Baiser Volé (‘Stolen Kiss’) debuts this month from Cartier. The pleasant but faceless Cartier de Lune (I tried but failed to review it, and have entirely forgotten what it smells like) launched only very recently so I was surprised to see another feminine entry so soon, but here we are. This one was also done by perfumer Mathilde Laurent, who noted that “when asked about their favorite flower, many men said it was the lily” (really? can that possibly be?) but that she “didn’t want it to be the 1,001st floral floriental” (fine with me) and she “didn’t want to add a new floral composition” (ditto); instead, she “[imagined] what the whole flower — including its leaves, petals and pistil — could smell like”.1 Translation: lily haters need not (necessarily) worry, lily lovers need not (necessarily) drool.
Cartier is calling Baiser Volé a fresh powdery floral, and that’s just what it is: a little veil of scent, in keeping with the recent spate of “minimalist veil” fragrances. So forget about lily bombs like Donna Karan Gold or Serge Lutens Un Lys, think instead of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial, the Prada Infusions (and L’Eau Ambrée), Balenciaga Paris, Love, Chloé and Hermès Eau Claire des Merveilles, etc etc, and you’ll get the idea.
The opening is green leaves and stems, slightly bitter, brightened with citrus. The lily comes on with a whoosh, but don’t let it fool you: the richness softens to a whisper quickly. It takes on a bit of a spicy edge as it dries down, and the green fades a degree or two; for most of the duration, it smells like a lily-esque cosmetic powder, still tinged with green, not quite so sweet and round as Love, Chloé. The dry down is pale and musky and ever-so-slightly earthy, and while it’s far from skanky, it isn’t so über-clean as some.
I like it. It’s said to be geared towards a young market (or at least, younger, and I guess Cartier’s fragrance audience is probably not all that young to begin with), but it’s not unsophisticated, nor is it candied, or bland, or boring. It’s quirkier than Calvin Klein’s neo-lily, Beauty, and the bottle, fashioned after a Cartier cigarette lighter, looks to be (I have not yet seen it in person) supremely covetable.
Cartier Baiser Volé is available in 30, 50 ($100) and 100 ($145) ml Eau de Parfum, 30 ml Parfum and in matching body products. In the US, it is reportedly exclusive to Nordstrom until September.