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Designer Carmen “Carven” De Tommasso founded French perfume, clothing and couture fashion house Carven at Rond Point des Champs Elysees in Paris in 1945. Madame Carven, born in 1909 in Châteauroux, France, was a small-framed woman, and initially garnered recognition for her specialization in petite women’s clothing and accessories. Her ultra-feminine designs, which often included lace and embroidery, shaped a fashion sense both delicate and elegant. In 1968, the company expanded, creating its first jewelry line and menswear collection. In 1972 it accumulated a large fan base when it expanded to Japan, where women tend to be more petit, and appreciated that Carven designed to their body type in an industry obsessed by long, lean figures.
Carven’s fragrance business was born soon after the fashion house, and instantly began to thrive. In 1946, they launched Ma Griffe, a sultry floral perfume featuring jasmine, green moss and musk, which met with great popular success. It was followed in 1947 by Robe d’un Soire and Chasse Gardee in 1950. The company’s first men’s fragrance, 1957’s Vetiver, was an earthy scent of lemon, lavender, jasmine, and of course vetiver, that brought significant notice to the Carven name in the fragrance industry. The late sixties, seventies and eighties saw the rapid release of several more perfumes; including Vert et Blanc, Eau Vive, a pairing called Monsieur and Madame de Carven, and Intrigue. The company continues to turn out fragrances on a quick-schedule, constantly reinventing itself to creatively impress its audience. At the turn of the century, it released Carven Homme for men and Variations for women, both light, playful florals intended to give them a more youthful image. Its most recent line is the equally playful Cabaret for women (2002) and men (2005).
Today, the design house is owned by leather goods company Arco International, with designer Pascal Millet as the company’s creative spirit. In addition to fragrance and clothing, the company has more than 60 license agreements for lingerie, jewelry, accessories, home furnishings, and even a beverage line featuring Carven Champagne and Carven Cognac.