Neiman Marcus at Mazza Gallerie recently gave me a large sample of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis ($145-195). It's divine.
According to his biography, Francis Kurkdjian was not born in Grasse as many French perfumers were, nor did he come from a long family heritage of French perfumers. As a child, he studied piano and dance. A lovely piano melody plays as you peruse his Web site. It's so calming, you should visit when you want to relax!
At age 15 (when most of use haven't determined our future course), he decided he would become a perfumer, and in 1995, when he was 25, he created his first perfume, La Male, for Jean Paul Gaultier. Since then, he has created dozens of fragrances, and you know their names, even if you don't know his. Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile, Dior Cologne Blanche and Eau Noire, F by Ferragamo, and Emmanuel Ungaro are just a few. His work as a perfumer reached a milestone in 2009 (some sources say 2008) when he opened Maison Francis Kurkdjian in Paris.
Aqua Universalis Eau de Parfum is a fragrance for "everything, everyone, and all days." The name is Latin for "Universal Water," and the scent does what it says on the bottle. Francis Kurkdjian calls it the missing link between skin, clothes, bed linens, and the air, and he’s spot on. This light, sparkling eau de toilette could be spritzed by anyone, anywhere, anytime – but you’ll probably want to save it for your skin, since you can scent your house with the Aqua Universalis candle or incense paper and launder your clothes with the matching detergent.
The notes begin with a strong unisex fragrance of bergamot and lemon from Sicily. When you first apply the fragrance, it's almost masculine - certainly unisex. It starts to dry down quickly, though, and as it does, the lily of the valley and sweet mock orange white flower bouquet take over. From that point forward, it's soft and feminine. The fragrance culminates in sheer perfection with light and musky woods. It's not terribly long-lasting (a shame), but if you like it, reapply!
I never knew Francis Kurkdjian existed. Now that I've found him, I want to know more about his fragrances! I may have to order some samples from LuckyScent.
You can find Aqua Universalis at Neiman Marcus and LuckyScent. I found an interesting New York Times feature from 2008 that introduced him to the U.S. market.
Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus