Cartier L’Envol : Perfume Review


Despite dire prognoses that perfumery is dying and that “there is nothing good anymore”, this year brought a number of fragrances I was happy to discover, namely, Azzedine Alaia, Galop d’Hermès and L‘Envol de Cartier. I point out these three perfumes in particular, because I not only liked them, I wore them so much that they now can be called staples. That all three are easily available from the department store is a bonus point. I’ve reviewed Alaia and Galop here, while my discussion of L’Envol de Cartier appears in my FT column, Fragrance Inspired by Flight.


“The idea of a fragrance inspired by flight has two iconic precedents, both from the 1930s. Caron’s marvellous orange chypre En Avion was dedicated to the first women pilots such as Hélène Boucher and Amelia Earhart, while Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit paid homage to the writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. These are fitting associations because flight is key to understanding fragrance – perfume takes off in the air the moment the liquid touches the skin. Perfumers control the effects of their compositions by using materials of different volatilities – citrus and green notes soar in an instant; musks and woods are slower to become airborne.

But the science of olfaction aside, another reason perfumers, like many other artists, are attracted by the idea of flight is the combination of courage, daring and genius. It might seem impossible to capture such an abstract concept in a blend of aromatics, but it is precisely that which makes the task so appealing. Certainly, for perfumer Mathilde Laurent, the in-house nose at Cartier, this intellectual challenge was the highlight of months of work on new perfume L’Envol de Cartier. To continue reading, please click here.”

One observation I want to add to my review is that while L’Envol was designed as a masculine fragrance, it can be shared. I like the bracing opening, while the warm drydown of woods and honey is an elegant–and lingering–finish.



  • Nick: What surprises me in L’Envol is that the otherwise hefty notes of guaiac and treacly honey, it manages to feel transparent, becoming like a second skin.

    This years seems positive for a lot of fragrances. I cannot wait to see the annual Best of 2016 list! November 28, 2016 at 8:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s the surprising aspect. I find it such a striking perfume, addictive even. November 30, 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I tried a few weeks ago, and while I loved the opening and middle stages, the dry down was a bit bland. All in all very good, but it hasn’t entirely convinced me. Stunning bottle! November 28, 2016 at 9:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh well, you win some, you lose some. November 30, 2016 at 2:24pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Absolutely, but I will try again, I’m generally a Laurent fan, plus I had been trying other things as well that day. November 30, 2016 at 4:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: Anything interesting that you’ve come across? December 1, 2016 at 1:57am Reply

          • Austenfan: The very trashy but to me very attractive Amouage Myths Woman, Bois d’Encens, Fleur de Chine, and Lilac something by Amouage. The last one was just ghastly to me. and I think I may have tried some other things as well, but cannot remember. I was trying to find Galop by Hermès. December 1, 2016 at 4:45am Reply

            • Victoria: Amouage is also a hit or miss for me. One of my least favorite is Epic, but the Library collection is also not that interesting (and too expensive). December 1, 2016 at 9:27am Reply

              • Austenfan: I tend to like Amouage, but I definitely do not enjoy every single one. I like, but do not love Epic. I didn’t like Reflection, Ciel, Interlude, Journey or Honour, Sunshine and this Lilac thing. The only Library one I thoroughly enjoy is III. December 1, 2016 at 10:28am Reply

                • Austenfan: Oh, and Gold is still my firm favourite in the line. December 1, 2016 at 10:31am Reply

                • Victoria: That Lilac thing was indeed odd.

                  Gold, on the other hand, is a beauty. December 1, 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

  • spe: Your comments are inspiring me to open a sealed bottle of unreformulated En Avion this Christmas.

    The Eau de Cartier Rose is on my list to try today and I’m wondering how the rose eau and L’Envol might do together….and I need to give Gallup a serious try on the wrist.

    Vol de Nuit must have notes I’m anosmic to. I smell a blurry, flat nothing, so I know something is off with my sniffer!

    Lovely review – I especially like the quote you include from Mathilde Laurent. How many of my perfumes really accompany and encourage me? What would I wear using her criteria? November 28, 2016 at 9:28am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? I now wonder myself. What are your choices? November 30, 2016 at 2:24pm Reply

  • Alicia: I love Vol de Nuit, and wear it often. L’Envoi sounds very interesting. I remember that at some point Cartier had a fragrance for men also inspired by Santos Drummond. If I remember well it was named Santos. A friend of mine wore it, and told me the story of the Brazilian aviator, but I don’t remember the scent. Today it is sunny, inviting for a flight: I shall go in Vol de Nuit. November 28, 2016 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Now that you mention it, yes, there was something like that. Clearly, an inspiring individual (with very useful friends :). November 30, 2016 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Spe! what a pity that your Nose ( never call my beloved Nose a sniffer…) does not grasp Vol de Nuit! such a beautiful perfume. Before the reformulation it was my absolute favourite, and I wear the current one with pleasure. Sometimes I combine it with La Violette (Goutal).
    I am anosmic to L’Envol. In the first minutes I smell something woody, sharp, not agreeable to my Nose and afterwards the rest is silence. November 28, 2016 at 11:37am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: I find that so intriguing: not or only partially being able to smell a scent, or a related group of scents. I for instance cannot smell much of “Timbuktu” and I so much would like to …! November 28, 2016 at 12:06pm Reply

      • Victoria: Sometimes you can overcome these sensitivities with repeated exposure. November 30, 2016 at 2:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: Or non-sensitivities, I should say. November 30, 2016 at 2:28pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: That ‘s interesting! will try it! November 30, 2016 at 3:24pm Reply

    • spe: Hi Cornelia,
      So sad for me! Bvlgari Mon Jasmin Noir and I suspect Coco Noir – same thing. Vague, flat, underwhelming… I know I’m not smelling what others smell from the descriptions. Now Timbuktu I can smell. Love it, but it is my brother’s scent, so I don’t wear it. For sure I’m anosmic to musk and I suspect some of the woodsy / woodsy ambers. Probably I’m hypersensitive to other compounds as a result of the anosmias. For example, La Vie Este Belle I cannot tolerate. I envy you you’re ability to wear Vol de Nuit! What a glorious name and bottle and heritage! November 28, 2016 at 4:33pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, Vol de Nuit is a treasure. But I think you have your treasures too! There are so many glorious perfumes in the world. November 28, 2016 at 5:03pm Reply

        • spe: My treasures tend toward aldehydic florals and green chypres with the rare soft Guerlain here and there. The aldehyde and green notes probably jump out in my anosmic background, providing allure and excitement – that’s my guess. No fragrance has ever smelled “too big for everyday wear” to me. Hopefully I’m not overwhelming or smothering everyone in my path – but that may be the case! November 28, 2016 at 5:27pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Well, as long as nobody complains…go on! I think you smell wonderful. I have also many favourites among the aldehydes and the green chypres and the big drama’s! Only Portrait of a Lady is too strong, too exaggerated in my view.
            Aldehydes like Joy, No5, Le Dix, Rive Gauche, Arpège, Baghari etc. etc. and green chypres like Y, No 19, Scherrer, Sous le Vent, Futur, are so fascinating. Spray on, dear Spe, spray on!
            Which are your favourites? November 28, 2016 at 5:35pm Reply

            • spe: Favorite aldehyde is No. 22. Favorite green floral is No. 19 EDT and favorite chypre is a toss up between Eau de Soir and Caleche. One aldehyde that I’ve always liked is Infini, but not in parfum – too smoky on me.

              What scents closely resemble Futur? November 29, 2016 at 1:11am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: You smell gordeous, for sure! no22 is so beautiful. And you are right, Caleche is still one of the best, even after reformulation. I have the edt and one day will buy the pure perfume.
                Futur is rather special. Green, sharp, bitter. Maybe Palais Jamais (Etro) comes close. November 29, 2016 at 3:49am Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: gorgeous, of course! November 29, 2016 at 4:53am Reply

    • Victoria: The combination with La Violette sounded so good that I had to try it. It not only works harmoniously, the violet adds an interesting, velvety touch. Thank you! November 30, 2016 at 2:26pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: To my Nose Vol de Nuit has a wonderful dry note of violets. So I had the association with La Violette! November 30, 2016 at 3:23pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it makes perfect sense. La Violette also works, because it’s not too heavy and sugary. December 1, 2016 at 1:56am Reply

  • Tijana: Thanks for the great review, as always Victoria! ❤️

    I encountered this one I think a couple of months ago, when Nordstrom opened in Canada. I was browsing through their fragrance section, had not even heard Cartier launching a new one, but decided to sniff it. I liked it right away! Then a few weeks later I started seeing reviews of it online.

    I’ve been on a “masculine” fragrance kick lately, craving woods and musks, so really enjoying this one. But, fragrances being a very personal experience, I am noticing that it’s not getting tons of love on Fragrantica. I think it’s also a fragrance that may not be love at first sniff, but requires some repeated wearing. November 28, 2016 at 9:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also think that it needs some time on skin and a slow acquaintance. It doesn’t smell nearly as good on paper. November 30, 2016 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: To hear a lot of my old favorite perfumes mentioned in this post is very nostalgic for me. I once wore some of the mentioned ones in this post. I still love a lot of perfumes today, but years ago, although there were not hundreds of new perfumes every single month, the smaller list was more elegant and perfume was more exciting. November 28, 2016 at 11:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: There were fewer launches, but also fewer people could afford perfume. Today, it’s a big industry that targets everything and everyone. November 30, 2016 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Henrique Brito: I confess that my first impression with L’Envol is that it was daring for a masculine and so good it could be even a feminine indeed. My sister seems to share the same enthusiasm as yours for it, altough she just wanted it to be less airy. November 29, 2016 at 7:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for confirming it. I also find it easy to share. November 30, 2016 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Solanace: Santos Dumont AND Cartier? Count me in! Being a good Brazilian gal, I’m a huge fan of Santos Dumont and the 14-bis, and Cartier frags really hit the spot for me, from Déclaration to Baiser Volé and La Panthère. The delicious sounding notes don’t hurt, either! Thank you for reviewing it, Victoria. November 29, 2016 at 2:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Now, I’d love to hear what you think when you try it. Isn’t it a fun combination? November 30, 2016 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Aurora: What a wonderful way of classifying scents: inspired by flight, so poetic. I haven’t tried l’Envol yet but now I am looking forward to it. For En Avion, if money was no object, I would already have a bottle of extrait, my favorite concentration, instead of samples. Vol de Nuit I keep meaning to investigate more but when I tried it first as a teenager it failed to make the impression that l’Heure Bleue for eg made immediately. November 29, 2016 at 2:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! En Avion in the extrait version is heaven itself. November 30, 2016 at 2:32pm Reply

  • January: I’m such a yogi bear, such a Winnie the Pooh, I pour honey on anything I want to make nice. Would like to try this one. The frag that caught my attention and didn’t let go this fall was Sarah Jessica Parker Stash – strange name, unfeminine and so polished, all you need is a brocade smoking for a night of billiards at a gentleman’s club. November 29, 2016 at 10:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Smells of honey but not too sweet (and not too animalic.) November 30, 2016 at 2:33pm Reply

  • JulienFromDijon: I dislike L’envol as much as I love Mathilde Laurent.

    Blurred vanilla on a hazy monotonic musk base.
    There’s no evolution to check when a perfume is so soft spoken, and I’m bored.
    A very underwhelmed “L’heure perdue”, maybe?

    Smells nothing to me.
    It makes it worse that vanilla and musk are two overdone idea in perfumery, even with gaiac wood.
    Some have quote the “anosmic on musk” topic, and I shall go deeper on this trail. For now, I keep on my “the emperor is naked” blurt.

    I tried it many times, even an overspraying try, but the perfume gained no depth or 3D effect from it. So I gave up.
    I hate it when I love the nez, the name, the bottle, the concept…
    and the fragrance happens to be so dull to me. November 30, 2016 at 1:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Too bad. Thanks for sharing. November 30, 2016 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Sofie: Hmm, sounds intriguing! Let’s see if I can find a tester to sniff!!
    I tried Galop the other day, but it didn’t leave much of an impression… given, I was at the end of a sniffaton, so probably should revisit. I like the Azzedine too, the gorgeous bottle doesn’t hurt either. December 22, 2016 at 5:50am Reply

  • Vetiver: I am actually a woman pilot amid will investigate L’Envol further. I would very much like to try Vol de Nuit, since Guerlain is my favorite house, but it is hard to find in stores, though available online. Cartier designed the first men’s wristwatch for Santos-Dumont, an aviator who broke much new ground! I wear a Tank watch so L’Envol makes sense! I wear mens perfumes occasionally and Guerlain’s Vetiver when I fly. February 25, 2018 at 5:10pm Reply

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