I know, I know. Now Smell This already posted a thorough review of Cartier Baiser Volé. But that was for the Eau de Parfum. Baiser Volé is one of the few perfumes that really explores the fragrance’s idea through its other formulations. While a review of the Eau de Parfum gives you an idea of Baiser Volé’s theme — lilies in the style of Carole Lombard’s boudoir, complete with silver hairbrush and face powder — the Eau de Toilette and Extrait de Parfum aren’t simply different concentrations. Instead, they take the Eau de Parfum’s “main tune” and orchestrate it differently.
Cartier house perfume Mathilde Laurent created Baiser Volé in each of its forms. Cartier is vague about the fragrance’s notes, spouting pap about how the fragrance embraces each aspect of the lily: stem, petals, and root. Besides lily, I get hints of neroli, powder, jasmine, and musk.
Baiser Volé Eau de Parfum is the most sober form of the fragrance. It shows Baiser Volé’s powdery glamour of deconstructed lilies in a way that makes me long for my own dressing room, satin coverlet, and stack of 1930s movies. It’s beautiful, for sure. But it’s also humorless. Do you know what I mean? To me, real beauty wears a dash of pathos or wit, or it becomes merely decoration. Gorgeous decoration, true, but it doesn't engage me for long.
Baiser Volé Eau de Toilette (shown above), on the other hand, brims with playfulness. Here, Baiser Volé’s theme is amped with a shot of juicy bitter orange and mashed green stems. It hums with the snuffed candle scent some aldehydes give. It’s a scent so fresh and fruity I could almost drink it. Yet Baiser Volé’s green lily glamour still shines through.
Even though I bought my bottle of Baiser Volé Eau de Toilette only last summer, and it faces lots of competition in my perfume cabinet, I’ve already used about a third of it. Besides spraying it on myself, I spritz it on lamp shades, the shower curtain, and my pillows. It dissipates quickly, leaving a fresh, green, romantic sillage. It’s barely powdery and much more juicy than the Eau de Parfum. It doesn’t last more than three or four hours on skin, but that’s the point of it.
Baiser Volé Extrait de Parfum (shown just above) takes the fragrance’s theme and skews it carnal. Remember the scene toward the end of Cinema Paradiso where the theater’s operator had spliced together all the movie bits banned by the town? The reel was scene after scene of passionate kisses with mustachioed heroes and heroines in marcelled waves, all in black and white. This is Baiser Volé Extrait. It’s as seductive and nostalgic as a pre-war film kiss, but as earthy as the dirty floors of the small town Italian cinema that showed it.
Baiser Volé Parfum smells of slept-in skin rubbed with truffles, then rubbed again with lilies yanked from the garden, dirt still clinging to the bulb. It’s sexy, but not in an in-your-face, white flower-plus-fruit-plus-patchouli way. It’s intensely feminine, but not in an aldehydes-plus-roses-plus-violets way. Also, for all my talk of 1930s icons, Baiser Volé doesn’t actually smell retro. It just references bygone days, the way an Alberta Ferretti dress seems perfectly contemporary yet somehow begs for the set of Gosford Park.
For me, Baiser Volé is one fragrance for which I can happily skip the flagship Eau de Parfum version — as long as I have the Eau de Toilette and Extrait on hand.
Cartier Baiser Volé Eau de Toilette comes in 50 ml ($85) and 100 ml ($125) bottles. Baiser Volé Extrait de Parfum is $200 for 30 ml. The Parfum is harder to find in department stores, but keep asking around. It’s worth trying. For those of you who love the Eau de Parfum, it's now available at online discounters as well as the usual stores.