Happy National Fragrance Day

Once again, National Fragrance Day is here. March 21st was designated the day to celebrate fragrance. By whom, or why, I don’t know. But on National Fragrance Day, my scent today is vintage Ma Griffe by Carven.

Ma Griffe, 2013 version

Ma Griffe, 2013 version

Ma Griffe was introduced in 1946 by the fashion house of Carven, led by Marie-Louise Carven-Grog, a.k.a.Carmen de Tommaso. Ma Griffe has top notes of aldehydes, clary sage, galbanum, and bergamot, with middle notes of gardenia, jasmin, ylang-ylang, and rose. It’s rounded off with the spicier bottom notes of cinnamon, tonka bean, and vetiver.

Ma Griffe - a young perfume

Ma Griffe – a young perfume

Ma Griffe was the epitome of French fragrance in the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties. It was the signature fragrance of Judy Garland and Yoko Ono. It was introduced as a “young” fragrance – the kid sister of headier French aldehyde-based fragrances like Chanel No. 5 or Shocking by Schiaparelli. While Chanel and Schiaparelli wanted to seduce you – and the opposite sex – Ma Griffe was fresh and innocent, but no less sophisticated. Sadly, it seems to have fallen out of favor in the past thirty years or so, perhaps overshadowed by celebrity fragrances, or perfumes that smell like vanilla or musk or cotton candy. It has undergone several formulations as ownership of Carven changed hands, and certain ingredients were substituted or eliminated altogether. My vintage bottle was given to me by my aunt, who bought it in the early Sixties. She was an independent single gal working in New York City. I’m sure Ma Griffe appealed to her as an incredibly chic and sophisticated fragrance – the perfect choice for a young woman with a job and her own apartment whose career trajectory could only go up.

A 1972 ad for Ma Griffe appeals to the Liberated Woman, and apologizes for landing her a husband.

A 1972 ad for Ma Griffe appeals to the Liberated Woman, and apologizes for landing her a husband.

Ma Griffe was reintroduced in 2013 following the revival of the House of Carven in 2010 under designer Guillaume Henry. Its notes closely match those of the original formulation so happily, the true Ma Griffe still with us. So is Madame Carven herself, at 104 years old!

Madame Carven, a.k.a. Carmen de Tommaso, in the early Seventies

Madame Carven, a.k.a. Carmen de Tommaso, in the early Seventies

What fragrance are you wearing for National Fragrance Day?

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