10 things to know about Carven

10 things to know about Carven

By Deborah Fulsang

1. THE NEW PERFUME: A breezy and feminine floral with a certain je ne sais quoi—that is an old-school French perfume-ness that charms us. It smells like a vintage spritz but at the same time possesses freshness, warmth and femininity too.

2. THE BRAND: Carven, the fashion house, debuted in 1945 under founder Carmen de Tommaso—better known as Madame Carven. (Tommaso self-styled her own name before opening the doors to her salon, explains Vogue.com: Marie-Louise Carven was a combo of her given name, Carmen, and the name of her aunt—Madame Boyriven.) Story has it that the petite woman, who was barely 5’1” tall (1.55 m), turned to designing because she was challenged to find stylish clothing in her size. Necessity is, after all, the great mother of invention.

3. THE PERFUMOGRAPHY: Madame Carven was a modern-minded designer and believed scent integral to one’s style. (Of course!) She launched her first fragrance, the chypre Ma Griffe, in 1946, and in 1957 followed up with Vetiver. And although Vetiver is still available, rumour has it that the current execs at Carven will be exploring modern takes on these spritzes in the near future.

4. THE NOTES: At the sparkling centre of Carven lies a trio of sweet pea, jasmine and ylang-ylang. It opens with mandarin blossom and white hyacinth and closes with a rich warm mix of sandalwood, osmanthus and patchouli.

5. THE PERFUMER: Francis Kurkdijian, the nose behind such notable toilettes as Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea and Elie Saab Le Parfum, crafted the plush parfum. His mission: “I wanted a fragrance that would resemble a huge bouquet of freshly cut flowers, with temperament and a lingering sillage.” View Kurkdijian speaking about the scent here:

6. THE GREEN: A new-leaf green with white stripes is the signature of the Carven branding. It’s no wonder, given Madame’s leaning to a green sensibility as witnessed in that first herbaceous vetiver-and-cedarwood-based men’s scent, which was inspired btw by Madame Carven’s first husband, Philippe Mallet. 

7. THE DESIGNER: Guillaume Henry became artistic director of the Carven house in 2009 after stints at Givenchy and Paule Ka. He has helped rebirth the fashion brand to one of quirky-cool Parisian chic.

8. THE BOTTLE: Bonus points for this Thierry de Baschmakoff-designed Carven bottle. It is a timeless creation, part apothecary-clean in the minimal flask and lettering, part Parisian-atelier chic via elegant frosted glass, gold detailing and satin ribbon.

9. THE VISUALS: Marton Perlaki was the campaign photographer. Check out the quirky, elegant spots.

10. THE FACTS: Carven Le Parfum EDP, $90 (50 ml), www.carven.com; at Holt Renfrew stores. The scent also comes in a bath and shower gel, perfumed body milk and deodorant spray formulas.

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.