Cartier Baiser Vole ~ perfume review

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

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.

Note: top image is gentle curve [cropped & altered] by yugoQ at flickr; some rights reserved.

1. First quote via Vain Glorious | Sexual Preference at the New York Times (hat tip to Kevin!), second, third and fourth quotes via Women's Wear Daily (7/8/2011).

Update: see also Angie's review of Baiser Volé Eau de Toilette and Extrait de Parfum, and my review of Baiser Volé Essence de Parfum.

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  1. Anne from Makeupwoot says:

    I bit pricey for me, but I think I’ll have to track down a sample. It sounds lovely!

    • Robin says:

      I thought it pricey too, although I guess the Balenciaga is nearly that much.

      • Anne from Makeupwoot says:

        Swapped for a sample of this from MakeupAlley. The “powdery floral” is completely spot on. It’s one of those that would be a great office scent but not something I’d wear every day. It reminds me of a less woody, more floral SJP “Lovely.”

  2. sunnlitt says:

    I would like to try this, too.

    I don’t usually like powdery scents, but the opening sounds lovely,
    and I would be interested in experiencing it as it dries down.

    Thanks, Robin!

    • Robin says:

      I didn’t used to like powdery, but I do like these new “minimalist” powdery scents.

  3. OperaFan says:

    Sounds pretty even if I’ve not found too many lillies that I wanted to wear. Definitely pricy for the targeted audience, though.

    • Robin says:

      I’d love to know the target ages, and for that matter, would love to know who is buying things like Love, Chloe. Guessing it’s over 25.

  4. maggiecat says:

    The whole concept of target ages is interesting. I would say it takes a person of some experience and sophistication to wear Love, Chloe – not your typical teen or twenty-something. I’m looking forward to trying Baiser Vole even if I am middle-aged (and proud of it!)

    • Robin says:

      It is interesting. The advertising, when it breaks, will probably make it clear who they’re aiming this at.

  5. RusticDove says:

    This sounds quite lovely! I don’t have very much experience with lilly fragrances. In fact there’s only two I can think of off the top of my head – DK Gold [which didn’t work for me] and Ineke Gilded Lilly [which I really like]. I’d like to explore this note further and Baiser Vole sounds like an interesting take on it and worth sampling.

    • Robin says:

      Two more worth trying: Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice, Hermes Vanille Galante.

      • RusticDove says:

        Oh thanks for the recommendations Robin! Vanille Galante is on my list! I’m adding Lily & Spice. ;-)

        • Bonbori says:

          I always think Vanille Galante smells like lily minus the flower. If that makes any sense.

  6. APassionateJourney says:

    Oh, how I’ve grown in 6 years, Robin! Can you believe 6 years ago Heiress brought me here and now I’ve fallen in love with this fragrance AND Shalimar Parfum Initial when I smelled them at Nordies 2 weeks ago? This was just way too high, though, for what it is.

    • Robin says:

      Ha…yes, this is a long way from Heiress! I think I have to agree — seems like they would have been wise to keep the 50 ml below $100. Wonder what the 30 ml will cost.

  7. Emily says:

    If I like it enough and if the 30mL is reasonably priced, I might consider a splurge. I could use something like that in my collection, and that bottle slays me. It would make a poetically fitting present to myself whenever I get around to kicking the cigs.

    • Robin says:

      It’s a gorgeous bottle — or at least, hope it is when I see it in person.

    • missminute says:

      The bottle is stunning – gold in person, or at least the ones I have seen – but that is the let down, as after just a week it tarnished. I had the lid cocked open – as it resembles a cigarette lighter, and soon enough brown speckles and a wash of browning tarnish appeared in places. Heartbreaking as I really splurged on this – close to $200 in Australia, and it really does look and smell like a luxury buy. After I spotted it, I returned a dozen times to sniff again over the next two days before I gave in, utterly haunted. It is the most remarkable scent I have ever come across – it truly smells like fresh flowers, like a whole store full of fresh cut flowers and marigolds, really earthy and just, so not synthetic! It dries down a little sheer for me, a wisp of it’s opening glory, but here and there that fresh flower scent floats by. So lush, but that bottle, so disappointing!

      • Robin says:

        That’s a shame…I would email Cartier’s customer service, they really ought to do something for you.

  8. Bonbori says:

    Powdery seems to be the new way to denote classy to a younger set maybe? These new Chanels are heading that way too …

    Love the bottle but reminds me that IMO they missed an opportunity to give it some lily-esque smokiness … guess that would get in the way of the powderiness :/

    • Robin says:

      Yes — it’s mostly coming, right now, from the high end brands. Also think that these fresh powdery scents are a way to do “clean and fresh and light” without smelling like air freshener.

      • boojum says:

        Hrm, fresh + powdery sounds like antiperspirant instead.

  9. APassionateJourney says:

    I’m guessing the 30 ml will be 75 bucks or somewhere around there. I really do want a bottle but I might wait for this to hit discounters :)

  10. Blithie says:

    Added this to my To Try list. I like the subtle veil type scents too. Interesting how a powdery is moving from being considered old fashioned to being marketed to younger people!

    • Robin says:

      Yes — so long as the florals are sheer, not rich, that seems to be the case. Add a skanky base and/or some deep florals, and you’re back in “mature” territory.

    • Bear says:

      Did you ever ask your male Indian co-workers what their sandalwood fragrance is?

  11. chaise says:

    I’m very interested in this one. How does it compare to Vanille Galante?

    • Robin says:

      The Cartier is drier, greener, powdery instead of aquatic. The VG is also light, but is more floral to me than the BV.

      • chaise says:

        Thank you Robin. I’m still intrigued even though green scents don’t usually work for me.

  12. Jill says:

    Would like to try it, and definitely like that bottle!

    • Robin says:

      A 20 ml would be just plain adorable. (I still want that 20 ml Balenciaga Paris)

  13. helenviolette says:

    hmmmm- I guess a trip to Nordstrom in a few weeks will be in order. I was sure I wasn’t a big lily fan until Un Lys- which I LOVE. Sounds promising- thanks for the review Robin :)

    • Robin says:

      This is not even in the Un Lys ballpark, but it’s probably easier to wear, if that helps anybody.

      • Bonbori says:

        I second Robin’s comment. I love (and spray liberally) Un Lys and I did not like this one.

        • Bonbori says:

          I mean, second the “not even in the Un Lys ballpark” part, not the “probably easier to wear.” But would love to hear what you think.

  14. Rappleyea says:

    I loved your one line review of Cartier de Lune, as well as the asides to ML’s comments. Too funny! I also chuckled at throwing in the scent of the pistil – I stuck my nose into the center of a lily once and it was very much like snorting turmeric! Not that I’ve ever snorted turmeric mind you, just what I imagined it would be like. :-D

    • Robin says:

      But really, do “many” men (as a rule) like lilies? This seems massively unlikely to me. I bet if I asked 100 men, fewer than 5 would say lily. Easy enough for me to claim, at any rate, since I have no intention of testing it.

      I am wrinkling my nose now — snorting turmeric is not a pretty idea!

      • Morgan says:

        lily is my favourite floral smell. But perhaps that just makes me one of the 5%!

        • Robin says:

          Who knows? Perhaps I am totally off base!

          • Rappleyea says:

            I think you’re probably right Robin. Whatever the percentage of male readers/commenters on NST is, is probably close to the same percentage of male lily lovers!

      • monkeytoe says:

        I bet it depends on when they asked–was the poll around easter when liliies flood supermarkets? I am guessing manypeople would default to what they just had smelled/seen.

  15. crowflower says:

    Maybe I’m tired, but my immediate translation was Kiss Of The Vole.
    Right up there with Night Of The Iguana.

    • Robin says:

      Sometimes it is terribly annoying that we don’t put the accents in the titles.

  16. nozknoz says:

    A couple of months ago I was walking along the mezzanine of a conference facility. An awards dinner was about to take place in the large, vaulted atrium. I sniffed perfume and looked around to see who was trailing this elegant sillage – but there was no one. Then I looked down and noticed that the dinner tables all had floral centerpieces of HUGE yellow lillies. I was a story and a half above them, and the fragrance was evident all along the mezzanine and even some distance beyond. Imagine what the fish or chicken must have tasted like! ;-)

    • Robin says:

      I bet it was strong! In the olden days, Trader Vic’s used to give all the women gardenia corsages…I always had to take mine off in order to eat.

  17. Stephen says:

    so robin, of all the recent fragrances in this mold, how does this one rank?!

    • Robin says:

      I hate to say because I haven’t spent enough time with it. Both Balenciaga Paris & Love, Chloe have continued to grow on me since I reviewed them — I wouldn’t at all mind owning small bottles of each, although I doubt I’ll ever pay for them. This is probably at about the same level. I did buy Eau Claire des Merveilles and I wear it quite a bit, but I won’t pretend I”m not swayed by Jean Claude Ellena + Hermes.

      • turbovivi says:

        I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Jean-Claude Ellena’s works – all the way from VCA First, to the Hermes ( I now own Rose Ikebana, Osmanthe Yunnan, Vetiver Tonka, and Poivre Samarcande ) and plan to purchase Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver soon.

  18. moore says:

    Its powdery sounds very interesting: I do like cosmetics-like powdery and minimalists scents, although all of the last ones I know don’t have good sillage and lasting power.
    They could have made an unissex perfume with that bottle!!! :(

    • Robin says:

      This one also does not last forever. I think the sillage is surprisingly good in the beginning though.

  19. Jonette says:

    My French is truly terrible, bordering on nonexistent, but at first sight I thought Baiser Vole (later saw it was Volé ) probably meant “kiss of the vole” and that certainly didn’t appeal to me.


  20. thenoseknows says:

    This is on my Covet List right up there with Bottega Veneta, Prada Candy, Elie Saab and Valentina By Valentino! This sounds like something i would fall madly in love with and hope that it’s not as Rich as Love, Chloe, which to my nose is very Ambery and Honeyed…. Which is also why I ADORE It! Thinking i might just have to SNAP this up! BTW.. did Cartier Discontinue Panthere????

    • Robin says:

      To my nose, it is not as rich as the Chloe, but do let me know what you think when you try it.

    • Bonbori says:

      Prada Candy is on my covet list too, and if I remember right the bottle here has a similar aesthetic, less the hot pink.

  21. Marjorie Rose says:

    I went over to Nordie’s yesterday to sniff the new Shalimar, and I was given a sample of this. Being new to fragrance, I would not have known to identify the flower as a lily, but it is nice enough. It is certainly not a swoon for me, but I’d happily wear it to work or other situations in which a safer fragrance was in order.

    Robin compares it to B. Paris, which I own. I find this to have far less sillage (and no violet, of course). It reminds me of a less spicy EL Sensuous, actually. . .must go look to see if Sensuous has lily, now! (“ghost lily” according to fragrance net, whatever that means)

    (BTW, I was surprised at how bright Shalimar Initial was! And it had an almost candied sweetness to my nose–definitely more youthful than the original. If it had a deeper heart of vanilla or amber, I would be very tempted to own it. I still may swing for a small bottle some day, as it is clearly well made, just not life-shattering!)

    • Robin says:

      I visited it at Nordstrom today too….glad to see the bottle is nice in person.

  22. Bonbori says:

    Your review is pretty spot on. I had the chance to test this one. IMO it quickly dries down into something channeling a lily version of Kenzo Flower. That kind of powdery. So I’m voting, “do not like.” But that certainly doesn’t mean other people won’t.

    The bottle was sturdy but the cuteness factor of the cigarette lighter design was not realized due to scale. Maybe the smaller 30 ml will be cuter.

    • Robin says:

      I was impressed with the bottle (saw it this week after I wrote the review) but agree — the larger size doesn’t look like a lighter. Still, quite nicely done.

  23. StinkPretty says:

    Just got my samples yesterday and I need help. Baiser Vole smells so much like something that my mother wore in the 70’s, I think. I am driving myself insane trying to remember what it was. Has anyone else thought Baiser Vole triggered a scent memory from then? I can’t stop smelling my wrists. . . . the name of the other perfume is dancing on the edge of my brain . . . ARGHHH.

    • Robin says:

      I’m sorry I cannot think of what that might be…if you remember, do come back and tell us!

    • dilettante perfumista says:

      Yes! I went to Nordstrom today to sniff elie saab and the sa sprayed this for me too, which is why I came back to look at the review. I got such a rush of deja vu. It is always harder for me to “get” the notes of a fragrance from a blotter, and while walking around around a crowded store with people staring at me with a strip of paper to my nose (or at least I think they’re staring). But I got almost a faintness of cumin? Something spicy there that somehow transported me back in time. I hope others come back and comment on what it might be!

    • poodle says:

      I didn’t get any scent memory in the store probably because of all the other scents on and around me. I just tried my sample for a few days and totally got the scent memory trigger but could not figure out what it was. This morning it came to me. This for some reason really makes me think of Avon’s pink bubble bath. I wish I had a bottle to sniff right now but I know my mom does. She always used that in her bath and still does so the next time I go to see her I am heading straight for her bathroom to find it. I could be completely off the mark but right now that bubble bath is what Baiser Vole is making me think of.

      • Absolute Scentualist says:

        You know, I just tried this yesterday and both Mr. Ab. Scent and I agreed it smelled like a very high end shampoo/soap, though in the best way possible. I could sort of smell the face powder as well, but to me it just smelled so wonderfully clean and invigorating. Mr. Ab. Scent attended an upper middle class school in Detroit that got many kids from Gross Point and other similar high-income subs, and he said smelling Baiser Vole reminded him of first arriving at school in the morning and walking through all the freshly showered, primped and perfumed girls in his school and he added,”And I’m sure their morning regimen pricewise makes you look like a cheapskate, sweetie.” *shrugs*

        So yes, I’d love to have a 30ml bottle of this when I want clean, pretty and inoffensive. My like of the original Clean fragrance when it launched quickly turned to not being able to handle how assertively clean it is, and I could easily see replacing it with BV. It feels brighter and more cheery than Balenciaga Paris to my nose, so is more daytime to BP’s evenings, but I do like it quite a bit. Haven’t tried Love, Chloe yet, but it definitely shares a kinship with Eau Clair de Merveilles in that fresh veil of scent sort of way.

  24. aThousandSmells says:

    I have this because I a) love (most) Cartier scents and b) love lilies. I do have to put on a non-scented oil on my skin first if I want it to last, but whatever.

    I enjoy playing Amateur Mixologist with my collection – this one plays very well with a spritz of Bellodgia or even Braiser du Dragon – either adds the slight spice note of a real lily.

  25. OVincze says:

    Sorry to chime in so late, I have not smelled this but sounds unlike me. I did want to respond to the Love, Chloe question, I am 35 and as I commented elsewhere there has always been something I was totally in love with in that fragrance. Another poster put it perfectly, Love, Chloe is sophisticated and does take experience and it does sound like this fragrance would be for either a younger age group or a less complicated person. Personality, occassions, seasons, moods and age all come into play. I can imagine wearing a less complicated or “younger” fragrance in a hot summer day but come fall and winter I go sophisticated, complicated and heavier and that is a better fit for my personality anyhow. I always say that I detest winter but the only thing I love about it is how I can wear my favorite perfumes then.

  26. OVincze says:

    Well, and I have finally smelled this new Cartier fragrance and actually was surprised to like it, sort of different not too strong but nice. Maybe I need to try this again but I was not sure I would like such a minimalist fragrance but I did. I do not really find it similar to Love, Chloe, Love to me is much heavier, warmer and characteristic and a lot more passionate but I like both regardless. I am not sure the Cartier would come close to my love of Love and not sure yet I would actually buy it but I like it regardless. It is not an offensive or unpleasant fragrance.

  27. pigoletto says:

    I just read a Vanity Fair mini interview with her where she says that bit about men is men in her circle basically preferring lily. So a little biased then! (I still bought it, and I’m not a floral fan normally, but I find this beautiful).

  28. spritz says:

    I love that bottle! Sounds tempting, will search for it next time Im out. BTW, I just saw that sephora has the 30 ml edp listed for $69.

  29. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    I smelled this recently, and it instantly reminded me of one of my closest friends. It fits her style, and taste in perfume, perfectly. I suggested she check it out for her wedding.

  30. OVincze says:

    Yes the bottle is really edgy, just about perfect and fits the image of a Cartier woman and actually I think the fragrance does too, elegant, minimalist, understated in a way but very beautiful like a sculpture. I need to go in and try this again but on my skin, not that I need to get another fragrance this month:)))

  31. zubi says:

    Oh GOODNESS. So happy to find this on here. :) I just got a sample of this, and was stunned by the images of freshly cut flowers I got. Such a natural scent! I can’t even think of calling it “powdery” or any other term, for fear of blaspheming such a natural-seeming scent. I really cannot get over how much it TRULY is a floral. Their description of it being a “pure floral” is true, so true.

  32. Karenina says:

    This has no sillage. None.

  33. lydiadrama says:

    The drydown reminds me of the original Diva (ca 1988) by Ungaro.

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