Maison Francis Kurkdjian | A Fragrance Wardrobe

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[Maison Francis Kurkdjian](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/?lang=en_US) is the Parisian fragrance house devoted to the art of the fourth sense. Co-founded by renowned perfumer, **_Francis Kurkdjian_**, and CEO **_Marc Chaya_**, the two have defined a contemporary vision in creating and wearing perfume. Deviating from ‘one scent for life, ’ the Maison suggests an alternative with their ‘fragrance wardrobe.’ This collection of scents is designed to embrace the multi-facets of it's wearer, from emotions and moods to time of day. Echoing the sophistication and boldness of Paris, Kurkdijan poses a wide range of sensory adventures. Aqua Universalis ![Aqua Universalis](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f979040d_569D90A6-A072-4DD9-A958-7C7B22731BF1.jpeg) [Aqua Universalis](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/aqua-universalis-candle.html) **_How did your olfactory Maison come to be?_** **Marc Chaya:** As a child, I was very creative and drawn towards architecture, design, living arts and music. However, my social environment in general and my father in particular valued more science then creativity and have pushed me to also develop my rational abilities. I studied economics and business management and went on to work with Ernst & Young in Paris where I had a fast track career, acquiring key skills in finance, general management, marketing and strategy. I was made Partner in less than 10 years, with global responsibilities, yet I knew something was missing: creativity! It was at that time, back in 2003, that I met Francis Kurkdjian in Paris, at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I remember asking him casually “what do you do in life” and his answer was “I’m a perfumer”. I had no clue what a perfumer was, so I started asking him more questions, and learned that he was the creator of Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, Armani Mania, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea and Eau Noir for Dior - only to name a few, and all of which were part of my perfume collection! It was a revelation to me, as although we all know the fashion brands and the perfumes I mentioned, no one in the public used to know the name of the perfumer behind each creation. It stroked me immediately as an injustice, as perfume was the only form of art and creation where the real talent was hidden behind curtains!  With time, Francis and I became close friends and we shared a same vision on lifestyle and the definition of luxury, while having complementary business and creative skills. We were both looking for change, him from working as part of a global lab where he could only compose fragrances for others, and me from a career that left little place for creativity.  We gradually and naturally started working together during my weekends and evenings on several ventures ranging from business development to the creation of his eponymous website or the first art installations he performed in Château de Versailles in 2006. In 2009, I resigned from EY as we both decided it was the right time to co-found Maison Francis Kurkdjian, a luxury Fragrance House eponymous of one of the most celebrated perfumers of our time. ![ Marc Chaya, CEO & Co-founder of Maison Francis Kurkdijan. ](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1588284774711-GFZXTCOV45RWWWPGAM8A/Marc+Chaya+%40Fran%C3%A7ois+Roelants.jpg) ![ Francis Kurkdijan, Co-founder of Maison Francis Kurkdijan. ](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1588284753280-S8TDL9N8G61EPSE6IX6J/Francis_Kurkdjian_portrait_2%40Fran%C3%A7ois_Roelants.jpg) #block-yui\_3\_17\_2\_1\_1588283341008\_15183 .sqs-gallery-block-grid { margin-right: -11px; } #block-yui\_3\_17\_2\_1\_1588283341008\_15183 .sqs-gallery-block-grid .sqs-gallery-design-grid-slide .margin-wrapper { margin-right: 11px; margin-bottom: 11px; } _Marc Chaya (left), Francis Kurkdijan (right)._ **Francis Kurkdjian**: I met Marc Chaya at a birthday dinner party after a Jean-Paul Gautier fashion show in 2003. During our dinner Marc asked me what I was doing in life. I said, "I am a Perfumer". He didn’t know that much about perfumery. He wore _Le Male_ at some point and few other scents. We had a long talk about it. He was surprised not to know my name despite the number of fragrances I had created. With time we became very good and close friends. We had complementary professional and creative skills. In 2005, we both were in a turning point in our professional career. I had spent 12 years in fragrance corporate environment. I was hoping for me freedom and entrepreneurship. Before getting my new job, I decided to do a world tour for one month (that was not a sabbatical year, which I cannot do).  Marc was on the same spirit and joined me. During the trip we talked a lot about fragrances and my vision of the industry. I shared with him that I would open my own fragrance house, that I was looking to someone to do it with me. We started to work together on different projects. Marc kept his work as a partner at Ernst and Young and I had my life as a perfumer working for other brands.  In September 2009, we launched both the product line along with the boutique to demonstrate that Maison Francis Kurkdjian was more than another product line. The location was key: I wanted a place in the heart of Paris. Paris is my inspiration. The whole line is inspired by and dedicated to Paris: the elegance, glamour and true sophistication of women and men, the “_Je ne sais quoi!”_ as we say_,_ that brings the French harmony and luxury. My house is all about that. It is built on all my perfumer’s past experiences: from my beginning in 1995 with fine fragrance creations for luxury, fashion and beauty brands, custom made/bespoke fragrances from the atelier I opened in 2001, artistic collaborations in Paris, Versailles, New York, and Shanghai. The word _Maison_ (house) makes sense because it expresses what I believe in. A house has a soul and a history, inhabitants and friends and sometimes children. All these emotions derived from “home” join under this word and animate my dreams: to create as my greatest happiness the ability to inspire even little pleasures for others. The creation of my own brand was a natural process, like something I had to do, create and then share with the public. The world of my Maison Francis Kurkdjian expresses what I believe in the terms of luxury and fragrances. Maison Francis Kurkdjian is the house of a perfumer and nests the true art of perfume making. À la rose ![À la rose](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f979040a_596C7536-0C99-4BFB-BAEA-B0E0CDB52398.jpeg) [À la rose](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/à-la-rose-scented-hand-cream.html) **_When creating a new fragrance, how do you begin the process?_** **Francis Kurkdjian:** Inspiration is the invisible part of creation. Although it takes a team effort to manufacture and launch a product, the first creative steps are rather lonely. My inspirations are not driven by raw materials. I first focus on a general feeling. This is the time of reflection during which I think I gather my emotions, then I start imagining different fragrance accords in my mind. When I have a very clear idea on what to do and where to go with my emotions, I then begin the time of the composition and go to the lab to create the formula.  How do you want to create something if you don’t know what you want to say? A painter uses colors and a musician uses notes. As a perfumer I use smell. The name of the fragrance always comes first. It sums up what I want to say with my perfume. It’s like the title of a book or the name of a painting. It gives me a guideline, a creative path to follow. Aqua Universalis ![Aqua Universalis](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f97903fc_76D63EC8-9725-4237-9261-15AA4FFEC32C.jpeg) [Aqua Universalis](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/aqua-universalis-forte-en.html) **_What is the significance of shaping your collection as a fragrance wardrobe?_** **Marc Chaya**: Maison Francis Kurkdjian perfume collection was thought as a fragrance wardrobe where each scent is designed to fit a certain "mood," and to match your aura, and sensuality at a specific occasion. I believe that it is a bit old fashioned to wear the same scent all your life. Modern men and women are multiple, so to speak. We are not the same at work as we are with friends and family, when we travel or at other occasions. In the same way, we do not dress the same in this context. If I open a sophisticated person's wardrobe, I am sure to find casual wear, formal attire, as well as evening standards; and why not Haute Couture? Our collection of fragrance has been created in the same spirit. Our Aqua collection stands for an essential piece in one's wardrobe, a bit like a white shirt, that you can wear at any occasion: buttoned up with a bow tie and a tuxedo or sleeves rolled up with a very casual attire. Our Aqua collection is fresh, versatile and genderless (freshness is an emotion that both men and women experience). Then there is the "easy to wear" segment with very elegant yet easy to wear scents such as Amyris, Pluriel and A la rose. Our evening standards include more dressed-up scents like our OUD collection. Each fragrance has its own olfactive signature. Finally, we have our bespoke offering which mirrors Haute Couture in fashion. So you can be an Aqua Universalis person on a lovely sunshine day, an Amyris person on a date and an OUD person at a black tie event. **Francis Kurkdjian:** Coming from a family with two grandfathers, one working as a tailor and one as a fashion designer, as well as one aunt working with Mr. Dior himself, Couture has always been part of my life. The dictate of the perfume industry wearing one single fragrance is passé and was created just to keep a consumer captive to the brand. In today’s world, women and men now have much more freedom and power to express all facets of their personality. From work, to love, we are multiple and there is not one single fragrance that could embrace all the facets of one personality. Therefore, I have created a fragrance wardrobe. Each scent from Maison Francis Kurkdjian has its own unique signature and can fulfill all your emotional answers. It is a unique positioning in the fragrance industry. You can be loyal to a brand and expect a diversity of moods. From Aqua Universalis and its unique freshness to the creation of Baccarat Rouge 540, the olfactive spectrum is wide and accompanies women (and men) throughout and in their life. My creations, Petit Matin & Grand Soir, clearly follow this idea: you can wear something light and luminous on an early morning and a more dressed-up scent for a night-out. Our moods and feelings change throughout the day, throughout the week, and throughout life. We are not consistent. The idea is to offer a range of fragrances that accompany you during all those moments.  Baccarat Rouge 540 ![Baccarat Rouge 540](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f9790401_CF414AE1-0900-4DB9-87A7-D27C10D7CAF7.jpeg) [Baccarat Rouge 540](Baccarat Rouge 540) **_Why should each scent tell a story? How do you materialize an emotion through scent?_** **Francis Kurkdjian:** I use scents to express what I feel. Maybe one day, I will use words or colors… Fragrance, right now, is my medium. To create a solid fragrance, you need to tell a story first and have a creative point of view. Without these elements, the rest is useless.  I start with a feeling, an emotion, an intuition or a story. It really depends. For each fragrance, I have a notebook with some notes, drawings, like a storyboard. Then I decide on which ingredients I have to use. For example, for _Cologne pour le Matin_, I had in mind the first paragraph of _Bonjour Tristesse_, the first novel of writer Françoise Sagan when she described her wakening by a ray of sun in her face. I, too, thought about the early walk in the garden of my parents, walking barefoot on the grass. Rouge 540 was the making of the iconic red crystal from the house of Baccarat.  Overall, it’s all about the feeling and the emotion. When I work on a new project, I close my eyes and try to imagine the scent of this new perfume. However, anything can inspire me as long as it becomes the beginning of a story that I can translate into a fragrance. À la rose ![À la rose](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f9790404_FD00EDA3-1E6B-4B8B-9738-5FEE29A0B459.jpeg) [À la rose](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/a-la-rose-en.html) **_How did you craft the alchemy of À la rose to embody the paintings of Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun?_** **Francis Kurkdjian**: À la rose is named after two famous portraits of Marie Antoinette holding a rose (her favorite flower) in her hand. The story behind these 2 paintings is very modern while they have been painted more than 200 years ago. Instead of holding the conventional attributes of royalty, the queen stands with a rose in her hand, a true symbol of femininity. It’s a way to say: I am a woman beforehand, not a queen. It’s important to mention Marie Antoinette had avant-garde way of being a woman and a queen. She wanted to keep her children close to her and not give them away to nannies or governesses as it was the rule at the time. She was very close to them, and wanted to watch her education. These paintings are statements of independence of thoughts, and femininity.  In 2014, I created an eau de parfum with the same name as the painting: À la rose. Through this creation, I put a modern spin on a theme sometimes seen as old-fashioned, giving a contemporary way of wearing a rose and seducing those who were initially reluctant. What fascinates me, moves me and excites me is the idea of translating the past into the present. I wanted to create a perfume that celebrates the femininity, a declaration of love for all women captured in a fragrance. I thought about using rose which is seen since the dawn of time as the queen flowers. Rose has always inspired artists such as poets, painters and of course perfumers. Two varieties of rose have bestowed the radiance and richness of their petals on this Eau de parfum: two hundred and fifty Centifolia roses from Grasse (May Rose) in the form of an absolute produce a very floral base note with sweet honeyed and carnal accents. One hundred and fifty Damascena roses from Bulgaria in the form of an essential oil create a top note with a playful blend of pear and lychee. I love to say that there are 400 roses in each bottle of À la rose. Baccarat Rouge 540 ![Baccarat Rouge 540](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f9790414_D7CAC14C-1747-4B87-8B57-9B42A1F56A4B.jpeg) [Baccarat Rouge 540](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/baccarat-rouge-540-16.html) **_What was the process of perfecting Baccarat Rouge 540? How does a fragrance fusion at 540 degrees create a glowing illusion?_**  **Francis Kurkdjian**: The objective was to capture the spirit of the house of Baccarat in one scent. That’s why I wanted a fragrance that translates the feeling of transparency and density; a contemporary fragrance by its name and its scent, that would reflect the essence of Baccarat. Crystal is obtained through the addition of three components: minerals, fire and craftsmanship. Powerful and distinguished, the name Baccarat Rouge 540 evokes a metamorphosis of a clear crystal mingled with 24-carat gold powder and gradually brought to fusion at 540 °Celsius degrees, arousing a glowing scarlet appearance. Luminous and sophisticated, Baccarat Rouge 540 lays on the skin like an amber floral and woody breeze. It was imagined as a poetic alchemy where the aerial notes of jasmine and the radiance of saffron carry mineral facets of ambergris and woody tones of a freshly cut cedar wood. A graphic and highly condensed signature. **_Throughout these months of self-isolation, what scents would you prescribe to us?_** **Francis Kurkdjian:** Fragrance is very personal and relies on each own’s perception of the world. This is the time to discover unknown olfactory territories, like you would go on a trip to find new landscapes. It’s a way to slow down if it’s possible. Our fragrance wardrobe is designed for that purpose. It holds a selection of our scents. The fragrance portfolio of Maison Francis Kurkdjian is wide and holds a wide spectrum of scents, from fresh to warm, clean to sensual.  Aqua Universalis ![Aqua Universalis](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472be35d9c940c1f9790410_8C0EC1F9-7CD1-4DCA-A5AE-E1E1DB3DCD33.jpeg) [Aqua Universalis](https://www.franciskurkdjian.com/aqua-universalis-candle.html) * * *