Carven is a fashion house that has a long and illustrious relationship with the world of fragrance. Launching their very first fragrance ‘Ma Griffe’ in 1946 the brand is well known for creating beautiful perfumes, both masculine and feminine, that represent the distinct nature of the house. To this day, only two of the classics survive, namely the aforementioned Ma Griffe and the masculine Vétiver however today, Carven’s fragrant offering is a carefully curated wardrobe of the old and the new.
After many years of being out of the perfume game, the fragrance arm of Carven underwent an olfactory resurrection in 2013 with the launch of a brand new perfume called ‘Le Parfum’. A masculine fragrance, ‘Carven Pour Homme’ quickly followed, with relaunches of Ma Griffe and Vetiver added to the lineup for completion. Today I’m going to focus on those newer offerings: the modern Carvens – the two fragrances that represent the here and now for the brand, and hopefully the future too.
Carven Le Parfum
Top: Mandarin Blossom and White Hyacinth
Heart: Sweet Pea, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang
Base: White Sandalwood, Osmanthus and Indonesian Patchouli
How Does it Smell?
Smelling Le Parfum in comparison to Carven’s great classic chypre Ma Griffe the 67 years between their dates of creation is strikingly clear. Le Parfum is very much a modern fragrance and one that aims to evoke the spirit of the house as it is today rather than its signature under the formidable Madame Carven during and after the second world war. Created by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, Le Parfum is a light-bearing floral in his inimitable style, evoking a bright dawn and crisp, white linen.
Le Parfum starts out blindingly bright with notes of sweet apple, lemon and the greenery of white flowers. There’s a feeling of newness to it, almost as if it is a fragrance to brush away the cobwebs and focus on the hopefulness of a new dawn. With time, the signature becomes more floral, but the bouquet is well blended so the impression is more of ripe white flowers than any specific bloom in particular. In the base it becomes musky and airy, creating a breeze of freshly cleaned cotton with just a hint of sharpness.
I’d classify Le Parfum as a thoroughly modern floral that is understated yet effortlessly pretty. It may not be as distinct or bold as Ma Griffe, but it’s very on trend for the perfumes of today and it works perfectly well with the current aesthetic of the house. Le Parfum is an incredibly versatile scent that would be suitable for flying incognito in the office or for complimenting the fresh breeze of a summer picnic. It’s stylish, modern and incredibly pretty. What more could you want?
Carven Pour Homme
Top: Violet Leaf and Grapefruit
Heart: Nutmeg, Cedar and Sage
Base: Vetiver and Sandalwood
How Does it Smell?
First things first, can we PLEASE talk about that bottle? In the annals of masculine fragrance bottles there is nothing as handsome, or as elegant, or as stylish as the flacon for Carven Pour Homme. Appearing as a black turtleneck in bottle form, the vessel for this fragrance perfectly captures the relaxed refinement of the Carven man aesthetic, appearing as the perfect item for an artistic yet understated man. I hope they do one in every colour!
Now on to the fragrance, which was created as an olfactory brother to Le Parfum as opposed to a love interest. The first thing one notices when giving Carven Pour Homme a good spritz is the violet leaf – a note that has dominated many a masculine fragrance, especially scents such as Davidoff’s Cool Water and Creed’s Green Irish Tweed. Violet leaf, with its watery sweet, earthy and green facets, is often used to create an aquatic theme but in this fragrance things are definitely more on land than in the ocean and the violet leaf adds a soft quality that is grey and earthy, evoking the idea of smooth jersey fabric in neutral colours. This is supported by the subtle sharpness of grapefruit and cedar, both of which add contrast to keep the balance in proportion.
Things are much woodier from then on, but I would never say that Carven Pour Homme is a rugged fragrance because most of the edges have been rounded off to a smooth finish. With time, warm nutty and spicy facets appear, providing the Carven man with the much needed complexity and nuance required to make him suitably interesting. In the dry down, the whole thing centres around vetiver which shrouds the solid blocks of cedar and sandalwood with a metallic air that is gauzy and diffusive.
Carven Pour Homme is not an unusual fragrance and it could be criticised for being on the safer side. But it hasn’t been created to make a bold and divisive olfactory statement and it does a very good job of what it sets out to do, which is to take a familiar style of masculine fragrance (an aromatic woody fragrance) and execute it with precision and finesse. In that sense, the fragrance succeeds and I would class it as a comfortable, everyday masculine scent for those that just want something that compliments their personality, rather than defining or overshadowing it.
Join the Discussion!
Have you tried Le Parfum or Carven Pour Homme? What do you think of them?