Our regular reader, has heard the name ‘Francis Kurkdjian’ sevaral times on Yakymour. He is not only the man behind Elie Saab’s exclusive fragances, but worked also for some prestiges houses like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, Carven, Acqua di Parma and Guerlain. But he also opend his own Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
The vèry sympathic Francis Kurkdjian in his Maison Francis Kurkdjian (Click photo to enlarge).
Francis Nourhan Kurkdjian was born in Paris, France, in (14 May 1969) to Armenian parents. The Kurkdjian family had at once fled the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genoicide and had settled in France after being deported and relocated to Aleppo, Syria. Having been exposed to music and dancing at a young age, Francis Kurkdjian wanted to be a ballet dancer during his youth. However, he failed passing the competition to study at the Paris Opera School of Dance in 1983. Kurkdjian, who already had an interest in perfume making since he was thirteen years old, decided in 1985 to become a perfumer. In 1990, Kurkdjian entered the Institut Supérieur International du Parfum, de la Cosmétique et de l’Aromatique Alimentaire (ISIPCA), a perfume school located in Versailles, France.He graduated from ISIPCA in 1993 and joined Quest International in Paris the same year. Kurkdjian continued his studies and obtained a masters degree from the Paris Institute of Luxury Marketing.
Francis Kurkdjian is one of the most prolific, and acclaimed perfumers of our time. At just 25 years old, Francis created Jean-Paul Gaultier Le Mâle, which remains a global timeless bestseller today; others include Iris Nobile for Acqua di Parma, Lanvin Rumeur, multi-award-winning Elie Saab Le Parfum, and recently, a duo of fragrances for the newly-revived Carven perfume house. Since he first began as a perfumer Francis has been taking risks, delighting our senses, and winning awards, too.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian, 5 rue d’Alger, Paris (Click phototo enlarge)
The ‘day job’ of creating some of the world’s best-known fragrances, however, has enabled French-Armenian Francis to fulfil his dream, building one of the most interesting perfume houses around: his signature Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Under his own label, Francis has had absolute freedom to express his boundless creativity through a portfolio of fragrances that range from the most luminous and airy, Cologne Pour Le Matin, with its Sicilian bergamot and lemon, Moroccan thyme and Tunisian orange flower, through to an exploration of oudh’s moods:
OUD Silk Mood (Bulgarian rose, papyrus, chamomile), OUD Cashmere Mood (labdanum, benzoin, vanilla) and OUD Velvet Mood, spiced with cinnamon, saffron and copahu balm, and each tethered by a base of the highest-quality Laotian oudh. Today, there are more than a dozen fragrances in the collection.
The nose: Francis Kurkdjian
But Francis Kurkdjian‘s artistry goes beyond what’s simply in a bottle. He has worked on many artistic projects. With Sophie Calle, he created ‘the scent of money’ (2003), that of a dollar bill that’s been handled, thumbed, and passed from hand to hand, for one of her exhibitions. He also created fragrance-focused installations for the Foundation Cartier and at Versailles, transforming the fountain in the Orangerie with wafts of orange flower, propelled into the air by jets of water. For the Lille Europe Pavilion party at Shanghai Expo 2010, Francis created bubbles scented with violet, released against the backdrop of a Taoist temple in the very centre of the city. (He is surely the only perfumer to offer scented bubbles in his collection!).
His Parisian flagship store, one of his most famous clients, Catherine Deneuve, though Maison Francis Kurkdjian can be found in many of the world’s leading perfumeries… (Click photo to enlarge).
Francis also set about making scented candles for an exhibition of paintings by Jacques Émile-Blanche, a turn-of-the-century French painter, using only the ingredients available at that time, rather than the synthetics that Francis so loves to blend with naturals, a challenge he found pretty fiendish. ‘Synthetic notes are the backbone of a structure, the longer-lasting notes or the steel beams, if you like, in the building you’re making. If you use only natural products, in two hours they will die on your skin and you will have no aura, no power. The chemical acts as a foundation, but you should use the natural notes to wrap around it, making the end result look and smell completely natural, even though it’s not.’ In 2009, as a recognition for his artistry, Francis was awarded one of France’s highest honours ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French Ministry of Culture.
Elie Saab Le Parfum
I am a Huge fan of Francis Kurkdjian‘s irreverence; who else would offer bottles of scented laundry detergent (albeit a rarefied version, scented with sparkling Sicilian lemon) alongside a limited edition exquisite handmade Louis Crystal bottles to celebrate 10 years of custom-made perfumes: 20 numbered and decorated bottles, capped with platinum or gold? (They’ll set you back $11,000, though just $2,200 for a refill, and are unnamed: each purchaser can choose the name, which will be engraved upon their bottle…) And yes: if money’s no object (or you can get your hands on at least 15,000 euros), or the Limited Edition (only 5 made) and bottled in a 24k Gold Crystal Flacon by Maison Saint Louis ‘Queen Marie Antoinette Fragrance’. Francis Kurkdjian creates bespoke fragrances, too.
Francis Kurkdjian Saint Louis ‘Queen Marie Antoinette Fragrance’
Last year Francis Kurkdjian brought Versailles to the Grand Palais, at the Biennale Des Antiquaires. For those who have visited the Grand Palais, it seemed as though the scents of Versailles had drifted all the way to Paris, but how?
To unravel the mystery, begin by approaching the fountain beneath the glass dome. Somehow, the water gives off the olfactory impression of walks through castle gardens and the Grand Trianon. Now consider the fact that scenting an indoor fountain is a worldwide first, and you might guess (correctly) that the man responsible is master perfumer Francis Kudrkjian. For the 27th edition of the Biennale des Antiquarires, interior designer Jacques Grange paid homage to French gardens, filling the space with flowerbeds and foliage. He left it up to Kurkdjian to translate sight into scent.
The 2014 Biennale des Antiquaires at the Grand Palais, Paris (Photo courtesy of Maison Francis Kurkdjian
(Click photo to enlarge).
I do know this, however: if you venture out to Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s 5 rue d’Alger boutique in the 1st arrondissement, you can pick up a box of his dinner candles and take that same scent to-go. The limited edition Côté Jardin tapers come three to a set for €28, and if the design on the box looks familiar, you’re likely recalling the patterned flowerbeds that André Le Nôtré created for King Louis XIV.
As for the scent: gorgeous! A single candle fills the surrounding air with visions of hornbeam hedges and ancient statues, conjuring up the grandeur of Versailles wherever you choose to light it. Perhaps a simple creation compared to the Grand Palais’ impressive fountain, but one you could enjoy long after the Biennale.
As Francis himself greets visitors to his website, ‘Welcome to a world of refinement and sensuality. Maison Francis Kurkdjian houses a unique collection, with a rarely matched quest for sophistication and elegance. Our luxury is a commitment to quality and authentic know-how, from the selection of the purest and rarest essential oils, to the infinite attention to every detail.’
The limited edition Côté jardin candles, €28 (available exclusively at the 5 rue d’Alger Maison Francis Kurkdjian boutique)
(Click photo to enlarge).
And we’ll leave (almost) the last word to Francis, too. He explains: ‘Maison Francis Kurkdjian 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.’
List of creations:
- 1995, Jean-Paul Gaultier: Le Mâle,
- 1999, Jean-Paul Gaultier: Fragile,
- 1999, Elizabeth Arden: Green Tea,
- 2000, Escada: Lily Chic, lim. edition summer edition
- 2001, Lancôme: Miracle Homme,
- 2002, Giorgio Armani: Armani Mania,
- 2002, Kenzo: KenzoKi Lotus blanc,
- 2002, Yves Saint Laurent: Kouros Eau d’été,
- 2002, Versace: Versus Time for pleasures,
- 2003, Versace: Jeans couture Glam,
- 2003, Lancome: Miracle Homme l’Aquatonic,
- 2003, Narciso Rodriguez: For Her (co-signed with Christine Nagel),
- 2004, Paris Garnier Opera: Pas de deux, eau de parfum, Perfume created for an evening to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the “Entente Cordiale” at the Palais Garnier in September 2004. This perfume of rose, iris and orange blossom, in a limited edition of 1000, was offered to the evening’s guests
- 2004, Joop!: Muse,
- 2004, Lancaster: Aquazur,
- 2004, Acqua di Parma: Iris Nobile (co-signed with Françoise Caron),
- 2004, Emanuel Ungaro: Apparition (co-signed with Françoise Caron),
- 2004, Van Cleef & Arpel: Summer and Autumn,
- 2004, Yves Saint Laurent: Kouros Cologne Sport,
- 2005, Christian Dior: Cologne Blanche
- 2005, Christian Dior: Eau Noire,
- 2005, Davidoff: Silver Shadow,
- 2005, Guerlain: Rose Barbare,
- 2005, Lancaster: Aquasun,
- 2005, Jean-Paul Gaultier Gaultier Puissance2,
- 2006, Ferragamo: F by Ferragamo,
- 2006, Lanvin: Rumeur,
- 2006, Chateau de Versailles, Re-creation of the scent of Queen Marie Antoinette,
- 2007, Christian Lacroix: C’est la fête (co-signed with Jean Jacques),
- 2007, Jean-Paul Gaultier: Fleur du Mâle,
- 2007, Narciso Rodriguez: For Him,
- 2007, Indult: Isvaraya,
- 2007, Indult: Manakara,
- 2007, Indult: Thiota,
- 2007, Juliette Has a Gun: Miss Charming,
- 2007, Juliette Has a Gun: Lady Vengeance,
- 2007, Emanuel Ungaro: Le Parfum,
- 2007, Jean-Paul Gaultier: Fleur du Mâle,
- 2008, Indult: pour Colette C16,
- 2008, Jean-Paul Gaultier: Eau d’Amour,
- 2008, Jean-Paul Gaultier: Ligne de beauté Monsieur (co-signed with Nathalie Le Cann),
- 2008, Jean-Paul Gaultier: MaDame,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Aqua Universalis,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: APOM femme,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: APOM homme,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Cologne pour le matin,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Cologne pour le soir,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Lumière Noire femme,
- 2009, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Lumière Noire homme,
- 2010, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Absolue pour le matin,
- 2010, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Absolue pour le soir,
- 2011, Elie Saab: Le Parfum,
- 2011, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Aqua Universalis forte,
- 2012, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: OUD,
- 2012, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Amyris femme,
- 2012, Elie Saab: Le Parfum, Eau de Toilette,
- 2012, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Amyris homme,
- 2012, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: 754 for Bergdorf Goodman
- 2013, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: OUD cashmere mood,
- 2013, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: OUD silk mood,
- 2013, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: OUD velvet mood,
- 2013, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Aqua Vitae,
- 2013, Carven: Le Parfum,
- 2015, Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Satin Mood,
We will hear a lot more of him in the future! I promess you! And I promess you also that I will follow this guy…
5 rue d’Alger, Paris, France
Website and webshop: http://www.franciskardjian.com