Baccarat Rouge 540's Maison Francis Kurkdjian invites us to their fragrance counter at Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh

It’s in their ground floor beauty hall note-0

By Gaby Soutar
Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 4:45 pm
Maison Francis Kurkdjian at Harvey Nichols
Maison Francis Kurkdjian at Harvey Nichols

Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian was the nose behind Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male.

Anyone who was around in the Nineties will remember this ubiquitous fragrance, in its blue striped torso bottle.

Paris-based 52-year-old Kurkdjian designed this, and a couple of other blockbusters, back in his twenties, before launching his eponymous perfume house, Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Although the luxury brand has been around since 2009, their smart concession, through a golden arch, on the ground floor of Edinburgh’s Harvey Nichols is only two-years-old.

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I’m shown round by fragrance expert, Eva Carlo, though the experts at the counter are always here to help.

Although I do own a bottle of 2014 release, A La Rose, which is a dewy floral, I’m not that familiar with the other perfumes, in their cubic glass bottles.

However, I have recently heard people going crazy for Baccarat Rouge 540. It was released in 2005, but is having a moment after creating a storm on social media, including TikTok. Carlo has no idea why it should have a renaissance now. I have a whiff of this bestseller, which was originally commissioned by the crystal manufacturer, and was inspired by one of the chandeliers and its signature red crystal detail. There are notes of saffron, bitter almond and ambergris (they use the synthetic stuff these days, rather than the whale by-product).

It’s very beautiful, and subtle.

Among many others, I also try Kurkdjian’s Oud. Apparently, the resinous oud - otherwise known as agarwood - is hugely popular, and every perfume house has to have a version these days. He originally wasn’t keen to create a genre on demand, but I’m glad he did, because their Oud is gorgeous. The smokey-ness makes me think of whisky. This is a Scotland-in-winter sort of scent.

Other gorgeous launches include Amyris, which features iris root and the eponymous wood, which is sourced from Jamaica. According to Carlo, it contains so much oil that people fishing at night will light a branch and use it as a torch – hence its alternative name, sea torchwood. Also, there’s the unisex Aqua Universalis - an “ethereal and fresh” blend of bergamot, musk and citrus. Kurkdjian created this based on the crisp white shirt he wears every day. It’s Carlos’s favourite.

There’s also the Gentle Fluidity duo, based on a non-binary concept. The one in the gold bottle is called gentle Fluidity, and the silver one is Gentle fluidity. Originally they were going to call them Gender Fluidity, but a graphic designer made a fortuitous spello.

Both contain the same ingredients, but in different amounts. First I like the silver one best, then the gold, then vice versa.

Their newest launch is the Aqua Cologne Forte range of three summery perfumes. My favourite is Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte, which comes in an apricot-coloured bottle and is musky and honeyed, like warm skin after sunbathing.

Whether you were ever a fan of Le Male or not, follow your nose to this concession.

Harvey Nichols, 30-34 St Andrew Square,

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