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

Richard E Grant explores Süskind’s Perfume novel

Richard E. Grant explores the world of Süskind’s Perfume novel in episode 2 of his new BBC series, Write Around the World, and we think you’ll be captivated by his so-evocative scent journey…

‘I’ve been led by nose all my life,’ says Richard. ‘When I was 12 years old I tried to make a perfume with gardenia and rose petals – to impress a girl I was madly in love with, called Betty Clapp. It took me 56 years to create my own professional perfume brand here in Grasse.’ He’s there for part of his wonderful new BBC series, Write Around the World, traversing those places that have inspired iconic writers through history – Grasse being the perfume capital of the world and the setting for one of Richard’s favourite books: ‘Patrick Süskind’s Perfume novel… the best description of scent I’ve ever come across, and reading it is almost a physical experience.’

 

The BBC say: ‘Book and travel lover Richard E Grant journeys to southern France, visiting the Cévennes mountains, Marseille, Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera and Grasse in the hills north of Cannes, in the footsteps of writers inspired by the country, its culture and history.

Reading key passages from their books as he goes along, including works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexandre Dumas, F Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth David and Patrick Süskind, Richard not only learns about the lives of these great authors, but also experiences many of the places immortalised in the literary classics they created.’

Richard’s own fragrant journey led him to the brilliant perfumer Alienor Massenet. She garlanded his original idea (and favourite flower) of gardenia with marijuana (a nod to his film, Withnail and I), mandarin, vetiver and a plethora of spices, with a sophisticated, cologne-like zing of lime up top, capturing all Richard’s favourite smells in an intensely personal ‘signature’ scent. That fragrance is now immortalised as Jack – the first of the synonymous collection, and a scent which succeeded in winning the Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Fragrance in 2015.

 

In the episode Richard wanders through Grasse with obvious delight, his nose veritably twitching as he sees (and smells) the places described in the novel, even having a fragrance created for him at the historic house of Galimard, which he names for Grenouille, the novel’s protagonist. Little wonder, given his scent obsession, that Richard went on to add three other fragrances to his collection, which you can explore in our page dedicated to the house of Jack.

‘Our sense of smell is the shortest synaptic leap in the brain to our memory,’ says Richard, ‘and every one of these ingredients is like a sensory trigger. I’ve aspired to create a fragrance that is as lickably moreish as it’s addictive.’

For a fragrantly inspiring journey of your own, we suggest watching the episode, reading Patrick Süskind’s Perfume (if you’ve not already, you’re in for a treat!), and then truly indulging your sense of smell by exploring the full range of Jack fragrances

 By Suzy Nightingale

Brooklyn Fragrance Lover – R.I.P.

It was with heavy hearts we learned of Brooklyn Fragrance Lover having passed away last week. Carlos was a hugely popular YouTube reviewer  (he was fast heading toward 70k followers and often got recognised and stopped on the street), and a long-time supporter and friend of The Perfume Society.

There’s no doubt his loss will leave a huge gap in the fragrance community at large.

Carlos hadn’t been in the best of health, posting online about a trip to hospital in October last year. But he’d been on the mend, it seemed, so the upset rippled through Instagram. Within a matter of hours thousands of fragrance fans had flocked to his last post there, leaving shocked messages, saying goodbye. Among perfumers and famous fragrance houses who’d already left their own tributes – broken heart emojis, purple hearts (Carlos’ favourite colour), disbelief and condolences to his family and friends – what shone through were the number of messages from his followers. People who’d ‘found perfume’ as they put it, thanks to his easy-going, down-to-earth video reviews.

‘Thank you for teaching me everything about fragrances,’ one mourner wrote, while another movingly recounted: ‘I didn’t know you but your videos brought me closer to a happiness I share with my friends and family. Your videos seem so genuine and personable, this hurts like no other. Thank you for your contribution to this wonderful community even though you are gone too soon…’

And there are many, many more messages, all similarly moved, mostly people who, like us, had sadly never met Carlos in person but had been touched by his affable, open personality that grounded his very knowledgeable and understandable reviews.

Carlos was a generous man who passionately gave everything he could – and most of his free time – to the world of fragrance; sharing the joy that can be had from a single spritz of something fabulous, celebrating launches from big names and indie brands alike. He also shared family photos on his Facebook page, along with his ‘fur babies’ (as he lovingly called them) ‘Jean & Claude’.

Scrolling through the thousands of personal tributes online, those words are repeated time and again: ‘genuine’, ‘passionate’, ‘honest’, ‘warm hearted’, ‘kind’. Would that we could all be remembered that way, let alone his legacy of many hundreds of excellent, informative and fun fragrance video reviews. We urge you to watch these, if you’ve not already enjoyed them, or to watch again, if you’re already a fan, and share them with others.

One of Carlos’ friends set up a GoFundMe page to help his family members with the cost of his funeral. ‘In addition to the funeral arrangements, some funds will be allocated for the caring of his cats.’ The target had been set at $10,000 – an amount that had been achieved within mere hours of the page being set up, and now stands at $34,367. Testament, indeed, of how well loved he was by perfume people around the world.

Among the many comments left by those donating, one simply says: ‘Carlos was a beautiful man who reached me and many more people with with his love for the world and joy for fragrances. May God be with his friends and family in this time of despair.’

Goodnight, Carlos. We know you loved amber perfumes best of all, and we’re sure Heaven smells all the sweeter now you’re scenting the clouds…

Brooklyn Fragrance Lover, R.I.P.

By Suzy Nightingale

Goutal Paris – watch Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen in conversation

We were absolutely thrilled to recently host the creative duo behind Goutal fragrances – Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen – in what was the most recent in our series of Instagram Lives. One of the only up-sides to all this *gestures broadly* has been the way people have reached out over the internet – disparate communities creating moments of togetherness online – and if you weren’t able to join us for the event live, we’re now so happy to share the video with you!

This truly was a wonderful conversation with two such talented women – we heard the pair talk about post-pandemic perfume, working as a team, and keeping alive the flame of creativity that first inspired Annick Goutal, Camille’s mother, when she founded the fragrance house. And of course, we invited YOUR questions, just some of the topics we explored being…

• What is the creative process for the pair, working together – and how did that work during lockdown?

• What is the spirit behind Goutal, and is it still easy to tap into that in the perfume house’s fourth decade?

• What exciting plans does Goutal have for 2021 – a new year, with (we’re hoping) lots of scented excitement?

This was latest in a series of Instagram Live interviews we’ve had over the last year, with some of the world’s leading fragrance names – check out previous interviews on our YouTube channel, here

 

Frédéric Malle Perfume Summit – in conversation with the most legendary perfumers

The Frédéric Malle Perfume Summit is a gathering of some of the world’s most legendary perfumers in conversation with the man who revolutionised the fragrance industry…

It’s not too much to claim that the reason you know the name of the person who who created your favourite fragrance, is because of Frédéric Malle.

In 2000, at the turn of the millennium, Frédéric Malle launched his fragrance collection, Les Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle. He’s not a nose – although Frédéric grew up immersed in the world of perfumery: he is the grandson of Serge Heftler-Louiche, who created the Parfums Christian Dior line.

 

 

 

Malle‘s idea was to give perfumers free rein to create the fragrance of their dreams. But what was truly innovative was his decision to put their names on the bottle. Until then, most perfumers had been well-kept secrets, working behind the scenes in their labs and – except on a few occasions – remaining anonymous, while the perfume house (or the fashion designer) enjoyed all the credit.

As part of their on-going 20th anniversary celebrations, Frédéric Malle organised a round-table Perfume Summit – a fascinating conversation with some of the perfumers Malle worked with – Jean-Claude Ellena, Pierre Bourdon, Maurice Roucel, Anne Flipo and Dominique Ropion – that takes a deep dive in to the history of their creation and the inspiration behind them.

 

 

We suggest settling down and watching this so-interesting discussion – perhaos smelling along with the film if you own several of the fragrances, or focussing on your favourite. And if you’ve yet to explore the range of fragrances – which truly are modern masterpieces and something everyone should try at least once in their lives! – then oh boy, are you in for a treat.

Even if you’ve tried several of the scents, it’s so interesting to seek out those you’d perhaps previously overlooked or don’t know so well; especially after hearing the perfumers talk about them so eloquently.

 

 

Ready to discover even more about the way Frédéric Malle works? Read the (extensive!) text messages that Malle and perfumer Jean Claude-Ellena sent back and forth while working on the Rose & Cuir perfume.

It seems incredible that not that long ago, a mere handful of us knew the names of perfumers. Now? Some of them have virtual rock-star status in the scent world. What an incredible twenty years it has been – and what will the next twenty bring for Frédéric Malle…? We cant wait to find out!

By Suzy Nightingale

Experimental Perfume Club launch online perfumery course

One of the most frequently asked questions we get, is: ‘how can I learn to become a perfumer?’ And now, Experimental Perfume Club is launching a learn-at-home perfumery course, with all the equipment, materials and step by step instructions in online video tutorials! And there’s a FREE mini-course of three lessons – scroll down to find out more…

Emmanuelle Moeglin is a classically-trained (ISIPCA) French perfumer who moved to London and opened a workshop in order help people have access to materials and tuition that would either be incredibly expensive, or impossible to gather on your own. These workshops were so popular, it allowed Emmanuelle to create and launch her own signature fragrances – innovatively presented as perfume ‘Layers that could be worn alone or mixed at home to achieve unique results.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has hit independent fragrance houses hard, so they’re having to innovate and try new things to survive. Explains Emmanuelle: ‘Like so many other brands, we’ve been impacted pretty badly by the crisis as 90% of our business was client facing and almost nothing online.’

Now, those workshops have been put online, so you can have the kit sent to you and learn at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home! With all the mateirals and tuition you need, this is a unique opportunity to take your love of fragrance and interest in perfumery further – perhaps even something that might make you consider a change of career when all this over…?

 

Available as a two-week / 12 lessons Fundamentals of Perfumery begginer’s course, you’ll have access to a series of how to and tutorial videos and a workbook that will help you awaken your sense of smell and develop an in-depth understanding of the most commonly used ingredients in perfumery. You’ll start by learning proper smelling techniques and how to accurately describe and categorize perfumery ingredients by family, volatility and type. You’ll then learn to compare and contrast these ingredients to deepen your understanding of the scented world around you. You will receive the ingredients you need to follow this course including a selection of 30 of the most commonly used perfumery ingredients and laboratory materials including scent strips, pipettes and bottles.

 

Or, you can choose to study a more advanced six-weeks / 36 lessons Fundamentals of Perfume Creation course. ‘During this 6-week course, you’ll be getting a series of videos and a workbook that will help you to understand the fundamentals of perfume creation and gain the knowledge to start creating fragrances. From the ingredients to the formula, you’ll be taken on a step-by-step learning journey that will give you the necessary information to get started in perfume creation – whether it is for a hobby or professional purpose.

Each week, you’ll receive a set of how-to videos, practical demos and theory courses to help you gain a broad understanding of the fundamentals of perfumery. You will start by awakening your sense of smell by learning to recognise, describe and organise a large selection of the most commonly used perfumery ingredients. You’ll then explore the fundamentals of professional perfumery practice including the basic equipment of perfumery and setting up your own laboratory at home. You will end the course by learning the creative process behind a fragrance brief and developing an in-depth knowledge of fragrance creation across a variety of applications by composing both simple and complex fragrance formulas.

You will receive all of the materials you need to follow this course including a wide selection of perfumery ingredients and the necessary lab equipment, including scent strips, a scale, pipettes, empty bottles, and solvent.’

Intrigued? We certainly are. And you’ll be glad to hear there’s a FREE mini taster session of THREE free classes online, so you can get a sense of what you’d be learning, and how it would work.

 

 

Whatever level you want to start at, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the art of perfumery, for each fragrant ingredient you smell, and for the skill of the perfumers whose creations you spray every day. So why not take this as an opportunity to learn a new creative skill, and to distract yourself in the most pleasant was possible while adding another scented string to your bow…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Smell, Love & Memory: do male & female brains react differently?

Sometimes we love to get super geeky and take a deep dive in to the world of smell – the work on our sense of smell, memory and emotional responses triggered by smelling certain things is constantly revealing further insights into this ‘fallen angel of the senses’, as Hellen Keller once desribed it.

The 2019 Francis Crick medal was awarded to Dr Gregory Jefferis for his fundamental discoveries concerning the development and functional logic of sensory information processing, and he recently gave an utterly fascinating lecture at The Royal Society explaining his work, asking: how does the genome encode behaviour through the development of the nervous system? What makes male and female brains different? What is different about brain circuits for learned and unlearned behaviour?

Luckily for those of us who weren’t able to make it there, The Royal Society recorded the entire lecture and have uploaded the video to watch online – just click below to have your mind blown…

Ignored for years as our least important sense (and often the one people say they’d give up first), thanks to modern technology, scientists are only now beginning to uncover smell as a possible super power, and the impact that smell can have on our every day lives. The more we learn, the more we hunger to know, and although we can’t pretend to have understood all of the information, lectures like this simply set that fuse smouldering.

By Suzy Nightingale

Happy hump day! Laugh along with these vintage fragrance ads

January may feel like a month of Mondays, especially with this awful weather, but we’ve made it to another hump day, fragrant friends! We’re celebrating with a look back at some of the most hilarious scent ads of yore.

Now that we’re in the 20s, we are feeling distinctly nostalgic for all things vintage – but it’s easy to forget how drastically advertising styles change over the years. What once was ultra cool can turn to cringe in the blink of an eye. YouTube is the gift that keeps on giving, as far as viewing vintage adverts is concerned, and there’s a whole host of fragrance ads that range from the unintentionally hilarious to the downright dodgy. We’ve rounded up some more of our favourites to keep you smiling for the rest of the week…

There’s a distinctly Monty Python-esque feeling to this advert from 1969. At any moment, one expects a character to ask, ‘Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?’ To which, according to this advert, we can now add: Bacchus Cologne. He’s not the messiah, he’s a very smelly boy!

Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise)  if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?

We can imagine the storyboard the advertising team created before filming this advert for Hawk Cologne in 1981, showing a ‘man who reaches higher’ – embodying all the freedom and graceful power of a bird of prey as he effortlessly conquers the rock he’s climbing. Unfortunately, the images somehow don’t match the voiceover, because what we see is a rather gormless chap with a bowl haircut looking for all the world like he’d need nanny’s instructions to climb the stairs to bed. Ah well, it probably looked good on paper.

This woman is not on the verge of a complete breakdown, she’s just ‘a little bit Kiku.’ That’s all. It’s 1969 and she’s fine, okay? She’s just changing her mood every two seconds and wearing a salad bowl on her head. She’s NEVER BEEN BETTER, thank you. In fact, aren’t all women, ‘a little bit Kiku?’ Well perhaps, but in public we try to hide it. Now take that off your head, Sandra, and come with us. We’ve all been rather concerned about you…

It’s not merely the yellowish hue that makes this 1976 advert look like a cheese dream: we think the people behind this campaign had been at the last of the Camenbert. In an unfathomably long sequence, we see Charles Bronson gawping weirdly at a piano player, then burst through the doors of his own appartment and begin stripping as though he’s joined the Chippendales, all while smoking a pipe. The name of the fragrance? Mandom. Of course it is. Pass the Brie.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Jo Malone London Gent film: first look…

Following on from their summer announcement of the first ever ‘Jo Malone London Gent’, Britain’s own movie star John Boyega, and from their intriguing teaser on Instagram, Jo Malone London just announced ‘…a very exciting Short Film launching with our Male Ambassador,’ which they finally unveiled at 1pm today, and you can see, below.

Simply entitled ‘A London Gent’, Jo Malone London say they sought to bring ‘the power of scent to life’ with the short film, featuring proudly London born-and-bred actor (and that brand-new brand ambassador who was carefully selected to be the aforementioned ‘Jo Malone London Gent’), the brilliant Boyega.

‘The story is a medley of real life, fond memories and the wildest of dreams,’ say Jo Malone London, (which perhaps explains the mix of bikes and Boyega astride a white stallion in the photo!) ‘all seen through the lens of his life and work. Shot close to John’s family home in Peckham, south London, the creative story has very real and relevant connections to his life…’

Starring John’s family and closest friends, and local talent hand-picked by him, it was filmed near John’s family home in Peckham, south London, and shows how ‘scent triggers powerful memories, the most potent of which always bring John home.’ And Jhn says that for him, ‘The story lies in the magic, the opportunity and the undeniable spirit found all over London. There is raw talent, energy and inspiration on every corner and it certainly affected me, my view of life and my approach to work. In London, anything is possible.’

We are loving fragrance houses who truly celebrate the individual characters and lives of their ambassadors, rather than simply replying on how great they look and calling them ‘faces’, don’t you?

For those of you wishing for smell-o-vision, meanwhile, you should grab yourselves some Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense, which is one of Boyega’s scents of choice. Described as ‘Sultry leather encased in a medley of woods. At once smoky and warm, bronzed by the sun’s evening rays. Enlivened with vibrant juniper and fresh grapefruit. A mysterious twist of vetiver, left lingering in the air,’ – we feel that dousing yourself with a sultry spray while re-watching the film can only add to the sensorial thrills.

For research purposes. Yes.

Jo Malone London Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense £78 for 50ml
Try it at jomalone.co.uk

Rain, rain… come to stay? Why we love that smell

Most of the U.K. seems to have spent the last few days with a deluge of rain, and while we cannot help but mourn the last days of summer, for many of us, that smell of rain is actually a reason to rejoice…

‘Petrichor’ is the technical name for that unmistakable (though so-difficult to describe) scent of imminent rain in the air, or the damp earth following a fresh downpour. The chemical reaction of plants, bacteria and soil all combine to create that experience that follows a thunderstorm, a phenomena first discovered by two Austrialian researchers in the 1960s, and published in a scientific paper called Nature of Argillaceous Odour.

For the less technically challenging explanation, we recently enjoyed watching Today I Read‘s lovely short film on their Facebook page, all about the smell of rain, but we’re so obsessed we couldn’t leave it there.

One of the books on our scented shelf is The Smell of Fresh Rain, by Barney Shaw. Going in search of the meanings of smells (and how they help shape our lives), author Barney Shaw went on a journey of exploration for this book celebrating ‘The unexpected pleasures of our most elusive sense.’ 

From describing petrichor to researching the scent of fresh paint, frying bacon and pondering the question of what three o’clock in the morning smells like, it’s a fascinating ride to be part of. And part of it you most definitely are, as merely reading this book expands your mind to the possibilities and scents you take forgranted every single day. We especially loved the observation that ‘Unlike sight, smell does not travel in straight lines, so it is valuable in environments when sight does not serve well…’

Indeed, as Helen Keller once said, smell truly is ‘the fallen angel of the senses.’ We may not use it to seek out a sabre-toothed tiger or find food anymore, but the ability is there, or emotional reactions are built-in, unbidden.

An excellent book for anyone interested in exploring their senses further (for flavour is so interconnected to smell, as we know, and addressed within the book); those who write about perfume or smell in any respect will be especially pleased by the chapter On the Tip of My Nose, which looks at the language of smell, and what we can do to improve our communication skills. Completely fascinating from start to fragrant finish!

Publisher: Icon Books

At Amazon

By Suzy Nightingale