Les Heures de Parfum is Cartier’s entry into the luxury perfume market. Although the luxury jeweler and watchmaker has been making fragrances since 1981, the house created the line of exclusives in 2009 after the recruitment of Mathilde Laurent as the brand’s in-house perfumer in 2005. Since then, Laurent has worked as the company’s creator of bespoke perfumes, a service that attracts an asking price starting at around US$48,000. Her other main project has been Les Heures des Parfum, a line of fragrances offered in a very select number of department stores worldwide and the house’s own flagship boutiques. Each fragrance marks an hour of time. Each hour marks an olfactory moment. The collection to date holds eight hours of time. Within the next four years, thirteen fragrances will complete the collection. As a perfumer, Laurent began her studies at the prestigious Institut Superieur du Parfum des Cosmetiques et des Aromes Alimentaires near Versailles. Her dedication earned the graduate perfumer an internship with Jean-Paul Guerlain. This lead to eleven years of employment with the perfume house. L’Heure Promise is a beginning. The bottle is marked with the Roman numeral I. The same Roman numerals used on the brand’s iconic watch faces. Cartier describes this first hour as the delicate scent of all first times. Mathilde Laurent says, “ L’Heure Promise (is) the hour of angels, because in reality, this is the scent of an angel”.
L’Heure Promise is to me, what seems to be part of a growing trend of simple, elegant fragrances. The only complexities that are allowed to exist come from the high quality of natural ingredients and not from the perfumer’s hand. Cartier’s Les Heures, exemplifies this style of perfumery. L’Heure Promise is a short poem, whose structure is built upon four key notes. The first is petitgrain, the oil extracted from the twigs of the bitter orange tree. The freshness of this green note ushers in the iris rhizome. This delicate powder is allowed to shimmer and dazzle the senses without suffering from the distraction of competing notes. For me, this is true luxury, to experience this wonderful raw material without adulteration. As the hour progresses milky sandalwood and white musk carry the fragrance to its end. The predominantly synthetic ending is an interesting choice and a risk considering some critics believe luxury houses invest a majority of their budget on packaging in comparison to what is spent purchasing raw materials. Regardless of this public sentiment, L’Heure Promise ends with magic, a magic I do not think is obtainable with naturals.
Iris fans should find delight in this creation. It is pure and angelic. In comparison to Jean-Claude Ellena’s sweaty Declaration, Laurent’s iris filled promise is milk-fed, delicate and juvenile. L’Heure Promise provides its wearer with a cloak of innocence.
Soft floral fans of: Bvlgari Eau Parfumee Au The Blanc, Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis, Serge Lutens L’Eau, Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa.
Iris fans of: Chanel No 19 EDP, Chanel No 19 Poudre, Serge Lutens Bas de Soie, Guerlain Apres L’Ondee, By Kilian Prelude to Love.
Perfumer: Mathilde Laurent, Sabrina Daninos
Bottle designer: Studio de Creation Cartier
Release date: 2009
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Soft Floral