If there is one thing which I enjoy about perfumes inspired by place is the opportunity to see a location through fragrance. Some of that comes with expectation. If it is a place I’ve visited, then I have my own memory which can be confirmed or contrasted by the fragrance. When it comes to a place I haven’t visited, then it is my imagination as fired through literature or movies the perfume is working for or against. I have to say though Carven Paris Alexandrie has created a new category where I wonder if I know nothing about a city.
Paris Alexandrie is part of five new entries in the Carven La Collection after the original seven in 2017 and one added last year. I had the same sensation of whether many of those previous perfumes were representative of the city they were trying to emulate. The other technique within the collection was to go obvious with the ingredient the city was most known for. In these most recent releases Paris Havane goes for tobacco and Paris Shenandoah is a festival of cedar. The head scratchers come when Paris Prague is a similar cedar perfume but with gin or Paris Tanger is a thick woody leavened with a bit of citrus. Paris Alexandrie is also in the head scratching category as it seems like the city between the desert and the Mediterranean smells like a violet chypre?
I’ve never visited Alexandria so perfumer Aurelien Guichard might be spot on with his interpretation. What he seems to find is a beautiful violet centered accord is the ideal contrast to a modern chypre base.
Paris Alexandrie opens on the violet, provided some depth with lavender in a supporting role. M. Guichard adds in a series of fascinating choices as the sweetness of carrot seed and nutmeg tease out that pleasant floral quality to violet. Black pepper and incense provided piquant texture and resinous contrast. All together this is a compelling violet accord. It finds an equally interesting chypre accord waiting for it. M. Guichard uses moss, patchouli, and cypriol to form his modern chypre. In this case the lack of the bite of the old school chypres works. It comes together as a kind of plush green velvet effect for the violet accord to rest upon.
Paris Alexandrie has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I have no real idea if Paris Alexandrie is an accurate representation of the scent of Alexandria. If I am fortunate enough to visit, I might make the connection immediately. Until then I’ll think of Paris Alexandrie as the violet chypre.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Carven.