Sunday, August 14, 2011

Leave Your Mark This Summer

One of my favourite scents to wear during summer is a long forgotten treasure that was once categorised as one of the top 5 classic scents of all time. Also it had the distinction of being composed by one of the great perfumers of the twentieth century, Jean Carles, who was tragically anosmic (unable to smell anything). Sort of like Beethoven composing symphonies while being deaf.

The scent “Ma Griffe” by Carven, which is a sparkling green concoction full of such wonderful things as gardenia, greens, galbanum, citrus, clary sage, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, orris, ylang ylang, styrax, oakmoss, cinnamon, musk, and labdanum. For me it smells likes like freshly mown grass with a hint of fruitiness, which is why I love it!

Mademoiselle Carven defined her fragrant prototype as "an outdoor perfume that needs to give up its heady character", resembling her, hence the name and the packaging: "white for innocence, youth, and freshness; green because to me it's the most beautiful colour in the world". The green and white striped box was a brilliant graphic concept, that went on to do double duty as the packaging for a myriad of Carven perfumes.

On its launch in 1946 a startlingly different advertising campaign was devised: parachuting the Trocadero in Paris with thousands of sample bottles! What a fabulous sight of thousands of little tiny green and white boxes on little parachutes this must have been! Just on the heels of the end of World War II this was a sign that Paris was getting back to its frivolous best.

Ma Griffe has two translations, one being “my signature” and the other being “my claw”. For me the translations are perfect, as it is a signature, an indelible mark, which carries more meaning when worn by a man.

Alas over time and changes of fortunes the scent on the shelves today, pales to insignificance when compared to the original however it is still a gem amongst all the hideously smelling perfumes being launched today.

Originally Ma Griffe was marketed as a young scent at a time when the youth segment had not been catered for. Ironically one of the most common complaints now, is it smells old. Myself, I ascribe that only to changed perceptions and vogues.

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