Niceties — L’Homme à la Rose by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

LHomme à la Rose

by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

When you think of a rose what comes to mind? For most it’s a delicate concentric flower composed of a symphonic overlapping array of petals. Subtly fragrant when brought to the nose, its colour to the eye is visually reflective of its namesake.

And while that is for the main what typifies what we know as a rose, this is only but a small part of the story. As I sat with perfumer Francis Kurkdjian in Paris — via video call — he introduced me to his good friend and world renown rose creator Fabien Ducher.

Having met twelve years ago, Fabien meets with Francis two or three times a year and visits his nursery to discover new breeds of roses and learn from the old; Fabien has antique roses that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

“Francis is like an artist.

Like Picasso has his blue period, Francis is having his rose period.

— Fabien Ducher, Rose Creator & Grower, Rosarie Ducher

If like me, you’re fairly new to the world of flowers, the name may not mean a great deal, but you will almost certainly have seen his work, and if not his, that of his family. He now runs his famous family business Rosarie Ducher, that was founded in 1845 when his great grandfather Claude Ducher organised the world’s first international rose show in Lyon.

From that point onwards Fabien’s family formed the heart of a burgeoning industry, curating new types of roses, differing in fragrance, colour and size, while being suitable for varying climes.

Typically roses only bloom in May, once a year, but that all changed in the mid 19th Century when the British brought back from China two types of roses that could bloom all year round. The Ducher family were one of the first to improve the quality of roses towards the back of the 19th Century; they were also the first to create a yellow rose.

Fabien recounts some wisdom his grandfather once passed on to him,


“To learn to work with roses is relatively simple; it’s only a book of 100 pages. The problem is it takes a year to learn each page.”

Today despite the fact there are more than thirty-thousand types of roses, there are less than twenty expert rose breeders in the world, and Fabien’s family lead the way.

In the world of fragrance, when one says something “smells like rose” what we’re really referring to are Rosa Centifolia and Rosa Damascena, the two most popular roses in circulation.

In fact, the first mention of a rose was around the time of Jesus Christ — over 2000 years ago — and while at the time there were only ten types of roses, Rosa Damascena and Rosa Centifolia were part of that ten. Being true to tradition, it comes as no surprise to me that Francis decided to use these two stalwarts to underpin his latest release, L’Homme à la Rose.

“Roses work much like wine. Where you do the harvest and where you distillate, can change the quality of the flower. It’s about the terroir,

Francis tells me, as he expounds on the journey that led him to create the rose based scent for men. Although rose has been used in fragrance for centuries, up till now it’s mainly been in the women’s playground. This is Francis’ interpretation of what a men’s fragrance built on rose would smell like, and in that there is no doubt it is a success.

L’Homme à la Rose is fresh, crisp and masculine – without being overtly so, as Francis alludes to,

“I can imagine women wearing this scent, and when asked what scent they are wearing they say “L’Homme à la Rose”. What I love about the name is that there is a kind of uncertainty as to the gender, is it for men? Maybe, maybe not.”

For me it’s a light masculine scent, that while being sweet, has a rich sharpness to it on the top note, making for an all-enveloping crisp aroma; much like it feels to be in Fabien’s Nursery I’d imagine — I hope one day to find out.

L’Homme à la Rose by Maison Francis Kurkdjian is available from Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis and Harvey Nichols at a price of £180.00 (70ml).

Ingredients: Absolute of Centifolia Rose from Grasse, Grapefruit Accord, Amber Woods, Essence of Cistus from Spain, Essence of Damask Rose from Bulgaria, Essence of Sage from France.


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