Response to ITG: Talking Scents with Francis Kurkdjian

ITG posted an interview with Francis Kurkdjian today where he discusses his views on synthetic fragrances. You can check it out here and then read the comments I submitted to ITG below:

He is a very interesting man and I’ve enjoyed a couple of his scents, they are very thoughtfully created and have such a high attention to detail. He has very strong opinions on a lot of things which I applaud him for.

I do think the analogy comparing natural fragrances to the architectural equivalent of a hut is inaccurate though. If we’re being technical, steel and glass are forged through naturally existing compounds, in the same way a natural perfume is forged through combining natural ingredients. The chemicals in this case wouldn’t be steel/glass, it would be the lead in the paint that goes inside the buildings.

Whats interesting is in my Greek Civilization class in college, we learned that fragrances were all composed from naturally occurring scents until peoples clothing started becoming more opulent, which combined with infrequent bathing, led to a demand for stronger scents to mask body odors. This has translated into todays market believing that a well made scent has to have long lasting power and that the natural scent of our bodies was something unattractive. The result is that in order to create such strong products, we implement chemicals such as phthalates and synthetic fragrances which are known hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and skin irritants. I believe a study showed that women who worked in cosmetics: i.e. Sephora sales associates, were more likely to develop conditions such as thyroid cancer and infertility due to being immersed in the chemicals in their work environment.

I’m not writing this to be scary. I actually do not think a natural perfume company has been able to compete with scents that I love from Serge Lutens and Jo Malone so I still buy them (although for anyone who believes you need synthetics and chemicals to create the foundation of a good fragrance, I urge you to check out Strange Invisibles or even Intelligent Nutrients Multi-functional Aromas), but I do believe that it is important to realize there is a reason people are becoming turned off from synthetic fragrances and that they’re valid reasons.

I respect the work Francis Kurkdjian has done and his products are an amazing achievement in modern perfumary. I think we just differ a bit on our priorities regarding what makes good fragrance, but I’m sure many people will appreciate his candor and views and want to try his stuff.

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