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.

Strange Invisible Perfumes – A Lovestory

My sense of smell is my strongest sense, regardless what beauty product I buy- I always pay attention to scent. When I first transitioned from my old-fashioned world of products filled with synthetic fragrance and phthalates, I felt each natural scent to be ‘odd’. They were never as controlled nor as defined as what I had been using. Over time, I learned to get used to it, and dareisay – even love it in my beauty products. What was once lacking in control and definition became charming, ever-developing, and unique- something no synthetic could emulate. I recently tried products with synthetic fragrance and could not stand it! While I don’t react as sensitively as some people who get headaches, I do have an overwhelming urge to wash products (especially moisturizers) off my face when the chemical scent lingers. I think once I detoxified my body of these synthetics, I became more sensitive to the toxic chemicals.

I used to collect perfumes and still have many favorites from Chanel, Byredo, Bond, Creed, etc. However, they’re not clean and as such I do not wear a ‘daily’ scent because my body is just irritated by the smell now. I’ve tried some natural oils but to be honest – it was a bit too granola for a girl like me. My friend told me to try a line called Strange Invisible, which uses real botanical essences without the chemicals. The appeal of a pure line of luxury fragrances instantly drew me and I hoped I had what I’d been looking for.

I was fortunate enough to get samples of a lot of the scents and the first thing I noticed was how deliciously aromatic they are! These are just as strong (if not more) than a lot of the scents on the market! Fire and Cream has a fragrant strong  opening of earthy green vetiver, which gives way to gorgeous lavender, elegant citrus, frankincense, and patchouli. The scent is very refined, for those who are concerned, it is definitely more Byredo than Whole Foods essential oil mix. Some might be put off by the ‘naturalness’ of the product when first applied- but just wait, not only does this scent wear for a long time, but after an hour the fragrance breaks down, adjusts to your skin, and does its magic in a way that will truly make even the most steadfast non-natural product lover find delightful.

My favorites have to be the true florals: Aquarian Roses and Urban Lily. No synthetic scent comes as close as these two wonderous natural scents in capturing the true nature of the precious rose and lily florals. Yes, some might find the Aquarian Roses fragrance to smell too sweet and feminine, but there are other notes that give it some grassy texture to keep from being too overwhelming. Urban Lily reminds me of a field of beautiful white lily in the spring time but also has some mystifying blend that keeps its scent exotic. 

Their scents leave me wanting more and wanting to buy out the entire line since they all adapt to individual skin. Perhaps the best thing I can say about this line is that I no longer need for Creed, Bond, Byredo to go all natural (though, it would be nice)- I have finally found something just as good that is formulated to an even higher standard. 

Available at Strange Invisibles online.