One of the rubbish things about no longer being in the epicentre of the world (ie London) and moving to the cold hard North is that one tends to drop from press lists like an X Factor contestant dropping their inhibitions and their conscience. Throw in the constant turnaround in agency PR staff and your contact lists soon become as out-dated as selection boxes on the 28th December.
It’s a shame as I’ve missed a number of great perfume launches, namely Carven, a brand that I not only admire (from the days of ‘Ma Griffe’) but whose house ‘nose’ is none other than the perfume wizard, Francis Kurkdjian alongside newbie, Jerome di Marino.
Delving into its sublime haute couture history and its reworking and relevance by the in-house designers, Alexis Martial & Adrien Caillaudaud, (who have now since ceased the label since October 2016), Kurkdjian has added a soupcon of contemporary magic: a beautiful fresh floral veil of whiteness hits the nose with a sparkling of background uplifting greenness courtesy of mandarin essence. The blousy big seductive reach of ylang-ylang is intensified and added to by the addition of Egyptian jasmine with a smidgen of heady tuberose and the holy grail of perfumery, iris. Carven’s L’Absolu does not so much as die done as stretch itself further with its base of patchouli, sandalwood and Spanish absolute cistus. Deep joy. This contemporary in-your-face little floral oriental chypre is worth toying with and may just lead you astray. As a ‘my first real perfume’ for Carven’s youthful following, it’s a sophisticated nod to the elegance and femininity of days past. I liked it a lot.
Quite the different beast is Carven’s male counterpart L’Eau Intense. Graphically restrained, minimal and chic, L’eau Intense bursts forth like a pheromone ridden young stallion in Parisian pose. Less my kinda’ male fragrance as it comes across too needy (as many young men do) and straddles the ultra minty fresh, ultra spicy generation of new fragrances.
Named ‘an olfactive oxymoron’ by the perfumers, Jerome di Marino under the guidance of Kurkdjian, this seems more of a trial and error type of fragrance. Yes, it will appear to zestful youth in line with Carven’s new menswear design ethos under Barnabe Hardy, but to me, it’s still rather ‘me-me’, clamouring for attention. Top notes are bergamot, grapefruit and mint while middle notes are lavender, moss, birch leaf and ginger dying down to a cardomom and amber base.
Carven has incredible potential due to its fashion heritage and its eagerness to gain a contemporary, hip young following. The fly in the ointment is the constant musical chairs of its in-house designers and its management which only serves to diminish the label’s value when selling the brand ideal and buy-in point of luxury perfume. Rectify this with some consistency of tenure and there’s real possibilities of another Carven classic. Especially when Monsieur Kurkdjian is involved.
Carven L’Absolu is available in 30ml (£42), 50ml (£58) and 100ml (£75) EDP spray and also in perfumed bath & shower gel, deodorant spray and body milk.
Carven L’Eau Intense is available in 5oml (£50) and 100ml (£70) EDT sprays from John Lewis and Debenhams.