By Francis Kurkdjian, perfumer
The Perfumer and the Flower

My second fragrant note is dedicated to flowers – a natural choice with the arrival of spring. With their multiple varieties and innumerable facets, flowers represent an infinite source of inspiration and creation. However, that doesn’t make them any less challenging when it comes to composing. Reinventing this olfactory family, which has won the favour of perfumers and the general public alike, is always a highly ambitious task.

The rise of floral fragrances dates back to the 18th century. At the time, floral motifs were invading the decorative arts while the popularity of musky fragrances was on the decline. Floral scents created as a tribute to Royalties and Monarchs (bouquet à la Reine, bouquet d'or du Roi), Emperors (bouquet Napoléon) or inspired from English aristocracy (bouquet des dames anglaises) began appearing on the dressing tables of elegant ladies and refined gentlemen. But floral compositions really took off around 1880 with the introduction of synthetic molecules. Not only did extraction methods alter the olfactory facets of flowers whose essential oils could be obtained, but most of these flowers were “mute” to perfumers! Undoubtedly among the most famous of these were lily-of-the-valley and violet, which, like many other flowers, do not produce an essential oil. 

Flowers fascinate me with their diversity.

Rose, orange blossom, tuberose, jasmine, mimosa, lavender, narcissus, sweet acacia, broom and daffodil openly share their secrets, while all other species behave like olfactory mirages that emerge solely through the combined magic of the perfumer and chemical science.

The study of flowers is complex. Their nuances and diversity are olfactory treasures that have been linked to femininity by convention and tradition. Exceptions to this rule include lavender, traditionally used for men, orange and violet blossom, also adapted – in moderation – to masculine fragrances.

Flowers naturally take pride of place in the Maison’s olfactory wardrobe. I love playing with their silhouettes, their powerful sillage and the aura they bring to my compositions. Infinitely fresh in Aqua Universalis, sunny in Le Beau Parfum, subtle in Baccarat Rouge 540 and predominant in Amyris femme, they are also present in some of my men’s fragrances, including APOM, Lumière Noire and masculin Pluriel.

Whether wild or cultivated, natural or synthetic, flowers fascinate me with their beauty and universal language.