L'Envol advert © Cartier
Cartier introduced a new pillar masculine scent last year, which it has positioned as an innovative composition - a claim apparent in their labeling of L'Envol as an "aero-woody" fragrance; it is a cue to raise our expectations of new creative frontiers being pushed further West.
L'Envol is a highly researched composition by in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent, where originality and creativity are to be found alongside tradition and more conventional nuances. The dominant impression however is that L'Envol is cutting-edge...
The opening of the eau de parfum is very seductive, recalling the smooth, horsey leather of Dzing ! by l'Artisan Parfumeur, but also the violet-inflected fresh leather and hay of Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene. The mead accord is both sweet and musky. You get a sense however that the fragrance is more about the reinvention of a floral-leather perfume, rather than a new breed of "aero-woody" scents.
New sensations nevertheless are puzzling enough to let you imagine that it is as if a person were hanging in the air, barely, with the tip of her/his fingers holding onto the edge of giant, primeval corollas. The perfumer has riffed on floral notes to bring them to their ultimate logic: honey, offering us the point of view of bees.
Can you imagine a field of supersized flowers whose invisible tendrils are made of honey? This is what it feels like: a shifting of perspective. It is in essence what this is about: smelling the highest top notes of flowers, catching that subtle honeyed note hanging in the air and deciding to turn what is subtle into a glaring, monstrous, solar note of honey - the natural sillage of flowers.
You don't need to get high on mead to get intoxicated by the vision and the smell that has been manufactured. While the perfume makes use of the nectar accord, it is also at another level about mimicking an inebriety of the senses, as when you smell deeply lush flowers and you may feel "intoxicated". Sensations are so rich that your senses are overloaded with stimuli.
After that, the fragrance takes on a harder tack smelling of a mix of mineraly - even stony - nuances. This is the most conventionally masculine stage of the fragrance, albeit, in exaggerated form. It smells of an overdosed dihydromyrcenol wrapped in honey.
The gradual unveiling of a warm ambergris bottom, even smelling of baby powder in the end, rounds off the scent in its third main stage.
The flacon is rechargeable © Cartier
Contrasts are to the nose, first, the transition from the fireworks of honey, flower and soft leather, to colder, harder, more masculine industrial and techy smells; second, a modern, urban and cold atmosphere against a backdrop of warm, naturalistic ambergris, then talcum powder.
Another cultural reference the perfume makes to a predecessor is to Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens, a Brutalist honey and gaïac scent. In L'Envol, the honey is effervescent, explosive, but also subtle and light as air. This is because it is influenced by the conception of a godly beverage.
What we feel after a while is that this near-ethereal smell of fermented honeyed aqua divina gets akin to disembodied incense (thanks to the smokiness of Gaïac wood also known as "Saintly Wood" or "Holy Wood").
Incense is the traditional delicatessen of the gods. Now, add a smoky, celestial mead note trying to rise high up in the sky for a chance to please a god's nostrils and tastebuds.This mythological dedication is the supporting idea for justifying the transparency of a sweet, pleasing beverage. It reminds you of the novelty cacao cigarettes you were supposed to inhale, through the mouth, you mere mortal, a few years back.
In smelling, rather than eating what is normally edible and ingestable, we are willy-nilly invited to participate in the essence of what the divine means for humans.