End of an era: Madame Carven has died (at the fabulous age of 105…)

Sad news for the perfume world: Madame Carven – born Carmen de Tommaso – has passed away. A contemporary of Dior and of Chanel, she only retired at the age of 84, after presiding over her house for five decades – and was one of the last living links with the couture’s post-War heyday.

Much loved for her bold styles and use of striking fabrics – she’s seen here draping an African-inspired textile over a model in her atelier – Marie-Louise Carven (as she came to be known) was a true perfume pioneer, almost ‘inventing’ the headline-grabbing fragrance launch.

When Ma Griffe – ‘my signature’ – launched, it brought Paris to a standstill. Hundreds of little green-and-white parachutes were dropped onto the centre of Paris, each carrying a little sample of this so-green scent. The fragrant stunt ensured, as historians tell, that ‘the lingering scent of Ma Griffe floated everywhere: at the Opéra, at charity balls, at the most fashionable sports events from Deaville to Monte Carlo’.

After Madame Carven retired, all went quiet on the Carven front – until the arrival of Francis Kurkdjian, who has created two stunning be-ribboned fragrances for the house, which has also revived Ma Griffe. Francis told us that he was hugely inspired by meeting the designer, when it came to creating the new scents.

In tribute to the grande dame of fashion and perfumery, we invite you to explore the history of her fragrance house here – just one of dozens and dozens of perfume houses whose stories we share on this site.

And Madame Carven, we salute you…

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