Ma Griffe in vintage perfume formulation is a joy for those of us who love floral-green chypres with a healthy dose of yesteryear. Oakmoss, aldehydes, orris and a good solid dry base that fits a fashion house founded by a designer who trained as an architect. Like Carven fashion itself, Ma Griffe didn't invent the wheel when it was launched in 1946. It couldn't eclipse its contemporaries from Robert Piguet, Balenciaga, or Dior, which have all made a certain statement, but it brought this particular style to perfection.
I always think of green aldehydic perfumes as very French. Ma Griffe has the same quality that combines the urban elegance of great shoes, a beautiful powder compact that's housed in a timeless handbag (where there's also a spare scarf in case you need to tie your hair back). The sharp greenery with a hint of soap was later in the 1970s translated as an outdoorsy-sporty fragrance, which was captured in many of the newer print ads; but back in the day, Ma Griffe and others like it were simply elegant feminine perfumes. They were womanly and went well with the beautiful suits and dresses produced by Carven.
Wearing vintage Ma Griffe today is very pleasurable for me. My old extrait de parfum is heavy on the powder, oakmoss, and labdanum. The tender floral heart has faded a little, eaten alive by earthy orris, but the dry-down on all its glorious oakmoss has survived like an old sitting room that had all its treasures covered and preserved for decades. The sensuality of the base notes spreads and amplifies on my skin and has a wonderful longevity, even if the sillage is low. The late dry-down has quite a bit of vetiver which reminds me of some versions of Caleche, dry but with some fire in its core. Mostly, Ma Griffe is a classic chypre and is worth your time (it's relatively easy to track down old mini bottles) if that's your thing.
Ma Griffe has probably gone through several reformulations over the decades. I've had several minis and concentrations and they varied not only in their state of well-being (sometimes the top notes were completely gone) but also in the dominant part: green and greener, soapy or sensual, more oakmoss or more vetiver. Carven and Ma Griffe with it were re-booted in 2008, but I haven't tried the newest version. Please comment if you have: is it as good? Does it resemble the old stuff?
Images: hprints.com and http://textilesandtrinkets.blogspot.com.