commitment as i can just fall asleep.

  31. Anonymous says:

    P, I think everyone must have his “ex” perfume, it seems. Now I want to listen to Ex Factor! It's been a long time.

  32. Anonymous says:

    R, how apt that you “ex” perfume–the one you're revisiting–is called Je Reviens! (I have some vintage eau de cologne, and it's marvelous.)

    I'm glad you liked the review.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I can definitely appreciate how you love Le Baiser! It sounds like it works wonderfully on you. What a whole different scent than Ma Griffe. Ma Griffe might be mature for a girl wearing knee-highs, and Le Baiser is definitely the scent of a woman with some experience in the world.

  34. Anonymous says:

    You don't get any of the rose or gardenia? Admittedly, it's buried under cedar and patchouli on me. I love a nice amber fragrance and find them really comforting, so I can see why Le Baiser would be a bedtime scent on you.

  35. Anonymous says:

    You made me cry. My dear, departed mother in law wore Chloe (which I loved) for years. The things I kept of hers, like her furs, are still faintly impregnated with that smell, and I will be very sad when it is gone.
    Then several years before she died she switched to Baiser, which I *loathed* — although obviously I didn't say that to her. We didn't have the kind of relationship where I would have presented her with a different perfume, although I probably would now. At any rate, I kept her bottle of Baiser. It is inescapably interwoven with my bittersweet memories of her. I would never wear it, but I take it out sometimes just to smell it.

  36. Anonymous says:

    You've written about your mother in law before! I remember talk about beautiful vintage dresses. And now perfume. It still amazes me how potent scent memories are, and how a fragrance can take on a whole different character depending on who wore it, and when.

    Well, I hope those were tears from happy memories, even if the perfume that inspired them doesn't smell all that great to you.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm. I've had a couple of 'signatures'. When I was student I wore nothing but D&G 'Red' and had loads of compliments on it – now the smell makes me feel slightly queasy! Then, for years I wore nothing but Clinique Aromatics – which I still love but doesn't feel everyday right anymore – and is definately quite an overwhelming scent! Unfortunately, I grew pretty immune to it and must have asphixiated quite a few people!
    Le Baiser du Dragon is a fragrance I've loved when I've tried it but *something* always stopped me from buying a bottle. Then I discovered L'Air du Desert Marocain and suddenly the Cartier lost its appeal…

  38. Anonymous says:

    I'm with Henrique and Kchouc on Le Baiser – it really isn't that strong on me – a bit amaretto, a bit amber, a bit vetiver – but I wouldn't call it loud at all. Yesterday I tried the drop of parfum I had left, plus an edp sample lovethescents kindly passed on to me – even the parfum wasn't OTT. Unless this is down to my delicate dabbing technique? I have never sprayed it. It is so darn expensive in the shops, have people noticed?

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hi All. I can't believe it took so long for this fragrance to be reviewed. But seeing as it's Angela reviewing it, it's well worth the wait.

    Le Baiser du Dragon arrived in Prague shops, definitely at Sephora, some 4 years ago, which figures seeing as we get many fragrances about 1 year later, except for obnoxious celebrity fragrances one may want to ignore. I remember trying it, liking it, but there was always something “too much” about it. “Tumulte” by Christian Lacroix, although much better behaved, evokes some of the same feelings in me.

    In other words, Le Baiser du Dragon is good if you are the Dragon Lady!

    In a plush seat at the Opera, it could be just the thing, but somehow I feel this fragrance should be sold together with a castle, a Rolls-Royce and seasonal opera tickets. Too much of a Drama Queen for everyday use.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Yes! And I'm sorry, my comment sounded so mopey re-reading it. What I meant (and should have said) was, a fragrance that I started out disliking is something I enjoy smelling now, if not wearing, solely because it became the signature scent of someone close to me.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Wow! You've nailed how I feel about so many perfumes which tend to run the gamut in most departement stores. Please enhance me…but don't take me over!!

    I haven't tried Le Basier du Dragon before…but will now that I know the incredible Alberto Morillas created it! Le Labo Tubereuse/Vanille and TM Cologne are a few of my favorite perfumes.

    Great writing!

  42. Anonymous says:

    You didn't sound mopey at all, and I completely understand what you're saying.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Lucky for you. On me it's all Le Baiser and no Angela. I bet the dabbing really helps, though.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I wore D&G for a while, too!

    L'Air is a wonderful fragrance–you're lucky to have found it.

  45. Anonymous says:

    What? No Forever Krystle??? :)

    (Carrington was the first bottle of cologne I ever received. I don't count this as the beginning of my scent habit, though. My very first purchase — Obsession for Men — has that honor.)

  46. Anonymous says:

    It definitely is a commanding fragrance on my skin, that's for sure. It does seem like it's best with velvet on a cold day.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Morillas really is amazing. Wouldn't it be great to talk to him about how he works?

  48. Anonymous says:

    I did actually buy a bottle of Forever Krystle at an estate sale last summer! I think Scandal, the Alexis perfume, would be better suited to the Le Baiser vibe, though.

  49. Anonymous says:

    My ex-husband fragrance is Ralph Lauren Romance. I would not even sniff a bottle of it in a department store for a few years. I will never wear it again. But I really loved it for one solid year.
    I have many other fragrances that I have worn again after years of absence, but this one, I just cannot do it.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I've given it some thought, and I believe that Oscar de la Renta, the original, created in the early seventies, is my personal Le Baiser du Dragon. At the time I wore it, in my early twenties, it felt rich and grown-up and confident, and I, on my ownsome, felt ANYTHING but. It was almost as though I was borrowing some of that desperately-wanted maturity until I had my own.

    Now, I get sad smelling it, because it reminds me that I was scared and insecure during that time in my life, trying so hard to be what I thought I should be and not knowing how to be that woman. Thirty-odd years later, after living a lot of life, it still takes me back to that lonely, lost, confused place.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Angela! Although Le Baiser du Dragon always was a bit too much for me, I would love to see all the characters populating your review show up in one of your books–the mistake of an ex-husband who nonetheless taught you some things you needed to know, the not-quite-a-friend who gives you unexpectedly good advice, and, especially, LOL, the decreasingly charming party guest. I just love the way you write.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Kim, I know exactly what you mean!

  53. Anonymous says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how a scent can bring back feelings and memories! Oscar de la Renta reminds me of a sorority girl I used to know who had the astonishing (to me) ability to shave her legs perfectly–even the knees–without missing a single hair.

  54. Anonymous says:

    You are so nice! Thank you.

  55. Anonymous says:

    That was a great post. It's true how we get associative with scents. In high school I had a love affair with Poison, but I can't wear it at all or even stand to smell it on anyone because now it just smells like grape jelly and ammonia. I don't know if it was just a growing up thing and I wanted to cut those associations or what. Other than that one, I still love all the scents from my childhood. It's men's scents that will make me turn my nose due to bad memories. No man should wear Fahrenheit near me – he broke my heart. Drakkar Noir is the unreturned affection of a college crush. Joop is identical to the cologne they used to spray on my poodle after his grooming so that one cracks me up. Polo still makes me think of 15 year old boys smoking at the school dance and Aqua Velva Ice Blue is my dearly departed Daddy.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I know what you mean about men's scents–the Polo reaction sounds especially familiar. And that's hilarious about Joop, the poodle scent!

  57. O.ana says:

    Is it true that this fragrance is being discontinued? Or it’s just a bad rumour that I’ve heard?

    • Angela says:

      Oh dear, I hadn’t heard that it was being discontinued, but who knows? I’d have thought it was selling well enough to stay on the market. I’ll have to ask around.

  58. Blimunda says:

    Angela – have you tried Panthere de Cartier? Someone i know mentioned how she loved that perfume, but could not find it anywhere. I’m going to try and find a bottle for her birthday. Can’t see a review of it anywhere on NST, Bois de J, Perfume Smellin’ etc etc

    • Angela says:

      I have smelled Panthere–one of my friends wears it sometimes. I don’t have any in front of me, but I remember a soft-edged oriental, sort of “mature” smelling, but easy to be around. My friend bought her bottle at Nordstrom. Good luck! You’re a good friend.

  59. sniffmeallover says:

    Le Baiser du Dragon taught me to avoid fragrances that overwhelm rather than enhance who I am- I love the phrase! Angela, how do you feel about Dior’s Addict?

    • Angela says:

      I’ve never tried Addict on skin, but I have a friend who wears it from time to time, and it suits her. Do you like it?

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