Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Roadster by Cartier: fragrance review

by guest writer Mike Perez

I have been a fan of fragrances with mint, for quite some time now. Mint is prominently featured in many men’s fragrances and I think it’s a ‘love or hate’ note. Either one enjoys the bracing, vivified effect from this sharp, pungent herb – or it negatively conjures up olfactory images of aperitifs, mouthwashes and toothpaste.

Roadster, the new men’s fragrance from Cartier (by perfumer Mathilde Laurent [Shalimar Light and Cologne du 68 by Guerlain]), marketed as a mineral fougère - mixes notes of bergamot and mint with vetiver, patchouli, cashmere wood, cistus labdanum and vanilla. I’m not sure if Cartier (or the men out there Cartier is trying to sell to) fully understands the mineral fougère categorization. Nonetheless Roadster, smells wonderful.

The top notes are dominated by a soft, yet instantly recognizable ‘green’ diffusion of galbanum. I admire this entry (being a fan of ‘green’ fougères like the classic country cologne Devin by Aramis) and can appreciate the oh-so-smooth transition to the next herbal explosion of mint. Mint is tricky (sharpen it too much in a lackluster scent and it radiates menthol), but this mint is subdued, slightly cool to the back of the nose when sniffed and slightly foamy. I’m reminded of the smell I taste, when swallowing mint infused bottled water (such as Metromint).

Unlike some mint fragrances that tingle and cool my skin when applied (Booster by Lacoste by the masterful Jean Kerleo; the limited edition Feuille Verte by Creed; Eau d’Orange Verte Refreshing Body Gel by Hermes) – Roadster’s cooling properties happen only in my nose. It eschews the typical ‘sport’ vibe of mint and uses it in a more sophisticated, modern version of ‘fresh’. This makes sense, since Cartier chose to release this scent right before autumn and the arrival of cooler weather (when a cooling mint fragrance wouldn’t be appropriate).

The base notes are slightly woody (very faint) and sweetly vanilla prominent. Ms. Laurent’s past work for Guerlain shows in the dry down. Complex, blended, subtle whiffs of the fragrance combine with the mint, vanilla and woods in a very unique accord: a fresh baked, delicate vanilla and cream pastry with a steaming hot cup of herbal mint tea. I found myself catching whiffs of myself all afternoon when I first tested this – inwardly smiling.

The Roadster bottle (held horizontally on its side), mimics the hand dial of the Roadster watch by Cartier (which itself mimics the design of a roadster automobile). Heavy, clear glass and polished chrome cap. It’s worth noting that the bottle is VERY heavy. It feels solid in your hands. Perhaps too heavy, for easy application of the scent (held vertically). But…wrapped up in a gift box – it’s solid and substantial weight would make a great gift (who isn’t intrigued by a small, heavy, wrapped present?)

Roadster by Cartier is available in 100 ml. and 50 ml. (Eau de Toilette) for $100 and $75 (although I have seen the 100 ml online - discounted at $73). Visit the extremely slick (and slow loading Flash based) website here: roadster.cartier.com

Notes for Cartier Roadster: bergamot, mint, vetiver, patchouli, cashmere woods*, cistus labdanum, vanilla

Watch the interesting video with Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent talking about Roadster and the Cartier fragrance line!

*Cashmere woods or Cashmeran is a IFF patented, complex aromachemical that provides a beautiful, velours note with diffuse nuances of earthy-wood and spicy notes (pine, patchouli), fruits and flowers (heliotrope, red fruits, apples and jasmine) and is softly musky-vanillic. It's featured in Ysatis, Amarige, Michael, Lacroix Rouge, Perles de Lalique, Dans tes Bras and many more.

Pic of Henry Cavill courtesy of Jocasta/Photobucket, chosen by helg. Clip originally uploaded by Primeprojects on Youtube. Bottle pic courtesy of Cartier and of Roadster watch courtesy of jomashop.


  1. Gadzooks, reading this almost makes me want to go out now and buy some. But my wife would either fail to recognise me, or else suspect that something 'was up' (as they say) if I wore anything apart from Paco Rabanne.

  2. I like mint in scent too- although strangely I don't enjoy something like mint confectionary but I suppose mint scent is more like fresh mint which I do love.

    This does sound interesting indeed. It would be even more interesting if it came with Henry Cavill to test it on!

  3. Anonymous14:48

    the dotterel -

    Go out, buy some and tell your wife you're trying to seduce her with your new fragrance! (wink)

  4. Anonymous14:55

    rose -

    Please try this. Mint is tricky, however I've seen it used so very differently in fragrances to such wildly different effects.

    Before I smelled this, I always referred to Peppermint (Sherbet Series) by Comme des Garcons as my mint holy grail scent. But the CdG is zingy, nostril clearing and very bracing. Much like a drop of peppermint essential oil in your bathtub.

    Roadster is much different. It is comfy, velvety and scrumptious. Rather like a vanilla flavored candy cane.

  5. Anonymous18:18

    I will try it, because I don't think that I have ever tried mineral fougère.
    Hmm, it looks like this blog will be flooded by pics of Cavill from now.:-)I have nothing against it...

  6. Anonymous19:43


    Thanks for the review--can you elaborate on the persistence issue? I have told that the development of the fragrance is rather fast so you thoughts would be greatly apprecaited.

    The Cartier fragrances have always been a bit heavy for my taste but I like Laurent's works for Guerlain enough to give this a try.


  7. Anonymous20:59

    lavinia -

    Well the mineral fougere term is really just a marketing term. Un classified, though, this scent just smells good. Not sure I'd call it 'mineral' - which do me conjures up notes of sparkling water or multivitamins. :)

    Oh and yes, doesn't the internet need more pictures of Henry Cavill floating around? Thank God for Perfume Shrine!

  8. Anonymous21:07

    albertcan -

    Longevity is such a personal thing. Everyone seems to have such a different impression of longevity, it's really hard to generalize.

    Roadster lasts as a personal, close-to-the-skin scent - for about 5-6 hours. It is NOT a powerhouse fragrance (which is what I think a lot men expect from a Cartier fragrance). However, if you enjoy Laurent's fragrances and how she blends notes with a very Guerlain-ish touch (for lack of a better word) then I think you will enjoy the drydown and persistence of Roadster.

    Yes, it does transition quickly from the top to the middle - but from the middle to the base notes it slows down a bit.

    This is not a fragrance to be lightly applied: Testing it, I sprayed it on my chest, back of neck, arms and a small spray on my clothes. It persisted quite nicely.

  9. Somehow the comments on mr.Cavill seem more like a request than an observation to me, therefore duly noted and please enjoy :-)

  10. Anonymous18:07

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Spamming advertising will be relentlessly deleted.

  12. Anonymous01:03

    Dear Mike,

    Thanks for answering my question: I was afraid that it would vanish rather quickly on the skin (too many horror stories to tell). And yes, persistence is a personal issue so I was looking for a general ball park: a good 5-6 hours is reasonable so I'll give it a try this weekend.


  13. Anonymous10:27

    Hy! Just one question. Does anybody know the name of the track used for the Roaster clip? I really enjoy it, but couldn't find this information anywhere on the net. Thank you!


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