A SCENT OF POETRY Maison Francis Kurkdjian

“I dream up my creations like olfactory silhouettes composed of fresh or ambery notes, floral accords or opulent expressions. It is an invitation to choose daily which one to wear, because I like the idea that every woman and man can express a part of themselves through perfume.” - Francis Kurkdjian
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À la rose by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

With the aim of bringing back the perfumer and genuine creativity to the center of the stage, Maison Francis Kurkdjian was co-created by Francis Kurkdjian and Marc Chaya in Paris in 2009.
Under the vision of its founders, it has established itself as a celebrated player in the luxury fragrance world with a premium and ultra selective presence in over 45 countries. The Maison promotes an artistic approach to perfume creation, with poetry, joyfulness and the love of the product guiding each step. 

Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

“The fragrance is not the scent only. It is everything all together and notably the name and the scent and, of course, the story. Because without the story, there is not scent according to me,” Francis told me.

The Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection was designed like a sophisticated fragrance wardrobe that pays tribute to the perfumer’s modern vision of the art of wearing perfume. There is a story behind each one of them.

“When I start creating a perfume, there's always a story. I gather and combine different things that are inspirational for me: a book or a funny photo from a magazine, really different things. For example, one particular thing inspired me when I created “Elixir”: the moment when the woman, or a dancer, sits in front of the mirror and puts the make-up on. There is a dialogue going on between the person and her projection in the mirror. At that moment nothing else exists except that dialogue. I remember watching my mother while she was putting her make-up on when I was a kid. The name of the perfume is also very important to me. I love words. The beauty of talking lies in finding the right words to express the thoughts. The perfume is like the book. You need to have the right title of it. Once you open a book, or smell a perfume, the story begins.” 

Francis Kurkdjian, photo: Nathalie Baetens

As a child Francis Kurkdjian studied classical ballet and piano. “Ballet is the top. Nothing can replace it,” he told me when we first met in Antwerp some years ago. At the age of 15 he decided to become a perfume designer, and made sure he attended all the right classes to take him to the International Perfumery School (ISIPCA). When he was just 25 he developed his first scent, “Le Mâle de Jean Paul Gaultier” which became an immediate international success in 1995. Francis went on to make fragrances for some of the world’s biggest names in luxury and beauty: Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Lanvin, Guerlain, Narciso Rodriguez, Elie Saab, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent - just to name a few. In 2001 he decided to go forward and he opened an atelier specializing in custom-made fragrances. 

OUD silk mood
OUD silk mood
APOM femmes
APOM femmes
Aqua Vitae
Aqua Vitae

Francis Kurkdjian is one of those designers who constantly seek new forms of expression. This led him to collaboration with many artists. He composed the perfume “L’odeur de l’argent” (The Smell of Money) for French artist Sophie Calle; recreated the perfume of Marie Antoinette for the Château de Versailles, and brought  “Papier d’Arménie” back into fashion, making it a cult item. With Nicolas Degennes, Kurkdjian designed “Toi et moi, une rencontre’’ - scented fountain for the Festival International des Jardins at Chaumont-sur-Loire; Ballet olfactif (olfactive ballet) with Christian Rizzo for Fondation Cartier. One can not miss the poetry in his work. 

In 2008 Francis Kurkdjian was knighted ‘‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’’ by the French Ministry of Culture.


“What makes me happy is Beauty wherever it comes from. It brings me serenity, calm, an inner happiness and it puts a smile on my face.”
1573327021779148 baccarat rouge540 bottle1573327361230574 masculin pluriel bottle
1573327091721662 lumi re noire women bottle1573327143068055 amyris men mood visual
1573327278497908 oud mood visual
Baccarat Rouge 540, masculin Pluriel, Lumière Noire, Amyris and OUD by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Take for example Aqua Universalis - an addictive fragrance that creates an olfactory connection between the skin and clean linen, between sheets and fresh air, between big and small, between men and women. Aqua Universalis can be used in a variety of ways for different purposes that match and complement one another. A delicate waft of fragrance for your skin, for the home and for your linen. 

Or Aqua Vitae. Lemon from Calabria, mandarin from Sicily, tonka bean from Brazil, vanilla infusion, hedione and guaiac wood. Inspired by life, that irresistible attraction shared by billions. A magic breath, a fragrance between one-self and another person, between you and me, a space between us.
Carnal by nature and delicate in essence Aqua Vitae triggers an irresistible desire for gentle kisses on the nape of the neck. It produces something of a tiny miracle: caressing the senses and relaxing the body, making it as easy as breathing for the skin to smell good. 

The head in Jamaica and the heart in Florence, Amyris evolves somewhere between the blaze of the sun and the vibrations of the earth, and expresses the fire of the setting sun. The Amyris duo was born from an encounter between resin and rhizome, brought together in two vibrant creations. 

Opposites come together, pulled by an invisible thread, for a unique and vibrant expression of senses - Lumière Noire - the creation born from two words that serve an image. It blends the shock and the visual miracle with an olfactory duel. Rose is usually worlds apart from patchouli, just as light is the opposite of dark. Together, they produce a flash of lightning that makes heads turn. 

À la rose is a declaration of love for all women captured in a fragrance. Queen of flowers, the rose knows no boundaries and has inspired those in the creative arts since the dawn of time. Poets, painters, musicians... and perfumers alike. All have sought to capture its aura, its magic and its secrets. Two varieties of rose have bestowed the radiance and richness of their petals on this Eau de parfum: two hundred and fifty Centifolia roses from Grasse (May Rose) in the form of an absolute produce a very floral base note with sweet honeyed and carnal accents. One hundred and fifty Damascena roses from Bulgaria in the form of an essential oil create a top note with a playful blend of pear and lychee. Rose Centifolia from Grasse, rose Damascena from Bulgaria, bergamote from Calabria, orange from California, accord of violet and magniolia blossom, woody cedar and musk accord - À la rose has the crisp tenderness of rose petals, a whimsical free-spirited style and an elegance that radiates femininity. 

APOM stands for ‘A Part Of Me’, a part of oneself offered to others. Inspired by a sirocco wind blowing from the East, this perfume is a tribute to the beauty of the men and women of the Mediterranean shore. It’s a scent to be shared, a fragrant blend of colors, aromas and moments, reflecting that warm, bewitching beauty that one keeps close. The gentleness of orange blossom and the strength of cedar wood, both symbolic of tenderness. 

Spicy - woody - oriental: OUD. The oud that gives its name to this creation comes from Laos, where it grows the purest, the rarest and the most expensive. This natural raw material, somewhere between wood and lichen, is this century’s ambergris. It can no more be overlooked than the iris from Florence or vetiver from Haiti. It took Francis Kurkdjian a while to tame oud’s animal nature, to welcome this prince of Arabian perfumes as a charismatic newplayer in his perfumer’s palette. From that point on, its story was sketched between the fine-grained sand of the desert dunes, the fragrant harmattan wind and the star-studded night – an Arabian perfume born from a western sensitivity. 

Francis Kurkdjian has found some new traveling companions for this fragrant giant: cedar wood from the Atlas Mountains and Indonesian patchouli. Delicate saffron and whimsical elemi gum add sparks to its opulence. Its palace is a bottle of One Thousand and One Nights crowned with a golden dome, and set in an exquisite box like a projecting Arabian latticed window. Bewitching, narcotic, mysterious, it is both feminine and masculine. 

One history, one area of expertise, one name. Baccarat Rouge 540 draws its inspiration from the very heart of the manufactory, which has celebrated its 250 anniversary with this eau de parfum.
Powerful and distinguished, its name evokes a metamorphosis of a clear crystal mingled with 24-carat gold powder and gradually brought to fusion at 540 degrees, arousing a glowing scarlet appearance. Baccarat Rouge 540 is born from the encounter between two symbols of excellence, Maison Baccarat and Maison Francis Kurkdjian. The combined magic of Nature and Man, transforming raw materials into a sensory element. A united expression with an outpouring of expertise, an influx of minerals and a breath of fire. That is how Baccarat Rouge 540 came into being, with its graphic and extremely condensed olfactory signature. A luminous and intense eau de parfum with amber and woody floral tones. 

Gentle Fluidity is his answer to contemporary questions on gender identity. “Gentle” because benevolence is one of Maison Francis Kurkdjian core values. “Fluidity” because we are all free to express our personality without having to submit to diktats, just like the Maison has unlimited creative freedom. 

Gentle Fluidity is the name of two new eau de parfum Francis created. A single name for two distinct olfactory identities. The same name shared by two creations whose distinctive feature is to be composed of the same ingredients. 

When Francis Kurkdjian is asked how long it takes him to create a new perfume, he usually mentions the number of years that have passed since the beginning of his career. Twenty five years. For twenty five years he has molded olfactory matter and highlighted its visible and invisible facets. 

Once again Francis Kurkdjian disrupts the rules of fragrance creation with a disconcerting composition exercise. With Gentle Fluidity, he unveils two eau de parfum from two utterly different olfactory worlds (one features a woody, aromatic scent, the other musky, oriental notes), by drawing from the same list of ingredients and going beyond the concept of perfumery for women, men or mixed. Of the 49 ingredients used to compose this perfume duo, Francis Kurkdjian wished to highlight six which make up the olfactory silhouette of each of the two variations: juniper berry, nutmeg and coriander seed essences, musks, ambery woods and vanilla. In their own way, these two eau de parfum become comfortable and reassuring. When he overdoses some ingredients, he under-doses others because fragrances, like all the things that move us, are essentially about balance and expected effects... No more feminine or masculine. There is a personality, a sensitivity, a “Gentle Fluidity” between all gender identities. In order to visually tell these two creations apart, a special role was given to the color of the name and the cap and to the balance of letters. Silver for an aromatic woody “Gentle fluidity” featuring a big G, gold for the oriental musky interpretation where the F is in capital letters, like in “gentle Fluidity”. Fragrance composition remains a broad topic. When Francis Kurkdjian conjures up a new fragrance, he follows a golden rule: to use only the quantity of ingredients needed to convey an idea and arouse emotion. 

As a keen observer of society and its evolution, Francis Kurkdjian mirrors his era by telling stories through fragrance. When I asked him what excites him the most when he creates a fragrance, Francis said:

“Inspiration is the invisible part of creation. By far, the most exciting part of my work remains in all the creative processes from finding the name of the scent, to the scent itself, including all the visuals and the film.”

Describing the scent of the future, Francis says: “Personally, bringing the world of scent to a new level of consciousness, to new ways to wear or experiment fragrances is really something I am more and more looking at in the future. I believe it is part of my mission in the world of fragrances to open new paths and question my era about the importance, meaning and place of fragrances. I do believe it is also the modernity of it: breaking, not the rules, but the boundaries. You have to play the game, if not, you are outside the place to be, but no one has ever forbidden not to push the boundaries nor break them eventually.”

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