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The refinement in Carven Le Parfum comes from a blend of hyacinth, jasmine and sweet pea underpinned by sandalwood and patchouli. (Carven/Guillaume Henry)

The refinement in Carven Le Parfum comes from a blend of hyacinth, jasmine and sweet pea underpinned by sandalwood and patchouli.

(Carven/Guillaume Henry)

The scent: Carven Le Parfum exudes a natural elegance Add to ...

The scent

Carven Le Parfum

The back story

Although the fashion brand dates back to 1945 (it was founded by Carmen de Tommaso, who had the post-war foresight to design affordable French couture), it has in the past four years reasserted itself under the creative direction of Guillaume Henry. His mingling of classic house codes and unfussy cool has given Carven new legs. Le Parfum is not the first fragrance under the Carven banner (Ma Griffe for women and Vetiver for men were both considered original successes when launched in 1946 and 1957, respectively). But like fashion, scents must evolve. “The Carven perfume had to convey freshness,” said perfumer Francis Kurkdjian in an interview. “But fresh in perfume is something different. For me, I wanted it to be natural elegance.”

What it smells like

In short, finishing school. The neroli, hyacinth, jasmine and sweet pea come together like a superbly groomed young woman. A touch of sandalwood and patchouli provide the necessary maturity and provocation.

The nose

Kurkdjian has established himself as one of the key noses in the fragrance industry today. He’s one of the few perfumers who composes best-selling scents for top-tier brands such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Narciso Rodriguez and Elie Saab while developing his namesake niche perfume label, Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

The look

The frosted-glass flacon is slightly drum-shaped with a slender, ribbed gold neck and rounded rectangular stopper. The label, with its simplified sans-serif typeface, rests inside a beveled pane. The minty green box is a nod to Carven’s original signature green-and-white-striped colour theme. There’s also a branded ribbon that extends from the bottle’s neck; spray it directly and the scent will linger in the room.

The face

Porcelain-skinned model Brynja Jónbjarnardóttir appears in black and white (the black is emphasized by the bodice of her Carven dress) accompanied by an image of the bottle. This is not a conventionally seductive campaign; and yet the swept-back coif revealing her delicate neck and sculptural décolletage convey an update on pure, graceful beauty.

Who it’s for

While Carven typically appeals to cosmopolitan gamines, Le Parfum seems to have broader reach. In fact, it’s the perfect choice for a first date: classy with the sillage of coquette.

Cachet factor

The collaboration between Kurkdjian and Henry has positioned Le Parfum as an instant hit, especially among those who want a nuanced feminine scent and who appreciate Carven’s past, present and future.

Where to buy it

Exclusively in Canada at Holt Renfrew, www.holtrenfrew.com.


$88 for 50ml, $115 for 100ml.

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