Monday, November 04, 2013

Maison Francis Kurkdjian- Aqua Vitae

I get it.I understand what Francis Kurkdjian intended to give us in his Aqua Vitae. I'm just not convinced that it was necessary.

Luminous sunshine, cool breeze, the pleasure of being alive and in the moment. Mr. Kurkdjian says:  "Aqua Vitae, the water of life, when life is quite simply beautiful, an extremely sensitive sensuality enveloped with an uncontained freshness". His way of expressing it is with an ephemeral sweet citrus with a light water-washed woody base. Where have we smelled this before?

Aqua Vitae has a refinement that's missing from many fragrances in this genre. If you pay careful attention you notice that this is not an aquatic calone monster that screams its freshness. There's none of the vulgarity I find in the 1990s in-your-face fresh citrus bombs that try too hard to convince you of their cleanliness. But at the end of the day, what we get from Aqua Vitae is the same sheer minimalism we know and love (or not). Everything about this fragrance is understated: the development from juicy lemon to a barely-there driftwood and summer skin lacks drama; it's the olfactory equivalent of "blink and you miss it". So I try to stay awake and take it all in, but the reality is that there's not that much in there, and before I know it the ride is over.

The lack of tenacity isn't helping Aqua Vitae's case. I don't necessarily require the longevity of Absolue Pour le Soir  but I have no desire to spray every twenty minutes even when I'm at home. If I'm out and about in the open air Aqua Vitae vanishes even more quickly. Considering that there are quite a few cologne-type fragrances that are more satisfying, I'm having a hard time cutting Mr. Kurkdjian the necessary slack.

Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian has an incredible range. He can do super-commercial bestsellers that don't insult the intelligence of the customer (Elie Saab, Gaultier Le Male, Narciso Rodriguez For Her ), he can do drugstore classics (Elizabeth Arden Green Tea), and he can do intense beauty that touches the soul (Guerlain Rose Barbare and his own Oud and Absolue Pour le Soir). This is some serious versatility; virtuosity even,   and it leads to very high expectation for this new perfume from Kurkdjian's Maison. These expectations don't include going all Ellena and trying to recreate the scent of water.

Notes: Lemon, mandarin, tonka bean, vanilla infusion, hedione and guaiac wood.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian- Aqua Vitae ($185, 70ml EDT) is available from Osswald, Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, and select department stores. The sample for this review was supplied by Osswald.

Photo by Matthieu Belin for his FASHION FICTIONS collaboration with 生活 CHINA LIFE Magazine.


  1. Hi there, I love your blog and am just catching up on many of your posts. I totally concur with you on this fragrance. I've tried a few from his own line and I think Absolue Pour le Soir, Oud and Lumiere Noire pour Femme are absolutely beautiful scents but this one is rather insipid. I read somewhere that it was one of his best sellers though so it definitely has wide appeal.

  2. I was debating Francis Kurkdjian myself today.To me I summed it up as...he is technically perfect .Sometimes it is all a little too perfect. I hear Absolu Pour Le Soir is being discontinued .It is the only one from his line that I see him breaking a little away from is polite perfection .
    I do love and admire his creations .I bought Oud Cashmere Mood and I love his Oud which he described as his 'masterpiece.' APOM Pour Femme , APLS, Aqua Universalis Forte is wonderful !
    I do not know how many more fresh scents he needs in his line up though ....... I wish he would create something truly outrageously daring .


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