Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity – a fragrant dance of two halves

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity – a duo of fragrances encompassing the same ingredients, but with utterly differing characters and, therefore, emotional responses in the wearer. We caught up with Francis Kurkdjian himself, to discover the intricacies of two fragrances with ‘same notes, two identities‘…

Within both the Gentle Fluidity Gold and Gentle Fluidity Silver, you will find juniper berries, nutmeg, coriander, musks, amber wood and vanilla. But surely no scents have ever more firmly proved that mere lists of the materials a perfumer’s used are no better way of judging a final fragrance than being given the names of the paint colours a particular artist favours. What’s missing in the bare bones of a list is the emotional flesh of the fragrance. And MFK’s Gold and Silver get their messages across – clearly, but with infinite subtleties. Such is the skill of Kurkdjian.

So, what do they smell like? Gentle Fluidity Gold is warm, nuzzly – it glimmers the way a gilded bronzer does on the skin before wrapping you in a hug of deliciously creamy woodiness. Gentle Fluidity Silver, meanwhile, is cooler, frosted almost, the ultra refined juniper to the fore as it gently caresses the skin. Two sides of the same coin, or of your own personality, perhaps? Who better to explain them than Francis Kurkjian himself?

Beyond the technical skill of the nose, there is an alchemy that takes place – an invisible message from perfumer to perfume-wearer, and from the person who wears the scent to every passer by that smells it. Our personal reactions may not be the same, but those responses are instantaneous and unbidden. At an event hosted by fragrance writer Alice du Parcq, perfumer and founder, Francis Kurkdjian, told us the story of how the scents were inspired – alongside a glimpse of the stunning new advertising campaign, which expresses the scents in a medium close to Kurkdjian’s heart (and his past, as a ballet dancer).

 

The new Gentle Fluidity campaign draws the artistic and emotional analogy between perfume and dance, an art that deeply shaped Francis Kurkdjian’s personality. The complicity between the two dancers and the fluidity of their movements are a symbol of the synergy among the ingredients of the two Gentle Fluidity eaux de parfum.

 

Within the private area of a restaurant in London, the face of Francis Kurkdjian is virtually beamed across the channel via a large television screen. A small group of invited press are here for a Masterclass in his Gentle Fluidity fragrances.

‘I like the idea of telling a story through ballet, that’s very important to me,’ he says, as the sinuous forms of two dancers weave around eachother on screen – a visual evocation of how the fragrances are united yet apart.

‘At the very beginning I only had one scent. I thought the idea was close to unisex, or a gender free scent.’ Francis looks into the middle distance and considers awhile, as he recalls his creative influences. ‘During the process I changed my mind. I wanted to form a new shape from the same DNA, like fake twins in a way.’

‘The original name was Gender Fluidity,’ Kurkdjian elucidates, ‘but I had a friend who kept mispronouncing it, and I thought he was right actually. I like the idea of kindness in the name.’ Talking about the term ‘unisex’ and concepts of gender – in fragrance, in life itself – Kurkjian continued: ‘I think the idea of being “gender fluid” will in time even become dated, it won’t be seen as being “different” because we will have lived with [the concept], we will completely accept that. Whereas fluidity and gentleness are timeless.’

‘It’s all about how you put two things together and they can resonate very differently. The magic of using an ingredient with something else is amazing. Lemon on its own is just lemon. If you start to play and add two other notes next to each other, they vibrate differently.

For the gold version there’s an overdose of vanilla and musk. The musk gives an airiness. Like a ballon within the vanilla. In ballet, my teacher used to tell me when I jumped, you need the feeling of balloon, the feeling of floating all the while gravity is trying to pull you down.’

‘Once I’d defined the gold version, I could define the silver version. I looked at how I could reshape and rebalance. The creative process for me is always chaos, but in my head I’m organised’ he chuckled.

 

 

Discussing how it can still be difficult to get some men to try anything other than scents specifically marketed ‘for men’, Kurkdjian smiled wryly as he gave an example he’s often seen:

‘When a woman wears a man’s fragrance she doesn’t question her femininity at all. Maybe because women have worn trousers for so long? Whereas with men, if you give them a scent to smell on a white card they will like it, but then if you tell them that fragrance was made for women, the majority of them completely disregard it. Perfume is a real mirror of society…’

For more on Kurkdjian’s opinions of ‘gender’ in fragrance, do read his fascinating post Raw Materials Have No Gender, on the Maison’s website. Meanwhile, do seek out the Gentle Fluidity duo and allow them to dance on your skin – we wonder which you will be most instantly drawn to, or what occasions you might wish to wear them to express the multiple sides of your own character…

 

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Gold / Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Silver £165 for 70ml eau de parfum at harveynichols.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Scented christmas trees & more from Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Maison Francis Kurkdjian has pulled out all the stops this season, offering new and exciting ways to scent your home (and yourself!) From fragrant Christmas trees, scented caligraphy cards and the most goregous candle, there’s also excellent news for fans of a certain best-selling fragrance who’d believe in going big or going home…

There’s no doubt that perfumer Francis Kurkdjian is one of the most stylish people we know. From the exquisite fine fragrances and accessories that have made him world famous, to his personal flair when designing the so-chic boutiques and decorating his own (of course ultra fabulous) Parisian apartment. Borrowing a little of that effortless élan for some French contemporary style, Maison Francis Kurkdjian invite you to come inside and ‘…plunge into a unique universe where the art and pleasure of giving become one. Fragrances and candles wait patiently by the Christmas tree, the theme chosen by Francis Kurkdjian, as the quiet and elegantly dressed witnesses of the season’s celebrations.’

‘O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how lovely is thy fragrance…’

Mon beau Sapin, the iconic holiday candle by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, now comes in a dark green colour adorned with a fir bough decorated in white and gold. Its generous, characteristic smell of a balsam fir, slightly resinous, slowly guides us towards a reassuring forest. This candle, with its specific wintery enveloping fragrance brings the finishing touch to the joyful holiday mood and memories past.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Mon Beau Sapin Candle £55 for 190 g, at Selfridges new MFK counter

 

If you’re one of the many (many!) fragrant fans of the iconic Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait de parfum, or you know someone who is, get ready to squeal quite a lot. A whopping great supersize-me version of the fragrance has been created especially for Christmas, standing proud at 200ml, and definitely subscribing to the belief that bigger is better.

‘Baccarat Rouge 540 was born of the encounter five years ago between Baccarat and Maison Francis Kurkdjian, two luxury houses with a shared passion for know-how. Baccarat Rouge 540 tells the story of how gold is magically transformed into red, a process whose secret is known only by Baccarat. Blended with 24-karat gold dust and gradually fused until it reaches precisely 540 degrees, Baccarat’s transparent crystal slowly dons a dazzling red hue.’

This fragrance has been a world-wide best-seller for a reason: it smells incredible – we know exactly where a certain member of The Perfume Society team has been because she trails this everywhere she goes. It’s available as an eau de parfum in the clear crystal bottle and as an extrait de parfum in a deep, ruby red bottle; and if this is a present for someone you love, it’s certainly not only Santa that’s getting snogged under the mistletoe this year!

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait de parfum £590 for 200ml at Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, John Lewis, Les Senteurs, Harrods & franciskurkdjian.com

Thursday to Sunday there will be caligraphy on specially scented Christmas cards at the new Maison Francis Kurkdjian Selfridges counter. And they are also offering a mini Mon Beau Sapin candle as a free gift with purchase. (We absolutely will not judge you if you decide to keep this for yourself. The person you’re buying the gift for will never know, right? Right. And we’ll be doing the same, so…)

Finally, if you needed another reason to pop across to France (with the car, we think, for this one…) before Christmas, then look no further than the wonder that is a scented Maison Francis Kurkdjian Christmas tree! Sadly these are not available in the U.K. this year, but those seeking the ultimate in festive fragrance can delight in them at the following stores:

Perfumed and fireproofed Nordmann Tree, 100/120 cm:
Green natural tree from 145 euros*
Flocked tree with natural dusting from 185 euros*
Flocked integral white tree from 205 euros*
*(Suggested retail price excluding delivery)

Order from Parisian shops Maison Francis Kurkdjian:
Boutique Saint Honoré – 5 rue d’Alger, Paris 1er – +33 1 42 60 07 07
Boutique Marais – 7 rue des Blancs-Manteaux, Paris 4ème – +33 1 42 71 76 76

The mere descriptions, let alone gawping at these pictures, makes us feel instantly more stylish; and we find that theme of the Holiday tree on all accompanying boxes, gift sets, tissue paper and bags – illustrations and images drawn by Kurkdjian himself and created by his design team. So if you’re searching for that perfect present for someone special, hankering after treating yourself for a change, or heavily hinting to loved ones (we find choosing the Print Screen option and circling the ones you want in red while mouthing ‘THOSE PLEASE’ works really well); you’ll find that ‘…everything at Maison Francis Kurkdjian comes together to create a wintry harmony where an eye for detail lies at the heart of the creative process.’ Naturellement!

By Suzy Nightingale

Gentle Fluidity – Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s new duo

‘Same note, two identities…’ So says perfumer Francis Kurkdjian – (pronounced coor-shone, by the way) at the end of the mesmerising film for his new fragrance duo of Gentle Fluidity. Scroll down to watch it, here, and find out how you can get samples of BOTH to try at home…

The idea was to create two fragrances that smell very different – using exactly the same notes but crafting them in such a way, the scents evolve their own distinct characters.

Such elegant playfulness can be said to be something of a signature for Kurkdjian throughout his lustrous career; begining straight out of perfumery school and slap bang into composing his first commercial scent, then aged just 25: Le Mâle for Jean Paul Gaultier.

An instant success and still a best-seller, fragrance fans and perfume industry peers could already see this was a special ‘nose’, setting out to do something different, with an insouciant dry humour and ultimate sophistication. From there, young Francis set about creating Iris Nobile for Acqua di Parma, Lanvin Rumeur, multi-award-winning Elie Saab Le Parfum, and a duo of fragrances for the newly-revived Carven perfume house, among many others. Finally, in 2009, he got to found his very own house, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, near the Place Vendóme in Paris; and his subsequent creations have wowed the fragrance world ever since.

Talking of what creative freedom owning his own Maison affords him, Francis told us ‘…it is my way to express what I think about the world of fragrances, it is my take on luxury. It is nurtured from my background as a perfumer and a composer, my artistic sensibility and sensitivity.’

Put quite simply: the man’s a genius. And we don’t say that lightly.

You can read much more about his upwardly-mobile career and other fragrances on our page dedicated to Maison Francis Kurkdjian, but in the meantime, let us introduce you to his two newest fragrant launches – the Gentle Fluidity duo…

The inspiration: ”Working the ingredient to express its full potential and meeting the challenge of composing two different eaux de parfum with the same notes: juniper berries, nutmeg, coriander, musks, ambery woods and vanilla. The Gentle Fluidity duo was born of the perfumer’s imagination to offer two distinct olfactory silhouettes, for her or for him.’

gentle Fluidity Gold Edition £150 for 70ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
‘In gentle Fluidity’s (gold) generous, enveloping trail, we can find coriander seed essence and an overdose of musks and vanilla. The floral, spicy note of coriander seeds brings, just like musks, ethereal volume and a lingering trail. In the base notes, the gourmand, reassuring notes of the vanilla accord enhanced by the ambery woods reveal a radiant, bright silhouette.’

Gentle fluidity Silver Edition £150 for 70ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
‘In Gentle fluidity (silver), nutmeg and ambery woods are dominant and release a vibrant, comfortable trail. As for juniper berry essence, it leads to an ascending, ultra-fresh, aromatic note, similar to a “gin frappé” effect, balanced by the dry, slightly balmy, spicy notes of nutmeg. The base notes reveal ambery wood facets ranging from sweet and enveloping to powerful and dry.’

It’s really quite remarkable how unique they both smell – the Gold version warmer, a more snuggle-up-and-nuzzle-me type scent, perhaps, which is sure to be a hit for anyone who adores a more decadent, sensual side of perfumes. For the Silver edition, we find an unexpected freshness, a luminescence that shivers beguilingly and feels like wearing a lace shawl spun from dew-speckled spiderwebs. And yet, we must remind ourselves, these are the same ingredients…

It’s a useful reminder that we should never merely glance at a list of perfume notes and assume we know what something will smell like – it depends entirely on how and where the perfumer has used them in the composition; how they react to the other notes around them, the rate they evaporate on the skin depending if they’re used dominantly in the top, heart or base notes. So many factors can utterly transform how a perfume smells on your skin.

And so then – how to choose between them? Well we’re thrilled to offer you the opportunity to try samples of BOTH the gentle Fluidity Gold AND the Gentle fluidity Silver in our Launches We Love Discovery Box – among over a dozen new fragrances we’ve curated for you to explore at home!

Launches We Love Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

We’re pretty sure whichever of the Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrances you fall for, it will be just the start of your love affair with this always-exciting niche house… and we cannot wait to see (and smell) what comes next.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

More than just a pop-up: Maison Francis Kurkdjian opens an ephemeral emporium in Paris

Perfumer Francis Kirkdjian has opened his second Parisian boutique, a haven of scented luxury in which to explore the full range of his fragrant creations – alongside a wonderful treasure trove of ‘curated’ items to tempt and intrigue.

Taking the form of a pop-up instillation in the historical district of Le Marais, this ephemeral atmosphere will can be experienced only until 1st February – at which point it will close for a complete renovation before re-opening as a new boutique for Maison Francis Kurkdjian in May 2015.

More than simply a pop-up shop, Kurkdjian has worked with his close friends and artistic contemporaries to create an atmosphere of inspiration, where the fragrance collection rubs shoulders with precious Baccarat crystal and rare porcelain objets, paper sculptures, art photographs, exquisitely constructed fans, even a vintage piano – not to mention an assortment of gourmet delights.

One of the highlights will be the chance to sniff the scented leather accessories painstakingly handcrafted by renowned saddle-makers and leather experts, Atelier Renard. Harking back to the earliest days of 17th-century perfumery, when rather rustic tanning methods required leather gloves to be fragranced before ladies of the nobility would dream of buying or wearing them (a subject we explore in depth in The Perfume Society’s Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter), Atelier Renard has created a scented leather twinset of a wallet and card holder, with distinctly modern styling in a range of truly sumptuous colours.

Using a deep woody amber note for the calf hide cardholders and a vanilla amber accord for the crocodile collection, these pieces are created to the finest standards using artisan techniques worthy of haute couture.

This interplay of fine fragrances, art pieces, vibrant colours and materials, gourmet foods and historical objects will give you great insight into the inspiration and character of the star perfumer, almost like peeping into his own home – indeed many of the objects are personally sourced from his no-doubt fabulous Parisian apartment itself. Kurkdjian specialises in bringing together some of the world’s greatest artists, both contemporary and historically, and all in the name of the art of perfumery itself.

We can’t wait to go and have a nose around!

In this pop-up store, the Maison Francis Kirkdjian collection will be surrounded by creations from…

Maison Francis Kurkdjian, 7 Rue des Blancs-Manteaux, 73004
+ (331) 42 71 76 76

Written by Suzy Nightingale
MFK-Boutique 7 rue des Blancs-Manteaux Paris (3)