Kurkdjian excels at creating well turned-out perfumes. Smooth, seamless perfumes with lovely olfactory shapes and pleasant profiles. Of course, he also makes Cologne and Absolue pour le Soir, two of the dirtiest roses available, so he’s not limited to olfactory pleasantry. Still, most of the Maison Francis Kurkdjian perfumes have a mannered quality. Where various perfume lines promise Arabian fantasy or minimalism or narrative, MFK offers the comfort of normalcy. Only better. MFK gives us the mainstream, but with a perfection that negates the inherent dullness found in middle of the road.
Take the Amyrises. They are luxe versions of what you might find on the department store fragrance counters at any given moment—they are designed to be. They might not draw your attention at a distance, but up close the fit looks just too good to be off-the-rack. They balance a prim detachment with a wink to let you know that there’s more here than just an idealized designer perfume.
Baccarat shares the refined, muted quality of the Amyrises but not their designer style. It is more abstract and uncluttered. The polish, the precious-metal glow that many of Kurkdjian’s perfumes have is there, but the shape is less conventional. It riffs on a mainstream sensibility, but less so than the Amyrises.
The opening of the perfume matches the the nearly-fruity scent of fir to a juicy orange but cuts the sweetness with a mineral edge. The saltiness and a cotton-candy note circle each other, yet Baccarat 540 skips the lingering caramel predictability of the current run of praline perfumes. The specific notes seem to recede over time as large olfactory images come into focus. A marine/ambergris shape gives a balanced, synthetic profile to the heartnotes. The sweet/nutty pairing holds together through the drydown giving a cozy coherence from top to bottom.
Edgy? Not in the least.
Interesting? Try it and see.
(image. by Melody Melamed)