Monday, September 22, 2008

Cartier's Roadster

So here's a brief overview of the last Sniffapalooza event I went to, which was Cartier introducing its new scent, Roadster. Now, I lerv Cartier scents--Eau de Cartier Concentree was my fave for a really long time, and I've had a couple bottles of Declaration--so I was excited. In fact, I'd seen the ad for Roadster at Bloomingdales before I heard of the event. So when I got word of the event, in which someone from Cartier would be telling us about the history of the company and about the new fragrance, I was breathless. AND they were serving breakfast!!! w00t w00t!!!!

Anyway, so I show up at Bloomingdales (where the event was held) just in time to get a seat next to my friends. They started serving the coffee while this woman from Cartier spoke to us about the company. Great, whatever. I wasn't really interested in that, but it's fine. They then passed around bottles of the scent, and as we all sprayed them on our hands or whatever, we looked at each other to gauge everyone's reactions. "I don't smell anything" was repeated. I looked at the bottom of the bottle, and sure enough, it said "Factice," so those were just models. Oh, the bottle! Well, you can check it out when you see it--it's made to evoke a car or something, but the fragrance is actually named after the Cartier Roadster watch. I didn't know anything about a watch, but wow, talk about tacky. Hermes names a scent after a bag and now Cartier does so after a watch? What's next? Aisle 3 by K-Mart??

So the woman talks and breakfast, which seemed to be catered by lower-end McDonalds, was served. Then she goes into the scent. I remember seeing a ridiculous movie montage, the point of which escaped me, and then her going into her spiel. So here's Cartier's thing about how they're representing the fragrance: They're not describing it in terms of top, middle and base notes, because it "doesn't have those." Um, OK. (Never mind that the whole top/middle/base notes thing is pretty much marketing crap anyway; I think Luca Turin wrote that in so many words, and when I read it I was like, "Yeah, I alwayskinda thought that.") No, they constructed the fragrance in four Cs, to correspond with the ways one judges a diamond (because Cartier was "the king of jewelers and the jeweler to kings"? Or something like that. You'd think I'd remember--she repeated it enough.)--cut, clarity, color and coherence. No, wait, carats. I can never remember that one. So she went into the "notes" then--"So what's the 'cut'? Right! It's bergamot!!!" What a bunch of crap. I zoned out. I couldn't believe we were being asked to participate in this ridiculousness. Come on Cartier, we like fragrance--that doesn't mean we're brain dead. I really did feel a bit insulted by the crap she was shoveling. And if anyone from Cartier is reading this, get your marketing department under control. Seriously.

So what does the cologne smell like? Benzoin. Straight-up, fresh from the bottle benzoin like you can get at a lot of health food stores. Not a bad thing, not at all. But I kind of expected more. If you're not familiar with benzion (and usually for perfumery the benzoin Siam is the preferred material), it has a cocoa-vanilla, ambery smell with kind of a weird tone somewhere in there. When I had a friend smell it, and I asked how it smelled he said, "It's.... different." To which I replied, "Actually, it's rather familiar. It smells like cocoa-vanilla." But there was always that part of it which smelled peculiar to me--not the resiny amber part, but some kind of up top smell. Well, now I think I know what that smell is: mint. Because Cartier's Roadster apparently has bergamot, mint, labdanum and vanilla, making it I guess an ambery fougere. The Cartier person stressed that it was a fougere, and equally stressed that that was the the best selling category for men's fragrances in the U.S. Oh--I didn't realize that was the reason for making a fragrance. So we're supposed to accept the romantic cut/color/clary/carat/crap while knowing that you made it in this fragrance category not because you find it particularly beautiful, or because you have something to say in it, but that it's the best-selling category.

Anyway, I think that minty is what that off smell in benzoin is. Because I started to smell the mint in Roadster after a while. I still don't smell the bergamot. But to sum, basically the scent smells like good benzoin made sprayable and more effusive and long-lasting. Nothing more. I didn't get the emotional impact from it that I got from Eau de Cartier Concentree and Declaration. It's a fine scent, but I wouldn't buy it. I'd buy more Eau, maybe more Declaration (although I'm kinda tired of it now), I might would buy Pasha Fraicheur Menthe (but probably not--I'd probably buy Polo or Aramis first), but I don't think I'd drop coin for this. And since we're talking about what I'd buy, I would also buy Bel Ami and Equipage by Hermes, Yatagan by Caron, and possibly Incense Avignon by Comme des Garcons. And any scent that, when sprayed on my commputer, would magically put in all the diacritical markings that I'm too lazy to do right now.

That's pretty much all I can recall from that event. They gave us a gift bag with testers and a small purse which I promptly gave away in Central Park (You'd be surprised how difficult it is just to give away a purse). I LERVED the Baiser du Dragon (where have you been all my life?!), in spite of the fact that Turin hates it (he hates Spellbound too, but I'll NEVER give that up, even though I don't actually own any; maybe I should say I'll never give up the dream of owning a bottle to spray on my sheets); I thought the Declaration body wash didn't work well for the fragrance; I didn't really smell the Delices eau Fruitee, and I didn't smell the Must. And since I mentioned Luca Turn (yeah, I keep referring to Perfumes, the Guide, which I never bought but flip through all the time), I'm really wanting to get another bottle of Stetson and give it a try. I hearted it when I was super young. And I'd love to try Stetson Untamed, because it's supposed to smell like toasted marshmallows and cardboard. And of course, Stetson Suede, which I just saw tonight and isn't in the book, and couldn't possibly live up to its name, but you never know, right?

And that's the beep for now.


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