Cartier IV L’Heure Fougueuse : Perfume Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

While I have not been particularly taken by Les Heures de Parfum overall, my resolve melted when I tried IV L’Heure Fougueuse. Unlike with other fragrances from the collection, I did not have to go back and forth for days, trying to decide how I really felt and why they disappointed or pleased; the moment I applied L’Heure Fougueuse on my skin, I immediately fell under its spell. A few jasmine petals among the green tendrils, a hint of tobacco smoke, an illusion of warm, salty skin… What do they evoke? Perhaps, the scents of leather gloves, which still hold the perfume of its wearer, of a vintage purse, or of an old book with dried flowers between its pages. At any rate, when a perfume allows me to indulge in fantasies, it wins a place in my heart.

There is an interesting tension in L’Heure Fougueuse, which is created through the striking mossy-smoky accord set against a luminous layer of citrus and floral notes. If the initial impression of sparkling bergamot and lemon might lead one to expect a light and effervescent composition, the distant timbre of earthy vetiver and salty leather grounds the composition and lends it an alluring duskiness. The unique dry-green note of yerba mate, which Laurent weaves into many of her creations, is set into an intricate herbal accord with a distinctive leathery note. It is not the leather of a tanned hide like Robert Piguet Bandit, nor is it the smoky note of Chanel Cuir de Russie. Instead, it is the hay and horse mane scent that is present in flowers like narcissus and jasmine. While it is not a subtle touch in L’Heure Fougueuse, it is balanced out so well that this animalic, rough note actually lends a startling beauty to the perfume.

Developed by Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent for Les Heures de Parfum collection, L’Heure Fougueuse exemplifies her strong signature and ability to create unusual and memorable accords that are nevertheless very elegant. Laurent’s intimate knowledge of grand parfums is evident in the composition; its development recalls the introspective beauty of Guerlain Sous Le Vent. Unlike other fragrances from Les Heures de Parfum, L’Heure Fougueuse is more than just an original accord, however. While it is thoroughly modern, it is marked by a wonderful complexity that reminds me of fragrances of the past. It has a great, sophisticated sillage, and as a little black dress perfume, it is an excellent choice. That being said, it is androgynous enough to suit men, especially those who enjoy the understated elegance of fragrances like Christian Dior Eau Sauvage and d’Orsay Etiquette Bleue. Is $255 for 75ml far too much to pay? Probably yes, but L’Heure Fougueuse weaves a fantasy that tempts me sufficiently.

For another ode to L’Heure Fougueuse, please see Anita’s review on Perfume Posse. As always, Anita pin points what makes a perfume sing to her and does so with her wonderful sense of humor.

IV L’Heure Fougueuse includes notes of bergamot, magnolia, lavender, horsetail, maté, vetiver, oakmoss, musk, coumarin. Les Heures de Parfum fragrances are available at Cartier boutiques and Saks Fifth Avenue in the US.

Reviews of the entire Les Heures de Parfum collection: I L’Heure Promise :: IV L’Heure Fougueuse :: VI L’Heure Brilliante :: VII L’Heure Deféndue :: VIII L’Heure Diaphane :: X L’Heure Folle :: XXII L’Heure Mystérieuse :: XXIII La Treiziéme Heure

Sample: 4ml sample from Cartier.

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20 Comments

  • dee: Let me quote Birgit, because she said it perfectly:

    “I just smelled it. My God, it is love.”

    I’ve got nothing more to add! January 31, 2011 at 1:21am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Let me add something 😉
    I have been waiting for this review, because it has been a while that I have fallen so hard and so completely for a perfume. L’Heure Fougueuse is incredibly beautiful. I am fully prepared to save up for this, although I don’t quite see why it has to be so expensive, but it is worth it. “When a perfume allows me to indulge in fantasies, it wins my heart” perfectly put, thank you, dear V! January 31, 2011 at 3:39am Reply

  • Victoria: It is definitely a beautiful, unique fragrance. In this case, I am ready to pay the price for Laurent's skill alone! January 31, 2011 at 8:08am Reply

  • Victoria: Something you said the other day in our Cheap and Chic thread resonated with me. You mentioned being ready to pay the price as long as the perfume warranted the expense. I agree, in this case it does. I also do not see why it has to be so pricey though, but the packaging is surely luxurious, even for those tiny samples. January 31, 2011 at 8:11am Reply

  • Rowanhill: Excellent review as we have been used to. It is always a pleasure to read your blog. So, off to Cartier I go… sniff and whiff, and if I like it, then to Perfumed Court for a proper decant to test the love. January 31, 2011 at 8:42am Reply

  • Musette: Victoria,

    Bless you for a wonderfully coherent review – it’s a perfect balance to my insane babbling over at the Posse! 🙂 This scent was such a sucker-punch for me. I absolutely fell for it – but I can’t tell you why, exactly! Perhaps that’s the beauty of it?

    Alas, I will be saving my simoleans for this one, too. Mme Laurent snagged me the last time with Brillante – and that, too, was one of those obsessive ‘needs’. Luckily my Cartier people are sooo nice – they indulged my constant sampling until I was absolutely sure. I have never regretted that Brillante purchase, btw.

    xoxoxo January 31, 2011 at 8:46am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you! 🙂 I was very impressed with this fragrance, and I am debating whether to go for instant gratification of TPC decant or waiting till I save up for a full bottle. January 31, 2011 at 9:19am Reply

  • Victoria: There is something very beguiling about this fragrance, almost haunting. I love how she eschews heavy florals and the usual "sexy" notes, but this is one seductive, alluring fragrance.
    I loved your review, not only do I love how you pin point what makes this perfume sing to you, but also it made me smile. 🙂 January 31, 2011 at 9:22am Reply

  • sweetlife: Well, my goodness, I guess I will have to smell this one. 😉

    You know, V., you have me thinking about how it would be possible to signify “luxury” in perfume to a consumer without insane packaging and an absurd price point. Especially now, when all that packaging runs exactly counter to the push for recycled and re-used material. Though perhaps that is exactly what makes it feel so luxurious–the wasteful excess of it…

    I think rare and exotic ingredients, or just lots and lots of precious ones, have been the default sign of luxury in the past–the thousands of roses packed into a bottle of Joy, for example. Now, maybe it should be composition, artistry, but how to make that clear to a consumer who doesn’t have a basis of comparison? Should they have to have one? So many of perfume’s most interesting questions pop up right there, on the line between commerce and art. January 31, 2011 at 12:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, you touch upon so many interesting points, I almost feel like writing an essay to you on this topic. 🙂
    The issue with expensive ingredients ties in with my favorite topic, as you know–education. The consumer is bombarded with so much cheap "luxury" today, vulgar and cheaply made. Not just in fragrance, but in other areas… I just do not even know what to feel more frustrated about, the rising price of luxury or the cheapening of perfume quality overall. January 31, 2011 at 1:06pm Reply

  • sweetlife: We should continue to talk about it–and about the possible role of education in particular–sometime soon! For me, one of the most interesting things is how quickly my non-perfume friends become “educated.” It really only takes two or three sniffs of excellent perfume to show them what they’ve been missing and turn them into complete snobs. 😉 Of course, they won’t be able to distinguish originality very well without knowing the field, but maybe they don’t need to do so–I’m not sure.

    Love the way all the old questions I used to have about literature–what’s good, what’s not, how to tell, whether it should matter–resurface in perfume… January 31, 2011 at 1:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: I notice the same thing! Plus, smelling is an exciting process, and the more one smells, the more one becomes attuned to a whole new world of scents around.

    I agree, these questions resurface, probably because they are quite applicable to so many spheres. I had a conversation on this same topic about dance with a friend the other day. 🙂 January 31, 2011 at 1:40pm Reply

  • Marina: Will I like it? 🙂 The horsey accord does sound alluring. January 31, 2011 at 4:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: With your new tastes, I do not know :)) , but I think that you will definitely find it beautiful and original. It also wears beautifully, assuming a bit of a smoky floral effect on my skin. January 31, 2011 at 5:43pm Reply

  • violetnoir: Uh, oh, V! If you liked this one that much and, like me, have not been that thrilled by the rest of the collection, I am in trouble.

    I guess I will have to test this one in the next few weeks.

    Hugs! January 31, 2011 at 11:34pm Reply

  • Victoria: Let me know what you think! I would be so curious to see how you find it. Do give it some time to develop too, because it is not one of those immediate impact perfumes.
    If the rest of the collection were like this, I would be in serious financial trouble! 🙂 January 31, 2011 at 11:43pm Reply

  • Vanessa: I have just caught up with this one, thanks to a sample from Suzanne K, and before I got to the part of your review that mentions Sous le Vent – having resoundingly agreed with your beautiful description up to that point! – I was reminded of SLV very markedly. It is something about that faintly granular and sherbety aspect, though it is too acerbic in SLV for me and I went off that one in the end, while here it is nicely rounded out by the other notes in this composition. January 12, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

  • Victoria: I can definitely see that, Vanessa, and I agree. The round, caressing drydown is the reason I find this fragrance so alluring. January 12, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

  • Edward: Hi Victoria,

    I am scheduled to buy this tomorrow and I cannot wait to experience myself all the positive words attributed to this perfume!

    Will update you on my impression on this one! Hwve a good day!

    Edward March 1, 2013 at 2:26am Reply

  • Emily: This perfume is such a lovely scent of horse’s soft nose — hay, warm animal skin, earth, a sweetness like carrots on the breath. My other favorite horse-scent is Serge Lutens Chergui. Both are evocative and true while remaining perfumes one would love to wear. December 19, 2013 at 11:10am Reply

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