Every time I look at one of those masculine Carven bottles I smile. They really are the most handsome flacons housing mainstream masculine fragrances on the market today and the scents themselves, Carven Pour Homme and Vétiver, are a delight to sniff. Carven’s fragrances don’t follow trends, they do their own thing, whether that be the revival of a classic or an entirely new take on a well-versed ingredient. They may not be cutting edge, but they are not sheep either.
This year, Carven added a brand new masculine fragrance to their line up: ‘L’Eau Intense’, this time in a white bottle evocative of a masculine fashion staple. The scent was composed by Francis Kurkdjian (he who needs no introduction nowadays) and Jérôme Di Marino. It’s described as an “oxymoron” because it is “as refreshing as mint leaf-infused water, yet brimming with intensely spicy and woody notes”. So how does this olfactory oxymoron stand up to the sniff test? Let’s see…
Top: Mint, Italian Lemon, Grapefruit and Birch Leaf
Heart: Lavender, Ginger and Cardamom
Base: Cedar, Ambery Wood and Moss
How Does it Smell?
It’s a case of ‘brace yourself’ when L’Eau Intense is first sprayed because the top notes are awash with freshness. A blindingly bright mint note kicks things off, mixing with bitter grapefruit to create an olfactory white out right off the bat. As this knee-jerk reaction subsides, the warmth of cardamom and pepper come through, adding an active, sporty vibe. In the base, things calm down but don’t smooth out, resting on a mossy, woody blend that is both sharp and astringent. I’d say that the whole thing has an unnatural vibe, leaning towards an imagined sense of freshness as opposed to a natural one.
L’Eau Intense is a perfectly comfortable masculine that is truly evocative of a crisply ironed white shirt freshly buttoned up. It’s definitely the least adventurous of the Carven masculines and doesn’t quite live up to the handsome beauty of Pour Homme’s overdose of violet leaf or the classic gentry of Vetiver’s eponymous accord. That said, the quality is better than many scents of this ilk, so if you’re a guy that embraces that sporty freshness of salt water and mint, then L’Eau Intense, whilst misnamed, may be something spot on for you.
Carven L’Eau Intense is available 30ml (£35), 50ml (£50) and 100ml (£70) Eau de Toilette.
Sample, Image one, Notes via Carven. Quotes via Basenotes.