Perfume is such an easy subject to lie about ~ an interview with Francis Kurkdjian, part 1

Francis Kurkdjian with bubbles

Today’s guest post is from Persolaise, the author of the Le Snob – Perfume guide, published by Hardie Grant. He is also the editor of the Persolaise blog, as well as a regular contributor to Basenotes. He has won four UK Jasmine Awards, most recently for Closer To Heaven, a guide to incense perfumes which appeared in The Scented Letter.

I can’t believe that almost three years have passed since I last interviewed Francis Kurkdjian. For a while, his face was a regular fixture on my blog, headlining posts which invariably featured strong opinions and controversial views, many of which prompted readers to share their own feelings in the Comments section. But, for one reason or another, after a flurry of meetings, our paths refused to cross for months on end.

During that time, his eponymous brand has grown in stature and popularity: he now has his own boutiques in Taiwan and Malaysia. He’s continued to make perfumes for high-street names (Jean-Paul Gaultier, Nina Ricci, Yves Rocher). And he’s become an in-house creator, of sorts, for Burberry, Carven and Elie Saab. At the start of February, he popped into London’s Liberty store for an ‘Evening With A Perfumer’ event organised by The Perfume Society. But before facing his fans, he kindly agreed to have an exclusive chat with me, over a cup of coffee and a biscuit…

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Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy

I Try To Take You By The Hand: Jean-Claude Ellena At The Launch Of Le Jardin De Monsieur Li

Jean-Claude Ellena

Today’s guest post is from Persolaise, the author of the Le Snob – Perfume guide, published by Hardie Grant. He is also the editor of the Persolaise blog, as well as a regular contributor to Basenotes. He has won three UK Jasmine Awards, most recently for Guardians Of The Past – A Trip To The Osmotheque. He attended the press launch of Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li in February (and you can find his review of the fragrance here).

There was no escape. From across the other side of the room, an actress clad in black caught your eye. She strode across to you, her gaze locked on yours, her head fixed in that infuriatingly perfect immobility which only dancers and stage performers seem to be able to pull off. Then, when she was a few paces away, you noticed she was holding a long, narrow tube. With smooth movements, she raised it and brought one end close to one of your ears. The other end neared her mouth. And then she whispered, slowly, breathily, pausing after each word. “What is difficult… is to be open… to the open… in the open.” She searched your face for a reaction, but you didn’t have the heart to tell her that you found all of this rather peculiar. So she gave you an enigmatic smile and wandered off, probably to look for another unsuspecting ear.

The setting for this bizarre exchange was the pagoda on Paris’ Rue De Courcelles, the venue chosen by Hermès for the launch of Le Jardin De Monsieur Li.

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I Wrote it with Your Voices in My Head

alyssa-coverAlyssa Harad

Note: Alyssa Harad is the author of Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride, published in hardback last year. The new paperback edition comes out later this month. You can read our Q&A with Alyssa here, or read an excerpt from the book, The Tuberose of My Resistance. Also check out this video interview from Idaho Public Television, or just read through all her old posts on Now Smell This — she used to be a regular contributor here.

Well friends, it’s been quite a year. When Robin first suggested I someday write a guest post about the move “from blog to book,” I was living in the frenetic state of suspended animation common to new authors a month before publication. There were endless things to do, but none of them felt real. Every morning when I woke up, my palms tingled, a symptom I still haven’t deciphered. Life was so uncertain that I slipped into perfume monogamy, reaching for the cheerful elegance of L’Artisan’s Fleur d’Oranger over and over again.

My primary emotions were excitement, terror and gratitude. I was excited because the thing I had just spent nearly three years working on was about to make its way into the world. I was terrified for exactly the same reason.

Coming to My Senses is a true story, a portrait of people and communities I love. I wrote it hoping I could recreate for others the intensity of the pleasure I’d found, not just in perfume and its beauties, but the people and stories — a whole new way of life, really — that came along with it…

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The Tuberose of My Resistance

Coming to My Senses by Alyssa HaradAlyssa Harad

Note: the following is an excerpt from Alyssa Harad’s (yes, our Alyssa!) just-published Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride. Tomorrow, join us again for a Q&A with Alyssa about her new book.

Andy Warhol, who knew a thing or two about perfume and cool (a serious devotee, he was buried clutching a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Beautiful), wrote that perfume is another great way to take up space. Nobody knows this better than adolescents, even if they generally all want to take up exactly the same kind of space.

Perhaps you remember clouds of Alyssa Ashley and Drakkar Noir, or Anais Anais and CK One. In my junior high, Ralph Lauren reigned supreme. The boys–the right boys–wore Polo, splashing it on with abandon from the handsome hunter-green bottles they kept in their lockers. Their female counterparts patrolled the halls in clouds of the original Lauren, passing that deep-red square bottle from girl to girl until all were fully anointed.

Polo was a swoon-worthy scent of deep, smoky-sweet woods and gentlemanly confidence, good even when broadcast at very high volume…

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Yes, you are a (perfume) nerd

Guerlain Les Parisiennes + NES controller

About the author: Arielle Weinberg is a Johns Hopkins University Natural Sciences major and aspiring perfumer. She writes about perfume, Star Trek, and her cat for her perfume blog, Scents of Self.

Hi there, Now Smell This! We’re going to start things off with a little quiz!

1. Do you read blogs about perfume? (We know that you read at least one!)

2. Have you ever had to correct a perfume salesperson?

3. Can you name at least three perfumers?

4. Have you ever attended a meet-up or convention for perfume lovers?

5. Do friends give you concerned looks when they see the size of your perfume collection?

6. Are you prone to using perfumista lingo? Examples of perfumista lingo include “sillage monster”, “IFRA restrictions”, or “evil scent twin”.

7. Do you have a favorite classic Guerlain? (Pssst… Nahéma doesn’t count! It was released in 1979.)

8. Did you know that perfumes are frequently reformulated due to issues with ingredients or costs?

9. Do you have a system for keeping track of your perfume samples, such as a written catalogue or a computer spreadsheet?

10. Do you have strong opinions on the IFRA regulations of perfumery ingredients such as oakmoss and sandalwood?

If you answered “yes” to even a single one of these questions, congratulations! You are a nerd…

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