Oh my, oh my, oh my. That’s my reaction every time I apply Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. It’s one of those perfumes with top notes so magical and enchanting I have to keep smelling my wrist, because each time I do I smell something different. Shape shifting from the sublime saffron to the delicate jasmine, and letting the transcendent ambergris peek through just enough to make my mouth water (ambergris does that to me…) and just enough to keep Baccarat Rouge from being a heady floral. Upon first sniff I thought what a lovely feminine floral but I was wrong. Firstly it is more than lovely – it’s incredibly beautiful, secondly it’s not exclusively feminine at all, and finally it is not just a floral.
It was created firstly in a gorgeous Baccarat crystal bottle, in a limited run of 250 numbered 100ml crystal bottles for $4000 USD to celebrate the anniversary. Then MFK kindly created a version for the mortals, at around $300 USD for a 70ml bottle.
From Maison Francis Kurkdjian:
One history, one area of expertise, one name. Baccarat Rouge 540 draws its inspiration from the very heart of the manufactory, which is celebrating its 250 anniversary with this eau de parfum. Powerful and distinguished, its name evokes a metamorphosis of a clear crystal mingled with 24-carat gold powder and gradually brought to fusion at 540 degrees, arousing a glowing scarlet appearance.
It was also a natural choice to include Baccarat Rouge 540 in today’s celebration fragrance collection by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Launched in 2014 in only 250 numbered crystal bottles, Baccarat Rouge 540 has now gained new momentum in a new setting, the Maison Francis Kurkdjian signature bottle.
The simple note list of Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge makes me happy. It’s straightforward and doesn’t confuse or confound with a list of notes as long as my arm. I like a little mystery with my perfume. My mind will try to find a smell if it’s written down, which I why I prefer to smell and test perfumes before reading the notes. Here are the notes, as per Maison Francis Kurkdjian:
olfactory family: amber woody floral
top: jasmine and saffron
middle: ambergris accord (woody amber)
base: cedar accord; fir balsam
I’ve read reviews calling Baccarat Rouge a holiday perfume, or a Christmas perfume. I suspect the cedar and balsam notes bring to mind a Christmas tree and all the smells associated with that, but I don’t get Christmas. I get “forest by the sea”, likely due to the ambregris, that always has that delicious salty mineral aspect I love so much. I’d compare the delicious ambregris facet of Baccarat Rouge to Hermes Eau de Merveilles, but without any of the citrus notes. The ambregris of Baccarat Rouge is warmer and somehow more powdery, mind you it’s the barest hint of powder.
Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge is sexy, like a warm skin scent, but I would say it’s too complex to write off as only a skin scent. It’s almost got that “my boyfriend’s shirt” scent of a soft and sexy musk (Helmut Lang edp, Kiehl’s Musk) but saffron sets this apart from any simple musk. My first impressions of Baccarat Rouge were that it was a masculine-ish scent, as my tastes tend to be so femme and floral, but it really isn’t masculine per se. It’s easily a unisex scent to be worn by anyone frankly, but it’s no more of a floral bomb than it’s a woodsy barbershop manly scent.
Saffron is another beauty that smells mouthwatering. It is earthy and a bit leathery, with a sexy intimate and dark sweetness. It is more floral than spicy to my nose, and I fell in love with the fragrance of saffron the first time I sniffed it, in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Saffron Troublant. But Baccarat Rouge is different, and the saffron note sings for the first few minutes after spraying. There is a bitter-sweet aspect to saffron – what am I smelling? Is it sweet and delicious like candy? Yes! Oh wait, is it soft and comforting, like warm skin? Mmmmm. Oh, hold on now, what is that dark, dry spice that is trying to peek out? Oh my, how mysterious. Seriously, saffron is magic in perfume.
I loved Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge on first spray and I love the dry down too. There is a sexy skin scent lurking at the base of Kurkdjian scents and for me that is the magic. The pine forest dry down comes and goes as well, and I would say there is a hint of the oddness of Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Winter Delices without the pine needles, as well as The Vagabond Prince Enchanted Forest without the cassis. It’s more of a magic fairy tale fir tree forest versus the place we go for our Christmas trees. The jasmine comes and goes, and offers more of a supportive sweetness than a full on floral blast. It is neither a sillage monster, nor does it last on the skin for an entire day, but I don’t want either of those in my perfumes.
I’ve been wearing MFK Baccarat Rouge 540 almost every day and am in love with it. It’s everything and nothing. Perfect.