Speaking of Paris; Carven’s Le Parfum

carven le parfumNotes: mandarin blossom, white hyacinth, apricot blossom, sweet pea, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, osmanthus, and Indonesian patchouli.


I’ve enjoyed seeing the house of Carven’s revival under Guillaume Henry, with successful womenswear and menswear lines. Of course, a fragrance revival must come next, and I was intrigued by the release of a new perfume, and doubly so when I learned that Francis Kurkdjian was the nose behind it.

In looking at some of the promotional material for Le Parfum, I’ve seen emphasis being placed on words like “fresh” and “sparkling.” Looking at the bouquet white floral notes, that seems to make sense. However, on my skin, it’s a little bit of a different story.

The opening is sparkling for sure, a burst of florals and apricot that is nearly effervescent. But this scent doesn’t stay completely fresh and clean on me for very long. If the opening is bursting with fresh ripeness, the next stage is a flirtation with turning sour. (I wonder if it’s the apricot blossom and osmanthus working in tandem?)

This composition is meant to be a pretty one, so the sourness remains restrained. It never develops into anything truly dirty. However, something like cigarette smoke appears a little over an hour into wear time. I haven’t seen any other reviews mention this facet, and the first time I detected it myself, I thought it was a fluke. But the smoke is determined to stay on my skin, reminding me irresistibly of a lighter version of Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette.

The smoke disappears in the drydown stages and here I am left with the neutral, clean, soapy impression that I’ve seen the reviews and promo pieces mention. By this stage, it’s an intimate skin scent. The projection is extremely minimal, like a pleasant secret to enjoy all on your own.

I like this fragrance, I like the sparkling opening and the quietness of the drydown. Moreover, I’m intrigued by that hint of sourness and by that elusive smoke note. Le Parfum is a Parisian fragrance precisely because of this mixture of prettiness with slightly unexpected aspects. It evokes the strange intimacy of the city, that oddly personal moment when crowding onto the metro, you happen to catch the scent of someone else’s fragrance laced with cigarette smoke.

Like Paris, Carven Le Parfum isn’t as wholly pretty as it (and the very appealing packaging) would have you believe. Yet, at the same time, it’s utterly classic.


Carven; Le Parfum is available from retailers such as Saks and Nordstrom. It comes in 30, 50, and 100 mls. I asked for a sample to take home while shopping at Nordstrom.

2 thoughts on “Speaking of Paris; Carven’s Le Parfum

  1. As it happens to me from time to time, when I don’t expect much from a perfume, I suddenly liked it on my skin. I don’t think I’ll ever go through the sample I have (let alone getting a bottle) but it was a nice surprise.

    1. Exactly, I don’t think I’ll ever go for a full bottle of this (as even the smaller sizes are a bit pricey) but it was such a nice discovery. I’m glad I decided to give it a try!

      Also, hello again!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.