Ma Griffe Eau de Toilette (Carven)

Yesterday at the antique barn, I shelled out one dollar for a glass atomizer containing about five milliliters of Ma Griffe EdT. There are some who might say I grossly overpaid.

Designed in 1946 when Jean Carles' anosmia had already taken hold, Ma Griffe (like Balmain's Vent Vert) was lauded as a groundbreaking galbanum. Vintage Ma Griffe parfum is supposed to be pure emerald heaven-- but lighter versions in latter days have not received the best of press. From what I've heard, the most recent version of Ma Griffe is so tooth-grindingly godawful you'll wish you were anosmic after smelling it. (I wonder if this is the version said to contain asafoetida, which smells like rancid garlic.) Clearly, time, reformulation, and changing tastes have not been kind to this classic.

Being unfamiliar with the evolution of Ma Griffe bottles -- all that perennial green-and-white striped packaging makes me dizzy! -- I had absolutely no idea which vintage this one might be. Whatever its date of issue, it had certainly been well-loved and well-used. A quick spritz reassured me that we weren't dealing with a demon here (and also served to keep a few curious late-season wasps at bay-- seriously, it really IS a barn). I figured I'd take it home and transfer the juice into a smaller clean spray bottle, not least because the bottle itself (pictured below) is pure Seventies hideous.

In keeping with my usual luck with secondhand sprayers, getting Ma Griffe out of the bottle proved a wildwater adventure. Atomiseur, stated the label. More like rocket launcher. Rather than spray-decant the perfume with a few reasonable and rhythmic pumps, I found myself power-washing the inside of the vial with fragrance so highly pressurized it actually shot back up and out, drenching both my hands. My foyer (where I happened to be carrying out this operation) now smells totally Ma Grifftastic-- as do I.

So how's that working out for me, you ask? Surprisingly, pretty well. This Ma Griffe, whichever one it is, appears to be limited even in its letdowns. It's no mighty galbanum goddess by any stretch of the imagination; anyone seeking a green epiphany here would be disappointed. But in its pale way, it is verdant-- a half-strength jade floral, tart in a Granny Smith apple sort of way, set against a lactonic backdrop ever so mildly touched with spice (by which I do not mean asafoetida, thank god).

In the interest of conducting proper research, I still feel it would be necessary to track down other Ma Griffes (older, younger, different concentrations) for comparison. But this one is feminine, inoffensive, rather retro-- in short, not a bad way to waste a dollar.

Scent Elements: Gardenia, galbanum, citrus, aldehydes, clary sage, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, orris, ylang-ylang, styrax, oakmoss, cinnamon, musk, benzoin, labdanum