Eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne and eau fraiche. All of these are perfumes but one is not like the others—unlike the first three that are composed mainly of perfume oils and alcohol, eaux fraiche are concocted with perfume oils, alcohol and a good dose of water. These ‘freshwater’ elixirs date back to the second half of the 20th century and are distinguished by crisp, vivacious and delicate notes. Perfect for hotter climates like ours, such concoctions are great for mood-boosting spritzes throughout the day, especially for those who prefer lighter and more intimate scents that keep to themselves—versus potent, head-turning, high sillage eau de parfums.
Inspired by nature, which plays a central and visceral role in perfumery, Cartier and the maison’s in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, have created Rivières de Cartier. This collection of eaux fraiche zoom in on the life and raw beauty of water as the focal point—rivers, in particular.
Gushing over mineral rocks into life-giving reservoirs of freshwater; meandering through natural worlds carrying flora and fauna downstream into lush, new habitats; staying serene and still for moments of replenishment and reflection, rivers are vital, verdant sources of life—veins in which the lifeblood of some of Earth’s richest ecosystems flow. And it is these streams of vitality that have served as a source of olfactory reflection for Laurent to ask questions like ‘how can water enhance a fragrance?’, or ‘what can we learn from it?’.
“For me, a perfume is a vector of emotions. In lots of texts, religious or otherwise, the river is truly the allegory of life. So since we were going to offer rivers, in a way I wanted people to be able to choose what they desired in life, be it happiness, luxury or being carefree,” muses Laurent.
The result? Three colourful olfactive cocktails that explore the different facets and fragrance molecules of the natural elements with which the rivers flow—all made with 100 percent plant-based ingredients, and ethically cultivated and harvested concentrates.
Encapsulating joy and freedom, Allégresse is green, sparkling and bright, with rich, citrusy notes of petitgrain (extracted from the leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree), bergamot (extracted from the peel of bergamot oranges), a touch of sweet tuberose and light woody blackcurrant bud. Then comes Insouciance, a voluptuous floral and fruity fusion dreamt up by powdery iris and violets floating by juicy fruit trees. Lastly, Luxuriance calls to mind a lush forest, with the wild botanical freshness of fern, lentiscus, oak, rosemary and wild herbs, magnified by a floral, lemony twist of geranium.
The theme of nature streams into their flacons too, now refillable and lighter, made with pastellised glass in a conscious effort to limit the brand’s carbon footprint while also respecting the elements of which these beautiful perfumes have drawn such great inspiration from. Cartier’s cardboard packaging has been made more environmentally friendly too, crafted with a smaller, single piece of material obtained from sustainably managed forests.
Laurent declares: “To live is to breathe and to breathe is to smell. What purpose does it serve, to wear perfume? It helps us to feel alive. It brings pleasure in living and in feeling. It gives us an insight into life.”