Smell the Future from the Past

By Olivia Newby

Traditional designers and fragrance houses will never disappear however, the fragrance world has been defined by classic designer scents yet there still is a hunger for innovative fragrances. Overwhelming amounts of new, niche brands are popping up that bring less obvious notes, sustainable innovations, and an intricate back story. For important fashion houses, their classic timeless perfumes have stayed the course but sometimes it becomes very interesting when they are revisited. Protecting and embracing heritage is most valuable for fashion house brands such as Christian Dior whilst also keeping in mind the modernisation of today because after all, modernism is at the very core of the house’s DNA. The head of perfume the newly appointed Francis Kurkdjian renewed a trio of perfumes, La Collection Privee The Trilogy for Christian Dior. Modernity versus tradition was at the forefront in the creation of perfumes. Find out more about Smell the Future from the Past here.

Image by Abi Perkins

Propelling fragrance forward, master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian embodies the spirit that Christian Dior bounces between tradition and modernity. You may well recognise his name even if you are not a perfume expert.

Kurkdjian was brought up in a suburb of Paris. Surrounded by the arts, dance, music, and balls hosted by his parents, it is no surprise that Kurkdjian grew up to be in a career so creative and artistic.

After diverting the routes of his original chosen career as a ballet dancer, Kurkdjian turned to the world of perfumery. As a young boy, it was his sister who was intrigued by the shape of a bottle of perfume, but it was what was inside that engaged the aspiring perfumer, Kurkdjian.

His background is interesting because at the tender age of 24 Kurkdjian was responsible for creating the most commercially successful cologne in the marketplace Le Male by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Through a collection of perfumes that compose a distinctive fragrance wardrobe, Francis Kurkdjian created his own line of perfumes in 2009. Maison Francis Kurkdjian offers a contemporary vision of the art of crafting and wearing perfume, becoming a new emblem of French savoir-faire and lifestyle. The personality of his brand expresses codes as seductive as they are pure, sophisticated, timeless, and the boldness of reinvented classicism. 

Amongst the most popular of his creations is Baccarat Rouge 540. A unique but timeless scent. The olfactory signature notes of amber, cedar, jasmine, and lemony saffron blend to create a memorable scent that lingers around while a calm aura is summoned.

Following through to the height of his career, Kurkdjian spends a lot of time drawing up mood boards for each fragrance he is working on. Only when the “feel” for each scent is determined can the ingredients for the perfume start being considered. Once Kurkdjian has a list of ingredients in his head that match the “feel” of the perfume he is going for, he sends a list off to the producers who come up with samples and send them back to him.  

In a world where freedom and creativity are encouraged, for perfumers such as Kurkdjian; ingredients would be explored in all sorts of concentrates and combinations. This way broadening the lines of new ideas for new or re-imagined perfumes is what makes Kurkdjian a master in perfumes.

He has won many an accolade including the François Coty Prize for his lifetime achievements in October 2001. In 2008, he was voted nose of the year by Cosmétique Magazine, and, in 2008, he was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. The award recognises eminent artists and writers, and people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. For Kurkdjian this was a significant moment in his career and moving forward in the world of perfumery. Or one might say the start for the master perfumer.

Kurkdjian was named perfume creation director at Christian Dior Parfums in October 2021, succeeding François Demachy who had been at the helm of Dior’s fragrance business for the last 15 years. 

Image by Abi Perkins

So from the start of his time at Dior, Kurkdjian revisited and remodelled keeping the very essence whilst sweeping through with a modernist brush. He worked on La Collection Privee The Trilogy by Christian Dior. Three fragrances were revisited earlier this year and transformed with elegance and originality.

Whilst the original scents, Eau Noire and Cologne Blanche were originally created in 2004 by Kurkdjian himself under the creative direction of Hedi Slimane. Slimane held the position of creative director for Dior Homme, the menswear line of Christian Dior from 2000 to 2007.

Since 2004 the perfumes have been left untouched or discontinued. Until this year when the perfumer resurrected the two scents he formerly created, Eau Noire and Cologne Blanche. As a bonus for his first project as the perfume creation director of Dior, he revisits Bois D’Argent also.

However, one might question. Why would the individual fragrances of the Cologne Blanche, Eau Noire, and Bois d’Argent need to be re-created?

Retrospectively examining the formula of three distinctive older releases, it was thought by Kurkdjian at Dior how he could redefine the scents for today’s audience. Being the first project Kurkdjian has taken on in the new position of the head perfumer, he reassembled the three scents. Uniting the trio of perfumes into one package. Kurkdjian wanted to create perfumes that reflect the idea of tradition versus modernity. Something that Dior strides at as a fashion house.

In each perfume, a flower is a key ingredient. Bois D’Argent features notes of Iris, Lavender in Eau Noire, and the Orange Blossom in Eau Blanche. All these flowers are classic ingredients from the 18th century and were also used by royalty.

Whilst there is a tradition within Dior’s design and fragrance. There also has to be modernity in the current times. Twenty years ago, when Kurkdjian first started creating perfumes, he would tend to overdose on certain ingredients and increase their dosage. Kurkdjian believes that there is a perfect balance between the modern idea of overdosing with very traditional raw materials. Overdosing ingredients in a perfume glorifies the scent. Created is a presence in sourced materials, helping to ensure that the fragrance is given a unique scent.

Touching on his future at Dior, Kurkdjian exclaimed he wanted boldness, assertiveness, and audacity. Bouncing between traditions and modernity in his works. Whilst at the same time still regarding a composition that plays on luxurious traditions. Leading La Collection Privee The Trilogy is a fresh, purer, and luminous form of the signature original scents.

Image by Abi Perkins

The three perfumes from the La Collection Privee The Trilogy are all three unisex collections, introduced in 2004.

Cologne Blanche

Cologne Blanche is a fragrance of a flawless elegant composition, originally and re-visited. A fragrance that unleashes a luminous Orange Blossom note enveloped in an intensely powdery Violet accord. Refined by the notes of Orange Blossom and Violet, reveals a natural hue in the tone of the perfume.

Lingering in the fragrance soft notes are also supported against a sensual ambery backdrop. This creates an artful balance for the perfume.

Bois d’Argent

Timeless yet avant-garde, the Bois d’Argent fragrance is dominated by a luxurious and rich ingredient known to the perfume industry, Iris. A subtle yet powdery ingredient is the heart note of the perfume.

Wrapped around the notes of Iris is a soft complex of frankincense. Withholding the base notes of fragrance, amber sets against the background that gracefully holds to the skin.

Eau Noire

Eau Noire, this perfume that enriched the most modernised approach to transformation. Originally the fragrance had a woody green sheen to the colour of the liquid. Ultimately now the perfume harmonises in colour with Cologne Blanche and Bois D’Argent perfumes in the trio collection.

This fragrance is reborn with a new impulsion of three high-quality lavender essences. The aromatic scent of lavender intertwines with the notes of myrrh and just the right dose of other gourmand notes to give it a chic, seductive and nocturnal effect.

La Collection Privee The Trilogy set of three fragrances, Cologne Blanche and, Bois D’Argent is presented in three 40ml sleek bottles.

As was Monsuir Dior a visionary so the house kept on evolving long after he departed, choosing a dynamic nose as Franic Kurkjdian as the head just highlights that the house is as fresh today as it always has been, surprising and illuminating and smelling fresh.

To find out more or to purchase La Collection Privee The Trilogy please visit here.

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If you enjoyed reading Smell the Future from the Future why not try reading Smelling through Sound here.

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