Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon and Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe


CARTIER LE BAISER DU DRAGON: Inhaling Le Baiser du Dragon (or Kiss of the Dragon) is like walking into an Hermes boutique right after a tornado demolishes the place — the brain registers telltale signs of expensive and exclusive materials but can’t get past the sheer and overwhelming mess that’s piled on top of it all.

Its intentions may be good (a woodsy oriental? sign me up!), but the focus is muddled by too many potent spices in the broth and too many cooks shoving for elbow space in the kitchen — gardenia, neroli, iris, rose, musk, almond/amaretto, cedar, vetiver, patchouli, benzoin, amber . . . help!

Not to mention that I keep getting whiffs of candle wax at odd moments. Yeah, that’s what I’ve always wanted to smell like — an aisle at Pier 1 Imports.

The one redeeming quality of Le Baiser du Dragon is that, for all the nuclear bombs it’s got ticking in its suitcase, it wears rather softly. Thank heaven for minor miracles. More (and varying) opinions below:

For the Love of Perfume: “From amaretto to neroli, cedar to amber and many other interesting scents in between, Le Baiser boasts a powerful, luxurious fragrance reminding me of golden silk. When I want to feel all woman, this is the scent I choose.”

Now Smell This: “When I first encountered Le Baiser du Dragon, I fell madly in love with it and bought first the Eau de Parfum and then the Parfum. Now it feels to me like an itchy fur coat on an August day . . . Le Baiser du Dragon taught me to avoid fragrances that overwhelm rather than enhance who I am.”

Alona at BaseNotes: “In theory, I should like this. In practice, I don’t . . . there was just too much patchouli for me to truly appreciate the other notes.”

Visit the following link for photos of a release party for Le Baiser du Dragon back in 2003. Fashions, economic issues and social attitudes have changed so much in less than six years that it’s almost like looking through the lens of a time warp machine: Cartier Party in celebration of ‘Le Baiser du Dragon’ honoring New Yorkers for Children.

One question: Who the hell is Muffie Potter Aston, and what’s that on top of her head? It’s, like, the socialite version of a mullet.

***Note: the Cartier LBDD sample tested was the parfum (extrait) version.

Update (03/17/09): My favorite mirror twin weighs in, and of course she loves it! It must be noted, however, that The Non-Blonde agrees that LBDD is a bit of a muddle in the middle, but she says the muddle “goes away quickly, especially when I layer the EDP with the extrait de parfum, which I always do. The parfum is a golden perfection as far as I’m concerned, dark and velvety. It also amplifies the patchouli drydown.”

PARFUM D’EMPIRE AMBRE RUSSE: If you’ve always dreamed of one day smelling like a cup of strong black tea, with milk and a generous helping of honey, then this Bud’s for you.

The sweet amber and dry woods finish is full and genuinely nice (it blows away the surprisingly weak drydown for Le Baiser du Dragon — it’s the cold, thin vetiver that does du Dragon in at the end), but the several hours of black tea that precede the homestretch are not my . . . uh . . . oh, I can’t. Really, I just can’t.

UPDATE (02/15/09): Testing out Ambre Russe once more, just in case the black tea thing was a fluke. It wasn’t. The first several hours are still strong black tea (on me), but I do very much enjoy the second, lushly ambered half of the trip.


  • Le Baiser du Dragon… such an evocative name. That’s one I might have tried for the name alone. Did you know Cartier only lists three notes? Almond, vetiver, benzoin. They must not’ve thought the other fifty-three were important.
    Admiring your restraint… I couldn’t leaf a tea joke alone like that.

  • Nathan Branch

    “Admiring your restraint… I couldn’t leaf a tea joke alone like that.”
    *cymbal crash*

  • Tara

    Really, black tea? Fortunately I don’t get that at all from Ambre Russe, just a wonderfully syrupy amber.
    As for Le Baiser du Dragon, I sniffed it and put it back down quickly. Loud and cacophonous, yet flat and boring at the same time.

  • Nathan Branch

    I know that wonderfully syrupy amber of which you speak! Unfortunately, for me, it’s only the last two to three hours of Ambre Russe which evoke that particular magic. Before then, and I swear to god on my grandmother’s grave with about a thousand hands on a bible, it’s black tea.
    Be happy you don’t smell it, because it killed the joy on my end.
    And your summation of Le Baiser du Dragon is spot on. I burst out laughing when I read “loud and cacophonous yet flat and boring at the same time” — the people who like this stuff, though, LOVE it, and I’m at a bit of a loss as to why, especially when you stop and consider the sheer number of far worthier scent suitors.