Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent is creating one of the best collections across the board of any designer house. I look forward to everything Cartier releases because of her. If there is any collection which has not lived up to my expectation it has been the Les Heures Voyageuses. Through a set of three releases in 2014 and one in 2015 Mme Laurent has used this collection to explore the many facets of oud. In the first three releases she did intense two note examinations matching up oud with rose, musc, and even more oud. I liked them but they seemed like Mme Laurent working within someone else’s confines. It wasn’t until last year’s Oud Radieux that I felt her hand on the wheel. There are two new additions to the collection this year. One is literally a mixture of three or four sources of oud into a fragrance named Oud Absolu. It is a good perfume for someone who has never smelled real oud. On the other hand, if you have it is diluted down to a presumed palatable level which keeps the oud from being as dynamic as it could be. Thankfully the other new release, Oud & Santal, doesn’t have that issue.
Oud & Santal had me a little bit worried because it is also a classic pairing with oud. If Mme Laurent was going back to what the first three offered it was going to be disappointing. What I admired about Oud Radieux was the way Mme Laurent pulled something outside of the oud to use as contrast. The same thing happens in Oud & Santal as she employs a rich plum note to provide an oddly satisfying syrupy quality.
Oud & Santal opens with that super sweet viscous plum. If you’re familiar with Japanese plum wine it is all of the sweet of that and none of the booziness. In short order the plum oozes all over the oud. The oud here is that smelly gym socks and bandages kind of oud. The plum tames it with the sweet fruitiness. As the sandalwood approaches from below it also tames it with the sweet creamy woodiness characteristic of that material. The sandalwood matched with the oud is a classic combination because each fills in the gaps of the other. Drenched in plum syrup it is like this was the missing third piece.
Oud & Santal has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
As she did with Oud Radieux Mme Laurent has taken an unusual note to graft onto a classic oud combination. It leads to something I am surprised to find as compelling as it is as this kind of fruitiness usually does not appeal to me. In the case of Oud & Santal it makes the plum desirable along with the expected woody duet.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Saks fifth Avenue.