Les Rivières De Cartier – Astonishing, Innovative, Unfinished Compositions
Fragrance Reviews

by Eddie Bulliqi
07/01/21 07:30:31 ( 6 comments )

Cartier’s new unassuming “eau fraiche” collection, entitled Les Rivières De Cartier ("The Rivers of Cartier"), blends into the background – the bottles are generic, as are the notes lists and promise of “the life and raw beauty of water … [as a] mirror that purifies and guides us towards self-awareness.” The offering appears so boring and banal that you’d be forgiven for not giving Cartier’s Rivers a second thought. I hope this article encourages those who, like me, were disinterested to stop and smell Les Rivières – I find them astonishingly evocative, captivating, and innovative compositions worthy of anyone’s time. 


At the same time, they feel decidedly unfinished, like simple charcoal sketches that omit detail in favour of figurative abstraction and compositional skeleton to get to the emotional heart of a scene. In smell, each of the trio possesses a pared-down simplicity and focus in which three or four carefully balanced components orbit a clear theme. I just reviewed Acqua di Parma’s Note V, intended by the brand to act as olfactory symphonies: complex, enveloping, and bountiful. Cartier’s Les Rivières couldn’t be more different, performing more like a string quartet: intricate, legible, and precise. 

To these ends, one can easily imagine that Les Rivières’ journey from perfumer’s accords (short, simple formulae that are generally intended as building blocks for larger, fuller compositions) to finished perfumes was expedited and intuitive, not seeing many changes in the editing process. If that was the case, I think the development team made the right choice, as all three of Les Rivières perfectly capture the contemporary trope for experience-driven, nature-focused perfumery that makes the ordinary extraordinary. Last preface: Do not trust the triangle for Luxuriance, Allégresse, or Insouciance! Despite their natural feel, each throws out uncanny, unexpected synthetics, fully open to interpretation. 


With Luxuriance, the green you expect as cued from the bottle is mirrored in the scent, with one of the most interesting textures I’ve come across for a long time, conveying the crisp bite and snap of young leaves or just-picked lettuce. It’s the “wild herbs” accord that carries the body of the scent, conjuring the bitter energetic taste of dill or watercress, verdant and spicy, alongside a transparent buoyant note of mint that cools and calms the vibrancy of the vegetal vibes. Geranium and fern impart a balsamic whisper that, in combination with the side salad feel of the top, portrays a very savoury personality to the whole. In my opinion, this really is a must-smell. It’s surprising and satisfying in all the right ways. Think Cartier’s own Roadster mixed with Tauer’s Pentachord Verdant and you’re halfway there.  


Allégresse is not your standard fruity floral, as may be implied by the tuberose-blackcurrant blueprint. The hyacinth opening is mutated into a shrill, metallic chime whose soapy undertones resonate strongly with Paco Rabanne’s Genius Me from the Pacollection. Tuberose is not immediately intelligible but reveals a background warmth that is unlike almost anything I’ve encountered, reminiscent of yeast and freshly baked bread – that unmistakable hearty, oaty, clammy aroma of a warm loaf taken out of the oven. As the indolic notes gain ground, still presented in an opaque and light-stained style expected of summer splashes, one can smell the intellectual presence of Tom Ford’s Tubéreuse Nue crossed with the popcorn texture of Jeux de Peau. In combining savoury gourmand, lactonic, and floral facets with the freshness and delicacy of traditional eaux fraiches, Mathilde Laurent has produced something exceptional and innovative. 


The last of the trio, Insouciance, is the least daring but none the less beautiful. The powdery facet of sweet-shop Parma violets hits you first, fresh-faced and sour, but the presence of a green, earthy backdrop below balances the sweetness, recalling the sharp spice of a carrot eaten raw, or the kick ginger upholds when mixed into a smoothie. As time goes on, iris picks up steam (both in the sense of strength but also adding supplemental infections of humidity and watercolour), ending in the citrusy style of Prada’s classic Infusion d’Iris.  


What’s your take on Les Rivières De Cartier? Comment below!


Eddie Bulliqi

Eddie Bulliqi Columnist

Eddie Bulliqi is a writer and speaker who analyses what people want from their senses, specialised in the interpretation of tastes and smells, with a background in musicology and history of art. He has worked with Coty, the Estée Lauder Companies, Esxence, the Institute for Art and Olfaction, and the World Perfumery Congress. For Fragrantica, he produces trend reports, interviews, raw material studies and reviews.

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News Comments

Write your comment

kl99 07/05/21 03:11

I've actually tested them and surpirse they are differents from the all the same summer cologne, basical and simples likevthe mugler ones.
Those are all quite bitter and weird, leafy, and aromatics a nice unexpected found.

Judespeak 07/03/21 16:46

I'm not sure these speak to me, but I would not be against trying them. Cartier is a very underrated house, with the superb Mlle. Laurent at the helm.
Essence Musc Eau de Parfum

imimsd12 07/02/21 18:38

I smelled these last week at saks and not my taste ..could be more feminine
Attaquer le Soleil Marquis de Sade

dogmeat 07/02/21 15:22

I smelled them all at Macy's...they are all very pretty. I loved the opening of Insouciance. The drydown of Allegresse on the tester strip was very nice. But...I went back and bought Luxuriance. It's light and fresh like a cologne, but it's green, no citrus. I sprayed the back of my hand a couple of times and got strong wafts of it throughout the day. It's becoming one of my favorite summertime scents.
Sage Spell

jovejove 07/01/21 12:28

In comparison to the cologne series of Hermes, Hermes is a cool, smooth silk scarf, while these are rough mock nylon scarves with a couple pulls and frills in them.

pgs 07/01/21 11:33

Tried all three and liked all of them, especially Insouciance. In my opinion not even Ellena’s work with les jardins pour Hermès can beat these creations by Mathilde Laurent.

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