Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ma Griffe by, Carven-Review

My introduction to Carven's, Ma Griffe was in the fragrance department of a long-gone department store in Chicago. I was shopping with my sister, and being annoying I'm sure, she sent me off to the perfumes to try the testers so she could shop in peace.

Green is my favourite colour, and I was drawn to the Carven display with the bright green and white stripes. Too young to know better, I picked up the bottle on the counter and gave myself a good misting. I can't remember for certain, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn I still had the bottle in hand when I realised the full consequence of what I had done-it was that immediate. It was the longest ride home in my sister's (green) '74 Dodge Dart, and as I recall a good scrubbing down with hot water and Dial soap was no match for the stubborn aldehydes of Ma Griffe. Talon? Good god, it was like being impaled.

I'd like to say that was the last time I was seduced by green packaging on a fragrance but I'd be lying (though I have managed to avoid the bath soap, Irish Spring fearful I'd end up attracting a whistling fella in a hand-knit sweater*). Still, forty years on from my introduction to Ma Griffe, I'd managed to keep my distance, save for catching the occasional whiff of it on someone riding the bus. Over the years it fell out of popularity, and I forgot about it. Enter, the Internet.

Of course I should have resisted. Curious if my nose had matured, or perhaps the fragrance had matured, or I'd finally learned not to spray a toxic green cloud around myself-I ordered it. A small sample, in all the vintage green glory that is Ma Griffe.

"Was that you?"


"You know what."

                                              "Oh that, no."

"What then?"

                           "Must be the Ma Griffe."


Why, do I never trust my younger self's nose? I don't like to cook with asofoteida, why on earth would I want to wear it? Blech. Still, to be fair I wanted to live with it a while instead of rushing to the shower-besides, I no longer use Dial soap, and lavender scented Yardley would only compound the issue. So I waited, thankful for the small dab.

An hour later, Ma Griffe is still pretty green, but something's happening! Something good. 

Ah, I hit the oakmoss, orris root, and lily of the valley. Better, Still really fucking green though. Whoa, I think we've got vetiver! And lemon. Wait...musk? I remember that Ma Griffe was developed by a perfumer late in his career when he was already anosmic, and it starts making sense. 

Just when I think it will never end, the base comes through with some sandalwood to keep me from losing my mind, which is saying quite a bit as I'm not much a fan of sandalwood. 

What's that birdie? My handkerchief? Oh god! I left it in my purse! I'm Soooo sorry birdie. So very sorry. 

 Phew, I'd better air the skirt out as well.

Outfit Particulars:
70's Carefree Fashions of Scottsdale Arizona skirt-Thrift World
Tee-K Mart
Knit Bolero-Goodwill
Shoes-K Mart
Enid Collins bag-Antique Mall
Bamboo bangles-Hand-Me-Ups
Milk Glass earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
White plastic necklaces-Can't remember
Fragrance-Ma Griffe by, Carven

After five hours, Ma Griffe was still going strong, and though less intense, it is still far too sharp for my delicate little nose. I know it is a modern classic, and I really am trying to appreciate it, but jeez. I love a good oakmoss/vetiver/orris root combination, but this isn't it. My younger self was wise beyond her years. I probably will give it a few more tries (in very small doses) to try and understand Ma Griffe, if I cannot love it. Beware the seduction of cheerfully packaged perfume in pretty bottles-you may end up with something worse than a whistling fella in a hand knit sweater.

Asafoetida. I mean, for fuck's sake-in a perfume?

What about you? Have you encountered Ma Griffe and lived to tell? Do you enjoy it? I promise, I won't judge (though I might not ride in a car with you).


Mim said...

I have not encountered Ma Griffe, and the only stuff I can get hold of is the modern formulation, but after your writeup I'm rather tempted. I've never really worn any 'green' perfumes, unless Ivoire de Balmain counts.

Cute outfit there - it's good to see the birdie purse getting an outing.

Beth Waltz said...

Asofoetida is a medicinal substance, to be worn in a cheesecloth bag around one's neck. Clears the sinuses or repels vampires -- can't remember which. Left over cheesecloth bags can be used to hang bits of Irish Spring in one's fruit or crabapple trees to repel deer (and perhaps vampires, can't recall having seen any vampires in the orchard).

That is a very nice specimen of an Enid Collins bag, not in the least overwrought with jewels. Its subtle coloring blends beautifully with the citrus of your jacket. Here's a fresh 'green' for spring!

Propagatrix said...

So envious of your Enid "Early Bird!" I just got "Hapi-Cat" as a treat for being gainfully employed.

Found volunteer borage seedlings in my garden and thought of you.

Goody said...


Get a *small* decant. I warned you!

Goody said...

@Beth Waltz

Amazing that Irish Spring never used Green Man imagery in their commercials. That's how you keep vampires out of your orchard. I have a great mental image now of an Indiana farmer confronting a group of Morris dancers in the orchard and asking, "Can't I just hit it with pesticide instead?" Sort of Wicker Man meets Green Acres.
It is too early...need more coffee!


I'm a bad influence on people that way (you don't want to go to a used bookstore with me if you value your savings). That's twice now I've been responsible for you buying something feline-inspired. I guess a cat-suit is the next logical purchase.

Borage is such a great flower-both the blossoms and the leaves are edible, but you have to blanch the leaves to get rid of the pricklies. I grow it just to freeze the flowers in ice cubes.

Curtise said...

Good grief - Ma Griffe! Haven't thought about that perfume in donkey's years.
That skirt is a beauty - gingham and broderie anglais and lace, oh my. And with the mustard/yellow-y goodness of the cardigan, belt and lovely Enid, the whole outfit is just delicious! xxx

Goody said...

I'd have happily forgotten it too...damn internet!
Thank you for the kind words about my skirt. Strangely enough, I own the same skirt in brown and white, and a purple/blue combination. They must have been popular around here at some point as I keep finding them in thrift stores. Strange, eh?

Bibi said...

Ma Griffe- asafoetida, styrax, cinnamon, gardenia, & sandalwood?
Oh my. "Heavy' would be an understatement.
If perfumes tell a story this one would be-
A tropical garden in a middle eastern spice souk with a gas leak.
Asafoetida smells to me like dried garlic with a big hit of mercaptan. I sneak a bit into strongly flavored dishes where I'd like a boost of umami flavor. Which is pretty much all of Indian cuisine.
The Indian Air Force is doing an OUTSTANDING job bringing supplies to remote villages by helicopters. They aren't showing it on TV but I'll vouch for them. We spent yesterday organizing truckloads of drinking water & foodstuffs to be delivered to Lamjung & Gorkha districts. I hope the roads hold up, transportation of all sorts is rather dodgy & rudimentary at best.

Goody said...


foetid is right there in the word, right?

Being vegetarian I cook my fair share of curries, but I won't touch the stuff-if my cooking is missing something, so be it.