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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.
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.
21st October, 2008