Maison Francis Kurkdijan Cologne pour le Soir, 2009

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(image, Le Male Frida Kahlo by Debora Pota)

Perfumer Francis Kurkdijan

Traditional Eaux de Cologne are designed to take advantage of the volitile qualities of citrus materials. The basic structure of composition is concise and most Colognes smell alike. Cologne is associated with its characteristic smells: hesperidic notes (citrus fruit, leaves, woods) herbs, florals, musk. Kurkdijan reinvents the Cologne by throwing away the recipe and looking more closely at the dynamics.

He reconstructs the Eau de Cologne not on hesperidic notes, but on benzoin and rose, materials you might expect to find weighing down the classic oriental. He pares down rose and benzoin, making them lighter than air yet true to character. By focusing on the qualities and timeframe of the experience, Kurkdijan remains true to the sensibility of the Cologne, but gives us something new.

In traditional Cologne the topnotes have a half life measured in minutes. Kurkdijan extends the topnotes of Cologne pour le Soir, giving them a less rushed pace and fragrance unfolds with a confident stride. The spiced resinous drydown is a logical conclusion to the fragrance yet feels as novel as the topnotes. At the start of the fragrance Kurkdijan reconsiders the Cologne but in the end, Cologne pour le Soir reinvents the Oriental. It has a subtle intensity and sidesteps both the weight of the traditional oriental and the ringing ‘radiance’ of the modern woody amber. Cologne pour le Soir highlights Kurkdijan’s talent for incorporating new olfactory configurations into his fragrances without fanfare. He avoids gimmickry, instead focussing on the overall integrity of his fragrances. Despite its conceptual basis, Cologne pour le Soir feels effortless. Kurkdijan done the heavy lifting and we can kick back and enjoy the ride.

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