We are like painters: some use simple colors, others prefer sophisticated ones. It’s the result that matters”.Guy Robert - May you rest in peace. We have lost a perfume legend.
- 29th May
- 23rd August
The Montreal Musuem of Fine Arts is a place I frequent often. I saw a wonderful Exhibition on Cuba a few years ago, and the interactive Yves Saint Laurent exhibition a couple of months later, just to name a few.
Currently, there is a Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition on display. I decided to check it out a few weeks ago. It was thought-provoking, interesting, wacky and at times, random. Just like JPG!
One thing I didn’t see much of was his fragrances. It makes sense that there would be an emphasis on his fashion and the inspiration behind it all. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish the actual exhibition was scented. Just to bring about another perspective and to compliment all his great work. All I kept thinking, was “whoa! I wish I could smell Le Male right now, I mean the picture of the ad is right here!”
Either way, I’m here to tell you about the man behind many of JPG’s fragrances.
Francis Kurkdjian is a powerhouse. A man who describes his style as having no style, meaning he is versatile, unable to stay within the box (lucky for us!) and always pushing boundaries.
His career as a perfumer has been an inspiration to me. He is now a member of an elite group of perfumers who have worked hard to get to where they are today. Working for Quest, after finishing his studies at ISIPCA, he has impressed with his ability to think quick, giving us proof of his raw talent and his determination.
He is the mastermind responsible for Le Male which was an instant success and continues to be a popular scent among men now. It has an undeniable staying power and has been synonymous with the JPG brand for years. Can’t hurt that it smells delicious too (bergamot, lavender, orange blossom, vanilla, cinnamon and sandalwood- I’m here to set the record straight: yes, women love it.)
JPG had asked Kurkdjian to create a masculine scent that didn’t correspond with what was out at the time; strong orientals for example, heady, heavy and opulent (think Opium pour Homme.) He created an a-typical scent that pushed boundaries and varied from the norm, all at the age of twenty-five!
He created Narciso Rodriguez for Him, a few for Kenzo and Juliette Has a Gun (Lady Vengeance anyone?) as well as the divine Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile alongside the great Francoise Caron (she is probably most well-known for creating the amazing, too good for words Ombre Rose for Jean-Charles Brosseau, among many other incredibly crafted creations.)
Most importantly, he has come out with his own bespoke line Maison Francis Kurkdjian. This is his crowning achievement. Both Lumiere Noire pour Homme and pour Femme are so well done, it’s hard not to see what all the fuss is about. If you’re a fan of the Mediterranean and unisex scents, then Absolue pour le Matin is for you and if you’re willing to go darker, then Absolute pour le Soir is just breathtaking.
If you get a chance to smell any of these, let me know! It’s such a treat, and I hope to one day meet him in my perfumed journey. It is always so inspiring to see someone like him out there, doing his thing, and bringing so much light into our scented experiences. So well done Mr. Kurkdjian, we eagerly wait for more of your scentscapes!
- 22nd April
There have been countless reviews of Jean-Claude Ellena’s life and work. So this will not be another one of those! Just an encounter with one of the greats.
I had the great honour of meeting Monsieur Ellena while I was studying in Grasse. I can safely say it was probably one of, if not, the most important and gratifying moments of my life. Even though the encounter was brief, and we had a billion questions between the twelve of us, he made a lasting impression.
His advice was simple, concise and intelligent; all the attributes you can find in his creations. We visited his cabin/personal lab in Cabris, about twenty minutes away from Grasse. He rounded us up around a table with lazy susan style ‘levels’ where he had all his ingredients in pure form. We went straight into smelling combinations of things we never thought would go together. The magic that comes with creating perfume is that aspect of telling a story, creating that illusion that will stay with you. He told us to focus on the juxtaposition of the materials as opposed to the percentage and/or proportion in a blend.
He told us to understand our materials, know how to describe them perfectly, by using tactile words, figuring out their ‘shape’, their texture, their overall feel. Learn what they give to you and what you can give to them.
Imagination is the most important, you can create the story afterwards, the more free you are with yourself and the use of your materials, the more you will get out of them, and the better the story! He mentioned that he had made Un Jardin en Méditerranée in one week, because he had an idea and went with it. Here he put imagination, innovation and discipline all in one, and did a fantastic job! (shocking? Not so much!)
He goes to the limit of where he can go with his creations. Many of us had a problem ‘finishing’ a perfume, because we were never satisfied with what we made, even if everyone else thought it was great. I think it’s because we just want to keep doing our best. So my friend Ashley asked him ‘how do you know when a perfume is finished?’ He told us that some perfumes are finished, but not entirely, but the way to work with that is to create a connection with each creation. ‘One begins where one ends’ he said, if there were questions left unanswered from the previous perfume, you answer them in the next. It never ends really, you keep going and going, because you never run out of things to ‘say’. His goal is to be light, and to be present, that’s the most important.
I asked him about L’Eau d’Hiver (which I LOVED, almost to the point of obsession) because he created something warm within something cold, which I thought was genius. I wanted to know how he did that, but a true magician never reveals his secrets, but what he did tell me is that he loves to play. A man after my own heart! That is how it feels, when making a perfume, there is such a light playfulness that I thoroughly enjoy, and when he said that I knew I was on the right track. He put emphasis on playing with paradoxes, and to avoid redundancy at all costs. Finally, he discussed the importance of sharing. Sharing your love for the craft, what you know, what you want to know. We need to continue to talk and write about perfume, we need to continue to learn.
He was sincere and honest, telling us if we aren’t satisfied with something we’ve made, all we need to do is start over. Keep everything you’ve created, you never know what you will need it for next, could be a good starting point to work another formula; a good reference. Or it could be your timeline, you can look back on it and see where you were all those years ago.
- 8th April
Let me tell you something about Yosh, she is a perfumer from California and she is one of a kind. She’s gentle, welcoming, and always polite. She’s also remarkably talented. Her creations are clean, honest and very fulfilling.
What’s great about Yosh and what she does, is that she makes every perfume personal. By making custom-made compositions she reads a person’s aura and feels one’s vibrations. She can also find something in her collection that fits the person seeking the experience. She feels her creations, and she feels the person who wants to wear it.
Her philosophy is so layered; she believes in simplicity (she mentioned how she prefers to have a smaller collection instead of giving us too many things to choose from.) She believes in the power of scent, and it’s ability to evoke memories and finally, finding a way to understanding the self through the psychological, physical and emotional process that scent entails. Each perfume has a numerical value matched by the fragrance family it fits in to.
I instantly felt better when I sat down with her in Florence, she was open and gracious and left me with a lasting impression. Her perfumes capture mood and have the ability to alter how you are feeling for the better.They take you somewhere else, somehow helping you understand your surroundings, and they enlighten you.
A perfumer who is invested in making her clients feel special, and makes excellent perfumes, in the smartest and most nurturing way. What more could you ask for?
My favourites include White Flowers 1.41 (I knew it was meant for me instantly, she did too.) U4EAHH! 2.43 (this is fun and breezy, aquatic too) and Omniscent 0.96 (heavy, opulent, dark and beautifully rich.) These are all part of the Evanescent Collection. Here she combines perfumery with aromachology, as well as Chakra and numerology.
Ooh ooh! One more; Trompeur. I love this. It feels like a dance. It has a primal character that I cannot explain, all I know is that it is strong (in its tenacity and its message). It has such wonderful layers that when I smell it, I react instantly. I feel like I need to move. There is a great fig note that seems to move around the sandalwood. The sweetness of the vanilla gives it a wonderful warmth, like a bonfire almost. There is a delicious bitterness to it that stays in place, almost giving all of these ingredients a base to move around on. On my skin, I smell a damp earthiness that I really enjoy because it reminds me of the skin of almost-aged figs.
Oh and p.s..She’s made a (No.1) for the Untitled Collection on Luckyscent!
Please read more about her here:
- 18th March
I’d like to pay more attention to perfumers just as much as the fragrances they create. Artists who have dedicated themselves entirely to the craft of perfumery. Some people (the same people who claim that fragrances don’t deserve to be copyrighted, read this) say that it doesn’t take a lot of skill to make perfumes. If you really know what goes on in terms of the inspiration and the process, then you would think differently.
So. As I’d mentioned before, I went to Florence in September of last year. It was my first time in Italy, and it was wonderful. The Pitti Fragranze exhibition was filled with talented niche perfumers, wacky perfumes and a very awakening atmosphere (I just found out I’m in the intro clip on the site, happy dance!)
Anyway, one of the very well known Italian perfume brands had a booth; Lorenzo Villoresi. The perfumer behind this namesake brand is highly respected in Italy and the niche perfume industry. A winner of the François Coty prize in 2006. I wasn’t actually aware of him until my fellow perfumery student and friend; a gorgeous, saucy Italian, told me about him.
So please check him out, I was attached to him instantly because his journey partially started in the Middle East, so it is easy for me to relate. He placed great emphasis on custom made fragrances, which for one, shows he’s a great listener. Secondly, that he’s talented enough to bring about other people’s ideas and satisfying their needs, while remaining true to his own creativity. He has such an interesting story, and it’s always great to see someone inspired by their home. One can definitely say that Villorezi’s creations are a part of Florence, and that Florence will always be his muse.
My favourites are Sandalo (yumyumyum) Incensi, and from the fantasy collection Iperborea (which came out recently, in 2010). He’s better known for Teint de Neige. And, and! He’s got a big collection based on olive oil!!