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Paris perfumer Francis Kurkdjian bubbles up in Beverly Hills

October 9, 2009 |  2:37 pm

Laura and Kate Mulleavy - designers for Rodarte

Any comedian or FedEx driver will tell you that delivery is important, but it's not something you think about when it comes to the olfactory arts. Perfumes are sprayed, incense is burned in sticks and laundry detergents seem to be required by law to smell like a test tube version of the great outdoors.

That's why last week's party at Johnson Hartig's house still lingers in the memory like a mysterious and beautiful woman whose name you can't recall but whose fragrance profile is destined to hover in the corners of your consciousness.

The libertine designer opened his L.A. home to welcome Parisian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian (they have the same agent, Hartig told me) who, after years of creating scents for many of the fashion houses (Christian Rage_bubbles Lacroix, Giorgio Armani, YSL, and, perhaps the most notable, Jean-Paul Gaultier's Le Mâle) has launched the first collection under his own nameplate -- Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris --and was in town to mark the Oct. 1 launch at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.

And when it comes to connecting you with cologne, Kurkdjian thinks outside the spritzer -- with paper strip incense, perfumed leather bracelets, laundry detergents redolent of bergamot, lemon and lily of the valley and soap bubbles formulated to release a burst of cut herb scent when poked with a forceful jab of the proboscis (best attempted after the third glass of Champagne, I can report).

The bubbles, which were also wafting over Hartig's backyard pool, are a signature bit for Kurkdjian, who in the past rigged the fountains at Versailles to churn out scented bubbles for a summer festival celebration at the famed French chateau. His line includes three scents (formulated to be child-safe, he points out): the aforementioned cut herbs, pear and fresh mint.

Bubbles aside, his fragrances are even more intriguing than his delivery; seemingly incompatible pairings that somehow work. Among them: rose and patchouli (Lumière Noire), orange blossom and cedar wood (called APOM, which stands for "A Piece of Me"), and -- my favorite -- a morning cologne (actually called "cologne pour le matin) that combines the scent of bergamot and lavender).

As the newest name on the scent scene, I'd say he passes the sniff test with flying colors (make that bubble), and you're destined to hear more of him in the future. Which is why you should know one more important piece of information: We're told Kurkdjian is pronounced "KOOR-jahn."

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris, from $20 (bubbles) to $200 (a perfume-scented leather bracelet), most scents in the $110-$195 range, available at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills and online at neimanmarcus.com.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photo: (Top) Rodarte designers Kate, left, and Laura test drive Francis Kurkdjian's scented bubbles in the backyard of Johnson Hartig's L.A. bungalow, while the Parisian perfumer looks on in the background. Credit: Michael Buckner for Getty Images. (Bottom) "Bulles d'Agathe" (Agathe's Bubbles) Credit: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris.

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