Reflected Sunlight – Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae Perfume Review

Aqua Vitae
“The Space Between Us”

There are some niche brands out there that just get it – they know how to offer interesting, well-crafted perfumes that are both easily wearable and suitably intellectually stimulating. Maison Francis Kurkdjian is one of such brand, and having thoroughly explored each and every corner of this ‘maison’ I can honestly say that I’m yet to come across a single dud.

This, of course, is no surprise seeing as the patriarch of the Maison is none other than venerable perfume Francis Kurkdjian. At a recent Perfume Lovers London event Kurkdjian said that it’s the stories behind the scents that make them what they are, musing that Shalimar wouldn’t be Shalimar without its name and that scents cannot me detached from the names they are bestowed. Perhaps this is why his brand is so enjoyable – each scent tells a story.

“It was one afternoon on Formentera, in the Balearic Islands, that the idea of Aqua Vitae came to Francis Kurkdjian. Riding an old motorbike, taking it slowly in view of the extreme heat, the air on his face was deliciously cool. The sun intensified the fragrances of nature around him. Aqua Vitae, the water of life, when life is quite simply beautiful, an extremely sensitive sensuality enveloped with an uncontained freshness.”

His latest perfume – Aqua Vitae – tells the story of “the space between us” and takes its name from the water of vitality. Created to evoke “a magic breath” and “the shiver of pleasure on the back of the neck before something wonderful occurs” Aqua Vitae is a fragrance that casts a beautiful golden light, exuding serenity and peace.

The Candy Perfume Boy & The Francis Kurkdjian
The Man Behind the Scent (And Me)

The Notes

Lemon from Calabria, Mandarin from Sicily, Tonka Bean from Brazil, Vanilla Infusion, Hedione and Guaiac Wood

How Does it Smell?

In the top notes Aqua Vitae displays a wonderful balance between citrus and woods. The lemon, and possibly bergamot, is incredibly crisp and bright, whereas the woods are plush and spicy, emphasising the vivacity of the citrus notes. A big wave of luminous, green jasmine in the form of Hedione quickly follows and it gives Vitae a massive lift, creating an enveloping presence.

A soft, aqueous vanilla floats just under the surface, giving off delectable hints of banana-like ylang ylang and chantilly cream. The vanilla is used in a relatively subtle manner but there is just enough to ensure that the transition between the vivacious top notes and the warm woods of the base is perfectly smooth.

In comparison to Kurkdjian’s other aquatic offering – Aqua Universalis – Vitae seems immediately warmer and sunnier. To me it is the golden light of the sun reflected off of a lake rather than the icy water running through the cold stones of a stream that is Aqua Universalis. Both are worthy additions ti any collection.

Aqua Vitae is THE perfect scent for summer. It has a relaxed, effortless sort-of vibe meaning that is is rather well suited to long, demanding days spent under the sun. I’ve found myself relying on it quite heavily over the last few weeks – liberally spraying it on throughout the day and basking in its joyful, golden glow.


Aqua Viate is available in 70ml (£115) and 200ml (£175) Eau de Toilette.

Sample via Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Notes and quotes via press release. Image via Image 2 my own.