Cologne Forte Collection: A Conversation With Francis Kurkdjian​

A staunch defender of the heritage of perfumery, Francis Kurkdjian is first and foremost a free-spirited creative mind and a pioneer in many ways. Through his creations, he conveys his contemporary vision of the perfumer’s profession and its interpretation in utterly modern fragrances. Thus, since the creation of the Maison in 2009 with Marc Chaya, co-founder and CEO, he revived the spirit of the eau de Cologne and reinterpreted it in his own way with Aqua Universalis, a fresh eau for everyone and everything. Since then, the tradition lives on and has been enriched with two additional olfactory silhouettes, Aqua Vitae and Aqua Celestia.

Today, Francis Kurkdjian continues the saga, by unveiling three new variations of his Aqua fragrances within the Cologne forte collection. Three windows open on landscapes beckoning to evasion, three invitations to travel towards a destination steeped in light, colors and, of course, freshness. Mostly provided by the bergamot – the fundamental ingredient of the traditional eau de Cologne – which different ingredients and accords modulate without distorting the original inspiration, freshness plays the leading role in these new creations of the Maison’s olfactory wardrobe.

Why did you create the “Cologne forte” collection?

To understand the genesis of this Cologne forte collection, you need to go back to the creation of Aqua Universalis, launched when Maison Francis Kurkdjian was created in 2009. The inspiration for this fragrance, later followed by Aqua Vitae and Aqua Celestia, could be summarized with this Latin quote “mens sana in corpore sano”, meaning “a healthy body in a healthy mind”. I thus wished to reconnect with the tradition of the Eau de Cologne which, in its original form, was also drinkable, creating a visible “inside-outside” effect. What is good for my body is also good for my mind.

In 2011 we came up with the forte name, a reference to music, to express the idea of a powerful intensity in these fresh fragrances.

“Freshness is to perfume what water is to life on earth: essential.”

Francis Kurkdjian

Finally, in 2021, I wanted to bring a new light to this Aqua collection and a new caliber to the forte range, keeping in mind that the idea of freshness could also be explored starting from the sensations induced by light. This is how Cologne forte became a reality: a modern, long-lasting Cologne, showcasing the idea of light, color and sensations which was already in the genesis of the original eau de toilette fragrances.

What makes these fragrances different from the other Aqua perfumes?

The heart of the history and inspiration of these eau de parfum fragrances is still identical to that of the eau de toilette fragrances. It is not only a matter of intensity but also a reharmonization of the formula, with Aqua Universalis, a step back of over 10 years. Imagine a musical composition played on the piano, then imagine the same composition played by a symphony orchestra. The melody stays the same but you feel the composition more intensely, it becomes more emotional because it fills up more space. The same principle applies to these fragrances whose concentration has been increased so as to find the right balance between freshness and a long-lasting trail. I think the result is more refined and asserts the olfactory signature of each inspiration.

“The Cologne forte collection is a palette of emotions induced by light.”

Are these fragrances masculine, feminine or gender-neutral?

All the Aqua collection fragrances are gender-neutral, as the Eau de Cologne has always been.

Could you assign an adjective to each of these Aqua Cologne forte fragrances?

Aqua Universalis Cologne forte: the radiance of white light
Aqua Vitae Cologne forte: the radiance of the sun
Aqua Celestia Cologne forte: the blue hues of the sky and the sea

Colored bottles are very rare at the Maison. What inspired you when choosing these colors?

I wanted to give each bottle a color according to the light I had in mind for each perfume with a subtle bottom-to-top gradation. Only the Aqua Universalis remains unchanged. It symbolizes pure white, transparency and clearness of freshness. Aqua Vitae is nuanced in a sunny yellow shade and Aqua Celestia a translucent blue gradation. The cases are soberly underlined with a stroke of color which symbolizes the architecture of each note, a shade mirrored in the upper interior part of the case. Last, the cap is transparent to convey a feeling of lightness and let light seep through.

What is the concentration of these Cologne forte fragrances?

It’s the duality between the freshness and the evanescence of the Cologne, and the duration of the trail, a distinctive feature of my creations, which results in the fragrances of this Cologne forte collection being classified as eau de parfum.

Shop the Story

Leave a Reply

By browsing our site or closing this message, you agree to store Cookies by us and third-party partners. Cookies enable certain functions on our site, let you access your account, place orders, allow us to analyse website traffic and usage, and personalise content. We also share certain information about your usage of our site with analytics and app partners. Find out more.