Perfume Pen Pals: Cartier XIII La Treizieme Heure and XII L’Heure Mysterieuse


The second of my three Perfumed Court sample orders arrived this afternoon, which included the new Cartier Les Heures. I immediately applied XIII La Treizième Heure and this is literally what I said: "Oh my. That's nice!"

I know, not a very exciting response, but this is great. And you're right to compare it to Le Labo Patchouli 24. It's just like it...sort of. Its smokiness is a little less robust, and yet the perfume isn't exactly quiet. It's just somehow balanced differently than Patchouli 24.

The dry-down of XIII La Treizième Heure (and I'm already tired of typing out that name) was a perfect example of why most expensive perfumes are expensive: everything held together forever, and I still loved the way I smelled five hours after the curtain went up.

You'll never hear me say that about Mandom, no matter how closely I follow the devil-may-care Bronson application technique. XIII is a slightly more refined Patchouli 24, but only slightly.

To me, it smells like 80-90% Patchouli 24, Patchouli 24 at a lower volume, which means 1) I love it! And 2) I kind of already own it. And yet, 3) I want to buy it.

Which raises the most important question of the perfume addict: Should one prioritize horizontally or vertically? Is it preferable to own the best of a wide range of scents or lots of things from a single category?

Intellectually, I think the former is the best way to go, but emotionally, especially when I smell Patchouli 24 (or La Treizième Heure or Bulgari Black or even CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves), I want everything that smells smoky and sweet and dark and odd.

As for your favorite, XII L’Heure Mystérieuse, I like it less than I like XIII. But I still like it.



Yes! XIII La Treizième Heure has "Dan" written all over it. It should be called XIII The Dan Hour. When I first smelled it at Saks, I actually exclaimed to the could-give-a-shit SA, "my friend Dan will LOVE this!”

All the connoisseurs immediately leapt onto XIII The Dan Hour as their favorite. Some of the fume bloggers kind of glossed over XII L’Heure Mystérieuse, predicting it was destined to be the hit out of the bunch. And it was implied that "destined to be the hit" wasn’t necessarily a compliment. I’m not sure why. Like XII is just too easy to love?

But dang it all, I do love XII The Katie Hour! It's a musty chocolate patchouli deal, with a schnozzful of incense and a bit of girly jasmine in there. It's a more "perfumey" incense than many. And while XIII The Dan Hour entertains me, it’s so savory, it makes my nose fight with my stomach. And that equals confusion in my “pleasure dome”.

Regarding prioritizing horizontally or vertically, I think vertically is really how it goes down. Like with music and clothes. If you know you love aching, bittersweet, deceptively up-tempo pop, then you crave every example of that genre. You might buy a Miles Davis or a Johnny Cash CD, but that doesn't mean you're going to listen to them.

And if you always wear a cashmere V-neck sweater, or a certain kind of retro-nerd shoes, you're always drawn to the next perfect iteration of them. If you're not already a pencil skirt gal, a wardrobe of pencil skirts will not tempt you to wear them.

For the dedicated fumehead, I'd say it's worth going horizontal for samples, vertical for full bottles. So -- fly, little bird! Fly towards XIII!



What worries me about going vertical (and "worries" is overstating it some) is I've done this before, when I first got deeply into perfume, buying up every woody/incense-y floral, all of Mark Buxton's Comme des Garçons, lots of Duchaufours, and I ended up owning many similar things but wearing only a few of them.

My insatiable hunger for bittersweet pop doesn't quite translate to woody florals. But maybe it will to smoky, birch-tar-y leathers. And I'll defend the sometimes overbearingness of Patchouli 24 as less evolved than XIII. It might be, in the same way The Jam were less evolved than The Style Council, but I bet even if I own XIII, too, I won't stop wearing Patchouli 24. Because there are times when nothing beats that mighty blast of smoke.

I think I just talked myself into buying XIII by reestablishing my love for Patchouli 24. I'm pretty creative when it comes to justifying irresponsible purchases.


Fumeheads, what do you think? Horizontal or vertical?


  1. I'm going to throw in a vote for vertical, although I think it's really personal choice. I feel like I have a large enough collection (keeping the actual--somewhat mortifying--number to myself)that I can spring for a few out-of-character fragrances, while still stocking up on the select few genres I really love. That said, I suppose if you had an even larger collection than I, you could just throw caution and your credit card to the wind and buy it all.

    I think i'm still asleep. Hope I'm making sense.

  2. Angi - going back to Mr. Malle's admonishment of "if you're really honest with yourself" regarding what you like in a scent, well then, that just screams "vertical" to me!

    In my long-gone days of 5 or 6 carefully chosen and cherished perfumes, perhaps there was more of an eclectic mix (ie one for day, one for night, one wild card, one all-purpose, etc). But now, jeez! It's amber/incense/rose/oriental a go-go.

  3. Katie -- I agree, too, with the vertical statement. I've attempted the horizontal, with the sad result of a number of excellent fragrances sitting untouched in my cupboard.

    I feel a little twinge of guilt every time I look at them, because they're wonderfully crafted and exceptionally creative, yet despite my best intentions, I never seem to be in the mood for their specific set of performance skills.

  4. For me, the logic of the vertical approach is tested when I inevitably play favorites, which relegates everything else to lesser versions of those favorites. Vertical or horizontal (and my collection is vast enough to be both, it sinks a lot of battleships), I only end up regularly wearing a few things. Thus the absurdity of even attempting to speak logically about perfumes.

    Even more absurd, I find I spend most days sampling new scents, most of which I don't like enough to buy. And even the ones I do like enough to buy, I don't like enough to wear all that often. "Mortifying" is a good word for it, Angi. "Guilt," too, Nathan. And if I'm really honest with myself, Katie, well, this is no time to be really honest with myself. It's the holidays, after all.

  5. Like Dan, my collection is also vast enough to be both vertical and horizontal - and diagonal even, here and there. Two years into the grip of this hobby, the dust has settled sufficiently to reveal a number of fairly specific vertical categories in which I am looking for those "near perfect iterations".

    Two vertical categories I am constantly exploring are the ylang ylang scent equivalent of the "**** ** shoe" and variations on an amber-patch-woody-vanilla-musk-incense-L'Ombre Fauve-type of number, which is similar territory really : - ). Latest discovery in the latter category is Guerlain's Bois d'Armenie and in the former Amaranthine (obviously!) and Ajne Calypso.

    I realise that the many greens/citrus/florals I also own (in full bottles, even) simply don't move me in the way those two styles do. I'm pretty sure that if I was going to be drawn to the likes of the polyester polo shirt that is Light Blue it would have happened by now.

  6. flittersniffer - I've been puzzling all day over "**** ** shoe"! I'm useless at crossword puzzles, and any analytical focus I might possess is usurped by my excitement over the implied naughtiness of whatever is starred out.

    I can't get "bows on shoe" out of my head, but there's nothing remotely un-family friendly about that. And nothing that would relate to a smell.

    It can't be "shit on shoe", because your other pseudonym is "I Hate Civit", right?

    It can't be man-parts or lady-bits on shoe, because that's just a nightmare Salvador Dali once had.

    What kind of shoe are we smelling, here?

    Okay, it's late, and I'm just amusing myself with these monkeyshines. Apologies.

    Anyway, my recommendation for an obscene shoe perfume in the ylang ylang department is LesNez Manoumalia. Does that one pass muster with you?

  7. Katie, you clearly have not read enough Jackie Collins novels. Modesty permits me only to give you a single character clue: "f*** **" shoe! They are usually quite pointy with vertiginous heels and general fetishistic strappiness going on. There...I hope you don't ban me from your site for impropriety and also that we haven't frightened Dan off with our frank women's talk.

    Now I have tried Manoumalia as a matter of fact, and it seemed to me to be another blowsy tropical floral, a la Marc Jacobs or L'Eau Nirique or Kai or how I imagine Michael Kors, though I have never tried him. I didn't get that undercurrent of faint filth I am looking for.

    In January I am attending a "make your own perfume" workshop I was given as a present and I am going to have a crack at another "naughty ylang iteration". Realistically, I expect the creative process will be very much along Betty Crocker "just add an egg" lines, with readymade accords like "oriental base" and "citrus notes", but I will give it my best shot!

    Me, I am puzzling over the mechanics of the ring bound exercise book email format you send to Dan...

  8. flittersniffer, of course! "F-me shoes"! How could I be so out of touch with the secret language of shoes? Sometimes, you do really need to spell it out for me. And clearly, I need to wear some sleazier shoes.

    Heh! Your concern for Dan's delicate sensibilities is very thoughtful. I think any delicate sensibilities I may have once possessed were run out of town by all of my coarse, sailor-mouthed ones.

    What? Manoumalia doesn't do it for you? Hmm. Then we're going to have to bring out the big guns for you: The Party in Manhattan. There's also Amouage Lyric for Women and Acqua di Parma Profumo. Oh, and Aveda Love, but that might be a kitten-heel court shoe aspiring to full F-me status.

    Whaddaya think?

  9. This is interesting. I have never tried to translate what I also know as FM shoes into a fragrance. With fear of showing my age, I would classify Elizabeth Taylor's Passion as a FM fragrance. It is very heavy and seductive. A little definitely goes a long way. And this was probably around the time that I had some awesome, pointy-toed, high-heeled shoes with thin straps. Ah, memories!

  10. Am not familiar with Aveda Love or Liz Taylor Passion, but will keep an eye out for them. I do like The Party, but it is a clean old school chypre to me - fizzy, granular, carnation-y, but not especially louche. Lyric smells like a curry on me and Profumo comes off as a blowsy civet-fest like the deeply scary YSL Y. Other F-Me scents could be AP Strip(!), L'Arte di Gucci, maybe even OJ Ta'if, though Amaranthine takes some topping!

  11. My stars, flittersniffer, your "nasal editor" is most selective! Most people, my Perfume Pen Pal Dan included, end up feeling violated by Party in Manhattan's obscene carrying-on. But to you, it's "clean". You are hardcore.

    Where do you stand on Agent Provocateur (the original) and Vivienne Westwood Boudoir?

  12. Katie, I am now frankly baffled by my response to Party, for I am anything but hardcore normally and my nasal receptors have a luminol-esque ability to detect trace elements of civet and other fecal unspeakables in just about anything. To me Party is clean, crisp and clovey, while the likes of DSH Jitterbug, Jubilation XXV, L'Air de Rien and even Joy and Sa Majeste La Rose exude filth in varying degrees! Boudoir pyrotechnically so - as I recall it was a huge, peppery, spicy yet sweet floral with a sharp blast of civet that hit you when you were least expecting it. I would give it 2 stars out of 5, mainly for the spectacle.

    AP original struck me as a girly, powdery, pink retro number with a hint of wintry green shoots trying to peek through. I thought it was the sort of scent that Benefit should have made instead of those strange row house concoctions. Maitresse I found a bit "obvious", but it gets points for having ylang in it. : - )

    Are you sure we haven't scared Dan off with the shoe business? I am a "retro-nerdy" shoe person really. Camper and so on... Would it help to mention Mary Janes?

  13. Boy, flittersniffer, I'd like to see you as creative director of Benefit's scents! Agent Provocateur's rose chypre would indeed be an improvement over their "row house concoctions".

  14. Oh, and flittersniffer, do you have any of those Camper shoes with the fab stripy heels?

  15. No worries, fittersniffer, I'm not frightened off by "frank women's talk." Though, sadly for me, much of it comes in the form of perfume conversations. I guess that's more vertical than horizontal, right?

    And, yes, for me The Party in Manhattan was both "old-school chypre" and obscene, what I imagined occurring in every Marlene Dietrich movie but never quite saw on the screen.

  16. I like "fittersniffer", Dan. That is in fact one of my New Year's Resolutions.

    I once had a horizontal perfume conversation, as it happens, but only because my friend had lined up all her bottles on the floor by her bed, so we lay down beside them for a good hour or so. You could perhaps target perfumista friends with perfume collections inversely proportional to the size of their homes.

  17. Do you mean the Ariadna shoe, Katie? Sadly not, though my legs are probably too short to carry off that "shoe boot" look. I still own some lace up ox blood leather ankle boots, but my favourite pair of Campers were in grey felt, with a huge rounded toe like Noddy shoes, and the strap of a Mary Jane. After 9 years of frequent wear, the honeycomb PU sole finally imploded and I fell over.

  18. Flittersniffer, not posting before proofreading is one of my New Year's resolutions. My apologies.

    And I don't think I've ever seen the home of a perfumista. (Except mine, of course.) My perfume relationships are insulated by the veil of the Internet. I may never have a horizontal perfume conversation!

  19. No apology needed! Your upbeat variant was much nearer the mark than the corruptions I usually get for my offline name: Veronica, Valerie, Vanilla, Verruca etc...

  20. Yes, flittersniffer, the Ariadna shoe.

    I, too went through a MAJOR Noddy shoe phase. I tried to disguise that fact by calling them "sexy nun" shoes, but no one was fooled.

  21. Dan, I think in YOUR case, the term would be perfumisto. Cheers!