Masterclass with Maison Francis Kurkdjian (MFK) Paris
A Fragrance Masterclass - what would it teach me? That was the first thought that I had when I saw the invitation from Blue Salon. The experience was truly informative - an olfactory journey, an informative one, and an introduction to what is called the concept of a fragrance wardrobe were my takeaways from the Master Class during our session with Marc Chaya - the cofounder of MFK.
What’s your favorite perfume? Who is Francis Kurkdjian? Chances are your favorite perfume will most likely be the creation of Francis Kurkdjian. He is the talent behind many well-known best-selling perfume. His creations include John Paul Gaultier Le Male, Narciso Rodriguez For Him and For Her, Lanvin Rumeur, Dior Eau Noire, Guerlain Rose Barbare, Yves Saint Laurent Opium and Kouros, F by Ferragamo, Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea, Giorgio Armani Mania for Men and many other acclaimed fragrances. Yet no one knows his name. He is the first perfumer to start the made-to-measure perfume services. Just the way you have your house designed, your clothes tailored, so has he introduced the bespoke service of having your own perfume.
It was around 1925, fashion houses discovered that perfumes generate a lot of money. And, perfumers instead of working on their own , started working only for fashion houses, and with time their names disappeared. MFK launched at a time when people had stopped talking about the perfumer behind the fragrance. The brand came to life in 2009, and brought back the age old practice of having the name of the perfumer on the perfume bottle.
So what goes into the making of a perfume?
There are more than 800 sources to make perfumes from inclusive of natural, and synthetic sources. Each source as received does not go very well with the skin. The creation of perfumes is more than just putting together some essential oils. There is a lot of hard work that goes in the creation starting from inspiration, to making it wearable, and safe for the skin, and more.
The most expensive essential oil is from Iris. You need 10000 kilograms of Iris resin to get 1 litre of essential oil. The second most expensive one is the oud. You need 5000 kilograms of Oud resin to create 1 litre of essential oil. In perfumery, the oud that comes from Laos is the most expensive.
We were then passed around the Natural Oud Oil from Laos to experience its pure scent. Marc went on to mention that a litre of this essential oil came to a cost of around 50,000 $. The top note of this is very harsh as he puts it. But, if you were to leave it for some time on your skin it becomes very beautiful. There are seven flowers which are used as base in perfumery - iris, jasmine, narcissus, lavender, ylang ylang, rose, orange blossom. All other flowers are used as sides, and not base due to its reaction with the skin. Benzoin is very bad for the skin, and hence cannot be used as such.
We then moved onto the concept of Fragrance Wardrobe as introduced by MFK, and went onto discover each perfume in the brand. Perfume is there with you to accompany you every day. Whether you want to go casual, want to wear something loud, have something really soft, or even something exclusive, and bespoke, MFK has it for you.
Now what does the wardrobe contain?
Behind each of the perfume in their collection there is a story and each of them sketches an invisible garment, an emotion. They have what is called the essential pieces which comprises of four perfumes - Aqua Universalis, Aqua Universalis is all about being addictivly fresh. Chaya compares it to a white shirt, an essential piece in one’s wardrobe, as it can be worn buttons up with a bow tie or rolled-up sleeve with a casual attire. It belongs to the Universal wardrobe. It is simply perfect for any accasion, a fragrance to share as freshness is common to both men and women. Aqua Universalis Forte is another essential which is described to be a perfume tha vibrates on the skin like gold in the summer. Aqua Vitae, part of the essentials is a perfume that is fresh, and warm. APOM is an acronym that stands for A Part Of M e. It has been inspired from sensuality and beauty of men and women from the mediterranean shores. APOM would be a more couture sent, almost like a cocktail dress or a perfect fit suite. APOM has a scent for her, and for him. That’s because Francis wanted to give it two different sensualities. They both share Cedar wood and Orange blossom. The women’s interpretation plays then on a floral note with ylang ylang while the men’s is a more woody amber with a dry down of amber. Lumiere Noire femme has been created as a tribute to French actress Catherine Deneuve. I see it as a glamorous sensual evening dress. Amyris pour femme and pour homme are more ready to wear scents reflecting the idea of effortless elegance…
The highlight of the day was of course the Baccarat Rouge 540 - an eau da parfum born from the encounter between Maison Francis Kurkdjian and Baccarat as a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the iconic crystal house.
The concept of Maison Francis Kurkdjian is both seductive and particularly well thought-out: Perfumes for each moment of the day, from the clean morning smell of Aqua Universalis to the nocturnal rose and patchouli duet of Lumière Noire Pour Femme and Pour Homme.