It’s tradition for perfumers to have a ‘trophy’ wall in their office; a shelf with all their creations. It starts out bare, of course, but as their career progresses, it fills up with beautiful bottles and extravagant boxes, as a testament to their talent. Always dressed in a sharp white shirt, Francis Kurkdjian is the face behind Le Male by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Rose Barbare by Guerlain and Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez. An eloquent and expressive interviewee, Francis is a storyteller to begin with, just as his perfumes transform chemistry into alchemy, so do his words bestow coherence and compelling metaphors to the world of fragrances. Edited excerpts...
What is your origin story? Why did you choose to be a perfumer?
Perfume chose me at an early age. I was fascinated by the world of craftsmanship and mostly the world of couture. At age 14, I read an article about perfumers on the glossy pages of a French magazine. I had a revelation which awoke something within me, a fire that still remains. I studied perfumery at the perfumery school in Versailles, ISIPCA; I then pursued my master’s in marketing while being an intern, a trainee perfumer in a fragrance corporation based in Paris.
What is your greatest source of inspiration? Have there been mentors or influences on your work as a perfumer?
I believe inspiration is the invisible part of one’s creation. It’s by far the hardest part of what I do and the most challenging one as time goes by. My sources of inspiration are wide and varied, they range from ancient, modern to contemporary art, fashion, couture and of course the present. It’s all about mixing them with my first hand experiences of life as we call it.
What is your creative philosophy?
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