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There’s a changing of the guard afoot at Parfums Christian Dior.
The house’s legendary Francois Demachy, who has served as perfume creation director since 2006, is stepping down in favor of retirement and will be succeeded by a star on the fragrance scene in Francis Kurkdjian.
The latter assumes the post from his own perfumery, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, which he co-founded in 2009 alongside Marc Chaya. It was acquired by luxury conglomerate LVMH (also home to Dior) in 2017 so the move keeps him in the family in more ways than one. Kurkdjian will remain artistic director of his fragrance business while he steers Parfums Christian Dior.
In addition to the LVMH connection, Kurkdjian has ties to Dior in that he previously collaborated with the house on Eau Noir and Cologne Blanche for La Collection Privée Christian Dior. The award-winning Kurkdjian, made Knight of Arts and Letters in 2009, was heralded as a rising star in the industry after having composed his first men’s fragrance, Le Male by Jean-Paul Gaultier, at age 25. In addition to opening a bespoke fragrance atelier in 2001, he has collaborated with Sophie Calle and choreographer Christian Rizzo.
Parfums Christian Dior president and chief executive officer Laurent Kleitman praised Kurkdjian as a visionary perfumer and passionate artist “who brings his full creative energies, savoir-faire and exacting professionalism to Dior Perfumes, crafting future Dior fragrances that will conquer the world.”
Says Kurkdjian: “It is a tremendous honor for me to join Parfums Christian Dior, a maison with a richly inspiring history and a resolutely future-facing creative spirit. I am delighted to share my vision through my fragrance creations. Working at Maison Dior while continuing to create for my own maison is a great privilege. I want to sincerely thank Bernaud Arnault for renewing his confidence in me as part of LVMH, and I extend my warm thanks to Claude Martinez, Stephanie Medioni, Laurent Kleitman and Marc Chaya for their support.”
While the news is significant for Kurkdjian, Demachy’s impact is not forgotten. He was treated to a turn in the spotlight earlier this year courtesy of Nose, a feature-length documentary from filmmakers Arthur de Kersauson and Clément Beauvais. While it now can double as his swan song, the atmospheric film also served as a tribute to not only his nasal talents, as the title suggests, but also his unique gift for creating moods, memories and experiences through his fragrance creations. A native of Grasse, France — often referred to as the fragrance capital of the world — Demachy is credited for revisiting J’Adore and Miss Dior with much success while also introducing Sauvage in 2015. The men’s fragrance went on to become the top-selling in the world.
“Francois Demachy will remain one of the most prominent talents among all those who have helped celebrate the unique Dior spirit and perpetuate the Dior dream,” gushed Kleitman of his outgoing director. “His scents are treasures that will remain timeless. It has been an extraordinary adventure and a great honor to work with him both in Paris and in Grasse.”
Though Demachy did not speak today in conjunction with the news, The Hollywood Reporter covered a virtual discussion he participated in for the premiere of Nose earlier this year. During the chat, moderated by Brad Goreski, the filmmakers made mention of how humble Demachy is despite a decades-long run at the helm of Dior’s fragrance creations. Fragrance insider Erin Flaherty, a former top beauty editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire, asked Demachy what he wanted his legacy in the fragrance world to be. His humility kept him from answering, leaving it up to her to sum it up by saying, “You are the nose.“
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Taraji P. Henson