Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pasha de Cartier

I've been wanting to review Pasha for a while now, but I've held off because it's been hard for me to describe what it smells like.   I now own a bottle and have worn it enough times that I think I can finally pull off a review, so here it goes.

Are you familiar with the style that I've often referred to as the "Classic British School" of masculine perfumes?   If not, what I mean is a style of fragrance that gives off a very formal, gentlemanly, serious, dressed up aura.   It cuts across all categories of perfume - fougere, chypre, oriental, floral, etc. - and it's a quality that I find most often in fragrances made by English brands.   Scents like Woods of Windsor Gentleman, Sartoriale (Penhaligon's), Grafton (Truefitt & Hill), Trafalgar (Truefitt & Hill), Bois du Portugal (Creed) and Dunhill For Men 1934 all have it.   They smell prim and proper and refined, and are the kinds of fragrances that would be right at home at a black tie function.   It's a style I've come to enjoy over the years.

Pasha, released in 1992, is an aromatic fougere in the early 90's woody spicy style, but with the cleaned up, formal feel of a classic British gentleman's cologne.   Imagine New West For Him or Escape For Men with a completely dead serious mien. All of the sharp woody and herbal notes in Pasha (and there are a lot of them) are sandpapered down to a smooth finish, so as not to shock anyone.   Every note and facet is carefully and perfectly balanced with one another.

Do not think for a second, however, that Pasha is a boring, superfluous "office scent".   Pasha most certainly makes a statement, especially these days.   If you live in the U.S., you will likely not run into another guy wearing Pasha.   It is a totally masculine scent in every way (it is an aromatic fougere, after all), to the point where a lot of guys will consider it an "old man's" fragrance.   Though it's not a powerhouse, it is quite strong, projecting with so much more authority than flaccid stuff like Ed Hardy or Aqua di Gio.   Longevity is also amazingly good - Pasha has a scent that will not go away unless you scrub it off with soap and water at least twelve hours after applying it.

You also shouldn't write off Pasha as being overly stiff or rigid either.   What sets it apart from the old guard fragrances I listed above is its heavy use of caraway.   I love caraway in fragrances, because it provides a rough, dirty, raunchy edge to any fragrance that contains it.   In a way, it's like a low cost substitute for expensive or banned animalic oils like natural musk, civet or castoreum.   The caraway in Pasha provides a hot blooded shot in the arm that, without it, would make Pasha smell a bit too stiff.   In this respect, Pasha shares a lot of similarities with its older brother, Santos de Cartier.

Pasha de Cartier is a superb fragrance.   I should note that once upon a time I couldn't stand this scent.   It felt way too formal and rigid for me to wear.   That was about seven years ago, however, and since then my tastes have expanded and I've had the chance to give Pasha a few full day wearings.   What a difference.   I'm glad I gave Pasha its day in court, because it's a great fragrance that I intend on replenishing when I run out.

MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Cartier


  1. I haven't gone out of my way to sample this one because I have vintage and second formulation Tzar, Jazz, and the Menthe Fraiche version of Pasha. Would you say that Pasha is fairly close to any of these or another one you've tried? Thanks.

    1. I don't find much similarity to any version of Jazz or Tsar, except that they all have a lot of sharp herbal and wood notes. Otherwise, I consider them totally different from Pasha (I own all three and have smelled older versions of Tsar and Jazz). So yes, I think it would be worth your while to try out Pasha. I will tell you, however, that I find Pasha to have a much more formal style than either Tsar or Jazz. I've never smelled Pasha Menthe.

    2. Well, the only similarity to Jazz and Tsar that I can detect is in the comfy sandalwood drydown. The former has more of this similarity than the latter in my humble estimate. I have both Jazz and Tsar, but I prefer Jazz.

      However, I also pick a similar vibe up in Chanel's Egoiste which I am wearing today to compare Pasha (on my left forearm) with Egoiste on my right. No surprise as they share many notes in common - sandalwood, coriander,mandarin and rosewood. Whereas Pasha uses caraway to achieve that animalic aspect, Egoiste uses ambrette seeds as a 'pseudo musk.'

  2. Thanks for the review. I agree this is a superb fragrance; high quality, polished and overlooked. Just like you, I used to hate this fragrance when I sniffed it about 18 months ago. The salesgirl was amused as I recoiled from the paper strip that she sprayed then. However, I just tried it last night and I have done a 180 degree turn on this. You're right, sometimes being away from something for awhile and coming back to it can change one's assessment. Or maybe, in my case, being on a steady olfactory diet of powerhouses/classics rather than current weak/fresh offerings has shaped my sense of smell in a certain direction. Perhaps, my nose wasn't ready for Pasha 18 months ago. Now I appreciate this one a whole lot more.

    Though I have to ask, do you think that Herrera for Men/Paco Rabanne XS/Creed Himalaya have a very similar smell to Pasha? Or am I imagining things? You mentioned the caraway/cumin type note which is faintly suggestive of curry. Last year, I tried Herrera in the drugstore and I concluded that it has that curry vibe (PRXS has less of this) which can be a bad thing - (like to eat it, though don't like to wear it!) However, I got to say that Pasha somehow transforms that note into something fabulous as it is way more refined, blended than the aforementioned. Whereas Herrera is scratchy and shorter lived, Pasha is smoothed over like you describe.

    I think this one will be added to the wish list! Cartier makes some quality stuff!

  3. I've never tried Paco XS, and I've only tried Himalaya once a few years ago (didn't like it), so it's hard for me to make the comparison with those.

    As for Herrera, I don't smell any similarity except in the first few minutes of Herrera's top notes, which are sharp and bright and spicy like Pasha's. Otherwise, I don't smell any similarity. I hear what you're saying about the curry/cumin note in Herrera, but I think what creates the similar cumin-like smell in Pasha is caraway, not cumin. In Pasha, the caraway smells sweaty and rough. In Herrera, the cumin smells like some Indian curry dish mixed with some nasty chemicals like bleach or something.