Francis Kurkdjian : Recipe for a Great Perfumer

Francis Kurkdjian

A remarkably talented perfumer, a creator of his own brand, a former ballet dancer, Francis Kurkdjian represents an idea of a Renaissance man. He first became famous for Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, which became of the defining masculine fragrances for the 1990s. Subsequently, he created a wide array of scents, from airy Elizabeth Arden Green Tea to smoldering Christian Dior Eau Noire. He also has his own eponymous line. Below are a few excerpts from a good interview Kurkdjian gave to Kanokporn Chanasongkram of Bangkok Post (originally published on September 2005.)

The recipe for a great perfumer?
Good olfactory memory, senses, passion, and flexibility to switch and absorb each brand’s character or style. Also patience, because creating one fragrance can take up to three years. For Gaultier to the Power of Two it took 18 or 19 months. In terms of academics, perfumers should have a knowledge of chemicals.

How do you get inspiration for a new fragrance?
Rather than specialise in a particular note combination or style, I like to switch olfactory territories to explore new challenges.

What do you look for in a great perfume?
Finesse in everything, including the ingredients, process, bottle and concept. It does not have to be complicated; it can be simple and still be perfect. Less is more. Jean Paul Gaultier and I have the same opinion about this.

Your most important tip in choosing a new scent?
It may sound obvious, but simply choosing a perfume that appeals to you is my best advice.



  • Eric Brandon: I’m not going to lie, I was a bit put off of him when I “met” him at a little meet-and-greet/bottle signing at my local Neiman Marcus last spring. But I am so impressed by his new Absolue pour la Soir that I can strike it from my mind. I mean, really, that stuff is like a narcotic; I’m totally hooked. October 15, 2010 at 2:11am Reply

  • Linda: I really like this, because the responses are so clear and to the point. Some perfumers seem pretentious, to say the least, (mentioning no names) but this is a breath of fresh air!
    Thank you! October 15, 2010 at 8:11am Reply

  • minette: i would add that he is very sweet in person. i got to meet him at neimans back in april or may, and found him personable and fun. we both wrinkled our noses and had to laugh at one of his that smelled really bad on my skin. on the plus side, i love lumiere noire so much and feel so right in it, i feel he made it for me. and i adore absolue pour le soir (already have cologne pour le soir). that will probably be my next purchase. October 15, 2010 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Carla: Thanks for this. On my first visit to his store right after it opened, I was not impressed. It was very crowded and I only got samples of Cologne pour le Matin and Aqua Universalis, which are not his best, I think. Second visit a year later, and this time very much impressed with my generous samples of Cologne pour le Soir and the two Lumiere Noires. I am considering buying Lumiere Noire pour Femme. It’s a wonderful take on Aromatics Elixir, and really shows “finesse” as he mentioned. Good lasting power, not too much sillage. And I love how it could be a perfume from the 70’s or a perfume from today; you can’t place it. I also really like Cologne pour le Soir, but like a lot of leathers, it’s pretty linear. After the review of Absolue pour le Soir on Grain de Musc, I look forward to a sniff of that one! So interesting that he was a ballet dancer! Okay, that’s my two cents… October 16, 2010 at 4:17am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Eric, Absolue pour le Soir is wonderful! I am tempted to buy a full bottle. October 19, 2010 at 7:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, yes, it is very refreshing for a change! October 19, 2010 at 7:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Minette, sounds like a perfect experience! I am so glad that more perfumers do these events. It is great to meet the author of something we enjoy. October 19, 2010 at 7:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Carla, I find him interesting, because unlike most perfumers, Kurkdjian manages to handle a variety of projects, including his own line. It is very very impressive, given what I know of the industry. October 19, 2010 at 7:56pm Reply

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