My coworkers Brigid and Aimee have worked together for years and are good friends. When they see each other, one will often say in a sultry voice, “Oh, hi” like she’s pretending to run into her high school crush by the locker, when in fact she planned the “accident” all morning. It’s alluring, theatrical, and goofy — over-the-top in the best way — and it cracks me up and warms my heart every time.
This is how I feel about Maison Francis Kurkdjian Grand Soir. It’s a dense, sparkling amber-woody fragrance that is to perfume like chocolate volcano cake is to dessert, a marvel of too-muchness I find hard to resist.
Grand Soir’s notes include benzoin, tonka bean and cistus labdanum. I’m not going to bother to describe any sort of scent pyramid. Wearing Grand Soir is like plunging into a swimming pool of golden fragrance materials. Toss aside the snorkel and trust you won’t drown. (Those of you who are amber-shy will do better working on your tan on the sidelines.)
First, you’ll breathe in lush amber. Experienced perfumistas will know what I’m talking about right away. Those of you newer to perfume will recognize amber by its honeyed, ocean-infused viscosity that shimmers like topaz. In Grand Soir, it buzzes nearly as much as jasmine.
Now, relax and let the fragrance’s materials bounce against each other and throw out notes that Kurkdjian might not have added. For me, saffron weaves through Grand Soir, giving it a fleshy, slightly medicinal feel sometimes. I smell cinnamon, too. Not enough to make me crave snickerdoodles, but enough to add structure. I wouldn’t be surprised if the barest breath of oud has found a home here. And, of course, chewy benzoin gives the fragrance a texture I feel I can squeeze in my fists.
For all its intensity, Grand Soir commands only moderate sillage. I wouldn’t wear it at a conservative office, though. I’d save it for rainy afternoons when I have an appetite for comfort and a wink of self-referential drama. For me, its ideal home includes a November storm, a 1940s mystery novel, a thick quilt and a whiskey sour.
Grand Soir lasts a solid ten hours on my skin, but by hour six, the grand soir has metamorphized to the matin à la patisserie. It’s a simple but comforting wood and vanilla.
If you like amber and haven’t found that perfect amber to warm you on cold night or ease foul moods, I urge you to try Grand Soir. Other ambers you might enjoy include the delicious Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe (amber, tobacco, and rum); the jasmine-infused, bouyant Aftelier Amber Tapestry; and the marvelously fetid Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan.
Do you have any favorite “too much but so good” fragrances? How do you feel about amber?
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Grand Soir Eau de Parfum is $215 for 70 ml. For information on where to buy it, see Maison Francis Kurkdjian under Perfume Houses.