Maison Francis Kurkdjian's Aqua Cologne Forte Collection Bottles the Scent of Water, Light, and Fresh Air

Francis Kurkdjian's latest scent story is the perfect gift for Mother's Day. Or any day, really.

“It’s all about the story,” says Francis Kurkdjian, founder of the eponymous luxury perfume maison in Paris, when asked about the inspiration for his fragrances

“What is my story? What do I want to tell? What is the aim of the story and what is it about?" he asks in an exclusive interview with Esquire Philippines. "It’s anything that can strike me, that can keep my attention, that touches me. Anything I believe is good enough to inspire me. That to me is a good story.”

Kurkdjian’s latest story is about water, light, and freshness, as unveiled in three more intense versions of his well-loved Aqua collection: Aqua Universales, Aqua Vitae, and Aqua Celestia.

Sensations and Emotions Linked to Light

Maison Francis Kurkdjian introduces the updated versions in the Cologne Forte Collection-modern, long-lasting scents, showcasing the idea of light, color, and sensations, the idea for the original eau de toilette fragrances.


“The collection is really all about brightness, feeling, sensations, and emotions, linked to light, and how we interact with light,” says Kurkdjian. “All the different types of light can be related to different types of freshness. There is beauty in freshness. The idea is to push the boundaries, to find the limit of being too clean, too fresh.” 

“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...,” he continues. 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 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,” he says.

Pure Air, Peak Sun, Blue Horizon

Kurkdjian describes Aqua Universalis Cologne Forte as the notion of whiteness pushed to the extreme, a pure breath of fresh air, the feeling, not the smell, of cleanliness. He says Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte symbolizes the sun at its peak with a floral blaze crossed by a surge of hot air, while Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte is the encounter between the blue hues of the sea and the sky, a horizon beckoning you to evasion. 

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“I try to bring happiness, joy to people. With perfume, I think this is very important,” says Kurkdjian. “Happiness is not always about something really, really big. It can be about the little details in your daily life. At the end of the day, you are happy because you’ve achieved many little positive things throughout the day.

Aqua Universalis Cologne Forte

"Bergamot from Calabria and the sweetness of a white musk accord are intertwined with an effervescent surge of diaphanous white flowers, such as mock orange and sweet pea. Aqua Universalis Cologne Forte embodies the joy of whiteness, radiance, the purity of a breath of fresh, enveloping air," says Kurkdjian in his notes about the fragrance.

Olfactory family: musky, citrusy

Ingredients: essence of bergamot from Italy, essence of rose from Bulgaria, white floral accord (mock orange, sweet peas), white musk accord


Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte

"Mandarin from Italy gives bright freshness to the bergamot, leading to a luminous citrusy and sunny floral scent. Vibrating in unison in a halo of warm light, Aqua Vitae Cologne Forte is a pampering eau de parfum whose trail is saturated with sun and sensual musks boosted by sandalwood from India," he says in his notes.


Olfactory family: citrusy, floral

Ingredients: essence of bergamot from Italy, essence of mandarin from Italy, sunny floral accord, sensual musk accord


Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte 

"The bergamot becomes tinged with the fruity notes of blackcurrant, mimosa (with its raspberry and blackberry facets), and jasmine (strawberry, apricot and peach accents), before gradually melting into the mellowness of a fruity musky accord. Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte releases a bright, crystal-clear aura and offers a flight towards the horizon," he describes in his notes. Sheer poetry.

Olfactory family: citrusy, fruity

Ingredients: bergamot from Calabria accord, blackcurrant bud absolute, jasmine from Egypt absolute, mimosa from France absolute, fruity musky accord.

Available at Rustan's.

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About The Author
Yvette Fernandez
Yvette Fernandez has written over a dozen books. Previously, she was editor in chief of Esquire Philippines and Town&Country Philippines.
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