Meet the Expert: Francis Kurkdjian

DFW Beauty Guide: Luxury Beauty - Francis KurkDjian

When it comes to luxury fragrances, chances are you've heard of Francis Kurkdjian. DFW Beauty Guide recently had the chance to chat with Francis, see below for the full interview.

How did you get started in the beauty industry?

I was 14 when I read an extensive piece about perfumery and 5 perfumers in the glossy pages of a French magazine. I totally fell in love with the craft and told my parents I wanted to become a perfumer.

Then, I started to do some research about perfume schools and I found out about ISIPCA (the perfumery school in Versailles, France). At age 15, my parents took me to visit the school where we had a meeting with Mr. Guy Haasser, the director. Of course, I was way too young to apply and the director told me to come back after receiving a master degree in science. At age 20, I applied to ISIPCA from 1990 to 1992. I won my first perfume project with Le Male, the first male fragrance by Jean Paul Gaultier, at 25. It rapidly became the worldwide success, it still is today.

What goes behind creating one of your unique fragrances?

Inspiration is the invisible part of creation. I can’t start a fragrance without giving it a name or a code name when I work for a brand. It helps me gather my emotions while I try to get the feeling of the fragrance. When consumers smell a perfume, they spray it on the card, and they feel something about it. My job is the reverse, I think what the feeling of that scent could be and then go to my desk and write the formula. Then, I change it until I have the balance that matches the feeling in my head.

Can you give us some insight into what a typical working day consists of for you?

I do not have a typical day; that is the magic of my work!

Since I have my eponymous fragrance line, I continue to collaborate for other brands like Burberry, Elie Saab, and Narciso Rodriguez. That keeps me busy as well on a different level… I have to deal with many different people in different areas! I usually start early in the morning around 5 or 6am. First, I go through my emails I received during the night from different parts of the world. The Maison Francis Kurkdjian line is sold from Australia to Europe, Asia, and the US. If I am in Paris, I usually go to the lab in the morning depending on my mood and my inspiration. I can stay there half a day. If I am in the middle of a creation, I will spend long hours to complete a work and stay focused. I can also go to my headquarter office to meet with my business partner and my team. There are always so many things to do: from a PR launch, to an olfactive installation, to a new product launch, or just a new fragrance to discuss and create.

What are some of your personal beauty regimens and grooming tips? 

A normal life, a good hygiene, and no excess is enough according to me. I have been using the Nivea blue cream for the past 10 years. Once  month I apply a white clay herbal mask. My shampoos come from my friend, Christophe Robin. And that is it!

We are sure each fragrance you create is special in their own way, but is there one that you hold dear to your heart?

When it comes to my personal taste, I can tell you that my favorite scents are always the new ones yet to create. Even though my latest creation, Baccarat Rouge 540, is very successful in all of our markets (it has an incredible and distinctive trail) I’m about to launch Petit Matin and Grand Soir, my two new fragrances for this fall. I am truly obsessed with my new creations right now! What is exciting about life is what comes next, not the past, even though I am very respectful of the heritage of my craft.

With travel well underway, what are your product picks and tips for stress-free travel?

I extensively travel for business or leisure. Last year, I did 4 times around the Earth. Therefore, I have developed an array of products specifically designed for travel. In line with our vision of contemporary perfume, I have created a collection of eight scents selected among our fragrance wardrobe each fall season. That selection can be used with our iconic spray, the Globe Trotter, that shelters all Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrance refills. It has become a cult travel accessory that you can take everywhere with you. It exists in our iconic colors: Zinc and gold.

We also just launched a special discovery set with our OUD mood collection. The travel box includes the classic eau de parfum OUD, OUD Satin Mood, the Extrait de Parfum OUD Silk Mood, OUD Velvet Mood, and OUD Cashmere Mood.

I usually have a very strict routine when I travel: no coffee or tea 12 hours before flying out for a trip that exceeds 6 hours. I drink a lot of water. No food on board (always before). I carry on a cashmere blanket with me and anti-noise headphones.

Any last words for our DFW Beauties?

A great perfume does not smell good, it smells beautiful.