Cartier Declaration Three Ways: Eau de Toilette, Essence and Cologne ~ fragrance reviews

Cartier Declaration fragrance bottles

I remember smelling Cartier Déclaration when it was released almost 15 years ago. I didn’t like it one bit: “too dirty.” What smelled “unclean” to my nose back in 1998, today smells almost fresh, and not because of reformulation, but because so many of my perfume dislikes turned to likes over the years.

I must have been in the minority back in 1998 when Déclaration Eau de Toilette was released because it’s been successful and spawned flanker after flanker. At this moment, there are four Déclaration formulas for sale.

Original Déclaration Eau de Toilette

Original Déclaration Eau de Toilette was developed by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and includes notes of birch, bergamot, bitter orange, juniper, artemisia, cardamom, cedar, vetiver and oakmoss. Déclaration Eau de Toilette goes on strong with bitter orange (bigarade) and perhaps a touch of sour artemisia. I smell cumin, cedar and cardamom. (The citrus peel aromas in Déclaration are “raunchy,” even more ‘sweaty’ than grapefruit.) Frederic Malle’s Cologne Bigarade (also developed by Ellena) is similar to Déclaration Eau de Toilette: both are pungent and veer toward aromas of a spicy food stall in the tropics — India comes to mind.

Déclaration Eau de Toilette’s spices intensify, darken and dry as the perfume wears down and this is the phase where, I’m betting, “haters” of  Déclaration develop and shout out: “EW! Someone needs a bath!”  I was once in that contingent, but that was long ago. I enjoy wearing Déclaration Eau de Toilette and could care less if people smelling it on me think I’ve had a hard day…for that hard day was spent wrapped in the wonderful aromas of strong citrus and spice.  

Déclaration Eau de Toilette’s notes are rather “food-y;” there’s an interesting vinegar-y scent in the dry-down that reminds me of mango pickles and also an unusual sourdough/beer note in mid-development. The extreme dry down of Déclaration Eau de Toilette is mostly “funk-free,” with warm, sweet-ish citrus-cedar notes coming to the fore.

Déclaration Eau de Toilette has great lasting power and good sillage; it’s available in 30-200 ml ($50-145).

Déclaration Cologne

Déclaration Cologne (Eau de Toilette strength) was developed by perfumer Mathilde Laurent and launched in 2010. Déclaration Cologne’s notes include bergamot, orange, ginger, cedar and vetiver.

Déclaration Cologne “cleans up” the Déclaration formula, eliminating the spicy-food notes and all traces of ”sweat.” Déclaration Cologne starts with juicy and delicious-smelling orange peel aromas; what spices are present are “sheer,” effervescent, and well blended. Déclaration Cologne goes through its paces quickly. If you get the fragrance on fabric it lasts a long time; on skin only, it fades within an hour. After its opening citrus burns off, the overall character of Déclaration Cologne is similar to the base notes of original Déclaration Eau de Toilette.

Déclaration Cologne is a “classic” citrus-wood fragrance and if you know someone who loves his sports fragrances, wean him from the predictable ozone/menthol stuff and buy him Déclaration Cologne instead. Though it’s not "new" in any way, Déclaration Cologne smells great.

Déclaration Cologne is $80 for 100 ml.

Cartier Déclaration Essence Eau de Toilette

Déclaration Essence was launched in 2001 and Cartier lists notes of cedar, birch, amber, cistus labdanum and immortelle. The bitter orange and spicy funkiness of original Déclaration are present but toned down a notch, not amplified as “Essence” would imply. There’s a heavy dose of cedar-birch in the amber blend and a note that reminds me of dry lime. If Déclaration is “too much” for you, and Déclaration Cologne “too little”…Déclaration Essence may be just right.

Déclaration Essence has good tenacity and sillage; $105 for 100 ml.

Tomorrow: a review of the new Déclaration d’un Soir.  


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28 Comments

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  1. lucasai says:

    I didn’t see the Essence one here but I like the other too, they’re quite nice, I don’t need any of them though.

  2. Kevin says:

    Lucasai: if someone said ‘take your pick’ I’d probably choose Essence

  3. relleric says:

    I have owned all three, but must admit that every one of these gives me a headache soon after application. I gave away the original, and recently purchased and returned the cologne, and still have Essence but will probably give that away too.
    I’m wondering if it is the cumin that induces a headache, whatever that very high-pitched screeching note is.
    I like these but simply cannot wear them.

    • Kevin says:

      Relleric: I guess we can categorize you as someone who never gives up hope?

      • relleric says:

        He he. I must be ever hopeful or a glutton for punishment, there is a fine line between them. ;)
        Thanks for the article!

  4. Rictor07 says:

    I have been reintroducing myself to the Declaration’s and the Eau de Cartier’s, and i still think these are the worst 2 lines of the brand. Why they spawn so many flankers i cant understand. I liked Roadster, Santos, Must, and Pasha more than any of these.

    • Kevin says:

      Rector: the current Pasha, Santos and Must are very generic to me…definitely think Declaration has more character.

  5. Tim says:

    I prefer essence. It’s well blended and musky in the dry down -even a touch of smokiness. Immortelle is kinda quiet, though. I basically don’t like Cartier frags much, none of them are must haves, for me anyway. The original Must pour homme reminds me of Coty airspun face powder (my Grandmother), if the fatty musk and patchouli were bigger in that scent, i’d love it.

  6. Kevin says:

    Tim: agree…as it stands, Must is pretty wan.

  7. Subhuman says:

    Finally, a NST review of one of my desert island faves! I adore Déclaration; it’s so structurally and behavorially unique to all my other perfumes. It’s shimmering and translucent where so many other men’s fragrances feel like nostril-clogging wet carpets of scent; it’s sheer enough for summer yet bolstering with all that wood and spice; it lasts forever but seems to float in and out of detectability, never shouting or hogging the room. It smells natural and vivid yet with a laboratory-borne synthetic sheen (Iso E Super, I presume). I find it fascinating from a design standpoint and on a purely intellectual level…and, of course, it smells great. Thanks for this excellent round-up, Kevin (I still haven’t smelled the Cologne version and have mostly forgotten what Essence smells like, so I needed a quick refresher).

    As for Déclaration’s “raunchy” qualities…ehh. There’s a lot of cumin, yes, but it’s the driest, most sparkling cumin, fresh from the mortar, and overshadowed by the cardamom anyway (to my nose). In the absence of any musks or animalic notes, Déclaration’s spices come off more like dry desert air than dank armpit funk. The whole thing is just too fresh, sheer, and clean to make me think of sweat, no matter how much the cumin shouts. (And it does.)

    • Kevin says:

      Subhuman: you’re welcome…it’s been on my to-review list for ages. Let’s say our noses are highly evolved…I’m afraid many dismiss this fragrance for smelling ‘dirty’

  8. RVB says:

    I own and enjoy the Essence.I think it’s one of JCE’s more interesting ideas.I also have FM Bigarade Concentree which seems to me like a more fleshed out version of the idea with the bitter orange being more prominent.Unfortunately something in my my Bigarade Concentree has gone off.Hopefully it won’t happen in the Essence.Great post Kevin!

    • Kevin says:

      RVB…too bad about the Bigarade; hope you at least got a couple years’ wear out of it

  9. platinum14 says:

    I bought original Déclaration as soon as it came out. It was one of those airport quick- 2 minutes-before-take-off type of purchase. Here is my credit card, no time to even smell il!
    For years I was unable to wear it. I can’t tolerate a bottle of cumin in the house as I can smell it even through the walls. But for me, the sweaty-funky phase of Déclaration never bothered me.
    It was the vetiver combined with a somewhat smoky cardamom that gave it a “dirty ashtray” note that turned this into a scrubber.
    My bottle remained unused for years (I would NEVER give a bottle away. Pharaoh style, they are coming with me to the afterlife!).
    About 3 years ago I rediscovered the gem and I now love it!

    • Kevin says:

      Plat: it’s great how that happens…and so funny how you hold on to those bottles

    • nozknoz says:

      Platinum14 – I’m so delighted with your comment: from now on I shall think of myself as a Nefertiti of perfume (rather than a perfume hoarder). :-)

  10. sinnerman says:

    Kevin! You had be at burch, seeking this out for a sniff that’s for sure. I have been getting to know cumin through Femme Rochas and SL muscs KK! Interested in how it translates in this male offering! Essence sounds amazing. If I love it , it’s coming home with me.

    • Kevin says:

      Sinnerman: good luck…let me know if you buy a bottle

  11. mikeperez23 says:

    Great to read comprehensive reviews of this ‘classic’ scent!

    Kevin, have you ever smelled the discontinued Declaration Eau de Genereuse (which I own)? Or the Bois Bleu flanker?

    • eaubama says:

      Declaration Eau de Genereuse is still my favorite incarnation of this.

      • Kevin says:

        eaubama: what did it smell like…if I may ask!

        • mikeperez23 says:

          A very transparent, ‘cologne’ type of Declaration, but unlike the Declaration Cologne it has a tiny bit of cumin. When I run out of my bottle, I think I might get the Cologne to replace it. Or maybe Bigarade Concentree. Haven’t decided yet.

          • Kevin says:

            Mike: if you like that ‘touch” of cumin character…think I’d choose Bigarade.

    • Kevin says:

      Mike: some of these must come and go quickly…never got to try those.

  12. RobWales says:

    I totally agree with Subhuman’s assessment of this fragrance. I fell for the original Declaration at first sniff when it was introduced, and innumerable bottles have been in my fragrance collection ever since. It’s certainly the best of the Cartier frags, as others here have said, and I’ve remained faithful to the original, not having tried the flankers.

  13. Subhuman says:

    So I splurged on a big ol’ bottle of Déclaration Essence as an early Christmas gift to myself. :) I find the opening almost identical to that of the original – cardamom, bergamot, an edge of crisp bitterness. After that, though, Essence goes down a greener, woodier path, with some other wintery spice I can’t quite put my finger on (caraway?) and a stronger leather note. It’s as sheer and unobtrusive as the original, but slightly less dryer-sheet fresh during the drydown, and a bit less shimmering (though no worse off for it). I don’t get any amber whatsoever. It’s gorgeous, and possibly – just possibly! – my new “signature scent”. The bottle should last me a lifetime, at any rate.

  14. Notesial says:

    I got a sample of this scent, and wanted to buy this instantly.
    there isn’t much of it needed to smell it well.
    in ohter words, you have to be careful you don’t put on it to much.
    this scent is ideal for a spring sunny day, in white clothes and the sunglasses on, as if you go to the tennis club :) or driving your cabriolet.

  15. stinker_kit says:

    Today I wore Hermes Un Jardin Sur La Nil and thought to myself, that smells a bit like Declaration. What would happen if I layered the two? Well, Declaration powerfully obliterates most of the opening of Un Jardin, but the middle and base are quite lovely combined. Femmed up a bit, if you will.

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