Gender Fluidity: A person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender. Trimming the stereotypes of gender categorisation. It is a way of rewiring the mind to see gender as a binary opposition, but rather as an organic notion that can be defined however someone wishes.
Surely but slowly, brands are introducing unisex clothing, fragrances and beauty products rather than marking it with a male or female label. So, rather than naming a fragrance something typical like Ice blast for him or Sweet daisies for her, and market it as something solely masculine or feminine, brands let consumers decide for themselves whether they want to wear something. Although traditionally perfume was genderless in the 1950’s marketing bought genders to perfume, so we are in a way moving backward to go forward.
The term was first coined in the 80’s, but it has been subject to much discrimination and abuse over the years. In 1994 Calvin Klein launched the first ever unisex fragrance, CK One. At the time, it was mainly to save costs. Still, it aided the movement towards a society more accepting of gender freedom.
In 2016, Calvin Klein continued this movement by hiring rapper Young Thug for their AW16 campaign. In an interview, he is asked about wearing dresses sometimes. He says, “In my world, of course, it doesn’t matter,” he says, “You could be a gangster with a dress, you could be a gangster with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender.” Jo Malone also creates scents specifically to be gender neutral. She finds that her most cherished fragrance, named Jo, is perfect for a self-made businesswoman like her, although it would traditionally be considered a male scent. “It’s very masculine. Very cologne. It’s got real power and tenacity about it,” she says.
Gender fluidity becoming more mainstream has allowed it to be finally accepted into the fashion world. In the Spring / Summer 2018 Menswear Thom Browne, sent an army of models down the runway in grey pleated skirts. Major fashion houses have been blurring gender boundaries for some time. Since making his debut, Alessandro Michele has included models of both sexes wearing the same clothing. High street stores, H&M and Zara have also presented ‘gender neutral’ lines, including hoodies, sweatshirts, and shirts.
Building on this, Maison Francis has released a fragrance that identifies the issues of gender fluidity. He has named it ‘Gentle Fluidity’ – the new Eau de Parfum. The same name is shared by two creations whose distinctive feature is composed of the same ingredients. One is gold – gentle Fluidity . The other is silver – Gentle fluidity. Neither mention gender. This encourages the customer to choose the fragrance that attracts them intuitively. It speaks for the wider growing concept that one should not be confined by his or her gender.
By trimming down the constructs society has had in place for generations, we can truly liberate ourselves. Francis, when communicating with his director misunderstood the perfume as Gentle Fluidity, instead of Gender fluidity. Although a miscommunication, it turns out it works perfectly to depict the way gender fluidity is gently being encompassed in society. Francis is the first to create a double identity of almost the same perfume giving the consumer the choice of which to purchase. Francis stated that he wanted to go further than the idea of a unisex perfume. He explains that to stop here means, ‘You don’t fully address the problem, one sex will be favoured.’ Hence the move towards the universal concept of gender fluidity which inspires his perfume. Francis argues that ‘it is easier for women to wear any fragrance. Men, traditionally will not wear female products’.
Francis unveils two eau de pafum from two utterly different olfactory worlds. One features a woody, aromatic scent, the other musky, oriental notes). In gentle Fluidity’s (gold) generous , envoloping trail we find coriander seed essence, and an overdose of musks and vanilla. In the base notes are the gourmand, reassuring notes of the vanilla accord, enhanced by the ambery woods. In Gentle fluidity, (silver) nutmeg and ambery woods are dominant and release a vibrant, comfortable trail. As for juniper berry essence, it leads to and ascending aromatic note similiar to “gin frappe” effect, balanced by the dry and spicy notes of nutmeg. The base notes reveal ambery woods facets ranging from sweet to powerful and dry. Of the 49 ingredients used to compose this perfume duo, Francis Kurkdijan wished to highlight six which make up the silhouette of each of the two variations: juniper berry, nutmeg, and corriander seed essences, musks, amber woods, and vanilla.
The perfumer focused on six key ingredients amongst the 49 used to create this new fragrance duo. Created by his in house perfumery. In order to tell the two perfumes apart, there are slight differences. The colour of the bottles, silver and gold.The name, gentle Fluidity, and Gentle fluidity. And finally the cap. One of the first independent perfumers to create their own brand. Maison seems to enjoy analysing society and its evolution, he tells his stories through fragrance. He follows the golden rule: to use only the quantity of ingredients needed to convey an idea an arouse emotion. He has trimmed the stereotypes of male of female fragrances, and just created the essence of what makes us human despite our sex.
Francis trained at the ISIPCA. He started in 1990, by 1993 he created Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier. At the time, the name of the perfumer was omitted. Yet, it still was a huge success. In 1995 the perfumer joined quest international in New York. By 1999 he returned to Paris, launching his own custom perfumery workshop. In 2009 with Marc Chaya they created line Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
In recent years, the conventional gender categories are being trimmed down enabling us to become more open-minded. Millennials – have also rejected the traditional roles in the home, ie. stay at home dads and mums in full-time work. They are progressive, they are forward thinking, they are the gender fluid generation. It is clear across an array of mediums, that gender fluidity is the way forward, not just in the world of perfume. The term was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2016 further highlight the progressiveness of our society. As a society, we value our right to chose, now more than ever. The right to be who we are, unapologetically. Which perfume will you choose? The choice is yours.
Gender Fluidity. Two fragrances, with the same name. Both inspired by a social phenomenon. Release date: January FK boutiques in Paris, from Feb in authorised distributors.