mythical ambrosia favoured by Greek gods as they loitered above the clouds on Mount Olympus
photography & words SHINI PARK created for CARTIER

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The lifts at Fondation Cartier pour L’Art Contamporain glide up without hesitation, gradually lending a slightly more scenic view over the 14th arrondissement at each level. The hubbub of the foyer is long since muffled as I step off onto the top floor and into the office/laboratory of Cartier in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent. Later I would realise, that this 20-second ascension would be more symbolic of this brief stint to Paris than any souvenir I dare brought home.

The office is through a set of corridors and the laboratory itself, and I can’t help but observe the distinct lack of smell, or scent, until I reach Mathilde’s light-swathed office. “Sorry, I’d hoped it would be sunny for you!” she says entering, beaming, with a box of Ladurée macarons in her hands. She is like a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.

And despite the twenty-four fragrances developed under her tenure – L’Envol de Cartier being the latest – the office doesn’t boast one in particular. None, rather. At the same time it triggers an explosion of senses.

There are philosophical quotes on the windows hand-written by Mathilde herself; plants – dry, cut, fresh, amongst vials and tester arms from the laboratory; and behind her desk, a collection of shoes and magazines – glittery Miu Mius and gold-painted Converses. The space has a Phillipe Starck-like sense of humour. In the meantime, Mathilde nurses a pot of Juk-ro (죽로차] (a South Korean black tea from bamboo leaf) that she calls her drug. The earthy, almost cake-like smell of the tea mixes with the crisp November air that seeps in from the open balcony door and all my senses stir awake.

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My genius is in my nostrils
– Nietzsche

We talk about macarons (she has my favourite: orange blossom), her daughter, and intuition. She waves me over to her desk where she brings over a stack of Cartier signature red jewellery boxes and points at one labelled XI – aptly named, L’Heure Perdue, and launches a stunning video clip that illustrates the scent as I inhale the inside of the box. “It smells like a warm hug”, I say sheepishly. and then learn that this overtly human, emotional scent was composed using only molecular ingredients.

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There is something mythological, and abstract about her approach to her work in fragrance. Her eleven years at Guerlain and the eleven now at Cartier would attest to that – her latest creation L’Envol is perhaps the perfect embodiment. Inspired by ‘Hydromel’, the immortality mead of Olympian gods and theoretically designed for men, L’Envol is not a caricature of masculinity. It is an embodiment of intuition, bravery and the split-second of panic/elation when something takes flight – a wild idea perhaps, or a hot air balloon. The fragrance blends Gaiac wood with notes of honey on intense musk and patchouli, and is presented in a refillable bottle; another tribute to the Cartier belief that every one of its objects should last forever.

As I say goodbye to Mathilde and make my descent to catch my taxi back to the station, I feel as I’ve stolen away a vial of liquid luck from the clouds.

A waist-high black panther guards Laurent’s office

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“Listen to your instincts when you buy perfume, it has the power to set you free.”

– Mathilde Laurent

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Write a Comment

16 Comments

  1. I have to try it!

    Don’t miss today on the blog my party outfit proposal for these Xmas festivities…where black and blush colors are the protaginists ! ;)
    .
    ❤Kisses from http://www.withorwithoutshoes.com

  2. […] post L’Envol de Cartier appeared first on PARK & […]

  3. Love this post

    http://thedaydreamings.blogspot.com

  4. La Bijoux Bella | by mia

    Beautiful photos. Such an interesting post! Very lovely! :)
    Merry Christmas.

    ❤LA BIJOUX BELLA❤ | BY MIA | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

  5. What an interesting post! x

    Jessica — NinetyCo

  6. Always love your posts!

    http://www.evdaily.blogspot.com

  7. Tsai Elena

    I love the way you edit your photos !! Amazing!!!

  8. I am so fascinated by scents and perfume. I feel like a smell can define you – it creates a mood, an aura, when I spray my favourite perfume before a big night out I feel so much more confident. This is the most amazing experience ever – It’s my dream to be able to go behind the scenes and see how these scents come about!

    Plus.. some macaroons would be great too! Hehe

    x
    Shloka
    thesilksneaker.com

  9. Such a lovely place this is <3

    xoxo Eva | http://www.evakindles.com

  10. […] post L’Envol de Cartier appeared first on PARK & […]

  11. This was seriously beautifully written.

  12. cool

  13. Fantastic pictures!
    Merry Christmas! Wish you all the best!

    http://MARTASFASHIONDIARY.com/burgundy-and-pink/

  14. Love this post!

    http://pinklemonincrystal.blogspot.kr

  15. Beautiful post, love those photos

    http://myeternalsymphony.com

  16. […] L’Envol de Cartier is a delightful feature article, currently headlining her website, recounting an afternoon spent with the Cartier in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent. In this piece, Shini successfully conveys the image of an eccentric office-space and the warm ambience of the encounter – both with and without the aid of the gorgeous photographs strewn about the page in an artistically careless manner. […]