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A Brief History of Carven

Carven began with a single creative talent: Carmen de Tomasso. She established her company in 1945 in a shop in Paris, close to Champs Elysees. She marketed her fashions, fragrances, and accessories for people that needed more attention paid to their needs: petite women. Her feminine designs made her a big hit, especially in Japan, where many of the women are small and slender.

The Beginning

Carmen de Tomasso established Carven in 1945, picking a spot in Paris not far from Champs Elysees. Her shop for petite women, women around five feet (or 1.55 meters or so), was an immediate success – smaller women no longer had to buy clothes that were too large, then go through the added trouble of altering them. Soon, women from Egyptian princesses, to the daughters of the Count of Paris, to celebrities of the time, like Michele Morgan and Edith Piaf, are wearing Carven creations.

Just one year after opening her shop, Carven launches its first fragrance. Called Ma Griffe (My Claw), this fragrance is composed of green notes, ylang-ylang, citrus and green notes, lily-of-the-vallye, cinnamon, musk, sandalwood, orris, orange blossom, clary sage, and other elements to create the perfect fragrance for the modern young woman of the 1940s – or of any time in history. This timeless fragrance still endures, more than half a century later.

The next fragrance came quickly. Robe d’un Soir is a classic floral-aldehyde composition, derived from bergamot, neroli, peach, aldehydes, lily, orris root, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, carnation, mandarin, may rose, ylang-ylang, and vanilla.

By 1950, Carven was selling big abroad, particularly in Egypt and Brazil. Soon, the company is able to double its personnel. Carmen de Tomasso traveled to many countries, and everywhere she went, she attempted to impart some of the Carven style to the women in that country. Her efforts were successful in many cases.

Scarves came in 1955, expanding the Carven brand, specifically made to match the owner’s particular style. That year also saw the launch of clothing for younger girls, under a new brand, Carven Junior. Two years later, the brand expanded yet again, this time to launch a line of ties for men. This launch was marked with the release of a new fragrance for men, Vetiver.

Vetiver has a strong woody scent, made from notes of cedar, bergamot, carnation, lemon, orris root, petit grain, jasmine, amber, myrrh, musk, clary sage, lavender, sandalwood, mandarin orange, and musk. The release of this scent was proof that Carven could make men’s products with the same appealing flair as it made fragrances for women.

Spreading Fame

By the early 1960s, the fame of Carven and Ma Griff has spread to Asia, particularly Japan. The line of clothing for petite women is especially popular in Japan, where many of the women are of shorter stature. Soon, many women of eastern Asia are wearing the finery of France.

In 1965, Air India requests Carven to create the uniform for its flight attendants. The subsequent designs were so popular, that soon Carven was enlisted to equip the hostesses for Aerolinas Argentinas in 1966, and the hostesses of Inter Alia in 1967

It was around this time that a new fragrance was launched, called Eau Vive. This green and floral fragrance is composed of mimosa, orange, bergamot, vetiver, rosewood, mandarin, green leaves, juniper berries, vanilla, musk, and rhubarb. This fresh and lively scent was perfect for the modern woman of the 1960s, but after that it fell out the Carven lineup – only to be released again during the 1990s.

In 1968, Carven launched its line of jewelry, along with its line of menswear, truly becoming a fashion house for everyone. They continue to do big business across Asia, and the company is recognized by France for their creation of airline stewardess uniforms. Soon, Carven is creating uniforms for the woman of Air France, as well.

Into the Future

Carven passes into the hands of a new company in 1984, and again in 1992. The label had been languishing for some time, and it was time for a revival. In 1996, the revival began with a re-release of the scent Vetiver with new packaging. Despite this, the company was sold yet again, two years later.

The modern Carven has been taken into the hands of Guillaume Henry, and at last it looks like the company may be taking on some of its former momentum. The chic French designs and fragrances first made popular by Carmen de Tomasso still have a place in the fashion world, and Carven collections are proving to be as popular as they ever were.

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