Blog post by Gwen

Baccarat Rouge 540 – floral and woody and perfect

Image - - Boutique Baccarat, 11 place de la Madelaine, Paris, by Erwmat, Sept. 5, 2013

The folks at Baccarat sure know how to party with style. When the luxury crystalworks brand had its 250th anniversary in 2014, it had yearlong celebrations all over the world. They also launched Baccarat Rouge 540 EDP, which was signed by Parisian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and presented in a limited edition Baccarat crystal bottle for £2,510.00 (I quote the UK website because they offer free shipping. I’m here to help.)

Thankfully, in 2016, Kurkdjian was given the right to sell Baccarat Rouge 540 through his brand, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, in an MFK-style bottle. I say ‘thankfully’ because Kurkdjian is the master of rose-centred fragrances, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on one of his best.  

The inspiration for Baccarat Rouge 540 comes from the glassworks founded in 1764 in Baccarat, France. At first, production consisted of windowpanes, mirrors and stemware until 1816, when the first crystal oven went into operation. This enabled them to make crystal in various shades of red, blue, yellow, green and black. The red colour, produced by heating 24-carat gold powder with clear crystal gradually to a temperature of 540 C, became the iconic Baccarat rouge. Baccarat Rouge 540 is Kurkdjian’s interpretation of the process. In an interview, he said, “The perfume suggests the heat of the furnace, the breath of the glass maker and the transparency of crystal through the association of ingredients that, in my mind, represent those ideas.”

Baccarat Rouge 540 opens with a sparkling note of blood orange. The ruby red colour echoes the name but smells citrusy-bitter yet sweet and juicy from its raspberry facets. Lurking just behind it, I smell the salty-sea sweetness of ambergris and the woodiness of cedarwood. On me, these stay present throughout the fragrance's development, at times in the background, at times called forward by facets of the other ingredients. In time, a note of jasmine, sweet and indolic blooms, its airiness warmed by saffron. The fact that saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight is a nod to the luxuriousness of the Baccarat brand. A note of aromatic, herbaceous sage appears; its peppery aspect keeps the warmth humming. It’s paired with lavender, its medicinal aspect on show here. Oakmoss, turpentine-like, earthy and woody gives Baccarat Rouge 540 a rich, foresty, sensuous depth.

What makes Baccarat Rouge 540 a perfect scent is how the notes play on the skin, as though through a crystal lens, changing, re-arranging, and re-combining different aspects of each note. For this to be successful, the ingredients must always re-combine in a pleasing way.  This is the genius of Francis Kurkdjian: choosing and manipulating components to not just represent the heat of the furnace, the breath of the glass blowers and the transparency of the crystal but in a way that results in a fragrance that is complex, luminous and a joy to wear.

Check out Baccarat Rouge 540 in our Shop.