The Alchemy of Baccarat Rouge 540

Baccarat Rouge 540 was originally created by nose Francis Kurkdjian in conjunction with the famous crystal house of Baccarat to celebrate their 250th anniversary and was an ode to the beautiful ruby coloured crystal the house is famous for.  In order to achieve the intense red of the crystal, 24 carat gold is added and then heated up to 540 degrees Celsius, hence the “540” in the name.  Only 250 100 ml bottles (which were designed by Georges Chevalier, one of Baccarat’s creative directors) were made, and they were sold for a hefty price of 3000 euro per bottle.  Knowing about the brilliance of its namesake, it is easy to see why the fragrance turned out to be so opulent and mysterious. The fragrance was added to Francis Kurkdjian’s own house, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, in 2015 and while still an expensive fragrance, it is much more affordable.


In order to achieve the intense red of the crystal, 24 carat gold is added and then heated up to 540 degrees Celsius

The scent:

My first impression of the scent was bewilderment.  It was like nothing I had ever smelt before, in fact I had a hard time of picking out any of the notes; it was as if they were all blended so perfectly that they made a new note entirely, one that left me wanting more. Now some reviewers will maintain that the opening smells sugary and sweet, drawing comparisons to candy floss or burnt sugar, but in my opinion this description is almost criminally simplistic.  While it is sweet, it’s not heavy or cloying, and certainly isn’t sugary.  Furthermore, I would not categorise this as a gourmand scent at all.  Instead, it is the perfect sum of its ingredients, managing to be woody, spicy, resinous and floral all at the same time, and that is what makes it so hard to describe.  Although the scent itself is quite linear, it does evolve with time, becoming woodier and more resinous, as well as more rounded and masculine.  When creating this scent, Francis Kurkdjian clearly wanted to mirror the alchemy of the crystal making process, and I feel he has accomplished this perfectly.  When one looks at a beautiful piece of crystal, it’s impossible to pick out the elements that were needed to make it, and that is the same with baccarat rouge 540.  Just how the correct ratio of minerals and heat can be made into crystal, jasmine, saffron, cedar wood and Amber gris have been blended into something completely original, well balanced and complete.


maxresdefault.jpg download.jpg cedarwood.jpg ambergris_1b.jpg


Saffron Cedar Wood

Amber Gris

Sillage & Longevity:

With regard to silliage, it’s a deceptive fragrance, seeming to oscillate from a skin scent to a heavy scent and then back again.  I have never experienced this kind of progression and regression before, but the effect is extremely seductive; it reels you in, lets you go, only to reel you in again a few hours later. According to Kurkdjian he wanted to create a scent that was both transparent and dense and I can confidently say that he was able to achieve this with regard to its silliage.  With that being said, I would catagorise this scent as having a medium to strong silliage, however, as I said, it can be quite soft at times and at other times, enormous.

One can really see the quality of this scent when it comes to its longevity. It is an extremely good performer, and lasts at least 8 hours on the skin and even longer on clothes.  If I spray it on a coat or scarf, I still get seductive whiffs days later.

All in all, this scent is not for everyone.  I feel that its charms may be completely lost on some, and it certainly would not impress anyone who does not like sweet notes in their scents.  However, for me it is a magical creation; dense, yet airy, sweet, yet not, strong, yet very subtle, masculine, yet feminine…  It will confuse some and and delight others.  However, even though some may not understand it, I think it is just this mysterious quality which has lead it to become a modern day classic.