When his attempt to secure an internship at the Paris Opera Ballet University was unsuccessful, Francis Kurkdjian turned to his other enthusiasm, perfumery. Because then, the environment has come to be his phase all the same – as ‘the nose’ powering some of the most iconic fragrances of our time.
He might be well known for more than 40 fragrances designed for some of the greatest manner and cosmetic brands in the entire world – the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab, Burberry, Versace, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Narciso Rodriguez and Elizabeth Arden – but if you check with grasp perfumer Francis Kurkdjian what his proudest accomplishment is, he doesn’t wait for a second. “My olfactory installations. The major to day was in the gardens of Versailles, in which I created outside scented candles, scented soap bubbles and scented h2o for the fountains.”
Expressing his craft by means of creativeness – and in the most first and unforeseen way – is at the main of Francis Kurkdjian’s currently being. “A imaginative thoughts is the most significant necessity for starting to be a fantastic perfumer. The rest is about operating tough, and teaching even tougher,” claims the gentleman who after recreated the (very last) Queen of France, Marie Antoinette’s favorite perfume. In 2003, Francis also partnered with present-day French artist Sophie Calle to make the smell of money, and in 2014, for the Nuit Blanche contemporary artwork pageant in Paris, followed a collaboration with Syrian artist Hratch Arbach to create the odor of blood.
Born in the jap Parisian suburb of Gournay-sur-Marne to Armenian dad and mom, Francis recalls a lifestyle surrounded by art, new music, ballet, and a variety of styles of activity. He figured out to browse audio, played the piano, and attended the regional ballet college. “I owe to my mothers and fathers and my grandparents a fantastic schooling, a sense of family, and factors I consider to be fantastic values, this kind of as humanity and kindness,” he says.
His earliest childhood memory when it arrives to fragrances, scents or smells are also attributed to his family members. “The scents of my childhood are undoubtedly associated with my loved ones, with just about every member possessing one thing unique about them,” Francis recollects. “My grandfather applied to dilute his possess cologne. I under no circumstances found the recipe nevertheless – I just don’t forget him mixing items and developing his possess mix. I was so fascinated by that, and he was a hero to me. My grandmother was a serious grandma: caring, loving. She coated me with kisses, and of training course her fragrance, Femme by Rochas, which would be imprinted on my skin.
“My late mother had various fragrances. She was really contemporary for her generation. From clean fragrances these types of as Initial by Van Cleef & Arpels or Fidji by Guy Laroche, to Mitsouko or the 1st fragrance by Karl Lagerfeld. My father wore Kouros by YSL.”
Francis grew up curious about all the things and produced a appreciate of handicrafts. Soon after a quick-lived occupation as a classical ballet dancer, he tried out his hand at style layout. But it was at age 14 – following studying a piece in the pages of a shiny French magazine about famous perfumers like Jacques Polge, Françoise Caron, Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Annick Goutal – that a seed was planted. “It was a revelation,” he remembers. “A yr afterwards, when I was 15, my intellect was manufactured up. I would grow to be a perfumer.”
In 1990, Francis entered the Institut Supérieur Intercontinental du Parfum, de la Cosmétique et de l’Aromatique Alimentaire in Versailles, and soon after graduating in 1993 he joined Quest Global in Paris. All the even though he ongoing his experiments, getting a Master’s diploma from the Paris Institute of Luxury Marketing.
What adopted was an illustrious vocation that would see him develop a selection of iconic fragrances for some of the most notable style and cosmetic models such as Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier, which would go on to grow to be 1 of the world’s best-advertising perfumes. Through this time, the individual that he singles out as a position model – a person he highly regarded and appeared up to – is Edmond Roudnistka, the perfumer driving Eau Sauvage by Dior. “I admire him for the way he elevated the art of perfume to a greater stage.”
Then, in a serendipitous instant, his route crossed with that of French-Lebanese businessman and former Ernst & Young associate, Mark Chaya. “We achieved in 2003, and with time, we grew to become close friends. We realised that we shared the exact same vision of way of life and definition of luxury. Plus, we experienced complementary skilled and inventive expertise,” Francis states. “We co-launched Maison Francis Kurkdjian in 2009. His eyesight and perception of organization has been a person of the important points of the accomplishment at the rear of Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I am really proud of what we have built alongside one another over the previous 12 decades.”
And so he should be. Right now, the area of interest fragrances of Paris-based mostly Maison Francis Kurkdjian – what Francis phone calls a “wardrobe” of extra than 15 collections – can be discovered in about 500 significant-end boutiques and division shops across the entire world, as effectively as stand-on your own Maison Francis Kurkdjian boutiques. Notable creations include things like Aqua Universalis, Amyris (femme and homme), Aqua Vitae, Baccarat Rouge 540, Petit Matin, Grand Soir, and Aqua Celestia. He was also awarded the prestigious Prix François Coty in 2001 for his life time accomplishment.
A staunch defender of the heritage of perfumery, Francis is to start with and foremost a no cost-spirited resourceful intellect and a pioneer in a lot of methods. By means of his creations, he conveys his present-day vision of the perfumer’s job and its interpretation in totally modern-day fragrances.
When questioned about the method of developing a new fragrance, the grasp perfumer admits that there is initially a time of reflection for the duration of which he would visualize the innovative territory he wants to investigate. “At this phase it is not about the scent by itself, it is about its intent, its meaning. Perfume is actually a mirror of our time in a very distinctive sensory way,” he describes.
“Once I have gathered my inspiration, I research for a identify. The identify of the fragrance always will come initially, and right before the scent by itself. It sums up what I want to say – the emotion I experience and the tale I want to notify. It is like the title of a book or the identify of a painting. Then I begin producing the system, employing the uncooked components as phrases. When I have a apparent thought on the title and what to do, in which to go with my emotions, I make the components in the lab. Whilst it is a group effort to manufacture and launch a products, the initial creative measures are alternatively lonely.”
Inspiration, he quickly admits, is drawn from society, art, fashion, couture, and his personal personal encounters and vision. “Inspiration is the invisible portion of generation. So considerably, my inspirations have not been driven by raw components or particular notes.”
And how did the time period “fragrance wardrobe” appear about? He explains: “The concept of the fragrance wardrobe is an picture and a parallel with couture and fashion. Our fragrance collections have been produced in the very same spirit, as a genuine fragrance wardrobe. Our Aqua assortment stands for an critical piece in one’s wardrobe, a bit like a white shirt, that you can don for any celebration. It is fresh new, flexible and genderless. Then there is the ‘easy to wear’ phase with very casual however stylish scents these types of as Amyris, Pluriel or À la rose. Our evening expectations incorporate additional dressed-up scents like Grand Soir, our OUD assortment, or Baccarat Rouge 540. Just about every fragrance has its own olfactive signature for each temperament.”
The most predictable and obvious of all thoughts – his favorite and minimum favourite issues to smell – gets the most abnormal reply: “My favored odor would be the neck of the particular person I adore. It is like a refuge. And a scent I significantly despise would be like everybody, the odor of garbage in the streets…”
Being a specialized niche fragrance dwelling also means the creations of Maison Francis Kurkdjian have enchantment for a certain form of discerning consumer. “We are not advertising and marketing pushed, we are creatively driven,” he points out. “I do not want to remember to folks, I want to seduce them with real feelings that are one of a kind and magnificent, via very qualitative products and solutions. I generate because I have anything to say. A writer writes publications, I generate scents – it is my have way to specific myself. I’ve pointed out though that our consumers and I share the same values: a faculty to be shocked by easy but beautiful issues, a sensitivity to aesthetic codes and attention to depth, a sense of equilibrium and good quality.”
When it will come to exclusivity, Maison Francis Kurkdjian is also renowned for the extremely special bespoke fragrances that are developed for personal purchasers, with estimates setting up from a staggering 20,000 euros.
“My mission when I make bespoke fragrances is to satisfy the customer’s requires and goals,” Francis clarifies. “Custom-created scents are the final luxurious in the fragrance world. Making a bespoke perfume is a issue of have faith in and confidentiality, as you share personal moments and recollections. I develop these special fragrances in the program of brainstorming classes that allow for me to assess the customer’s persona, environment, preferences, and memories.”
Like any artist, the legacy he leaves behind one particular day is of utmost worth. For master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, his aspirations are very simple. “As prolonged as my creations are worn, I will be alive.”
This May well will also see the worldwide launch of a trio of fragrances by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, known as the Cologne forte assortment – with “freshness” participating in the primary function in these new creations. According to a sneak peek Prestige been given of the push substance prior to the launch, “Aqua Universalis Cologne forte is the notion of whiteness pushed to the severe, a pure breath of clean air the sensation, not the odor, of cleanliness. Aqua Vitae Cologne forte symbolizes the sunlight at its peak with a floral blaze crossed by a surge of scorching air. Aqua Celestia Cologne forte is the come upon in between the blue hues of the sea and the sky.”
(Pictures of Francis Kurkdjian: François-Roelants all other pictures courtesy of Maison Francis Kurkdjian)
This story 1st appeared in Prestige Thailand.