Déclaration by Cartier {Perfume Review & Musings} {Men's Cologne of the Week}


Déclaration by Cartier was created in 1998 by renowned master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. The French nose also created most recently Terre d'Hermès as well as Paprika Brasil, which show the development of his art in the direction of minimalism.

Top notes for Déclaration are bergamot, coriander, mandarin, artemisia, neroli. Heart notes are cardamom, pepper, jasmine, cumin, orris. Base notes are cedar, vetiver, leather, and amber....

This perfume is a good example for me of what constitutes the two main personalities of a fragrance: the imagined one and the real one. In this case, they go their separate ways.

The first time this fragrance was brought to my attention was when someone I know was looking to buy fragrances to present as gifts abroad. With no possibility of returns to Sephora and with national pride in toe the gift had to be both risk-free and special. There were four suggestions made by a French SA, two for women and two for men. One of those was Déclaration by Cartier. This is how I learned that it was considered one of those you-can't-possibly-go-wrong fragrances. One always needs such information to live in society and so I decided to retain their names although I do not like to exert my memory too consciously, in principle. I always say it leaves more room for the imagination. There were J'Adore, Allure,....maybe Eau Sauvage (my offering to the god of imagination) and Déclaration.

So I imagined it to be the masculine equivalent of J'Adore and Allure and closer to Eau Sauvage than what it is in fact: the perfume embodiment of an adorable and sexy guy who loves to travel and eat world food. I would say now that it is the masculine version of Sira des Indes by Patou, which came afterwards in 2006.

Described as a woodsy, spicy and hesperidic fragrance and presented in a classical bottle, albeit not one that shies away from giving the classical nod to the phallus and named Déclaration I imagined something very middle-of-the-road, a little bit "bon chic bon genre" (BCBG) as you say in French. Not so, the perfume is resolutely on the exotic side seeming to contain all the spices found in India. The gourmand aspect is unmistakably present.

It starts with a very short first hesperidic prelude and then the spices appear sonorous and rich making you think of the sound made by two cymbals slammed together at the beginning of a symphony. A delicious cardamome then plays a little solo motif on a bed of rice, curry, and seemingly all the rest of the spices of the sub-continent. Then coconut chutney is served followed by palm sugar. We add a little bit of salt to create a savory taste. Next we have a creamy mix of everything aforementioned and then milky burnt sugar and later, honey. The movement now changes as more crystalline citrus notes reappear underneath the creaminess adding an element of tartness and transparency. Are you hungry? I am by now. After this episode, the drydown offers clean notes then animalic ones with a trace of leather then orris. The finale of the perfume is deliciously incensey.

I had no idea this was the music played by Déclaration. I wonder also what it is meant to be a declaration of? If it is declaring anything it is saying I am sexy and I love to cook which triples the level of sexiness in a man as far as I am concerned. You will love my spices and this how your wedding Indian spice box is going to smell like. Pheeew, it is getting a bit hot in here. Finally I do shower regularly but I am not averse to a little relaxation of the rules from time to time just to add a little salt to our relationship and plus some B.O. never hurt a leather jacket.

There you are, this is the sexy guy behind Déclaration. The fragrance is much less restrained than I imagined which I should have perhaps guessed after all with a name such as Déclaration. Something had to come all-out.

The scent feels almost unisex with the cedar treatment making it slightly more on the masculine side. I think I prefer this fragrance to Omnia by Bulgari or Sira des Indes by Patou, if you are looking for creamy exotic spices. To me it is most assuredly full-bottle worthy and as the ad suggests above (to me), it is worth stealing from your man.

The ad is from Images de Parfums.

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16 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Hélène,
    I loved your post, probably because I love Déclaration. :-) It proved to be one of my wisest acquisitions. I find it extremely elegant rather than sexy, but hey I'm a guy, so can't really see that aspect of it, although maybe it's the B.O. part (cumin!!!) most people seem to have a problem with that spells sexy for you, however I don't get that from Déclaration or I just don't register it as such. Should I ask people around me, maybe they are too polite to comment? :-)
    Anyway, I agree that it is creamy and I adore the spices in it, cardamom in particular. The smoked woods accord is what I think makes it so elegant for me. Also, the gourmand quality you speak of I perceive as a pure abstraction - it does conjure up Asian cuisine yet I am never tempted to reach for food (as I am with the women's Angel, for example). All this and a wonderful incensey sillage to boot (I believe due to smoked woods as incense is not listed among the official notes) - what more can one desire? :-)
    For a similar experience, you must try NEMO by Cacharel! I would love to hear what you make of it.

  2. Dusan,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Your remark about the elegance of this scent pushes me to put back a segment that read, regarding the sexy extrovert...and who is not devoid of elegance and refinement". There is that element but I'm really more struck by how whimsical in a way Ellena was with the composition of that perfume.

    I also wanted to add that I perceive an aqueous/ozonic note in the drydown which brings a clean feel to the fragrance. It is also noticeable when you smell the perfume from the bottle before applying it onto your skin.

    I think that cedar and vetiver can have a smoky hazy quality, on the other hand, it's not because a note is not listed that it isn't there.

    My remark about feeling hungry has to be taken in jest. It expresses my surprise and good mood at discovering the elegant gourmand facet of Déclaration.

  3. Hélène,
    I'll definitely start regarding myself as an elegant and refined, sexy extrovert! :-D
    Yes, there certainly is a "clean" (ozonic) accord running throughout the composition whose notes I cannot pinpoint exactly because I perceive them as muted into a "clean" finish, which, I believe, is JCE's trademark. And agree it can be smelled from the bottle!
    What is also characteristic of JCE are abstract-gourmand scents, in which he only suggest food without resorting to heavy doses of vanilla, chocolate etc., like in Vetiver Tonka - this is what I was trying, very clumsily it seems, to say ;-)
    I can see how it can make you hungry (jest or not), and I'm not in the least bit surprise that it does because, just like with you, Déclaration always manages to surprise me with its beauty and put a big smile on my face. It surely is delicious! :-D

  4. Yes, and I discovered that there is a hazelnut facet which is positively delicious.

  5. Add to that an Osmanthus impression in the longer drydown which might explain in part the slightly aqueous body of the perfume.

  6. Hm, must be that my olfactory powers are not as good as yours because I can't smell osmanthus in Déclaration :( Still, the aqueous aspect (albeit not of the marine sort) is undoubtedly there so I'll trust your word that it comes from osmanthus :-)
    P.S. I've worn Déclaration today ;-)

  7. I love this fragrance (JCE is up there at the top for me - Ambre Narguilé and l'Eau d'Hiver and Terre d'Hermes - wow!) but for some irreparably daft reason I've never owned a bottle. I'm about to change that however.

  8. Leopoldo,
    the very first thing I thought when I bought the bottle was - why ever have I waited this long to get m'self this beauty? :-)
    Love L'Eau d'Hiver, too.

  9. Leopoldo,

    This is precisely one of those fragrances that make me feel like the contents of the bottle would be used liberally and consumed quickly. The perfume has a little bit of a thirst-quenching quality about it that contributes to this feeling.

  10. Dusan,

    You're right to point out that there is a discrepancy between its beauty (= rare) and its availability. If this were a hard-to-find fragrance people would be saying how inconsolable they feel about its loss and wringing their hands out of despair. As it is we may only contemplate the possibility and shiver with relative safety.

  11. "We may contemplate the possibility and shiver with relative safety" - wonderfully put, Hélène! And so absolutely true.

  12. Hélène!
    Thanks for putting into words what I thought was MY secret:) Déclaration was my first JCE creation and I can't seem to get enough. It seems to me that Terre, Bigarade, Angeliques, Eau de Lalique, etc. all share something in common, something which I'm sure you can describe much better than I can. (I am looking forward to smelling the Hermessences and The Different Company's offerings.)
    Wonderful review!

    Hector Corpus
  13. Hector,

    I'm so glad my words were of any help to you:)

    That's a great idea; I'll keep the idea of doing a systemic review of JCE's perfumes in a corner of my mind.

  14. I can't wait!

    Hector Corpus
  15. Every time I smell this I am immediately transported to a hole-in-the-wall Indian grocery store: an overdose of too many spices and over-ripe, verging on spoiled, exotic fruits, with a hint of the proprietor's body odor adding to the mix. No, thank you. I like my curries on a plate, not smeared on my chest.

    Jim Barnett
  16. I learned after having written the review that Ellena in fact attempted to reconstitute a Russian tea impression, but like you, it made me think more of the sub-continent.

    However, I must say that I enjoy its fresh oriental aspect.


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