Perfume Directory

Must de Cartier (1981)
by Cartier


Must de Cartier information

Year of Launch1981
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 197 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerJean-Jacques Diener

About Must de Cartier

Must de Cartier is a feminine perfume by Cartier. The scent was launched in 1981 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Jean-Jacques Diener

Reviews of Must de Cartier

Must de Cartier (1981) is debut perfume for the jewelry house of Cartier. It was perfumed by Jean-Jacques Diener, who has little else to his name besides the obscure Cafe by Cofinluxe (1978), itself considered a near-clone of Yves Saint Laurent Opium (1977). Perhaps Must de Cartier was Jean-Jacques Diener's way of saying he could do something truly grand and original in the field of perfume, and considering by the success of the perfume and the fact he has no other releases listed on public record, I'd say he made his point. Must de Cartier seeks to marry several different styles of chypre together into one, forming delicious layers of freshness, sensuality, complexity, and transparency at a time when perfumes marketed to women were to wallop you with massive accords. Must de Cartier is by no means transparent by modern standards, and the sheer number of ingredients blended into the stuff by Diener place it somewhere near the level of classic Guerlain in terms of filigree, but Must de Cartier stays eminently wearable throughout all its many shifts, twists, and turns, thanks to a singular over-arching oriental theme that ties it into Diener's past work on Cafe, plus in some ways to the aforementioned Opium as well. It's hard to truly "get" Must de Cartier in one wearing, and even harder to summarize it to a layman unfamiliar with it, because of how much is going on in this perfume.

The opening of Must de Cartier os full of bergamot, tangerine, lemon, peach lactone, mandarin, aldehydes, neroli, all the good stuff you'd expect in a "grande dame" chypre for the mature woman. There is no playing around with soft leafy accords or juicy fruit notes here, just layered citrus and aldehydes followed by a huge punch of galbanum. That massive grassy note is a love or hate facet of many chypres from the late 60's into the early 80's, and here it asserts the green note that follows into the musky animalic oriental chypre hybrid base. Indolic jasmine, carnation, ylang-ylang, iris, orchid, rose, narcissus, and muguet create a who's who of bordello-grade sultry florals, with the ylang and iris "cleanup crew" to try and reign in the skank hopelessly before being hit by the warm base. Civet, leather, oakmoss, sandalwood, opoponax, coumarin, and vanilla all show up after some time on skin, and Must de Cartier becomes a battle royale between the green galbanum, florals, vanilla, and animalics by the end. You'd better be a fan of civet because just like Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles (1982), it remains a star player in Must de Cartier, just countered somewhat by the grassy top. Somewhat of a compromise between Bal à Versailles and something like Chanel No. 19 (1971), Must de Cartier is a powerful statement perfume that hides in moderated sillage, so wear with caution. I'd say Must de Cartier is best in spring and fall, as the civet-powered oriental base gets a bit much for warmer and more humid climates.

I think something like this can be worn by any gender that appreciates complex pieces of perfume art, assuming they can handle animal musks and that fresh-clipped-grass smell, as those are the things which stick out most to me. This heady floriental with a green twist is likely to be a hit with fans of things like Estée Lauder Youth Dew (1953) and Guerlain Jicky (1889), and really just cleverly mixes them with bits and bobs borrowed from chypres like Givenchy III (1971) and Jacomo Silences (1978), almost as if Jean-Jacques Diener was trying to make the late 70's/early 80's equivalent to something like Lanvin Arpège (1927). This is such a classy "grown up" and timeless perfume even so many years after its launch, it's no wonder Cartier was able to blossom their perfume business from this release into a full perfume house to rival their accessories, and although the very grassy edge of the galbanum may heavily date this in the eyes of some, with stanky ouds and ambers from the Middle East making waves in niche circles, there is nothing really out of place with wonderfully musky base of the stuff. Must de Cartier should be easy to test, as I still see it floating around in department stores that carry Cartier perfumes. Although vintage will have more of the good stuff in that base, I've sniffed both older and current with satisfaction, so if you don't feel like hunting potentially overpriced vintages, you'll still get respectable showing from what's available. Thumbs up!
28th September, 2019
If I found jasmine
And tangerine Shalimar
Would you believe me?
22nd September, 2018
This is about vanilla, civet, and bergamot. In the style of Shalimar, only lighter, less strong, and more subtle. I smell mostly the vanilla but it isn't gourmand.
15th September, 2017
They forgot to show the note of civet, in the pyramid. MdC, is first and foremost, a civet, galbanum and vanilla scent. You cant dismiss the civet, in this fragrance..its just, there.
28th November, 2015
I always wear this so comfortably and getting so many compliments by ladies and gentlemen! I have actually (and throughout the years) convinced many fellow gents to wear this! They simply love it, and, its unique soft powdery exclusive dry down. A masterpiece for me. Timeless.
02nd October, 2015
*** This mini-review is of the vintage parfum ***

Wearing Must de Cartier is an experience not too dissimilar to eating a Blumenthal signature dessert. They both boast layers after surprising layers of blissfully rendered ingredients.

The blending is smooth and I find any attempt to decipher its multiple notes a futile if not particularly useful exercise. It smells sweet in a bitter-almondy kind of way, rich but not heady, featuring warm ambery depths interspersed with subtle floral and resinous nuances.

Comparisons to oriental scent cousin CK Obsession are apt though the Cartier arrived on the scene four years earlier, prowls closer to the skin as a parfum and contains one key element that in my mind makes all the difference: civet.

Can a man wear this? Absolutely. But in all honesty I'd rather enjoy it up close and very personal on a woman.
11th July, 2015

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Must De Cartier by Cartier, Parfum Spray, 25mL / .8oz, aprox 80% full

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Vintage Must de Cartier Eau de Toilette miniature 4 ml perfume

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