As Igor mentioned in his announcement of Francis Kurkdjian’s newest masculine for his eponymous brand Maison Francis Kurkdjian, it is no secret that namesake perfumer is a rose lover, having produced countless iterations over his career, focusing mainly on its rich and sticky facets paired with patchouli and amber. À La Rose, the feminine predecessor of L’Homme À La Rose, is a fresher take on the most delicate qualities of a rose petal – soft and velvety, dewy, and transparent.
The masculine counterpart carries a lot of those qualities forward in a new context of sage. On paper, the opening is particularly disappointing – as if Kurkdjian simply took his back catalogue of roses and squeezed them through a template of Acqua di Gio or L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme. In this context, the sage is brittle and sharp, throwing up oceanic spray in acidic concentration. My assumption is that the volatiles of the aquatic accord just wouldn’t bind to the perfume blotter and were being misrepresented in their diffusion as, on the skin, the whole blend settles down very quickly leaving instead the impression of a smooth, subtle, musk-like trail of pale suede closer to the gentle caress of Jo Malone London’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt than to the herbal bark of Tom Daxon’s Salvia Sclarea.
Upbeat and easy to detect within the mix is a bright, popping citrus note that collides with the geraniol of the rose to produce a light-filled, joyous shot of crystalline flowers, as if the rose was smashed between lemon rinds then thrown into the breeze, not far from the way florals are given an icy treatment in Gucci Guilty Cologne Pour Homme. As in many of Kurkdjian’s more recent releases, there is a pleasing simplicity to the structure – rose and citrus on top, sage and ambered woods on the bottom, but not much in the middle. It makes the journey and transition through the scent reliable to navigate but not particularly captivating nor memorable. That said, L’Homme À La Rose clearly communicates high-quality, high-performing materials, with the sage-musk accord underneath acting as an opaque cloak on all the other notes, letting them peek through but transformed under a mirrored, mineral grey veneer, giving the rose a greater sense of space than it may usually mark on a composition, and the citrus a shorter, less aggressive bite.
Surprisingly, it is the rose that outlasts its competing smells. The trail is extremely easy-going and hard to dislike, but I doubt that rose lovers will find a surprising X-factor here, as is so easy with Le Labo’s Rose 31 or Frapin’s Nevermore. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastically constructed scent that achieves its goal of evoking masculinity within a floral setting.