Miracle Water: Francis Kurkdjian’s New Scents Recall A Time When We Drank Colognes For Our Health - Lifestyle Asia

Three new additions to his maison’s Forte collection are inspired by a scent’s ‘inside-out’ effect.

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“Freshness is to perfume what water is to life on earth: essential,” says Francis Kurkdjian. It is this quality that the French perfumer harkens back as his maison unveils three new versions of his Aqua fragrances within the Cologne Fortecollection.

Here’s a fun fact: eau de cologne was originally intended as a medicinal drink, created by Giovani Paolo Feminis at the end of the 17th century. Knowledgeable of plants, fruits, and flowers, the Italian fancied himself as somewhat of a healer.

His Aqua Mirabilis, or “miracle water,” was first used as medicine to kill infections and bacteria. To underscore this historical tidbit, this original purpose has found new popularity in light of the COVID pandemic.

Health inside-out

Through the birth of his maison in 2009 with co-founder and CEO Marc Chaya, Kurkdjian has wanted to revive the spirit of the eau de Cologne. This aim has given way to the Aqua Universalis, which was quickly joined by two other olfactory profiles, Aqua Vitae and Aqua Celestia.

The inspiration for these fragrances, Kurkdjian explains, can be encapsulated by the latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano,” or “a healthy body in a healthy mind.”

“I thus wished to reconnect with the tradition of the Eau de Cologne which, in its original form, was also drinkable, creating a visible ‘inside-outside’ effect,” the perfumer of Armenian descent says. “What is good for my body is also good for my mind.”

Fragrance freshness

Today, Kurkdjian continues this thread with the launch of three new versions of his Aqua fragrances within the Cologne forte collection: Aqua Universalis Cologne forte, Aqua Vitae Cologne forte, and Aqua Celestia Cologne forte. First launched in 2011, the collection’s name is a musical reference, aiming to convey intensity.    

“I wanted to bring a new light to this Aqua collection and a new caliber to the forte range, keeping in mind that the idea of freshness could also be explored starting from the sensations induced by light,” says the 52-year-old of the 2021 varieties.

Freshness is the dominant theme of these new scents, driven mostly its fundamental ingredient of bergamot, which was also the traditional hero of the eau de cologne. The bergamot comes from Calabria and it is joined by Egyptian jasmine, French mimosa, and blackcurrant in the new formulation.

Harmonious music

But what makes this fresh formulation different from the original Aqua, which is more than a decade its senior? Kukrdjian goes back again to music for a metaphor.

“Imagine a musical composition played on the piano, then imagine the same composition played by a symphony orchestra,” he explains. “The melody stays the same but you feel the composition more intensely, it becomes more emotional because it fills up more space.”

From left: Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte; Aqua Universalis Cologne Fortes; Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte

This same principle applies to the new fragrances. Their “concentration has been increased so as to find the right balance between freshness and a long-lasting trail. I think the result is more refined and asserts the olfactory signature of each inspiration,” Kurkdjian says of the gender-neutral collection.

For more information, visit Rustan’s.

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