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Rencontre avec Francis Kurkdjian, le parfumeur de TiL

Encounter with Francis Kurkdjian, the TiL’s perfumer

Francis Kurkdjian, we no longer need to introduce him.

One of the most gifted perfumers of his generation, co-founder of his eponymous brand and composer of several best-sellers for fashion and beauty brands.

Why and how did this world-renowned talent participate in the TiL adventure? What was the genesis of the creation of TiL’s olfactory note? What are the convictions and emotions that gave birth to it? This is what we want to share with you!

What led you to create the TiL fragrance?

“Several reasons, some sentimental, some professional, led me to take on this challenge.

  • First of all, I have emotional ties with the TiL estate and its owners. I have stayed there many times and spent some very nice moments. I still remember the delicate scent of the linden trees in bloom on the property. These memories are of course different depending on the time of day, but always delicious. Very delicate in the morning with green and wet inflections due to the dew or the freshness of the morning, more opulent and enveloping in the evening. For the creation of the fragrance, I let all those memories of “silver lindens” speak for themselves, particularly fragrant on July evenings when the bloom is at its peak.


  • The second reason is a creative challenge. The linden flower is one of the great “mute” flowers of perfumery, just like honeysuckle or lily of the valley, lilac or hyacinth. A flower is classified as “mute” when, whatever the extraction process, steam distillation or extraction by volatile solvents, it releases no extract that can be used in a fragrance. In a word, it is not possible to extract an essential oil or an absolute… Nothing makes it… ! So you have to start from scratch, that is to say from the flower freshly picked from the tree and let your interpretation run free. I found this interesting, especially since I had complete freedom of creation and inspiration from the founders of TiL. Beyond the evocation of the linden flower, I wanted a contemporary, luminous and intimate writing of the linden tree, and they liked the idea.

  • Finally, we share with TiL the same pragmatic eco-responsible approach. Since 1885, natural and synthetic raw materials have been intimately linked in perfumery. It is with synthetic notes that perfumers have liberated and unbridled their inspiration and that perfumes have become true masterpieces that have lasted for decades!Our philosophy is to do the best possible with the least amount of ingredients, and above all to have a very global vision of the whole ecosystem. So that it is as virtuous as possible and, very importantly, that it makes sense. Making natural products with ingredients that come from the ends of the earth, or that use several tons of water, is totally unreasonable. We must therefore choose our priorities and select processes that are as virtuous as possible for people and the environment.”

Was there a trigger in your creative work?

“I thought for a long time before putting my inspiration on paper. I was wondering how to approach the modernity of this flower which, in the past, had been interpreted, certainly with a lot of veracity, but with its honeyed facets which are no longer in fashion. I had a flash of inspiration one summer afternoon in Paris, while walking through the gardens of the Palais Royal, which were filled with the scent of blooming linden trees. There was an impression of joy in the air, of solar pleasure, and at the same time of a very light mood. I thought that there was a creative starting point to explore from this delicate, luminous floral felling, and this particular reminder of childhood. The idea of the composition came quite quickly afterwards, a sober formula, with a contemporary writing, which integrates all the facets of the Linden flower, both slightly green and honeyed, powdery and orangey. But which catches this impression in the air very light, far from the honeyed, encaustic, warm side that “sticks”. TIl, it is in a way an “olfactory ikebana” around the linden blossom!”

What were your convictions?

“I was already certain that I didn’t want any first degree, honeyed or old-fashioned notes. And the desire to work on an airy facet of linden, fresh, radiant and light, in a delicate way,  but not intimist because the eau de toilette has a real trail !

I wanted a soft, caressing and luminous sensuality that goes well with our times, I think… that the eau de toilette traces a nice sillage, leaves an aura, without being cumbersome.”

How did you proceed to transcribe this smell ?

“When we have to write a formula, starting from nothing as it is the case for the “mute” flowers, we already proceed by bringing together the existing, we decompose and we isolate the characteristic facets.

Those of the linden flower for example are :

  • A little floral like orange blossom but with fresher, greener notes; a little dark green, like the leaves of the linden tree (not soft, like the smell of grass).
  • A bit honeyed sweet, but definitely not “encaustic” or “animal/dirty”.

How would you describe “L’Eau qui Enlace”?

“The water is chiseled, both fresh and enveloping, like a tender cloud with a subtle reminiscence of childhood because I realized that almost everyone has a personal history with the linden tree… It is part of our childhood heritage, whatever the generation. In a world where everything is complex it seemed important to me to work a lot on simplicity,.

This perfume is a bit like a Sunday in the country, a nice picnic and it’s in line with TiL’s family estate! There is a simplicity in this place, and in the way of living there, a French park, certainly, but with cows and sheep next door!  It’s like a country fantasy, glamorous, but in an intimate way. Quite rare in fact…”

Is it the same olfactory note in “L’Eau qui Enlace” and cosmetics?

“No, that would be too simple! (Laughs)

The olfactory note had to be adapted to the different applications, because it does not come out the same way in a foaming, cleansing product and in a cream for example. So each time we have to rework the formula to adapt the fragrance to the product. For example, a foaming product releases the scent more easily, and the freshness has been reinforced in the “ Gel qui fait Chanter” (the shower gel) , because that’s what we expect from a shower gel. In the “Baume qui Resource” on the other hand, it was necessary to compensate for the fact that a “greasy” base absorbs the perfume more, and then I wanted something more “soft” for this night cream.”

How did the creation phase go with the founders?

“I knew that when I created TiL, I was dealing with experts in perfume and skincare who were joining forces to serve women and well-being. This with a very strong family history that really comes from the heart, since this estate in Dordogne is their roots, since their childhood. It is all this that moved me and inspired me too… a true authenticity in their approach.

My creative freedom having been total, I presented them two different tracks. They immediately fell in love with one of them. I then worked on a few adjustments: simplicity, persistence, top notes so that they would be inviting, etc., and then the variations for cosmetics. It was a very fluid development process. No marketing tests, it was not at all the subject for them, their emotions were the best test !

On the other hand, a neuroscientific study was carried out with a team of researchers from the University of Tours, to determine the emotions aroused by “L’Eau qui Enlace”.We had incredible results as they brought to light words that we had in mind from the beginning, but which are quite rare for a perfume, including joy, comfort, and relaxation…

I really loved the idea that the perfume I had created brings both joy and comfort…It’s everything we need !”

Photography by Francis Kurkdjian © Alex GALLOSI

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