Positive Reviews of Ma Griffe by Carven

    Find out more about Ma Griffe by Carven in the Basenotes Fragrance Directory


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    jtd's avatar

    United States United States

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    Pursuing vintage perfume has its difficulties. Date? Formulation? Provenance? Concentration? At the heart of the matter is a question that can be asked of every perfume, whether vintage or current. It's a variation on the 'does one ever swim in the same river twice' chestnut: does one ever smell the same perfume twice?  Is my new bottle of Mitsouko the same perfume as my last bottle? Is Mitsouko Mitsouko? It's a high-school philosophy survey course sort of dilemma.

    The problem with vintage perfume has to do with expectation. What do you expect from your ebay perfume purchase?  If it is a greater authenticity than a contemporary bottle offers you, be prepared to smell the disappointment.

    Ma Griffe is my instructor on the topic. I've smelled 3 vintage versions made in the 1970s to 1990s and they all smell largely the same to me. Powdery and buttery, green but vague. Weak, indistinct, uninteresting.

    This is the powerhouse green locomotive from 1947?  The legend that paved the way for the commanding green chypres of the mid-late 20th century? Of course it isn't. I'll never really know what the old girl smelled like in her heyday. I wasn't there in 1947, and to smell a bottle of Ma Griffe in 2014 that might have been produced in the 1970s can't compare. If you're chasing the authentic experience, like a junkie chasing that first high, it’ll feel like a hint of a memory. Like a dream at the tip of your mind's tongue.

    So what to do?  Consensus is that the current Ma Griffe is rubbish and vintage is unreliable at best. Buying vintage doesn't usually give you the option of sampling or testing a perfume in advance of purchase. It's a stab in the dark.

    So Ma Griffe is dead to me. It is the plight of perfumery and the perfume lover that over the course of time even iconic, seminal fragrances will go away. We blame IFRA compliance for reformulation, but forget to consider that the loss of past perfumes is inherent in the form. I enjoy the discussion of perfumery and the language that it prompts us to create. As for Ma Griffe, I'll have to be content with viewing from the sidelines of the debate. I'll never smell the perfume.

    Still, it's worth it to have the discussion, don't you think?

    19 June, 2014

    EmeraldSkye's avatar

    Sweden Sweden

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    This is for the vintage perfume

    It opens up a bitter, dry aldehydic green, that unfortunately resembles the smell of the inside of my dad's Volvo Amazon in the sixties, a smell that always made me a little nauseous (is it the asafoetida that produces this effect?). It stays that way for a long time, and then dries down into a warm, spicy base that is rather pleasant. Lastly comes the woody base that lingers forever.

    Launched (from airplanes over Paris) in 1946, Ma Griffe was the "it" scent for young people back in the fifties - rebellious and ground breaking. In our own fruity/floral times it might be considered too sharp and dry. Still, it is a classic and well worth a thumbs up for the quality of the ingredients and the originality of the composition (by perfumer Jean Carles, himself anosmic by the time he made it).

    04 June, 2014

    colormechris's avatar

    United States United States

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    I'm a guy and I'm wearing Ma Griffe right now and I love it. It is a GREEN green floral with one of the strangest notes in it that I've ever smelled. I can only describe it as "garlic-ey" and it must be the unusual asafoetida infusion. It is a "foul smelling" resin from a plant in the parsley family and much like civet and other types of binders that smell horrid by themselves--it combines with the other elements to heighten and enrich them.
    Ma Griffe is a stand alone concoction. At once familiar and at twice; strange. A weird, exotic beauty that speaks of Old World European sophistication; but remains wild and woody. To paraphrase the old commercial: Made for a Woman, but strong enough for a Man.

    04 April, 2013

    buren's avatar



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    I admit I inherited my grandmother's spray EDT...but she was NOT the stereotypical grandmother.

    She was "high style", as much as she could accomplish in Indiana, a woman who looked snappy in the late 50's in stadium pumps, black & white jewelry & checkered jackets. Ma Griffe was the perfect fresh, powdery, but not sentimental scent for her...so when I wore it later I could hear her laugh & see her shrug her shoulders....

    I tend to wear somewhat more oriental or smoky scents in fall & winter, somewhat less "powder" in summer..more citrus & watery..

    but I enjoyed wearing her scent, especially dressed up for daytime!

    21st June, 2012

    Lunarloves's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    this was the first "grown-up" scent I bought, on a trip to Paris in 1972 before my French 'A' levels. I bought it together with "Jolie Madame" but I haven't bought that one again. Ma Griffe has stayed with me through all my love affairs and experiments with scents. It's a real "French Perfume" that conjures up the excitement I felt on a cultural trip to Paris. There will never be another like it. I've never been able to pick out the individual notes, it's just the story of my life!

    20th May, 2012

    Zut's avatar



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    Some say there is a new version of Ma griffe? If so, pity. I doubt any reformulation could beat the classic Ma griffe. I love it's very diversified olactive pyramid:

    Head notes: aldehydes, gardenia, green notes, asafoetida, clary sage and citruses
    Heart notes: oris, orange blossom, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, rose
    Base notes: labdanum, sandalwood, cinnamon, musk, benzoin, oakmoss, vetiver, styrax

    Oakmoss and vetiver, a great combination, often make for dark perfumes but Ma griffe remains a rather fresh and fruity chypre. At first, I thought this was almost a masculine vetiver-based EDT. However, the numerous floral notes plus the aldehydes has a "feminizing" effect on the whole composition which makes it a little harder for a man to wear. The first whiff when freshly applied has a short-lived bubble-gummy quality but as soon as the dry-down process begins, a rich green and woody base starts to emerge. Superb fragrance.

    18 November, 2011

    Late-Hit's avatar

    United States United States

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    Oh, yes *sniffs it again* this is the parfum I was looking for!

    Lovers of vintage classics like Nuit de Noel and Emeraude take note: Here's one more to hunt down and treasure.

    This is what a fur coat should smell like. This is what MONEY should smell like.

    29 June, 2011

    sucresurlaneige's avatar



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    I found a large, older bottle of this at a charity shop and got it for 99 cents. I decided I would wear it on the weekends while I save up for the big bottle of escale de portofino. Hmmmm. I like it. A flock of old ladies flew out of the bottle and started knocking me around with their powder puffs for a few minutes, but after they settled down, it got very nice. I put it in the refrigerator for upcoming hot days. I think of this as a cotton, linen and face powder scent

    20th April, 2010

    actiasluna's avatar

    United States United States

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    Vintage versus reformulation. (refinements to this review to come)

    Vintage: More powdery top notes, a tiny bit of citrus/bermagot. Sweet and dry.

    Followed by the floral heart. Jasmine and gardenia and ylang-ylang for sure in the vintage. WIth the powdery undertone.

    Basenotes ... the cinnamon (very light) tonka bean and vetiver start fairly quickly on me (dryish skin) and are pleasant. As they develop the powderiness that was present in the top persists, which may be the "old-fashioned" element to this scent.

    I would not wear this every day, but it is lovely in its own way.


    Now: the reformulation: aldehyde heavy, not as powdery. Almost eye-watering in comparison to the vintage. Not as refined, but not awful.

    The reform. heart is still aldehydic and not as "pretty" floral as the vintage. As the heart develops it smells a bit more like the vintage, but there is a "darker" note to it that says to me the base is coming through.

    The base...a heavier cinnamon hit, still a vibrant greenness to the scent. This vibrancy persists without the powderiness of the vintage, and makes the drydown softer, a little "darker"... and more modern than the original.

    I like it, and could see wearing this.

    (the ideal combo? A spray of each, on alternate wrists. It "vibrates". The strong aldehydes of the new and the powdery top of the old... the more beautiful heart of the old... accented by the sharpness of the new... the powdery base of the old with the dark shimmering softness of the new. IMO, that works.)

    16 March, 2010

    BayKAT's avatar

    United States United States

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    I found a sample of htis in a hole in the wall store at the mall. I tried it on my wrist, and before I got home decided to buy a full bottle (Parfum de toilette)

    Ma Griffe is a real chamelion. Sometimes it is dainty and sweet, like Princess Di on her wedding day. Sometimes it is edgy and sharp, like Lady Di when she became a cultural sensation. And sometimes it just plain bold and out there, like Grand Diva Di when she finally came into her own.

    But in the end, this is one green chypre that has earned it's place as the Queen of People's fragrant hearts. It's just a classic and I can't imagine myself without it.

    19 February, 2010 (Last Edited: 26 March, 2010)

    trikkirikki's avatar

    Sweden Sweden

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    What's that you're wearing? You smell like washing up liquid! my husband said. It was no such thing as Fairy liquid, it was Ma Griffe.

    The opening is indeed very citrusy green, and it goes on for quite a while on my skin, making me feeling very fresh and clean. The drydown is a typical, old fashioned chypre drydown, exactly the way it should be done. It's a very classy fragrance, perfect for all occasions.

    Needless to say, I like it so much more than my hubby does. I'm not sure though that it's that great on my skin, but I can appreciate it as a good scent.

    07 February, 2010

    shamaness's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    I asked my son what this smells of to him. He replied 'it smells like the shade of a green tree on a hot day'. He is right. I wear this on the very hottest, most humid and unforgiving days and it refreshes and enlivens me. Its cool, green crispness creates a psychological reprieve from the worst our summer has to offer.

    18 December, 2009

    fragileindustries's avatar



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    This is both a review and a memory. "Ma Griffe" means "my signature" -- and this has been my signature since about 1972 when I was 16! It was the second perfume I fell head over heels for, and unlike my other youthful follies, has not only stayed in production (though hard to find), it has stayed a favorite. I probably first experienced it when visiting my favorite aunt in San Francisco in the 60's. I didn't know it, but Ma Griffe was her signature scent too. In about 1972, Carven advertised it with one of the first "scratch and sniff" strips I had ever seen. It opened worlds to me -- very few commercial fragrances appeal to me with any immediacy, and I have never liked heavy sweet florals or orientals -- this was completely different. I didn't know from perfume descriptions at the time, but I thought the green packaging was perfect, and I described the scent to others as green -- there is an instinctive element to our adjectives. I carried that little strip in my wallet for weeks until I could find and get the scent for myself. My mother (sister of the SF aunt) was amazed that out of all the perfumes in the world, I would identify with her sister's scent, I always reminded my mom of her sister's personality. To this day if she smells me wearing Ma Griffe she will remark on her sister, who passed years ago. It is described here as old fashioned, but to me it is modern in it's distinctiveness and at every level has a lovely surprise, nothing like any of the more recent trends that have played out. For all it's green springtime freshness, there's something a little... risky, for lack of a better word ... underneath it all, perhaps the cinnamon, which adds a bite and keeps the floral notes from being sicky sweet. "Ma Griffe" also means, literally, "My Claws" in French. That is also part of the spice. MEOW!

    17 December, 2009

    carolyn ross's avatar

    United States United States

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    A clean smell suggestive of early spring.
    Many compliments on this. The bottle is
    a keeper too so it makes for a lovely gift.

    14 September, 2009

    tanto's avatar

    United States United States

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    To me, this scent reminds me of my mom's friend who back in the late 50's was a model for Dior. She was a lovely woman and every time she came from France to visit, she would bring my mom a bottle of Diorling and Ma Griffe. My mom wore Me Griffe all of the time. I remember it to be a very pleasing, clean kind of a scent and never "over bearing". Things were different back then and I am sure that Ma Griffe has been changed from its original formulation.

    19 January, 2009

    aliathespoon@yahoo.com's avatar



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    I read White Oleandar, in which Astrid (main character) idolizes and befriends a wealthy, elegant, old world sort of beautiful prostitute next door. Olivia (this prostitute) wears Ma Griffe, and what it means in the novel is profound. Fitch makes the scent seem almost magical. Ever since, I have wanted Ma Griffe (along with Penhaligan's Victorian Posy, the perfume Olivia gave Astrid) for my very own. So when I saw this on the internet at the bargain basement price of $21.95, I had to have it.

    I have heard it has been reformulated for the U.S. market. This is the version I purchased. Even though I hear the original is much better, I am very pleased with this one. At first, I wanted it only for my collection, but now I wear it all the time. This has been my experience.

    The bottle is very nice, much nicer than the picture on the internet. In reality, The liquid is a very faint green with a green glass platform that makes the entire base reflect green. It is glass while the top is plastic, and in the center of the cap is an encased riveted gold rod with a C (for carven) on top.

    The smell was a bit surprising to me. It is woodsy, mossy, a tad soapy... as if you were in the woods somewhere on a rich estate in Europe sometime in the distant past. Think Atonement (movie or book).Then it dries to a softer, more powdery fragrance... less sharp, more intimate and refined, like the Victorian Era. The base smells like a secret. I'm really not sure if I could explain it any other way. In a few days, it was a new favorite.

    I'm not sure if this has happened to anyone else, but I'm extremely sensitive to smell. For some reason, the smell of this sharpens color for me in the sun. I can see color in a much more vivid, observant light on a sunny day, although it seems to have no effect on me indoors. It also calmed me down quite a bit. I had been stressed all day, and when I put this on, it all melted away.

    A great thing about this scent is the fact that it has all natural fragrances of "essential oils", which means it won't give you a headache. You know that feeling you get when the person next to you has on way too much cologne? This won't happen with this scent since the ingredients are natural: you won't repel people, even if you take a bath in it. Well, maybe if you take a bath in it. But you get the idea.

    Also, the boyfriend likes it. He can't smell me enough when I'm wearing this:] And why do we wear perfume, other than to attract other people?

    This scent is also nice in every situation, every age, every setting. It's subtle yet unforgettable, elegant, and independent in a demure and relaxed, unoffensive sort of way. To me, it says the wearer is completely comfortable being exactly what they are. Ma Griffe in french means "my signature". And this is exactly what this scent is.

    19 September, 2008

    NebraskaLovesScent's avatar

    United States United States

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    This one took a little while to grow on me. At first sniff, I thought it smelled like some cheap hairspray I used to use in high school. Somewhere on the 4th or 5th wearing, though . . . WOW!

    I purchased a small decant just to try but I think I'll be getting a full bottle soon. Very green and fresh on me, with good persistance. A nice change of pace from the fruity florals that seem to dominate my workplace. So old it smells new again.

    27 August, 2008

    virginie's avatar

    United States United States

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    This scent conjures up vivid memories of my grandparents beach house, so how could I not like it? Delightful childhood summer memories aside, though, it's a bit too powdery on me. Obviously, this is a summer scent for me, but a spritz in the air can evoke warm weather even when it's cold out.

    27 August, 2008

    foetidus's avatar

    United States United States

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    Ma Griffe is an excellent green chypre that I have been familiar with for years – I had a couple of aunts who wore this. I don't believe that the modern version smells as good as the one I remember – those reformulation issues, you know. This latest PDT version of Ma Griffe is still very nice, though. It opens with a strong aldehydic green – I get no florals in the opening, and I find the accord very refreshing and bright. It immediately settles down and soon the gardenia and jasmine emerge carrying with them their strong indole notes, and the indoles are definitely welcome in the mixture. The heart notes are quite floral but they manage to present themselves without becoming at all flowery. Of the florals, it is strongest with gardenia and ylang-ylang, and here, especially, is where the modern version of Ma Griffe isn’t as good as the original. Except for the assertive indoles, Ma Griffe is a rather delicate fragrance. It still has superior longevity, and remains charming and unique. (Edit of March 10, 2008 review.)

    10th March, 2008 (Last Edited: 18 June, 2009)

    Stacked_Kat's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    I have worn this on and off all my life I think it is a "summer" scent and it reminds me of the sun, it is both a crisp cool and warm smell, I own vintage and new editions and they are similar although the old has more depth as if it uses more expensive ingredients, it is a classic that everyone should have in a collection.

    14 December, 2007

    valentinadellanotte's avatar

    United States United States

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    This scent is Florence in the summer, a fountain of cool and green deliciousness.

    06 December, 2007

    More scents than money's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Absolutely beautiful for daywear but so difficult to find. When a perfume goes beyond being a merely pleasant smell I tend to describle it as a perfume that 'sings'. Well this perfume could be Maria Callas! The version I have has cheap gold packaging, I would rather have he chic green and white original packaging. The scent itself is cinnamon spicy without being oriental and green without being 'sporty'. Whilst it does carry well, especially when warmed with body temperature it is never cloying. One of my favourites, it saddens me that it seems to be out of favour at the moment.

    05 November, 2007

    Watergirl's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    An underappreciated and often misunderstood masterpiece. The formula has been reworked multiple times over the years, ending, sadly with the lastest version a one-dimensional soapy floral.

    I have paid high and low for this on eBay, the best quality coming from the source - France.

    I love the razor-sharp opening of the EDT, very fresh. The parfum is quite different, equally lovely. The soap is absolutely gorgeous but almost impossible to find. I managed to get some but it was so old the scent had completely vanished, despite still being in cellophane.

    I can't say I have ever come across a similar scent. If anyone has, I'd love to hear about it!

    Of all the perfumes I wear, this one elicits the most compliments, mainly from men.

    I remember buying a bottle for my mum in the 70s and using the whole thing myself! Thankfully, mothers tend to be very understanding!

    22 April, 2007

    CadillacClaire's avatar

    United States United States

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    Wow! I was fairly ambivalent about Ma Griffe until recently when I upgraded from the EDT to the parfum. It is an entirely different animal! Sweet, sophisticated, a real class act. The EDT is much greener, and only lasts about five minutes on me, the parfum ismore complex and is mine to enjoy all day long.

    23 December, 2006

    anacasales's avatar

    Brazil Brazil

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    MaGriffe is one of my favorites. My mom used to wear it when I was a kid, and now, I wear it and love it. It's one of those scents that keep modern through years.

    26 October, 2006

    VintageVogue's avatar

    United States United States

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    One of the great greens and, sadly, almost unknown by the younger generation. Ma Griffe, released in 1946, was developed by the great Jean Carles, who collaborated with Paul Vacher on the formula for the beautifully classic Miss Dior. Carles is also the nose behind the much maligned but great Tabu. Ma Griffe opens with a rush of greens and aldehydes. It's a high energy opening and settles quickly as the florals and spices play off one another. The styrax and cinnamon in the base notes add a smartness and distinctiveness to the drydown. According to Jean Carles's son, it is possible that Jean Carles never smelled this great classic since he lost his sense of smell shortly after WW2. Ma Griffe is clever, smart, yet softly tailored. Great for office wear and also appropriate for evening as well. Lovers of Y, Cristalle, Caleche and Diorella should give Ma Griffe a try.

    25 October, 2006

    Ensoleille's avatar

    United States United States

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    My mother got this as a gift years ago, and I used to "borrow" it when home from college. I love the aldehyde and ylang ylang, it's got sillage to spare, and I always thought the box was so sophisticated. Another scent from the past I want to buy again.

    19 August, 2006

    meteorites's avatar



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    A long lost giant in perfumery. A real classic. A perfume for all seasons. Green but exotic aswell. Has a complexity which can catch ones interest in solving!

    26 May, 2006

    ubuandibeme's avatar

    United States United States

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    I can almost taste this one! It is very heavy, in a syrupy sort of way. Reminds me of eating baklava with Greek style coffee - thick as mud - exotic! The cinnamon is very pronounced. (I think one of my great aunts used to wear this...seems I remember it from childhood somehow.) I think everyone should sample this globally renown scent ~ but I'm not sure how many will actually wear it. Extremely unusual.

    08 March, 2006

    FroFro's avatar



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    Adore this fragrance. If something isn't broken, don't fix it. Unfortunately, very rarely found nowadays, but a very classic, very sophisticated, very wearable scent. One of the oldies but goodies.

    02 February, 2006

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