I heard many good things about Heeley Perfumes in general and Cardinal especially. So what else can the devoted Perfumista do, but get in gear and try to acquire a sample.
I was haunting The Perfumed Court for a very long time, filling my wishlist with gallons of perfume, but always refraining from ordering, because I was afraid of maybe having to pay custom duties. But I took the leap and all went perfectly smooth and quickly. (I realize I could have gotten Cardinal easier, it is available at First in Fragrance, but I was ordering other things too, so into the basket it went.
I am impressed by the lovely metal capped and neatly labeled samples, very professional. For Europeans still afraid of ordering there, I can highly recommend The Perfumed Court.
But enough sidetracking, we are here to talk about Cardinal.
I love the name and as studies show (my own, results may vary ;)) when I love the name, the fragrance is good in 85 % of the cases.
Cardinal was created in 2006 for the niche house Heeley, the brand of Paris based British designer James Heeley. Notes include incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli and vetiver.
It starts out almost cheerful, and although there are no top notes listed I seem to smell something sparkling upon application, like pepper that gives way to a rich and almost warm incense. It is not particularly dark or heavy.
I see a church before my inner eye, light flooding through stained glass windows. It is vast and silent, full of light and quiet peacefulness. In me, Cardinal induces happiness of a quiet contemplative kind, an inner calm. Yoga in a bottle.
The drydown is a little earthy from the patchouli and ambery sweet. It ends up being one of the warmer and sweeter Incense perfumes I have tried yet.
It is warmer and less outdoorsy than Tauer Perfumes Incense Extreme, in the Comme de Garcons Incense series (reviews upcoming soon) I have tried to date, I detect more wood and less of an amber sweetness that characterizes Cardinal.
I would say Cardinal is an easy to wear incense that is meditative, but not gloomy or goth in the least. There is a warmth and brightness to it I find enchanting and has its time and place in my mood spectrum.
I can’t find a better description than saying this is a smiling incense fragrance.
Which – despite its name – would fit a lot better in the buddhist tradition than the roman-catholic that favors a guilty expression over a smile at all times.