Cartier is a brand well known for exuding elegance in all areas of creation. Their jewellery, time pieces and luxury accessories are beyond compare, so it makes sense that their fragrances very much follow suit. Everything that the house of Cartier creates is glamorous, luxurious and lavish, and their line of fragrances range from the abstract (the unusual lilies of Baiser Volé) to the effortlessly wearable (the soft citrus sparkle of Eau de Cartier), whilst all of their fragrant creations stay true to the brand’s aesthetic of simplistic opulence.
Louis Cartier, the house’s founder, was reportedly a pioneer in the field of panther taming (he was a braver man than I am, it has to be said) and having been tamed, the legendary creature has taken on the role of house mascot, inspiring a collection of jewellery named ‘Panthère de Cartier’ as well as a brand new feminine fragrance for 2014, ‘La Panthère’. It seems that panthers are to Cartier, what bees are to Guerlain – evoking the spirit of a timeless house that appeals to one’s primitive need for luxury.
“A captivating perfume that reflects a liberated, passionate woman. A feline floral fragrance born out of radiant, delicate gardenia coming together with velvety notes of musk.”
La Panthère is inspired by the feline and feral spirit of nature’s most iconic of big cats, taking the wild beauty of the gardenia flower as the core ingredient to represent the panther’s internal fire. The result is decidedly less savage than one would expect and rather than evoking the dangerous spirit of wild cats, La Panthère is a fragrance that speaks of radiant glamour, subtle darkness and florals seen from a more abstract point of view.
Gardenia, Chypre Accord and Musk
How Does it Smell?
Gardenia is nature’s most elusive flower. The heady white blooms positively sing an intense floral aria; shouting thick, creamy plumes of sweet indole that is so excessive it boasts warm and damp hints of blue cheese and mushrooms. But all beauty is ephemeral and the intoxicating smell of gardenia blooms does not extend past the buxom white buds,yielding no oil and meaning that the smell is impossible to capture.
Cartier’s La Panthère is a gardenia but it’s not a literal or photorealistic take on the flower, and the truth is that the perfume is better for it. If one is looking for a straight up gardenia then are a number of perfumes out there that fit the bill (I personally recommend Estée Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Arquiste’sBoutonniére no.7) but there aren’t many that use an abstract take on the flower to create something new and surprising.
La Panthère opens with a radiant floral-citrus accord. Here the gardenia is soft, supple and bright, evoking the feel of glowing white embers – the luminescent petals of softly burning flowers.The gardeniaitself is luminescent and radiant but not quite as feral as it is billed to be (it’s much too clean to be considered as animalistic) and if it is feline in any way, shape or form it is so in its creamy, silky texture that is reminiscent of velvety animal fur. To my nose, the floral accord in La Panthère is akin to the use of orange blossom in Elie Saab’s Le Parfum (albeit in a more subtle manner), where lustrous flowers are used to create a sense of sunlight burning bright.
The panther’s bite comes from a mossy, patchouli-filled chypre accord that inhabits La Panthère’s heart. One should not expect to be eviscerated by the teeth and claws of this big cat though, as it feels more like the loving nip from one’s beloved house cat than the deadly strike of the panther. The patchouli, much like the gardenia, is relatively clean, but it doesn’t feel overly sanitised and it serves to intensify the sharpness of the flowers, adding a subtle undercurrent of darkness to the proceedings.
Cartier promises “velvety notes of musk” in La Panthère’s base and the fragrance certainly delivers. The musk is suitably velvety and it cements the sweeter and green aspects of the fragrance, whilst dusting them with a light covering of silky grey powder. It’s a nice finish to a really well executed perfume that perfectly captures the essence and elegance of the Cartier brand with an olfactory signature that is wonderfully pretty and just a little bit unusual. Personally, I’m smitten with this darling little kitten.
It would be simply unfair to review La Panthère without mentioning the gorgeous bottle that contains this most lovely of juices. Inspired by Cartier lighters and the brand’s signature Panthére de Cartier jewellery line, the vessel that carries this fragrance is a solid block of glass, intricately cut from the inside to unveil the striking silhouette of the house’s mascot – the panther.