Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud (Review): An interesting challenge…
Francis Kurkdjian could be described in a variety of ways. His body of work — as commissioned for perfumers from Jean-Paul Gaultier to Guerlain, Lancome to Lanvin, Dior to Demeter — is exceptional and prolific, including the work he’s created for his own house since 2009. Kurkdijan is also in many ways mercurial as seen through the lens of previous interviews, and has expressed strong opinions about those who would be critics of his work, fairly or otherwise.
Love him or hate him, he’s created a cult of personality and a look at his body of work places him in the company of a select group of perfumers whose name carries instant recognition. Even if that body of work is sometimes difficult to comprehend, as can be the case when comparing the extremes of his portfolio and sometimes his own house’s creations. It was for that reason, I felt a bit challenged to understand his interpretations to notes and themes, beginning with Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud.
Fragrance Name: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud (2012):
- Release Date:2012
- Perfumer: Francis Kurkdjian
- Concentration: Eau de Parfum
- Notes: Oud from Laos, Philippine elemi, saffron, cedar, patchouli
- Availability: Certain Neiman-Marcus locations, Osswald, other boutiques.
Initially, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud is not an easy scent to understand as it challenges the sense of what an oud fragrance would/could/should be. Yes, the theme isn’t immediately apparent, and in my first few samplings, I was admittedly lost in the interpretation of the scent. Those seeking a heavy, medicinal oud note will come away disappointed as it’s somewhat unconventional. In the cacophony of scents that is the current “Oud craze”, this is not what you expect, and during one of my samplings, I commented to a fellow reviewer that “I’m not getting it.”
Clearly I was missing something, and I came into this with a clear mind other than the notion of the moniker for the fragrance: Oud. By comparison to most of its category contemporaries, this was much more sheer and linear, somewhat slow to develop on my skin. Then something happened one weekend when I sat working my way through the entire MFK collection. Having tried everything from APOM to Amyris, Cologne and the Absolues, and eventually back to Oud:
I finally got it. This was more a discovery and revelation that you cannot sample casually, but an experience in which to be immersed. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud requires an investment in time. Once you’ve done so, you begin to understand that this isn’t trying to fit the mold but to take the element in a somewhat softer direction, though not one the adulterates or diminishes the core element. The surrounding saffron develops to a certain richness, and the elemi adds a certain resinous feeling to it. Compared to something such as Creed Royal Oud — I’ll explain why I’ve used this as an example momentarily — each is a different interpretation, a different outcome, a different composition, and each yields a unique and elegant experience. Both are similar in one aspect: Price.
The 75 ml of Creed Royal Oud is priced at $325. The 70ml size of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud, $300. Clearly we are in the same price-point, though the Kurkdjian fragrance in my view was a much more subtle experience in its overall outcome and impression. Reaching that, however, could prove challenging and the Kurkdjian creation contains such a level of subtlety and sophistication that will be lost on most as MFK Oud doesn’t reach out to snap you to a quick conclusion. Where the Creed might be love-at-first-smell, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud is more a courtship, something more inclined to draw you in slowly.
It’s challenging, yes. It’s an inspired interpretation. It’s not always easily understood, but if one views fragrance and perfumery as artwork, this will appeal to a very sophisticated palate on the correct canvas. It doesn’t appear that Kurkdjian wanted the wearer’s relationship to the fragrance to be ‘casual’.
Rating: 4/5. Recommended.
Bottom-Line: You may not understand it the first or even second time you’ve sampled it. But at some point, you will “get it”, and the objective underlying the scent will seem much more clear. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud requires patience, the right palate, and an appreciation of the subtle nuances of life.
Once you’re realized that, you’ll “get it” as well.