Carven Le Parfum is one of those perfumes I didn't know I wanted until it was mine. It'd been on my radar for at least a couple of years, but I didn't pay too much attention until Priceline started stocking it. I remember when I first saw it at David Jones many months ago, I instantly was drawn to the beautiful bottle. Something about the shape, frosted glass, white ribbon and gold-trimmed cap exuded a quiet, feminine elegance. I don't recall falling in immediate love with the scent, however. It seemed a bit to meh to me. Kind of fruity, kind of floral, nicely done, well mannered, not particularly distinctive or memorable. The price was also steep, so I moved on.
Later, when Priceline began stocking Carven perfumes, I decided to give the tester another go. I smelled both Carven Le Parfum and the EDT version Carven L’Eau de Toilette and definitely preferred the EDP. The EDT smelled weak and generic and a lot cheaper to me than the EDP. What really stood out to me about the EDP was the sweet pea note which isn't prominent in any of the perfumes in my shamefully large collection.
Retailing at $150 for the 100ml (the only size I've seen Priceline stock), I was tempted during the last 50% off perfume sale a few months back. But that still was $75 on a scent I liked, but wasn't dying to buy. So I resisted. In the ensuing months, I kept thinking about it intermittently, and whether I should've bought it. While on holiday in the US, I saw it in the department stores and Sephora for $112 USD for the 100ml (about $170 AUD with tax). $75 wasn't looking too bad after all. I began feeling tinges of regret, but at least anticipated it was only a matter of time before Priceline would repeat its sale. Sure enough, I casually walked into Priceline recently and it was half price off perfumes. There was one last bottle of Carven Le Parfum at the store, and this time, I didn't hesitate.
Created by Francis Kurkdjian, Carven Le Parfum has top notes of mandarin blossom, apricot and white hyacinth, middle notes of sweet pea, jasmine and ylang ylang, and base notes of sandalwood, osmanthus and Indonesian patchouli. The first few times I tried it on myself after I'd purchased it, I was surprised to discover this was much more of a white floral than anticipated. I struggled to smell the sweet pea I recalled most vividly about it. There's a purity and cleanness to it that feels fresh and bright, despite it being dominantly floral and sweet. I do get flashes of Elie Saab Le Parfum, another Francis Kurkdjian creation, probably due to the mandarin blossom and jasmine notes, but it's a lot less heady, and softer, more restrained.
I've been wearing Carven Le Parfum frequently and liberally in an attempt to familiarise myself with how it smells and reacts with my skin. So far, I appreciate that it's well blended, refined and radiant. Everything sings in harmony. The white florals aren't the overpowering, headache-inducing kind, but rather young, airy and entirely daytime wedding-appropriate. I like the dryness of them, bordering on soapiness, but tempered by jammy sweetness that isn't gourmand or artificially sugary. The fragrance stays close to my skin and has moderate longevity, though disappears within a few hours. Some reviews have mentioned a sourness to it that I don't detect at all (they also identify lychee in the top notes, which I almost wish existed, but can't smell either). The base of sandalwood and patchouli keeps things warm and rounded. I can't say I'm in love with Carven Pe Parfum, but it falls firmly in the "nice to have" category. I can picture myself being more fond of the fragrance as time goes on, but for now, we're still in the early, getting-to-know-you stage.