I like perfumer Mathilde Laurent, but we are not besties. I am pretty sure she first came to my attention in relation to her 2003 version of Shalimar Eau Légère, and when I have absolutely nothing better to do, I sometimes wonder what Guerlain would be up to now if she, instead of Thierry Wasser, had been appointed the house perfumer, and whether I would have ever gotten the (admittedly ridiculous) Shalimar Eau Légère Extrême I wanted. Instead, Ms. Laurent ended up at Cartier, where she has done plenty of respectable work without stressing my budgetary arrangements in any significant way: as I said, we are not besties. My favorite so far, on the women's side, is the lily-ish Baiser Volé. The gardenia-ish La Panthère did not please me so much, other than the fantastic bottle. Now we've got Baiser Fou, inspired by "lipstick kisses" and said to be orchid-ish:
To capture the elusive aroma of lipstick, Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent was inspired by the intense powderiness and sweetness of the orchid. The bloom’s delicious balmy accents of white chocolate add to the addiction, lingering on the skin for hours.1
Hmm, sweet powder — sound familiar? Is there a brand not chasing after a slice of that pie? Baiser Fou, at least, takes its own route. It's a gourmand, to be sure, opening with a nearly nuclear dose of sugary berry candy and tropical fruit salad. The fruit explosion calms to acceptable levels (depending on your tolerance, of course) within about 5 minutes or so, and it gains enough tartness to keep it just this side of cloying; the berry notes do, however, linger on for the duration. There are brief hints, mostly early on, of something vaguely plastic-ish, which might perhaps be meant as an allusion to lipstick? The heart is a rose-y blended floral, rather loud, and very pink, and very girly. Underneath it all is a woody musk, slightly creamy, very vanillic, but with less chocolate than I expected — which is usually how white chocolate works out, no? It is powdery, as advertised, but as current trends in powder go, it's far from what I'd call "intensely" powdery.
Verdict: Bear with me here. A very long time ago, I reviewed another lipstick fragrance, L'Artisan Parfumeur Drôle de Rose:
Drôle de Rose is often compared to Frederic Malle's Lipstick Rose (2000), and the two share an attitude along with prominent notes of rose and violet. That attitude is rather hard to describe, but both scents combine a modern, overtly synthetic feel with an almost tongue in cheek, vintage uber-femininity: picture a woman with lots of hair piled up high on her head, wearing a negligee, and sitting at her dressing table holding a large powder puff. Now picture Olivia Giacobetti interpreting that woman into scent, and you have Drôle de Rose.
For Baiser Fou, replace the negligee with jeans, and the chignon with long straight hair. The powder puff is replaced by an Yves Saint Laurent Vinyl Cream Lip Stain, and the other hand holds an iPhone, with which our heroine edits and captions her latest selfie for Instagram. That's Baiser Fou. It's so not me that whatever humor or sophistication it might possess probably went right over my head. You all will have to try it for yourselves and tell me if it's any good. I pretty much hated it.
Even if you loved both Baiser Volé and La Panthère, you might want to try Baiser Fou before you buy.
Cartier Baiser Fou is available in 30, 50 and 75 ml Eau de Parfum. There is also a 9 ml spray although it may only be available as a gift with purchase.
1. Quote via Escentual.