Francis Kurkdjian is a piano player. He’s also one of the world’s best perfumers. Keys on the piano, notes in a fragrance, “the palette of ingredients is always the same,” Kurkdjian explains to UAE’s The National. “But it’s like when you think about music as a palette of sounds… You still have the same keyboard, so how can you keep creating new things?”
It’s a good question for a man who’s just created another scent for a brand that basically revolves around a raincoat. Yet Burberry manages to elevate itself beyond that, to keep re-inventing, taking the most classic elements and giving them just the right twist to carry them forward. A classic palette, the same keyboard, with a new tune. The original My Burberry fragrance launch managed to land Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne as its faces – two generations of Brit mod icons, the classic and the re-mix, the point lost on no one.
I’m just as much a sucker for good marketing as the next gal, and I have to admit, My Burberry got me good. But, I’ve also been reading beauty press releases for a decade now.
The trench, re-imagined for night, in black, in a perfume?
Come on, people.
But then I tried My Burberry Black . And loved it.
Kurkdjian talks in interviews about the character of rain, and it’s evident in this essence of Burberry. The first spray is sweet, yes, but like a fabulous cheek kiss hello, not a lolly-pop. Classic notes of jasmine and rose are treated with masterful restraint, as if detected through a light drizzle, strolling home after dark along cobbled streets (perhaps I’ve been seduced by the hype but there’s something about the treatment of these notes that’s like a spring shower). The candied peach – which on paper sounds woefully commercial, somehow in reality is as soft and welcoming as that familiar coat on a cool evening. The whole composition is skillfully wrapped up in the embrace of warm amber, and long – like 12 hours – after the first spray, there is a gentle, simple warmth of jasmine re-emerging with such elegance.
I’m actually not sure how Kurkdjian manages to make a wet raincoat smell so good, but yet he does. And any time I’m looking to borrow some British elegance, I’ll be wearing My Burberry Black.