This coming September star perfumer Francis Kurkdjian is launching a duet of scents, Feminin and Masculin in Les Pluriels, for his eponymous brand. I have sampled both and have lived to tell the tale, which is a good one, if not highly original (even within his private niche line). The story is just published on Fragrantica, more of which below, and you're welcome to comment either there or here.
Basically Kurkdjian isn't traitorous to what he sets out to do, he considers perfumery more of an artistic craft than high art and believes in the concept of the fragrance wardrobe; his brand is meant to have something for every occasion (for the light "cologne" type for morning to the lush out animalics for intimate soirees) , so the newest diptych fits there comfortable. The bit that is perhaps more difficult to catch is the "eternal feminine" and "eternal masculine" he sets out to accomplish; tall order, especially because no one seems to agree on set parameters on those. After all, it's all a matter of semiotics, external signs for easy communication of a desired message and men and women are just themselves ~men and women. They're not defined by the jodhpurs they choose, the T-shirt and its bow neck or V-neck skimming breasts or not. They're not defined by the cut of their jeans (see "boyfriend's jeans"). They're not even defined by their added fragrance (read our Gender Bending Fragrances article if in doubt).
Feminin Pluriel has a very distinct progression like the passage of colors in the arc. The carrot impression of the iris hits you first, welcome solace from the overdone pink grapefruit /pink pepper or so much modern juice out there, setting the motion for the violet which follows on the skin very very soon. This note, a ubiquitous and perfect complement to both the rooty iris and the woody notes to follow, seems to meld into jasmine and a honeyed abstract orange blossom (reminiscent of its fore-bearers), comprising the main dish. This is further floralized by benzyl salicylate, a very popular ingredient boosting the "solar," luminous aspects of a scent. The cascading of the notes is so noticeable and so distinct that it's as if one ticks off the notes off a list or is watching a race course with the runners passing the baton to one another. Kurkdjian is no stranger to iris-violety things, given a sheer and non-powdery spin, lifting them from their traditional greyish mauve plumage befitting a solemn occasion via cheerful accents; witness his Iris Nobile for Acqua di Parma, surely the most optimistic and light-hearted iris floral out there.
The woody musky backdrop in Feminin Pluriel is engulfing a rose-citrus molecule (indeed, geraniol which has facets hinting at bergamot, rose, other citruses and carrot —the analogue of iris—so it all fits together, hand in glove) and feels as smooth and indefinable as the base in his rose-centered "nouveau chypres" (modern Rumeur, Guerlain Rose Barbare, Rose de Siwa and less so in the less rosy ones such as Narciso for Her and Elie Saab Le parfum). It fits his canon! Picture perfect pretty, in a (public side) Grace Kelly sort of style, maybe too pretty for its own good.
You can read my full review on this link.
Regarding Masculin Pluriel, I feel a clear progression from smoky, lightly citrusy vetiver to lavender fougère and on to leathery-smelling patchouli. It's as if the man you wake up to (after a romp in the sheets) jumps up to wash and groom to go to the office and have his "power meetings" before heading out to a private club in the evenings to indulge in a little light S&M, yourself included or not. Schizophrenic? No, just multi-layered, shadow and light, like people are, in fact. Ironic too, because the cleanness of Masculin Pluriel is overreaching like a giant fig leaf hiding the family jewels. The coolness of lavender in Masculin clutches itself to the cooler aspects of patchouli (both sharing a minty facet) echoing one another. It's also a balanced bittersweet fragrance (not sweet like Le Male); one would be fooled to think it's only plush and lush and shaven to a glistening six-pack fit for a glossy magazine…
Although not a chest-thumping kind of a scent (nor an animalic-smelling Jicky full to the brim with civet), the spicy-metallic roughness of a more traditionally rugged mien in Masculin hints at a guy who doesn't shave said pectorals and dons the occasional leather trousers that have seen some wear and tear.
You can read my full review on this link.