April 21 2014

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13 posts tagged "Francis Kurkdjian"

Beauty Sound Bites: The Nose Knows



“Your brain can be tired, but your nose is just a transmitter. The nose can never be tired.”

In other words, if I were to be a body part during NYFW, I’d like to be the nose. The French perfumer extraordinaire has his own namesake line containing over 19 scents, but he’s also the sensorial genius behind such hits as Carven Le Parfum and Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile. His secret to developing some of the world’s most beloved eaux is taking a break every two hours to clear the mind and working with the windows open. In New York, the open-window policy often poses a challenge, as many buildings see it as a safety hazard and opt for central air instead. “Scents are flattened by air conditioning,” Kurkdjian explained. “For example, the [same scents] are flatter in the U.S. than they are in France.” The key to crafting great perfume, it appears, is as simple as a breath of fresh air.

Carven Alters Its Original Olfactory Silhouette


Creative director of Carven, Guillaume Henry, breathed new life into the storied house beginning in 2009 and put a fresh olfactory stamp on the brand by launching Le Parfum in 2013—the label’s first fragrance in sixty-seven years. The company waited nearly a millisecond in comparison to its last stretch between scents, as the follow-up, L’Eau de Toilette, is set to launch exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue in March. Described as “different from the original, but not in opposition,” the spring-y blend contains three of the same key notes: sweet pea, white hyacinth, and sandalwood (with sweet pea now being used at the top and white hyacinth at the heart). Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian imagined the eau “like a lightweight piece of clothing…as easy to wear as Le Parfum but made of a different fabric, probably more airy.” He replaced mandarin blossom with transparent lemon and peony notes; swapped jasmine and ylang ylang for soft freesia and wisteria; and reworked the woody base to include white musk and amber for a more delicate dry down. The signature color scheme inspired by Madame Carven’s Ma Griffe striped gown also remains intact, but is used in reverse when compared with the previous scent (featuring a white box and pistachio-colored juice). Model Brynja Jónbjarnardóttir will continue to serve as the face, adding yet another familiar aspect to the fragrance. Change is never easy, but imagine this bright and elegant blend like your go-to dress from seasons past: Take it to the tailor, make a few choice alterations, and it suddenly feels brand new and better than ever.

Carven Le Parfum: “No Tricks,” All Treat


carvenRumors of a new Carven fragrance under Guillaume Henry’s creative direction started swirling in 2010, just a year after he took over design duties. For other brands, it might have seemed like a rather quick entrée into beauty, but not for Carven, whose ineffaceable founder had already carved out a formidable fragrance niche with the best-selling Ma Griffe, which was introduced in 1946. Fast-forward sixty-seven years, and the storied French house’s latest coup, Carven Le Parfum, is scheduled to touch down stateside in a few short weeks.

“The brief was very clear because I think the direction Guillaume is giving to the brand is very clear,” famed nose Francis Kurkdjian explained at a launch event in May. “As a perfumer, I just had to follow the path.” That path necessitated something very urban and very Parisian, but also very international, according to Kurkdjian, who set out to create something for “a fresh young woman, [who is] charismatic and very charming.” Icelandic beauty Brynja Jónbjarnardóttir embodies that sentiment in the perfume’s ad campaign, while Kurkdjian’s delicate blend of mandarin blossom, white hyacinth, sweet pea, and jasmine notes, with a subtle yet unforgettable dry down of sandalwood and Indonesian patchouli, seal the deal olfactorily. “A beautiful scent is just a scent that smells good. There are no tricks. You look at the bottle, you look at the ad, and it’s all very coherent,” Kurkdjian insists, pointing out that one of this particular scent’s big selling points is the faint trace that lingers in the wake of the wearer. “What’s important is the trail, because [Carven] is a brand that you remember”—something he can personally attest to. “Carven is very dear to me,” he reveals. “One of the first perfumes that was given to me when I was 16 years old was Vetiver by Carven—that with [Dior's] Eau Sauvage are the two basic fragrances that every man had to have in his wardrobe.” Now there’s something equally iconic for the rest of us.

Carven Le Parfum, available July 17 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores and

Photo: Courtesy of Carven

Reinventing the Pinwheel


Francis Kurkdjian’s
contributions to the annals of fragrance history are many. Before starting his own fragrance house in 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the famed nose was responsible for a handful of groundbreaking scents that remain iconic today—Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male and Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her among them. His ability to think outside the box of traditional perfumery has spawned more than just wearable eaux, though; Kurkdjian is one of the olfactory world’s true artists and lends his savvy to projects that often put perfume in the realm of public art. In 2006, he spiked the fountains of Versailles with a custom aroma of metallic roses that he then applied to a different medium—bubbles—which floated through the entryway of the French Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. Then, four years later, at Paris’ Nuit des Musées, a late-night open house at museums across the City of Light, he revisited the idea at the Grand Palais, positioning one hundred bubble machines along the balcony of the space, treating the public to wafts of cut grass, lily of the valley, pear, mint, jasmine, and orange blossom, as the translucent orbs popped.

For his next trick, the formidable fragrance buff has turned his attention to another form of childish whimsy: pinwheels. “I’m a kid myself,” the proud uncle of two nieces joked when discussing Flora Tournicota, the installation he designed for Paris’ L’Art Du Jardin, a gardening exhibition that wrapped last weekend. “[My brand] is called Maison, which means ‘house,’ and a house with no kids is not alive,” he continued. Carefully constructing a series of paper pinwheels-turned-flowers, Kurkdjian spiked each one with his fan-favorite Aqua Universalis, a Sicilian-citrus-and-white-flower-tinged essence that traveled through the air every time the objets d’art spun. “I’m hoping to do them commercially,” says Kurkdjian, who has tweaked the design a bit to create adorable pinwheel boutonnieres for his retail location, so you can “bring the magic of the store with you.” Although they’re meant as a children’s toy, Kurkdjian plans on creating different floral scents for each one—rose, lily, violet, et cetera—which we imagine will make them plenty desirable to adults, too.


Photo: Courtesy of Maison Francis Kurkdjian

The Fab Five: The Nouveau Niche


With the onset of fall comes an influx of fragrances designed to woo you into sweater-wearing with a wealth of warm and cozy aromas (think: vanilla, musk, leather, woods, cinnamon, et al.). But the latest crop of scents from some of the perfumery industry’s niche stars might surprise you in their compositions. Predictably spring florals are given heady updates with new technologies and forward-thinking scent structures, while olfactory inspirations range from literature to the Ballets Russes; you gotta love the independent spirit. Here, we’ve picked our five favorites to get you through the season.

Orange Crush
L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’Aube
While the French brand’s eaux are frequently inspired by travel, L’Artisan’s master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour was taken with the book The Perfume Lover, a tale of romance and fragrance by Denyse Beaulieu, this time around. Set during holy week in Seville, Andalusia, it depicts incense burners imbuing the southern Spanish city with a spicy aroma that mingles with the sweetness of orange flower tree-lined streets. Duchaufour’s spritzable version, which includes top notes of tangy green sap and rare infusions of Luiseiri lavender that are reminiscent of more classic eau de cologne, is mixed with an intoxicating jasmine accord and beeswax for an incredibly rich, fresh-tinged finish.

Green Giant
Ineke Ruhland Hothouse Flower: Gardenia
After training at Quest International, a fragrance house that was ultimately acquired by Givaudan, the Canadian Dutch-born Ruhland set up her own perfume studio in San Francisco in 2006, where she launched an alphabetical-themed lineup of botanical-based scents. She’s now up to H, for which she has released Hothouse Flower: Gardenia. “It’s really hard to get a good gardenia,” says Ruhland, pointing out that absolutes of the white flower are often blends of tuberose with green notes, which she’s done here to perfection. “Mine is super green,” she professes of the galbanum, cypress, fig, and frankincense-spiked scent.

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