divergent descriptors ….. L’HOMME A LA ROSE by MAISON KURKDIJIAN (2020)


Feeling that I am turning a corner at the moment, I am in the mood for fresh and green.


A clean, verdant masculine rose blend wrapped in herbal grapefruit and sage, I imagined something chypric – hint of labdanum – a leafier Lumiere Noire: spine-tingling, maybe, like the original Envy by Gucci; or crisp and alert like Roseberry de Rosine ; icicle- bright, like the rest of Francis Kurkidjian’s ’s incomparably pragmatic crystallinity.

FK’s original A La Rose – a masterful archetype of its kind – is a very consummate, if prissily synthetic, taut summation of a prettily pink modern rose. It makes a mark. A ‘male version’ of this is hauntingly tantalizing; maintain the optimism of rosiness of the perfume but with a new vein of ligneous clarity and chlorophyll.


If the publicity photography shown above, disappoints, so does the scent. As with all perfume talk, though, this is very subjective. Reviewers on Fragrantica talk of pure roses doused in the dawn of dewy gardens , of a revitalization of the conceit of roses for men. Baffling. For me, the contributors who made comments along the lines of ‘but isn’t this identical to RalphLauren Polo Blue’? are far closer to the mark ((this release was apparently intended —-you might call it hack work —- for a less pricey ‘designer brand’ , then recommandeered and reworked under the niche house’s prestigious umbrella)). And it shows.

Despite a bracing, roseyish opening touch, L’Homme A La Rose is ultimately just a re-embraced sports fragrance, brash and overcomplicated, with no obvious beauty. I would genuinely love to smell this properly on another person – I don’t doubt for a second that other nuances might become apparent on a skin colder and more youthful than mine – but this is certainly not the ‘ideal introduction’ for the bi-curious man that all the hype would suggest. The fate of this scent strip – so utterly disappointing and entirely different from what I was expecting ( I have to ask you : what was your own biggest unbridgeable chasm in terms of what was stirred in the olfactory imagination by the incentivizing words that led you on – my own words included – and the grim reality that met your individual scent brain when you smelled it ?) – being tossed within one minute into a nearby rubbish bin – I couldn’t even be bothered to get to the middle stage – – — shows you everything I needed to know.

26 Comments

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26 responses to “divergent descriptors ….. L’HOMME A LA ROSE by MAISON KURKDIJIAN (2020)

  1. Persolaise

    I’m with you on this one, and I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I said as much over on my own little corner of the web.

    Far too heavy-handed a use of woody ambers.

    A missed opportunity, if ever there was one.

  2. I think that there are lots of new releases that are over-hyped and, even though they may be pleasant, they are not groundbreaking or different than what’s already out there. It happens with new Houses and also within established Houses. It is more about making money than making something worth the money.

  3. Hanamini

    Well, you asked. My own worst chasm was the one I fell down with Missoni, which Luca Turin had led me to crave so hard. I tried 3 different samples, but never was the phrase “a scrubber” more apt. That doesn’t detract at all from all his other wonderful reviews of perfumes, many of which are now on my shelves. It just confirms how personal taste is. Personally, I’ve found most of the Maison Francis Kurkdjians a bit boring and eventually a bit magazine-inserty, including Lumiere Noire Pour Femme. My daughter loves them, though.

    • A agree with you somewhat even though I have a lot of them, but I have had them a long time and now I’m into different types of fragrances.

    • That’s interesting. Lumiere Noire is too thin ultimately. Which ones is your daughter into ?

      • I was never enthralled with Lumere moi, and although I think the perfumes of this house and perfumer are very blended and with only an exception of three are office and user friendly, some of them are very bland and unexciting.

      • This is how I see them actually. Really quite excellent office scents. But then I would want to go home, strip off, shower hard, and put something more human on!

      • Hanamini

        Sorry for late reply, ginzaintherain. My daughter likes MFK Feminin Pluriel. I can see why she likes it if I smell her favourite Atelier Flou Paradis Paradis (an early first date that thankfully turned to love, for it was pricy!). Watery, fresh, gently floral, yet also a little musky? She needs to waft along her own clouds of blossoming freshness to more bitter, intense, dry and rich smells down the line. And yes, she’s teaching, so can’t be too projectile when she eventually returns to a physical workplace. She likes many of my perfumes but I’m hoping not TOO many of them just yet!

      • I reviewed Paradis Paradis once – I also like being near people who smell of such scents, floaty and clean

      • Also, if you don’t mind my asking, what would be her top ten from your collection ? I am curious.

  4. Karina

    That picture at the end cracked me up ! 😂

  5. Robin

    I was happily being led down the garden path by your clean, verdant, chypric, spine-tingling masculine rose description until abruptly halted by reality. What a waste of an opportunity, as Dariush says.

    And those woody ambers. Jeez, if Olivier Polge can incorporate a modern synthetic woody amber that Ric likes — no, loves — in Le Lion (and which was beautifully reviewed on Persolaise, I see), surely FK can swing it for his own label. Was it cheapening out on his part? Was it an aesthetic choice I don’t share? Maybe it was both? Whatevs. Since MFK hasn’t released anything I’ve been inspired to buy a full bottle of, I’m not losing any sleep over the answer.

    Neil, I think you could do well by taking that brief to a decent perfumer and getting him/her/them to execute your own eponymous fragrance. I’d be on your waiting list.

  6. Hmmm. In September 2019, before we were beset with the Great Plague I first all of MFK’s scents on offer at Istanbul’s palatial duty-free shops in the new airport. I was not impressed. Just not my style? Prissily synthetic (your very apt description) or downright bland was my take on the highly hyped niche house. I tend to prefer simple floral/wood/musk compositions with a naturalistic bent or classic Arabian fragrances.
    Other heavily hyped niche houses that brought disappointment: Nasomatto (yawn), Byredo (meh), By Killian (I really thought I would like, but blah), Juliette Has a Gun (stupid gimmicky name, should have known that was all there was to it), The Different Co. (not very different, another gimmicky name farce), Montale (hit or miss, love Highness Rose & Tiare Intense – Chocolate Greedy is one of the worst things I have ever smelled).
    The one house that blew me away in Istanbul was Nishane! I bought a bottle of Zenne on the spot (very reminiscent of Amouage Sunshine Woman but better) and can’t wait to try Wulong Cha.

    • Oops! That should have been-
      In September 2019, before we were beset with the Great Plague I first SAMPLED all of MFK’s scents on offer at Istanbul’s palatial duty-free shops in the new airport.

    • I am a fan of Nishane perfumes and own a couple of them. The only problem I have with the House are the prices, even though they may be worth the price, some of the perfumes are unaffordable to me and perhaps others. If I had the money, I would own quite a few from this House.

    • I can’t help but agree with this summation! Nishane often gets mentioned and has slipped my attention.

  7. It’s a pleasant scent, but nothing new, as such. All that said, kudos to Mr Kurkdjian for seeing an opportunity. So many men, even in these fluid and niche times, are still scared of roses.

  8. I am not surprised by your take on this fragrance. With the exception of Absolu pour le Soir, MFK scents are quite overrated, especially the hyperbolic Baccarat one. People online raved about that one scent so much, and still do, that I had high hopes, which were quicly dashed once it was on my wrist, yes I made the mistake of spraying it on my skin.
    One scent that I thought was going to be amazing was Chanel’s 1957, but wow was that a letdown. The other major letdown was also a Chanel. Gabrielle, which I was so excited about, turned out to be a real disaster on my skin.
    Too much meh fragrance product being released into the world, but it has its audience; I guess that is why they keep releasing mediocrity.

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