Francis Kurkdjian (born in Paris on May 14, 1969) is a French contemporary perfumer and winner of the Prix François Coty in 2001 for his lifetime achievements. He was made famous at age 26 for designing the scent of Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier, one of the world best selling perfumes. This was followed by an additional forty creations for major perfume companies worldwide. Some of these creations include the Elie Saab Le Parfum (Elie Saab), My Burberry (Burberry), L'extase (Nina Ricci) and Narciso Rodriguez for her (Narciso Rodriguez). In 2009, he co-founded luxury fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdjian with French-Lebanese businessman and ex Ernst & Young partner Marc Chaya, now a major global player in the luxury niche fragrance segment.
Francis Kurkdjian was born in Paris, France on 14 May 1969 to Armenian parents. The Kurkdjian family had at once fled the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genocide and had settled in France after being deported and relocated to Aleppo. Having been exposed to music and dancing at a young age, Francis Kurkdjian wanted to be a ballet dancer during his youth. However, he failed passing the competition to study at the Paris Opera School of Dance in 1983. Kurkdjian, who already had an interest in perfume making since he was thirteen years old, decided in 1985 to become a perfumer. In 1990, Kurkdjian entered the Institut Supérieur International du Parfum, de la Cosmétique et de l'Aromatique Alimentaire (ISIPCA), a perfume school located in Versailles, France. He graduated from ISIPCA in 1993 and joined Quest International in Paris the same year. Kurkdjian continued his studies and obtained a master's degree from the Paris Institute of Luxury Marketing.
In 1995, at the age of twenty-six, Kurkdjian created Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier, one of the world's best selling perfumes. This became Kurkdjian's first success at perfume making. This was followed by more than 40 creations for major fashion designers and houses.
Besides selling his scents to major fashion designers and houses in the beginning of his new career, Kurkdjian opened the pathways to a new vision, lending his talent to contemporary artists, re-creating Marie Antoinette’s favorite perfume for Palace of Versailles, going back in time to the early 17th century and the sources of perfumery.
Kurkdjian has also created gigantic olfactory installations in emblematic spaces, making people dream with his ephemeral and spectacular perfumed performances and was honoured the "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres" by French Government in 2008.
He was the first to open his bespoke fragrances atelier in 2001, going against the trend of perfume democratization.
In 2006, Kurkdjian redeveloped the Papier d'Arménie for the year of Armenia in France. Papier d'Arménie, a type of Armenian paper produced in France, is a room deodorizing product sold as booklets of twelve sheets of paper each cut into three pieces, which are coated with benzoin resin, the dried sap of styrax trees.
He co-founded his own luxury fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdjian with business partner Marc Chaya in 2009 near the Place Vendôme in Paris. The Maison Francis Kurkdjian is now a major player in the niche luxury fragrance segment with more than 300 locations worldwide.
Awards and recognition
Among Kurkdjian's awards include:
- Winner of the François Coty perfumer (Oct 2001)
- Award for the collective body of his creative work
- Cosmetique Magazine's best perfumer of year 2008
- Named Chevalier of Arts and Letters (July 2008)
- WWD Beauty Biz Award, Maison Francis Kurkdjian
- Breakthrough product of the year Fine Fragrance (2009)
- Cosmetique Lagazine's best niche mixte perfume for Aqua Universalis (June 2010)
List of creations
- Acqua di Parma: Iris Nobile (co-signed with Françoise Caron), 2004
- Baccarat: Rouge 540, 2014
- Burberry: My Burberry, 2014 - Mr Burberry, 2016
- Carven: Le Parfum, 2013
- Christian Lacroix: C'est la fête (co-signed with Jean Jacques), 2007
- Dior: Cologne Blanche and Eau Noire, 2005
- Davidoff: Silver Shadow, 2005
- Elie Saab: Le Parfum, 2011 - Le Parfum, eau de toilette, 2012
- Elizabeth Arden: Green Tea, 1999
- Emanuel Ungaro: Apparition (co-signed with Françoise Caron), 2004 - Le Parfum, 2007
- Escada: Lily Chic, year 2000 Edition
- Ferragamo: F by Ferragamo, 2006
- Guerlain: Rose Barbare, 2005
- Giorgio Armani: Armani Mania, 2002
- Indult: Isvaraya, 2007 - Manakara, 2007 - Thiota, 2007 - pour Colette C16, 2008
- Jean-Paul Gaultier: Le Mâle, 1995 - Fragile, 1999 - Gaultier Puissance2, 2005 - Fleur du Mâle, 2007 - Eau d'Amour, 2008 - Ligne de beauté Monsieur (co-signed with Nathalie Le Cann), 2008 - MaDame, 2008
- Joop !: Muse, 2004
- Juliette Has a Gun: Miss Charming, 2007 - Lady Vengeance, 2007
- Kenzo: KenzoKi Lotus blanc, 2002
- Lancaster: Aquazur, 2004 - Aquasun, 2005
- Lancôme: Miracle Homme, 2001 - Miracle Homme l'Aquatonic, 2003
- Lanvin: Rumeur, 2006
- Narciso Rodriguez: For Her (co-signed with Christine Nagel), 2003 - For Him, 2007
- Nina Ricci: L'Extase, 2015
- Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Aqua Universalis, 2009 - APOM femme, 2009 - APOM homme, 2009 - Cologne pour le matin, 2009 - Cologne pour le soir, 2009 - Lumière Noire femme, 2009 - Lumière Noire homme, 2009 - Absolue pour le matin, 2010 - Absolue pour le soir, 2010 - Aqua Universalis forte, 2011 - OUD, 2012 - Amyris femme, 2012 - Amyris homme, 2012 – 754 for Bergdorf Goodman, 2012 - OUD cashmere mood, 2013 - OUD silk mood, 2013 - OUD velvet mood, 2013 - Aqua Vitae, 2013 - Féminin pluriel, 2014 - Masculin pluriel, 2014 - A la rose, 2014 - Oud satin mood, 2015 - Aqua Vitae forte, 2015, Baccarat Rouge 540, 2016.
- Van Cleef & Arpel: Summer and Autumn, 2004
- Versace: Versus Time for pleasures, 2002 - Jeans couture Glam, 2003
- Yves Saint Laurent: Kouros Eau d'été, 2002 - Kouros Cologne Sport, 2004
- Voir et être vu, Grand Palais Paris 2015/2016 - olfactive installation for the Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun exhibition
- Milan world expo 2015, Stratus 2015 - olfactive installation for Pavillon Lille 3000
- L'Art du Jardin, Grand Palais Paris, Flora Tournicota, 2013
- Chateau de Versailles, Sillage De La Reine - Re-creation of the scent of Queen Marie Antoinette, 2006
- Olfactive installations in the gardens of Versailles: Bosquet de l'orangerie, 2006 - PréamBulles, Bosquet des 3 fontaines, Bosquet de la Rocaille, 2007 and 2008
- Grand Palais, NoctamBulles: olfactive installation during the 2010 Paris great museum evening
- Shanghai expo 2010: Olfactive installation at the French Pavilion
- La Luce Degli Innocenti: Olfactive installation, Florence 2011
- Sophie Calle: The smell of Money, 2003
- Paris Garnier Opera: Pas de deux, eau de parfum, 2004
- "Francis Kurkdjian: Perfumers". NST Perfumes.
- "Francis Kurkdjian" (in French). Parfume et Aromes.
- Carter, Lee. "Francis Kurkdjian Is Creating His Own Olfactory Universe". Hint Fashion Magazine.
- "Armenians of the World-Fransis Kurkjyan". YouTube. Shant TV.
- "Biography". Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
- "Fragrances from the Past". cfi.co. 15 July 2014.
- "Francis Kurkdjian Fragrances". Sartorial Male.
- Molvar, Kari. "Eau Extraordinaire By Francis Kurkdjian". Vanity Fair.
- "Incense Paper by Maison Francis Kurkdjian". Lucky Scent.