Since its founding in 2009 by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and former Ernst & Young associate Marc Chaya, Maison Francis Kurkdjian has become one of the most popular and respected niche houses in the fragrance biz.
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This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s familiar with the award-winning French nose’s creativity and technical expertise.
He made a spectacular debut with Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle in 1995 at the age of 26. It was followed by numerous other high-profile scents, including Elizabeth Arden Green Tea EDT (1999), Narciso Rodriguez For Him EDT (2007), Dior Homme Cologne (2007), Elie Saab Le Parfum EDP (2011), Carven Pour Homme EDT (2014) and Mr Burberry EDT (2016).
The company was acquired by luxury conglomerate LVMH in 2017 and continues to impress with its undeniable quality.
Our Top Picks for Maison Francis Kurkdjian Fragrances for Men
Here is a shortlist of our nine favorite fragrances by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
Looking for a thoroughly robust rose? Then it’s best to go back to one of the launch fragrances from the brand.
Released in 2009, Lumière Noire is a superbly daring rose scent. It plays on the familiar rose-patchouli combo, in a deeply rich and earthy way.
It’s spiced with the seductive warmth of cinnamon and cumin, while artemisia brings a herbal aspect to the composition, ensuring it doesn’t tip over into unbearable sweetness.
Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued, presumably because it wasn’t commercial enough. Hunt it down online while you can, as it’s seriously in demand.
The world might be spinning out of control, if we are to believe all the bad news. But at least we can create the illusion of calm with this enhanced 2011 version of the 2009 original.
It’s sunny freshness all the way in the opening, with notes of Calabrian bergamot and Sicilian lemon bringing their citrus charm. White florals – jasmine, in particular – and rose absolutes accentuate the freshness. Musk keeps the drydown clean and soothing.
There’s nothing complicated about this unisex scent, but boy does it smell good and clean and fresh!
While Maison Francis Kurkdjian is justifiably held in high regard for its ouds, Baccarat Rouge and Grand Soir, let’s not forget the other beauties from the house.
Released in 2012, Amyris Homme displays the perfumer’s multidimensional skills at their best. A fresh, herbal vibe (Moroccan rosemary, Sicilian mandarin) makes way for the headline star, amyris oil from the Caribbean, with its sweet and woody nuances. Iris adds a rich floral contrast.
Tonka bean is prominent in the drydown and ensures this composition is cohesive and compelling. The extrait de parfum version is also highly recommended.
If this unisex 2015 release smells familiar, but you haven’t smelled it, that’s because it’s hugely popular and much copied by other brands. Francis Kurkdjian even produced an imitation of sorts (not as fabulous, of course) in the form of Burberry Her EDP (2018).
Created to mark the crystal product company’s 250th anniversary, it’s suitably impressive and luxurious. The magic starts with a pronounced note of saffron, its bittersweet nuances at the fore. Jasmine adds to the opulence.
Deft use of the synthetic molecule Ambroxan produces a musky ambergris effect and gives this unisex fragrance its renowned potency, while cedar adds woody depth.
Got extra dollars to spare? Then treat yourself to the super-luxe extrait de parfum version.
Three words to describe this unisex 2016 release: Magnificent, masterpiece, mellow. Living up to its inspiration – “the brilliance of an evening in Paris when bridges and monuments glow” – it’s all about the amber accord. Not to be confused with the stone nor ambergris, this facet is the backbone of oriental fragrances.
Cistus labdanum, deeply animalic and resinous, meets the sweet complexity of vanilla. It’s enhanced with notes of benzoin from Siam and tonka beans from Brazil.
Cosy and comforting, it’s one of the best amber fragrances on the market. If compliments are an essential part of your fragrance purchasing decision, you can’t go wrong with it.
From 2012, Francis Kurkdjian upped his credentials even more, as the king of oud, with a succession of top-quality releases.
These include Oud EDP (2012), Oud Satin Mood EDP (2015) and Oud Silk Mood EDP (2018). Infused with slightly peppery and resinous warmth, elemi from the Philippines opens this 2018 release.
There’s then the waft of fine and luxurious musk. Interesting to note that Kurkdjian uses Ambrettolide, the Givaudan-produced vegetal musk renowned for its smoothness and floral undertones. It mingles with a soft take on cedar and creamy, but sugar-free vanilla.
Oud is one of the most precious ingredients in perfumery, and the Laotian variety is especially prized for its depth and variations. Every time we smell it, we get something different – from leathery and woody to fruity to powdery.
It’s skilfully complemented by Indonesian patchouli, with its earthy and woody nuances.
We love a well-executed concept. And this 2019 release is exactly that, with two different interpretations of the same notes – Silver Edition (male) and Gold Edition (female).
There’s a mega dose of juniper berries in the opening. If it’s too much at first, give it time to develop, as there’s so much more to this fresh scent than its aromatic gin effect, including a spicy combo of nutmeg and coriander on a clean musky base, with a smidgen of vanilla.
Give the Gold Edition, with its sweeter vanilla emphasis, a go too. Although officially a female release, it’s quite unisex in our opinion.
It’s 2020. A year of upheaval. Unisex fragrances and gender fluidity abound. Harry Styles is rocking a frock on the cover of Vogue. And yet, many men are still frightened of rose fragranc. L’Homme à la Rose woos these men with a rebranding of the troublesome floral.It opens with the sharpness of grapefruit.
But not for long, as essences of Bulgarian Damask rose and centifolia rose bring fresh sweetness to the composition, while sage adds a herbal green facet.
The drydown, featuring amberwood and Spanish labdanum, prolongs the potency. Yes, it may not be the most exciting rose. But it’s clean, sensual and elegant stuff.
In 2021, the house released cologne forte (strong) versions of its best-selling unisex Aqua range: Universalis, Celestia and Vitae.
All three epitomise elegant freshness, but Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte, with its uplifting vibe, is particularly appealing. Just like its bottle, it makes a bright impression from the get-go, thanks to notes of mandarin orange and bergamot.
Sunny florals are complemented by the warmth of musks and sandalwood in the drydown. On the sweet side, but in a refined way, it’s sunshine in a bottle.