By Francis Kurkdjian, perfumer
Raw materials have no gender

Women’s or men’s fragrances. Gender-neutral or unisex fragrances. Many questions and obstacles persist about gender in perfumery. Are certain raw materials more specifically feminine or masculine? Is our perception of feminine and masculine cultural or conventional? In perfumery, like in fashion, raw materials have no gender and are shaped by the perfumer’s creativity and know-how.

Fragrances mirror our civilizations. They are a reflection of their era, and naturally adapt to changing times. Women have always let their tastes guide them, and are more audacious than men when it comes to shunning stereotypes. Continuing the analogy with fashion, Western women have fought for and gained the freedom to wear pants while keeping their femininity intact in the eyes of society. However, a man in a skirt or dress stands out, and his masculinity is immediately questioned. The large majority of women’s fragrances are floral. If a woman doesn’t like flowers, she can – unambiguously and with absolutely no impact on her femininity – embrace men’s fragrances, and even proudly expose her masculine side.

Forget about the ingredient and surrender to your emotions.

Men, on the other hand, are much more timid about adopting women’s perfumes. But in the Middle East, men wear very flowery scents, often containing rose or jasmine, without putting their virility on the line, because it's an integral part of their Eastern culture.

Just like in fashion, raw materials in perfumery have no gender. They are neither feminine nor masculine, it’s the way the perfumer blends them that gives them their inflection. For instance, silk is genderless until it is held in the hands of a stylist, who will just as easily turn it into a scarf as a tie. In perfumery, the idea is exactly the same. A natural or synthetic raw material offers a rich variety of olfactory facets, and reveals itself when combined with other ingredients. Take juniper berry – a rising, ultra-fresh, aromatic note with a “gin” effect. When overdosed, it exudes intense freshness, like in Gentle fluidity, Silver edition. Whereas a small quantity of juniper berry adds naturalness to a flower, as in gentle Fluidity, Gold edition. Orange blossom is another example. Combined with ylang-ylang, it creates a floral, sunny, captivating effect that we recognize in APOM femme. But orange blossom’s fresh, zesty facets take on a more aromatic personality when combined with bergamot and lavender, as in APOM homme.

My creations have a gender that it is up to each individual to embody, or even define.