One of the choices I made when doing the Pierre Benard Challenge last month was citrus. I feel confident that it would have been in there no matter what. Contemporaneously I was trying a new perfume which almost guaranteed its inclusion; Cartier Les Epures de Parfum Pur Kinkan.
One of the most unheralded in-house perfumers is Cartier’s Mathilde Laurent. I know this because in talking with some different people seeking my opinion, I have mentioned her twice since the first of the year only to be met with, “Who?” She has done what every great in-house perfumer has done in imagining an aesthetic that fits the brand. She has done this at Cartier for over a decade. The collection called L’Heures de Parfum is as audaciously beautiful as anything else done by anyone else. I look forward to every new release from her.
Except when I received the press release prior to the samples arriving for her latest, I was a bit more wary. I was informed about a new collection Les Epures de Parfum. Their intent is to capture “the pure and simple”. I was further told Mme Laurent would be using a mixture of “natural ingredients” and “those originating from research”. All that read transparent to me. Cartier Carat was the first great example that transparent did not have to mean insipid. Pur Kinkan might be the example which allows me to believe it can be great.
There are three parts of Les Epures de Parfum; Pur Magnolia, Pur Muguet, and Pur Kinkan. All of them treat their keynote as fragrance which whispers to you as if you are only encountering them from a distance. Which is why Pur Kinkan captured my attention so thoroughly. It is the scent of sitting in the limbs of a citrus tree surrounded by fruit.
Kinkan is the Japanese word for kumquat. This is the citrus Mme Laurent is evoking. Because of the lightness of it all I never felt it was as focused as a single type of citrus. That might have to do with the types of ingredients she uses. I believe there are other citrus sources besides kumquat. When they are all pitched at this opacity it isn’t necessarily obvious that it is one specific one or another. Pur Kinkan is a citrus perfume of thin glass overlaid atop each other in a shade of citrus.
For the initial moments there is just a hint of the leaves of a citrus tree. I think this is a tiny bit of neroli or orange blossom. It gives way to the rind of the fruit. If you’ve ever used a grater to make any citrus zest for use in cooking this is what this stage of Pur Kinkan reminded me of. The character of citrus is given bite though its skin. The final stages find the pulp but not as if you are eating it. It is more reminiscent of the scent on your fingers after you have done that. It carries the tartness of the kumquat I remember from my youth.
Pur Kinkan has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
This is the first really transparent perfume to ensnare me fully. I have usually found them easy to dismiss. Pur Kinkan was the opposite. Mme Laurent wrapped me up in whispers of citrus until I was fully enveiled. Never have I been happier to be so swaddled in beauty.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Cartier.