Must de Cartier fragrance notes

  • Head

    • bergamot, tangerine, lemon, peach, mandarin, rose wood, galbanum, neroli
  • Heart

    • jasmine, leather, carnation, ylang ylang, orris, orchid, rose, narcissus, lily
  • Base

    • musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver, tonka, civet, benzoin, Opoponax, Oakmoss

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Latest Reviews of Must de Cartier

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I first encountered Must de Cartier some time ago whilst perusing the Neiman-Marcus perfume counters and mustering the courage to visit the ladies' fragrances counter. I was finally willing to take a dip in the "lady pond" and the rest was history. I was struck by the vivid orange color of the juice and the decidedly not-so-current design of the bottle (come to find out this was the 2000s formulation and the fragrance had already been around for over twenty years). I remember one of my first thoughts was, "gee, if I like this and purchase it, obviously NOT here at Neiman-Marcus, the bottle looks like that of a masculine." This was clearly a number of years ago. I sniffed it and was immediately floored.

This sharp green like the crack of the whip, layered over a vanilla and some fruit, whoa, I immediately fell in love. Thus started my love affair with the galbanum/vanilla contrast, which we would find in the original Calvin Klein Obsession, the Original Moschino, Krazy Krizia, among others (I have the and love the latter two, Obsession seems redundant at this point). I love the sweet fruit syrup rendered somewhat bitter and astringent through the galbanum. It reminds me a bit of biting into a not so ripe peach and chewing on citrus rinds. This settles into musty, dusty, dry florals with the vanillic amber and leathery undertones fading into the mix. The dry down is billowy, sensual, nuzzle-musky, with traces of green evident. I will always remember this (along with Hermes Caleche and Van Cleef & Arpels First) on that fateful day, as my jettisoning any care as to how fragrance is gendered, and I now think of how much beauty I would have missed if I constrained myself to male-marketed scents.
1st March 2023
Must opens as a great oriental, complex and stuffed with many ingredients. What makes it original is how it's infused with a great green galbanum up top to mids. So far really interesting and wonderful. However the galbanum segues into a screetchy laundry musk towards the mids and base and at that point all the goodness that came before was lost.
I had done a good dousing and I came real close to jumping in the shower.

Vintage mini
30th August 2021

Back in 1988, I fell head over heels in love with the original formulation. A friend had given me a sample, and I'd never smelled anything quite like it. I purchased a bottle (the one that came in the red leather sleeve), and wore it on special occasions. It was my all-time favorite fragrance.

Fast forward to 1998. I still had a tiny bit of the original bottle left, and I decided to buy another. I noticed that the look of the bottle had changed, but it was still Must de Cartier, right?

Imagine my utter disappointment when I realized it had been completely reformulated, and it smelled like a cross between Obsession, dirt and plastic. I thought that maybe it was just me, but I got a few friends to compare the old and new, and everyone agreed that the two were barely alike. Everyone also agreed that the new version had no appeal whatsoever. I was heartbroken.

I've heard it's been reformulated yet again, but after suffering such disappointment, I don't want to drop money on a new bottle, just in case it smells as bad as the 1996 version.

The original was amazing. The reformulation, not so much.
4th June 2020
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
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