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.