Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris pour Homme, 2012

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Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian

The gender pairing in perfumery always bothers me.

(product) pour homme

(product) pour femme

My general complaints revolve around mistaking the arbitrary for the essential. Dresses/trousers. Pink/blue. Princess ballerina/andro-jock. It’s all bad fiction to me. Must an idea be tailored in different ways for men and women to understand it? Please don’t feel the need to do it on my account.

Or is it just marketing?

Take a perfume brief. Make two versions of it. Sell one to men and one to women. Is it just a jaded practicality that’s intrinsic to marketing?

Amyris Homme plays with the same set of ideas as Amyris Femme and can be considered its counterpart. They both juggle fruity and woody tones and they both play delicately with convention. Apparently, both the gyno and andro versions are based on torchwood or amyris, some botanical thingamabob that very few people would know of. I suppose it’s the açai berry of perfumey.

Homme is interesting for the way it manages to be sweet and sour at the same time. It feels sugared, not so much a flavor as a degree of sweetness. The sweetness seems like an attempt to compensate for an inherent tartness in the same way that sweet-tea in the American South is so heavily sugared that the tannin of the tea is undetectable.

Like its girly counterpart, the boy Amyris uses fruity, watery, woody scents that are almost melon-like and yet creamy in tone. They come within a hair’s width of a conventional sensibility. It is this nearness to normalcy that makes the two so fascinating. Are they subversive? Are they conventional, giving you what you recognize, but one centimeter beyond what you’ve already experienced? I can’t quite tell.

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