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"Gender fluid" perfumes by Francis Kurkdjian

February 6 2019

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When the question of "gender fluid", people who do not define themselves according to their original sex, began to emerge a few years ago, the perfumer wondered what was the determining factor in perfume. He gave the most beautiful answer: with the same list of ingredients he created two different formulas, without assigning them to a particular sex. The launch of these two perfume waters with the same name - Gentle Fluidity - took place in January. Meet. - Isabelle Cerboneschi, Paris.

Francis Kurkdjian is part of this first wave of independent perfumers who decided to create their own perfume house on the sidelines of large groups.

We met for the first time in 2001, when he created his custom perfumery workshop. He already had some great successes in perfumery, including Jean Paul Gaultier's Le Mâle, a scent for a revolutionary man because at the limit of genres, already.

In XNUMX, he co-founded with Marc Chaya, the Maison Francis Kurkdjian . Twenty years later, in January XNUMX, he launches two eau d parfums with the same name: Gentle Fluidity. Two fragrances inspired by a social phenomenon.

When we started talking about gender fluid, people who do not recognize themselves in their original gender, or who prefer to swing from one to the other, Francis Kurkdjian wondered what it might be like in the field of perfumery. "A water of Cologne was a beginning of answer. But that was not enough for me. To be gender fluid is to feel that with the same DNA, we have two different identities. To translate this concept into perfumery, I thought that I would create a perfume that is like silk. Silk does not have sex. If I make a tie, by convention it will be male and if I make a dress, by convention it will become feminine. I thought it would be interesting to make two perfumes with the same list of raw materials that would allow me to express two different identities. "

There is a gold version and a silver version of Gentle Fluidity, but none mentions a gender: the first is an oriental-musky and the second an aromatic woody. "In the main ingredients we find a berry of juniper, which expresses the freshness in men's perfumes but we can also put a trace in the floral perfumes, because it brings them a" naturalness ". There is coriander essence, which is also ambivalent: depending on the dosage, it is on the border between a spicy flower and a sage. I chose nutmeg, which does not really have a gender. A note is not feminine or masculine: there is jasmine in Eau Sauvage perfume by Christian Dior, which is the archetype of the masculine perfume. Everything is a matter of concentration and balance between the notes. In both Gentle Fluidity we find a musky accord, a wood-amber and a vanilla accord. I worked both perfumes in parallel and I refined the formula to the maximum to express what I wanted. "

With these two fragrances without genre, Francis Kurkdjian pushes distributors to rethink the presentation in department stores. "We are fortunate to have our own boutiques and our own corners in Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. But the consequence of the evolution of gender in society will be complex for distribution. If we decide tomorrow that objects are no longer governed by the feminine or masculine gender where will things be put? "Asks the perfumer.

This question, the house theArtisan Parfumeur has already been asked: all packagings, all stores have been redesigned and have become gender free. A customer chooses the fragrance that attracts him intuitively without asking himself who he was designed for. "In the United States, the younger generations claim this non-separation of genres, says the perfumer. The pressure will become stronger and stronger. This is going to be a huge project to put in place. In my collection I Apom Homme et Apom Femme. What will I do with it? One day or another I will have to give an answer. "

The question raised by Francis Kurkdjian goes beyond the domain of perfume. In 1994, Calvin Klein launched the CKOne eau de toilette, the first "unisex" fragrance claimed as such. The designer also dreamed of unisex fashion, cut in the same way for men and women. At the time it was mainly to save money on production costs: it is much cheaper to make everything on the basis of a single body type. Except that the designer was almost thirty years ahead of time. "It was not the same claim: in the 1990 years, we were still girls and boys, even if we shared codes, clothes and perfumes, says the perfumer. Today, complexity comes from the desire to erase genres. I read in the New York Times the story of parents raising their children as non-genre: they do not want to reveal their biological sex to give them the choice to self-determine later. Today everything is "gendered", but maybe in fifty years we will be a human being who will be a man or a woman and who can have children with whom he wants, in the way he chooses. "

The two new eau de parfum of Maison Francis Kurkdjian should have been called Gender Fluidity, but when the perfumer asked his opinion of the director Ciryl Teste, with whom he worked on the piece Festen, there was a happy misunderstanding. "I was talking to him about the concept of Gender Fluidity, but with our respective bad English accents, he understood Gentle Fluidity. It is therefore he who has unintentionally found the name of the perfume. It's much better: in ten years, the concept of Gender Fluidity will be exceeded but I hope that perfumes will survive "

Creators are inspired by what they see, what they feel, to create. They do not necessarily change things, but they watch them. They take the pulse of society and give an aesthetic answer to this changing world. "A creator is connected to his time both from the inside, otherwise he can not understand it, but also from the outside, which allows him to have a vision, says Francis Kurkdjian. This is the first time that a subject of society has challenged me to this point that I wanted to approach it front on. And I'm pretty proud of my story. "

Gentle Fluidity perfumes are on sale at Francis Kurkdjian stores in Paris, 5 rue d'Alger, 7 rue des Blanc-Manteaux, on its corner at Printemps and Galerie Lafayette and from February at authorized distributors.