Monsieur Carven was one of the first perfumes to stake a claim on the spicy oriental territory opened up by Opium the previous year. It has lots in common with the YSL blockbuster - they share no less than 14 accords! In fact they are so similar that Opium is more like M.Carven than Opium pour Home, but MC is generally quieter due to the fact that it isn't built around such a massive bulk of spices.
Monsieur Carven is not only a better reworking of Opium than OpH, but also a more convincing perfume in its own right. It could even be known as Monsieur Opium.
This is a heavy hitter in the fashion of the time, rich and complex. Dense with a loading of spices herbs and florals, and backed up by sweet amber, but not so dense that there is no room for the notes to breathe.
It has a very soapy aldehydic start over a smooth body and soon takes on a classic 70s style - warm and full with a brown colour value.
The heart is a very pleasant sweet spicy oriental.
Thanks to myrrh and coconut an aromatic and bergamot-resiny aspect of leather is elevated into the body. A developing coarse texture from eugenol-patchouli-moss in the base provides a suitably masculine yet discrete grounding to the affair, and without the phenomenal lasting power of Opium.
Although it is evidently a derivative remake of a hugely successful formula, MC still feels like the creation of an individual talent and not a soulless compromise driven by the goal of eliminating negative responses from panel tests.
A wonderful example of well crafted perfumery, even if the idea is not new. Multi-faceted; through each stage it manages to remain agreeable and solidly masculine despite modern perceptions of the oriental as a feminine genre, and it doesn't put a foot wrong until the slightly under par dry down when compared to Opium. Very good quality materials.
It may need a lively sense of humour to carry this one off, but if I were to be invited to a seventies disco revival night, this would be my perfume of choice to go with the chest medallion and flairs.
If you are a fan of the seventies style get this is you can find it. Highly recommended.
28th April, 2015 (last edited: 26th March, 2016)
If the opening of Monsieur Carven lasted longer I'd stockpile it like canned food in a fallout shelter. It comes on so rich, vibrant, and loud. Though the opening is a little deceptive in that the whole winds down much too quickly this is still an exemplary scent. What I get for most of its lifespan in the listed base notes above and the cinnamon. There's more to it, but mostly nuanced. Most of the wear is a superb cinnamon and leather scent laced and earthily sweetened with vanilla, civet (very nice use here - a bit lemony in the mix, like the later Ungaro II), and moss. Swap out the civet for some dark castoreum and Monsieur here would be a few bitter greens from being mistaken for Jovan's Gambler (this is only really important because once my supply of one is gone I may need to fall back on the other).
It is interesting to note that for a short while as the top noise departs there is a middle stage that smells like a man's take on popular women's scents of and around the 50's - the spicy-powdery prevalence of carnation and orris reminds me of creations like Anais Anais and Poivre/Coup de Fouet, just dirtier and less 'white' in this instance.
With a prolonged top phase this one would certainly be in my 'Pantheon' of fragrances but as it is Monsieur Carven is still a fun ride with its distinct and very enjoyable phases, and the drydown is as strong and assured as it is lasting. It is a very gentlemanly creation, but it is brighter and more outgoing than many of its boardroom peers. Just very enjoyable stuff.
The top notes are wonderful: an intense artemisia, neroli, lavender and bergamot - traditional and extraordinarily well executed. The drydown adds jasmin and a fairly mild patchouli, based upon a soapy barbershop-style moss note with a touch of civet harshness, whilst sandalwood is felt in the base. On my skin the opening part is the best, whilst later this is a good classic fougère-type scent that is well made but not particularly exciting. Adequate silage and projection and good longevity of six hours. Great in spring.
Monsieur Carven opens with a sharp aldehyde infused blast of citric bergamot, aromatic lavender and green wormwood before moving to its heart phase. During the early heart the bergamot remains in a subdued form, as the lavender and wormwood take the fore supported by sharp woody vetiver. As the heart progression continues hints of an animalic powdery oakmoss laced leather accord begin to permeate the herbal woody greens, combining with a dark rose and carnation floral tandem. By the end of the heart phase the powdery oakmoss laced animalic leather becomes much more prominent and dominates the early part of the dry-down before softening very late as subtle slightly sweet sandalwood cuts the aggressive mossy leather as the accord finally fades. Projection is average and longevity is good at 10-12 hours on skin.
Monsieur Carven is a classic well made scent that changes many times through its complex development. It starts off sharp, herbal, green and woody before turning powdery and leathery midway through and just slightly sweet late. In some respects the overall accord result is somewhat formal, but far from subtle. Even though the leather is rather hard-core (most likely birch tar and castoreum derived) it never becomes too much to take, as the powdery facets of the oakmoss utilized by the perfumer keep it just well enough in-check. If I have any gripe with Monsieur Carven it is the powdery oakmoss used is just a bit heavier than I would like ideally, but that really is a minor gripe in an otherwise outstanding composition. Monsieur Carven is quite the old-school fragrance that folks used to "flavor of the month" current modern releases might not take well to, but this reviewer loves the style and loves the scent, awarding it a strong 4 out of 5 star "excellent" rating. As Monsieur Carven has been off the market for quite some time finding a bottle is far from easy nor inexpensive, but this is one well worth the effort.
Great fragrance, no doubt! I have vintage version of this fragrance which I bought 1982. Still very strong, projective, pleasant smell, smell of a gentleman, real gentleman, smell of old times, better times...
I can proudly say, powerhouse of the 70's & 80's...
Longevity 8 hours in my skin..
Opens up with strong bergamot, aldehydes, midlle notes hard to describe( i can fell lot of jasmin,sandalwood, patchouli), dries down with vanilla, leather.Leather is perfect in this fragrance such as leather in the Antaeus by Chanel.If you have a chance to buy this perfume, grab it, you won't regret it.