Universal Water – Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Perfume Review

Aqua Universalis

Universal Water

Last week, after six weeks of painful but also enjoyable unemployment, I started a brand new, and very exciting job (hence the lack of posts). Now like any sane fume-nerd my initial though on gaining new employment was “what perfume am I going to wear on my first day?!” That’s right, not “will I like the job?” or even “what shall I wear”, it was, as it always is, all about the perfume.

So why not just where whatever I fancy on day one? Well the thing is, when entering a new environment it is important for one to ease people in gently, it does not pay to projectile vomit ones personality in people’s general direction. I have found that it’s always best to go for something relatively low key that is still perfume-y enough to let people know that you mean business, and what do you know a few days before my first day just the thing landed on my doorstep – Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

If you’re not familiar with the idea behind über talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s solo project then you should get to familiarising yourself pretty quick because you’re missing out. The house provides an ‘all for one’ fragrant shopping experience with fragrances for the morning and evening, and wonderful scented things for the body (leather bracelets et al) and the home (candles, incense papers, laundry detergents and scented bubbles). With his ‘Maison’ Kurkdjian is selling a completely scented lifestyle like no other.

Aqua Universalis is Kurkdjian’s take on the much maligned genre of laundry clean fragrances. Made to fulfil the average consumer’s desire to feel clean and shower fresh, a style of fragrance that very often ends up producing cocktails of vile, strong musks and calone that sends fumenerds heading for the hills. Aqua Universalis is not one of these fragrances, it is an intelligent and natural take on ‘clean’ that most importantly still smells like a perfume.

Aqua Universalis

“A fragrance that is quite simply luminous. An exquisite sense of freshness in a musky and floral eau de toilette.”

The Notes

Bergamot and Lemon from Sicily, White Bouquet (Lily of the Valley and Sweet Mock Orange) and Light and Musky Wood

How Does it Smell

I’ve noticed that when describing citrus top notes I often uses lively adjectives such as; “sparkling”, “effervescent” and “shimmering”, so please forgive me when I say that the opening of Aqua Universalis is swimming with shimmering (sorry), mouthwatering bergamot  and lemon. It’s so zingy in fact, that my tastebuds rush and convulse in my mouth. It gives the impression of lemons being squeezed over ice.

The floral quality of Aqua Universalis took me by surprise, mainly because I was expecting all citrus and musk, and nothing in-between. What we have at Aqua Universalis’ core is a big white and green dose of muguet that links the citrus and musks seamlessly whilst adding it’s own, slightly dirty dose of indole that reminds you that what you’re wearing is a perfume NOT an aura of clean.

Kurkdjian’s famed laundry musks (wonderfully used in his incredible OUD) are present right from the beginning, and they are put to very good use. They not only add a freshness that is somewhere between clean laundry and cool summer air, but they also give Aqua Universalis a really plush texture feels like a second skin before seamlessly making way for velvety soft woods.

So how did Aqua Universalis fair as my premier new-job scent? Rather well actually, it felt smart and clean but was floral (and smelly) enough to stop it from being inoffensive (is there anything worse?). I see it as being in a similar vein to Mugler Cologne, both subvert the clean genre by pairing big, bold musks with freshness and an undercurrent of filth, and despite the fact that I don’t usually go for this kind of thing at all I can honestly see Aqua Universalis becoming a staple in my collection. Good work Mr. K!


Aqua Universalis is available in 70ml (£89) and 200ml (£135) Eau de Toilette. 150ml Shower and Body Creams (£35 & £45), along with a candle (385g – £55), Incense Papers (£21) and a range of 1L Fabric Cleaners/Softeners (£29) are also available.


PR sample. Notes, quotes and images via franciskurkdjian.com.


41 thoughts on “Universal Water – Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Perfume Review

  1. Hope you have a great time at your bright shiny new grind-stone 😀 … (And of course that it doesn’t steal you too much away from us in the future.) LOL … As for Aqua U’, it certainly sounds like the perfect choice for the purpose. – I personally have mostly ignored it till now, believing I’d most probably not go ga-ga for it. But u’ve at least made me a little more curious about it now, as it could certainly plug a ‘clean’ gaping hole in my ‘drobe. Methinkin I should search out a sniff now … (Damn ur twistin-arm ways !) 😉

  2. Best wishes on your new job! I’m glad you found something so quickly.
    I don’t usually seek out clean scents like this. If I happen to cross paths with them I may try them but they aren’t my first choice. You do make this sound nicer than the average clean scent though. I guess I’m getting crankier the older I get because I have no worries about whether my perfume will offend someone.

    • Thank you 😀 Yes, 6 weeks isn’t too bad in this climate.

      I’m completely with you re offending people with perfume. Normally I don’t worry but I guess it’s good to hold back a little when meeting new people (I’m naturally quite shy so maybe that’s it). This is a good clean PERFUME. One of the best 😀

  3. Kurkdjian’s even more talented than I thought if he can impress you with a “laundry” scent! It does sound like there’s a fair bit more to it than that though, to keep you interested.

    Great first day choice – now bring on the Mugler!

  4. Congrats on the job (again) 😀 Nice to hear you’re settling in.
    My work scent (when I feel like being safe) is CDGEDP2011 :’) if I’m being kind of course.
    I haven’t explored the MFK line properly but haven’t enjoyed what I have tried – despite their instant clarity and quality, I just haven’t “got” them yet – but I will!
    I don’t think this would be the one for me but I’ll give it a shot next time I’m sniffing around Liberty.

      • Don’t worry dude! I’m sure your major busy – hope the new job is working out well.
        I do, I do haha. I’m so familiar to it now though I hardly think about it – wear it a ton though. Do try it, but also try not to dismiss it on first try (although that is very difficult) – I didn’t enjoy it when I first tried it at all, until I began to crave it…
        I have tried APLS, I can appreciate it, but it’s all a little too much for me. I also find so many fragrances in the same vein – trying to overload the challenging animals, I find the fragrance a little sickening though 😦 I need to try it again properly though. If you like APLS do try Ambra Nera – it’s in the same vein in what it tries to achieve, although it’s not at all about honey and cumin, but more animal musk and amber – it’s what L’Ombre Fauve should have been! I have a bottle, but struggle very much to wear it. Blah, rambling. Nice to see you back Thomas!

      • It is! One of the few ambers that I’ve enjoyed enough to own, I’m drenched in it today actually :’) It’s really unusual, when I finally get round to making you a sample bag (which I have been promising for far too long) – I’ll include some haha.
        I will keep trying APLS – I can completely understand how it can be cosy, I just have reached that point with it yet, it seems so tenacious it takes a long time to get there, which normally I really enjoy, but, I’ve only tried it twice on skin, and that was a long time ago.

      • Ha, I’m the same with sample bags, I never get round to them! We shall discuss them in the future I’m sure 😉

        I get where you’re coming from with APLS. The first time I tried it was in Liberty from a full size tester and I was absolutely disgusted. Since then I’ve been wearing it from a small spray sample and it really does make a difference.

        Perhaps the answer is a case of dosage? 🙂

      • Yup that’s what I thought too 🙂
        Are you going to the Iris themed Perfume Lovers meet up? 🙂

      • @ Freddie
        Hey no bad-mouthing L’Ombre Fauve – it will not be tolerated ! 🙂 ~ Whilst I do agree that ‘Ambra Nera’ is indeed a lovely amber – (AND I’ll stress that I generally don’t believe frags have ‘genitalia’ as such. Still, the best way to describe what I mean here, is …) To me AN tends to lean quite severely on the more ‘femme’ & ‘powdery’ side, (as many ‘soli-ambers’ tend to do !) – Which is why I enjoy a bottle of both. – For me that is where L’OF excels so beautifully as an amber, by instead leaning towards the more ‘feral’ & ‘masculine’ side of amber. – IMO it’s a gorgeous perfect amber & easily one of my all-time fave’s. (Along with Ambra Nera … ) 🙂

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  10. Agree with you, the opening reminds me of Mugler cologne, but the middle and dry down are completely different. I truly adore Aqua Universalis, this is the type of fragrance that everybody should have, but I’m glad only a few do 😉

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