Wanted's beauty editor Nokubonga Thusi chats with Francis Kurkdjian.
Wanted's beauty editor Nokubonga Thusi chats with Francis Kurkdjian.
Image: Supplied

You created cult scents like Le Male and Baccarat Rouge 540, but you also make bespoke fragrances. What should our readers know before they ring you up to commission one?

A custom scent is a celebration: It could be a birthday celebration, the birth of a child, or even an anniversary. It’s like a bottle of champagne — some people open one to celebrate and sometimes people open them just to drink every day.

Have a minimum of €30,000 in the bank: There is an entry point price [for a custom-made fragrance]. The reason why it’s so high is because it takes a lot of time. People think that creating a fragrance is easy, but it requires many hours to listen to people, just to create a scent and come up with something new.

It’s all about the raw materials: The prices of the raw materials that I use for the scents differ. I have one quality of rose oil, lavender oil — basically one quality of all my raw materials. I don’t have cheaper materials and more expensive ones. The best quality of lemon oil is about €80. Good lavender oil is €350 but iris is about €82,000. So if you asked me to create a very fresh, lemony, zesty fragrance, it’s about an average of €60. If you want rose oil, which is about €12,000, blended with iris, you understand that, for one bottle, you’re in a different price range.


1. Aqua Universalis, 70ml, R2,510

It means universal water and the idea behind it was to create the ultimate fresh scent – the ultimate fresh experience.

My idea for Aqua Universalis was to translate the feeling of freshness, not the smell of freshness – there is a big difference.  The feeling of cleanliness, it's a bit more elevated, a bit more refined.  So I think Aqua is great, it's like a pair of jeans and a white shirt – like a basic.

2. Baccarat Rouge 540 Extrait de parfum, 70ml, R5,700

This is a best seller and a crowd pleaser for anyone.

3. Aqua Celestia, 70ml, R2,510

It's very bright and the idea behind it was where the sky meets the sea with the two blues blurring in the horizon.  It brings an inner feeling of joy and the scent uplifts the mood.

4. Féminin Pluriel, 70ml, R2,705

For women, I like this scent because it’s the idea of capturing all the facets of femininity in one scent. It's very feminine but not in the girly way, I don’t really like girly perfumes - I don’t like those types of cliques.  

5. Amyris Femme, 70ml, R2,705

The name comes from a wood that comes from Jamaica called Amyris. It also has another name called West Indian Sandalwood and it’s a great scent as well.

Find the house’s eponymous fragrances at franciskurkdjian.com, or at skins.co.za.

 From the March issue of Wanted 2020.

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