“Rather than the lover of the Carven Woman, the Carven Man is a brother and a soul mate.”
The above quote from the press release for Carven’s brand new masculine fragrance, ‘Carven Pour Homme‘ struck me as quite refreshing. So often, us gents are marketed fragrances on their ability to attract the opposite sex (a strategy that weirdly doesn’t work for me – I wonder why), positioning the wearer as an object of physical attraction rather than a kindred spirit. Carven, whose fashion and fragrance lines have recently been revived, appear to want to do something different.
Carven further describe their man as “a handsome face; even better, an interesting face of undeniable strength and gentleness, calm and determination” – a guy that they can envisage “strolling with a book of poetry in hand, rowing swiftly on the Seine, [and] sipping a coffee on the terrace of a Paris café”. This romanticised notion of the modern man is a break from the steroid pumped, oily chested and fastidiously preened berk one is so used to seeing in perfume advertisements, and for that reason, he sounds rather wonderful indeed.
Penned by perfumers Francis Kurkdjian (Le Mâle, Carven Le Parfum & the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line) and Patricia Choux (Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao and Clive Christian X for Women), Carven Pour Homme is the first masculine fragrance from the brand since its relaunch. Positioned as a signature scent for the house, the scent is described as “the very essence of Carven style in a masculine mode” and has been created as an everyday item that intends to be an essential piece in the Carven wardrobe. Carven Pour Homme is a fragrance created in the relaxed and comfortable style of Guillaume Henry, who is now the former Artistic Director of the brand (now at Nina Ricci), and it fits perfectly.
“An everyday indispensable, to make the ordinary extraordinary.”
– Guillaume Henry, Artistic Director for Carven
Top: Violet Leaf, Grapefruit and Orange Blossom
Heart: Nutmeg, Cedar and Sage
Base: Vetiver and Sandalwood
How Does it Smell?
In the first instance, Carven Pour Homme is dominated by violet leaf. Violet leaf, with its watery sweet, earthy and green facets, is a masculine staple that provides a distinct sense of freshness that is smart rather than sporty. It is used to good effect in Carven Pour Homme where it feels particularly grey and earthy, evoking the idea of a comfortable turtleneck tailored out of soft jersey. There is a subtle sharpness, the collision of grapefruit and cedar, perhaps, that gives a muted undercurrent of bitterness, ensuring that things are nicely in proportion and never too green, too sweet or too humus-like. In fact, “nicely in proportion” is a great way to describe the fragrance as a whole.
Under the hood, Carven Pour Homme has a whole heap of wood keeping things going. I want to call the woody effect ‘rugged’, but that doesn’t quite fit because the edges of these cedar wood and sandalwood chippings have been sanded down to a relatively smooth finish. The grains and knots of the woods are represented as a spicy warmth with a few savoury nuances. Interestingly, things become more ashy and vetiver-centric in the dry down, with this specific vetiver note providing a gauzy metallic air that adds a touch of hardness to what would otherwise be an entirely rounded scent.
Carven Pour Homme could be criticised for being a bit too safe, and it is. If you’re looking for a unique and entirely new olfactory experience, this will not be the masculine fragrance for you – it’s not a wild card, nor is it a dramatically exciting fragrance, or even anything particularly unusual. Instead, Carven Pour Homme displays a comfortable and relaxed signature that shows a tried and tested method of masculine perfumery executed rather nicely. It speaks of a sensitive and artistic soul that is both handsome and kind. He is striking because he is affable – a kindred spirit that speaks softly and listens intently.
Carven Pour Homme is available in 30ml (£35), 50ml (£50) and 100ml (£70) Eau de Toilette. A series of matching grooming products, including; an After-shave Spray, Deodorant Spray, Bath and Shower Gel, and After-shave Balm, are also available.
Sample, notes, quotes and image 2 via Carven. Image 1 via thefashionisto.com.