One of Maison Francis Kurkdjian's newest releases is L'Homme A la Rose, a fresh rose scent designed for men, and I think it mostly hits the mark in this respect. It's fresh, slightly sharp, ever so slightly sweet, but mostly rosy and pleasantly so, with some citruses and spices to create rounded, balanced perfume, some key notes being grapefruit, sage, and amber wood.
This falls into the category of being very nice and easily wearable and versatile, but a bit pricey for lacking boldness and innovation. Still, it could be a rosy men's signature scent–not to mention a perfectly pleasant option for women or anyone else–so if it's one of a handful of scents that one wears, it could be worthwhile.
Retail pricing is $275 for the standard 70ml bottle size in EDP concentration, sold at the French house site as well US boutiques and department stores. It performs reasonably well, but not outstandingly.
Overall, a nice scent worth smelling but not groundbreaking.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian L'Homme À la Rose (2020) is unexpected men's version of a line nobody expected, and in part that is because Kurkdjian himself didn't expect to make it. The juicy story is that originally he was commissioned by an undisclosed designer looking to step foot into the perfume market, since he still works as a perfumer for other houses like he did before launching his brand in 2009, and that the designer in question dropped the project before any finished form of the fragrance entered their possession. Kurkdjian was left with incomplete work that he didn't want to let go wasted, so he retooled what is presumably the base of this incomplete and aborted anonymous designer launch fragrance into a men's version of the popular À la Rose (2014). I wasn't particularly kind to that scent, but I didn't exactly hate it either, I just found it to be too generic and downmarket in vibe for the price it commanded, as has tended to happen from time to time with both MFK and other niche houses looking to straddle the wall between mass-appeal and exclusivity with their wares. This one however reads differently to me, although some hardcore fans may read as "more of the same" from a house known for these types of fresh long-lasting perfumes, with the designer salvage operation nature of its existence not being taken into consideration against that. Taken into account the base of L'Homme À la Rose also feels more designer-like than anything since Amyris Homme (2012), and I can already see the snobs coming for ol' Frankie with pitchforks and torches ready to go.
L'Homme À la Rose keeps most of what was present in À la Rose, namely the combination of lighter Western-style and deeper Turkish roses, but builds up a dry woody amber "nü-chypre" foundation underneath similar to what anchors scents like Petit Matin (2016) and many of the "Forte" variants of the MFK Aqua range. What this amounts to is something familiar and mass-appealing as the anchor, with a rose scent built on top of it. There will be no middle ground here for most, you'll either love or hate what's going on, but after the bright grapefruit and "À la Rose accord" fade a bit into the base (I don't detect any heart notes), you're left with mostly sage, white musk, and "amberwood" courtesy of the popular amber xtreme molecule, adding just a speck of rockrose. Similarities to Petit Matin come from the way the florals interact with the citrus here (grapefruit and rose cocktail as opposed to lemon and the litsea cubeba/lavandin/neroli cocktail), then finish on a fresh woody amber base that is never too harsh. I guess there are still some traces of designer-like artificiality thanks to the presence of the "amberwood", but MFK has always leaned heavy on abstract musk, wood, or ambergris/amber molecules anyway, so it seems a nitpick. Projection and sillage are mightier here than with Petit Matin however, and like with Amyris Homme (2012), this one can turn ugly with over-application, so be judicious with sprays. Best use is casual spring through fall, with more heat being better for performance. 8 to 10 hours is what to expect, more in high heat.
Some may say the citric floral woody musk genre has been done to death by Kurkdjian in his own vanity plate line, and they would be right, with well over a dozen entries including combined revisions of the "Matin" perfumes, variations of the "Aqua" perfumes, plus now this. However, citrus florals are a strong suit for the perfumer, he does them well and is probably the only niche perfumer at this price point that challenges the "almighty" Creed at a genre they purport to have centuries of expertise in, for what it's worth. In terms of designers, the only thing this comes close to is probably Cartier Déclaration d'un Soir (2012) as some others may have observed, but that scent is more focused on dry Damask rose and wood, while L'Homme À la Rose has more to say with the surrounding grapefruit and the more-complex rose cocktail that defines the À la Rose line, which actually benefits here from having a drier citrus and wood treatment versus the plain "pretty" rose of the original or droll fruity floral treatment of L'eau À la Rose (2019). L'Homme À la Rose is still at it's most basic, a rose fragrance, so if you are a dude that maintains "roses are for girls", then this one is not for you. I really like what's going on here, but with Xerjoff also having a ton of good (albeit heavier) options in this range, the luxury citrus floral masculine market is starting to look like the designer aquatic market of twenty years ago. Also, ignore the label as L'Homme À la Rose feels very unisex all around like most luxury niche competitors in this segment. Thumbs up.