Despite coming to the Maison Francis Kurkdjian party a little later than mostI can safely say that I am pretty much hooked. Like many I have admired perfumer Francis Kurkdjian from afar, appreciating and enjoying his mainstream creations for designer brands such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior and Elie Saab, but it is his Maison with its ‘scented lifestyle’ approach that truly cements M. Kurkdjian as a true talent.
Kurkdjian says of his line: “The range is like creating a wardrobe. You go from casual to evening to couture. And in my vision, what’s missing is a daily ready-to-wear perfume”  and with his latest feminine and masculine duo ‘Amyris’ Kurkdjian has filled this void with two suitably pret-a-porter perfumes for the everyday guy and gal on the go.
“Its head is in Jamaica, and its heart in Florence. The Amyris duo evolves somewhere between the flamboyance of the sun and the vibration of the earth.” 
Both Amyris scents are centred around notes of Jamaican Amyris (the Jamaican tree which exudes elemi) and Iris from Florence. Each feels like an extension of Kurkdjian’s designer work taken to a niche level of quality where “instant hit” style of mainstream fragrances is traded for the slow burning love of niche perfumery.
Lemon Tree Flower, Orange from California, Amyris from Jamaica, Iris from Florence, Vetiver from Haiti and Musky Amber
How Does it Smell?
If I could describe Amyris Femme in one word it would be “stylish”. Everything about it seems expertly crafted, just like a freshly cut piece of jersey. It opens with tart lemon and mandarin, both notes having a slightly juicy and zingy quality to them, before developing into a strong and distinct blend of woods and flowers.
The use of iris in Amyris Femme is relatively faint, I find it to add just a touch of sweet earth and powder. To my nose there is also something orange blossom-esque lurking in the middle, adding brightness and lift. It all feels very pretty but not ditzy and that’s an important distinction to make, Amyris Femme displays an intelligent kind of prettiness rather than pandering to the lowest common denominator.
In the base Amyris Femme utilises a good slug of Kurkdjian’s laundry musks that are tinged with vetiver, woods and patchouli to give off a slightly bitter air. Surprisingly, the soft effervescence of the top notes seems to be carried through into the musky theme of the base notes, creating a solid rooting for the airier materials that make Amyris Femme so damn enjoyable.
Smelling Amyris Femme it is easy to draw parallels with Kurkdjian’s creation for Elie Saab ‘Le Parfum‘. It has a similarly radiant quality, but with Amyris this radiance has been approached from a different angle, specifically a softer and more refined point of view. The result is something a little less showy (and dressy) that exudes an “off-the-peg” vibe, begging to be picked up and worn.
Rosemary from Morocco, Mandarin from Sicily, Amyris from Jamaica, Iris from Florence, Tonka Bean Absolute from Brazil and Modern Woods
How Does it Smell?
The first time I smelled Amyris Homme I was most unimpressed. To my nose it was nothing more than a generic masculine, you know the type; sweet citrus up top, slightly aquatic and watery in the middle and with fuzzy, milky woods and vanilla in the base. It most definitely feels like a designer outing but where it may not be decidely unique in its style Amyris Homme is most definitely atypical in its quality.
What makes Amyris Homme significantly better (and more enjoyable for that matter) than many of its designer brothers is balance. The citrus notes are suitably crisp and smell natural enough to conjure up images of ripe fruits in the sun and the woody notes feel measured enough to provide both rough and smooth textures. At no point does anything shout or battle for attention, it is all in perfect proportion.
Normally these types of masculines derail in the base by blasting a chemical foghorn of vanilla and cedar. Amyris Homme however, rounds itself off wonderfully with the plushness of tonka bean and sandalwood. As it heads into the base things also quieten down considerably to a low hum of sweet woody-ness that simply smells comfortable.
Amyris Homme is an incredibly easy to wear masculine and I don’t mean that as a criticism at all, in fact I think it highlights the true art of subtlety. It strikes me as the kind of fragrance that would be worn by the shy, unassuming man that likes to appear well turned out and smell good without drawing undue attention upon himself. Sure, Amyris Homme won’t win any awards for breaking new ground but it serves as a welcome reminder that you don’t have to be unique to be special.
Amyris Femme is available in 70ml Eau de Parfum (£115) and Amyris Home is available in 70ml Eau de Toilette (£105).
— — —
Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re stuck for what fragrance to wear on your date tonight then check out my Date Night Fragrance Guide over at Escentual.com*.
PR samples. Image 1 Dior Ready to Wear via nowfashion.com (combined). Image 2. Image 3.  &  via lifestyle.inquirer.net.  & Notes via franciskurkdjian.com. *Affiliation.