What Cologne Is Made Of

We talked to perfumer Francis Kurkdjian about sourcing a masculine scent.

Curious about what actually goes into the Masculin Pluriel Eau de Toilette we dab on in the morning, we asked famed scent designer Francis Kurkdjian, the man behind the eau. Graciously, he shared his recipe (which follows) with us. Great colognes are more than the sum of their parts and with “parts” like these, it’s easy to understand how Kurkdjian mixed himself a winner.

California Grapefuit

To our nose, grapefruit is the perfect fruit. It’s clean, citrusy, and fragrant without the cloying sweetness of peaches or the stinging intensity of pineapple. The slightly tangier fruits from the West Coast—Florida and Texas yield sweeter crops—smell like morning and all it entails. Here, it supplies a top note, leading the olfactory charge.

Sicilian Lemon

Ask someone from Taormina and they’ll tell you the only true lemons come from the Trinacria. They’re not right, but they’re not wrong either. Italian lemons have a deeper taste than their New World cousins. Paired here with grapefruit, lemon gives the scent a clean impact.

Lavender Absolute from Provence

Provence is known for its rich agricultural history and for producing some of the loveliest tastes and smells in the world. Kurkdjian chose the fertile, mineral-rich farms on the banks of the Rhone for the richer, grainier scent of the flowers, distilled into an essential oil. The result is unlike anything you’ll find in a Yankee Candle.

Moroccan Cedar

Atlas Cedar, a towering and sturdy tree native to the temperate mountains of Morocco and Algeria, has a silhouette so grand that one is planted on the White House lawn. It’s a stronger scent that our native cedars, but retains that classic cedar freshness while adding a woodsy, masculine base for the top notes.

Indonesian Patchouli

Patchouli from the mountains around Jakarta is the best in the world. The leaves are distilled with steam, not water, and the resulting essential oil is a perfect mid-dark color, and musky-sweet. This exotic ingredient adds depth to scents that otherwise might skew simply floral or acidic.

Haitian Vetiver

Used by other fashion powerhouses like Ermenegildo Zegna, this delicate Haitian Vetiver is harvested in the southwestern part of Hispaniola—Carnival country—then processed in centuries-old refineries in Les Cayes. It yields a signature dark green note (deeper and more sustained than fresh–cut grass) whose interplay with the cedar provides a fresh, masculine cut.


As the cologne’s solvent, brandy has the physical work of maintaining the solution’s homogeneity and translucence, while also adding its own caramel and woodsmoke scent. Think of it as a chaser.