Gentle Fluidity, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s new fragrance duo, just arrived in Greece and I had the honour to talk to Francis Kurkdjian about the unique concept of those two creations – and much more!
How did you come up with the concept of the two Gentle Fluidity perfumes?
Francis Kurkdjian : All started three years ago when I heard about this expression through the American press. Many journalists asked me that it could be the equivalent of the “gender fluid” movement in perfumery. Spontaneously, I mentioned the cologne, the first ungendered olfactory form and totally unisex, then oriental / amber perfumes that go to both men and women. It was later that I realized that this phenomenon far exceeded my first observations and that I wondered what was the equivalent in the perfume.
Gender Fluidity is my answer to contemporary questions on gender identity. It reflects the idea of freedom to express our personality without having to submit to diktats. Gender Fluidity does not mean no Gender…it means you don’t have to secluded in one category only.
Did you know from the beginning that you would create the fragrances using exactly the same ingredients?
Francis Kurkdjian : I hadn’t planned at the very beginning to use the same ingredients to create both fragrances. It came up throughout the creative process. To the point I decided to push my thoughts up to the end. An ingredient has no gender, but it becomes gender-related when you decide how to work with. Fragrance works like fashion. A fabric is neither masculine or feminine. But a dress is feminine and a tie masculine. The perfumer’s palette works the same. An ingredient alone does not make the gender of a fragrance. It is the way you balance it within the formula along with other ingredients that does. My goal was to work on two fragrances, two entities by drawing from the same list of ingredients and going beyond the concept of perfumery for women, men or mixed.
In our workshop here in Greece with Mrs Marina Genet, Head of Communication & Press Relations, we explored the six basic notes of Gentle Fluidity – how did you get down to those six out of thousands? Do you have any favorites among them?
Francis Kurkdjian : The six ingredients (juniper berry, nutmeg and coriander seed oils, musks, ambery woods and vanilla) I have decided to focus on to explain the idea behind Gentle Fluidity have been selected among the 49 ingredients used to compose this perfume duo. This allows me to highlight how I can emphasize one or several facets of one single ingredient and play on balance. Smelling raw materials can help to understand the complexity of composing a fragrance. For example, in gentle Fluidity (gold edition) you can perceive the vanilla aroma. Not in Gentle fluidity (silver edition) even if it’s in the formula. However, vanilla is really important as it brings strength and volume.
Last, to answer to your question, I don’t have any favorite ingredient. A fragrance is a story. You need a beginning and an end. It’s not a question of favorite ingredient it is the question of the right ingredient for the right use at the right moment.
What are the things that inspire you into a new creation every time? I feel that Gentle Fluidity is something quite different from your other perfumes, capturing the essence of our times rather than expressing images or feelings…
Francis Kurkdjian : Inspiration is the invisible part of creation and many things inspire me such as art, fashion, people and social issues… So far, none of my inspirations are not driven by raw materials. Each creation is always a new challenge for me. A good perfume/scent is before all a good story that catch the attention and is relevant. This is the most challenging part of my work. That’s why the creation of a perfume is made in two stages. First there is the time of reflection and inspiration guided by the story followed by a name, or vice et versa. I must have a very clear idea on what to do, where to go with my emotions so the scent is just an extension of that. Then began the time of the composition and to write the formula. With “Gentle Fluidity” I express something different and new. I connect my work to contemporary topics, like a mirror of the modern society. This fragrance duo is my answer to the question on gender identity, an issue that came out in the US few years ago before reaching other countries.
In a few words, and after all these years as a Master Perfumer, what’s your philosophy on perfume?
Francis Kurkdjian : I am inspired from my time and the era I live in. Each scent of the collection is designed to fit a certain “mood” and match your aura and sensuality at a specific occasion. Modern men and women are multiple as we are not the same at work, with friends and family, when we travel or at other particular occasions. If I open a sophisticated person’s wardrobe, I am sure to find casual wear, dressed up/formal attire as well as evening standards and why not couture. Our collection of fragrance has been created in the same spirit, as a real wardrobe. It is an invitation to choose which olfactory silhouettes to wear, because I like the idea that we can express a part of oneself through perfume.
You always talk about a woman’s “Fragrance Wardrobe” – what tips would you give a woman taking her first steps into creating her personal “Fragrance Wardrobe”?
Francis Kurkdjian : Choosing a perfume is like a love affair. You have the love at first sight and the love of your life. Above all, it is a matter of time. It takes time to get to know a perfume as top notes differs from base notes. I strongly believe that the dictate of wearing one single fragrance is past and old fashioned. Nowadays, women have much more freedom and power to express all their facets of our personality. This is why I have created a fragrance wardrobe, that accompanies women in their life from morning to dawn, all year long, all day long and all night long as well!
Last, to make that wardrobe easier to build, I have created a set of 6 scents that are already selected. The fragrances go from fresh to sensual. It is the perfect format to start your own personal fragrance wardrobe.
If you were asked to pick your 3 most favourite of your creations, what would they be and why?
Francis Kurkdjian : Actually, each of the scents I have released under Maison Francis Kurkdjian represents to me an ideal olfactory form and a creative challenge. I don’t have any favorite scents as to me, the best is yet to come! As a perfumer, when it comes to my personal taste, the ones I have in mind for the future are always for me the most intriguing and appealing. In fact, the most exciting in life is always what lies ahead. So I guess they are my favorite, even if they are not yet created.
Tell me a few words about Les Bulles d’Agathe – is this your (fun) way of introducing children to fine fragrances? Perhaps like educating the nose from an early stage?
Francis Kurkdjian : Behind each product of Maison Francis Kurkdjian there are several and various sources of inspiration. Les Bulles d’Agathe follow this rule as one of the most iconic scenes in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” inspired me to create an affordable product that my clients could indulge themselves with. Audrey Hepburn dreams about the Tiffany’s jewelry but can only afford a ring engraving. For my own house, I dreamed such a product as I wanted my customers to be able to buy a little scented gift if they don’t h the money for a fine fragrance.
Few years before co-founding my house with Marc Chaya, I create an olfactive installation in the Garden of Versailles scenting thousands of soap bubbles with the aromas for Louis the 14th favorite fruits (pear, melon and strawberry). Agathe, my 6-year-old niece (at the time) loved them and it inspired me fulfill my envy to create an affordable product for my Maison when time came to think about it! With this product, I saw an opportunity to give an olfactive education to the very young ones, and their parents as well!