Francis Kurkdjian Says We Won’t “Wear” Fragrance in the Future

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“My craft is very ancient in a way,” says perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, as he sinks deeper into a cream-colored couch at the Aman New York. “There is not much difference between myself and a perfumer 100 years ago.”

But a few blocks away looms a reminder that Kurkdjian’s role is, in fact, different from most: the LVMH Tower, which serves as the New York City headquarters for Christian Dior. In 2021, Kurkdjian was announced as the house’s perfume creation director, a title he holds in addition to founder of his own line, Maison Francis Kurkdjian (if you’ve ever walked through the Upper East Side, you’ve probably caught a whiff of one of his most famous — and famously duped — creations, the $325 Baccarat Rouge 540).

It’s not Kurkdjian’s first time working with Dior: He created three now-discontinued fragrances back in 2004, and before that, worked closely with perfumer Calice Becker at Givaudan in 1999 as she created the original J’Adore. Back then, as reported by Allure in 2007, the brief Becker received from executives was to create a perfume that was “sexy like a stiletto and as comfortable as a pair of Tod’s.” The resulting blend combined ylang-ylang, rose, and jasmine — and spawned a Charlize Theron-fronted franchise worth gazillions of dollars. (That is, of course, an unofficial estimate.)

Upon his appointment to Dior, Kurkdjian had his own set of marching orders: reinvent the brand’s fragrance juggernaut. He started in the brand’s archives, pouring through Christian Dior’s personal possessions and the house’s most emblematic designs. “Even if I want to create something new, I have 75 years of heritage behind me. It’s not just a fresh start. It’s a fresh start built on something already consistent,” says Kurkdjian.

One keepsake that caught his eye was a flower catalog from which Mr. Dior’s mother would order seeds for their family garden in Normandy. “Christian Dior had a fascination with and a love for flowers. He could name all of them by their Latin names,” Kurkdjian says. “He had 52 acres of land where he used to grow flowers for perfumes.” At the same time, Kurkdjian was inspired by the house’s use of gold in its fashions and accessories: “In French, l’or is gold. And when we say Dior, we pronounce it [almost the same way]. Dior is gold and gold is Dior.”

And thus Dior L’Or de J’Adore (say that three times fast) was born. The new bottle alludes to a sexier, more sensual take on the original. The signature amphora shape is the same but now those golden bracelets around the neck have been heated into dripping metal.

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