Believe the hype – Baccarat Rouge 540 deserves to become a classic scent

Believe the hype – Baccarat Rouge 540 deserves to become a classic scent
From the bottle design to the scent, we review the Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 from Net-A-Porter – but did it live up to its cult status?

Every few years certain men’s scents become “cult” – all it takes is a Man U striker admitting to wearing them and suddenly they’re everywhere. Some of them are good, others jarring, like a pop song played on the radio every five minutes that you can’t get seem to get away from.

A date’s Porsche 911 Cabriolet becomes an Orwellian nightmare, as you slide into the passenger seat and find yourself assailed by a recognisable blend of pink pepper, patchouli and musk concealed within.

Other times, however, the “it” scent of the moment is bang on the money and lives up to the hype. The scent equivalent of Game of Thrones if you will. Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 is one such scent, indicating that niche perfumes are finally starting to prevail over the latest fashion house fragrances that get popped out like Tic Tacs every few months.

Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian created Baccarat Rouge 540 back in 2014 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of crystal house Baccarat (of the famous chandeliers), with an initial limited run of 250 bottles. Probably one of the finest “noses” of his generation, Kurkdjian is responsible for classics such as Jean-Paul Gautier’s Le Male and Narciso Rodriguez For Her before going on to found his hugely successful perfumery Maison Francis Kurkdjian – if you haven’t tried its APOM Pour Femme (£105,, it’s probably the most dreamy, romantic scent in existence.

Now it’s Baccarat Rouge that’s taking centre stage, thanks to some serious social media hype – but does the £215 fragrance live up to its cult reputation?

How we tested

We applied Baccarat Rouge morning and afternoon for a week, spritzing it on our neck, collarbone and misting it through our hair. We focused on how the bouquet developed, how it lasted throughout the day and whether we enjoyed “living with it” for several hours or wanted to scrub it off our skin (as can be the case with richer, more cloying scents). These are our thoughts…

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Baccarat rouge 540

The bouquet

While some fragrances are designed to be an accessory to a smart suit, this is a bit more soft and intimate, a perfume designed to get under your skin so to speak, rather than just doused on as part of a grooming routine. Its seductive jasmine heart note is backed by a warm woody accord of balsam fir and ambergris.

The latter is probably the most expensive raw ingredient on the planet – a pound of this sweet, animalistic smelling stuff will set you back a cool $10k and with Baccarat 540, you can smell every penny of it on your skin, blending beautifully with aromatic hints of saffron and cedar.

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There’s also a slight confectionary sweetness underscoring the whole thing that will send you on a sugar high and make the wearer’s skin smell somewhat addictive when you get up close and personal.

How it developed over time

While many perfumes announce themselves with a lot of noise and fanfare when you spray them on – only to disappear after a few hours – the clever thing about this perfume is its subtle richness which stays pretty much consistent throughout the day, and warms up beautifully on the skin. After a day of meetings in town, we were still catching whiffs of it on the tube home.

The bottle

Equally decadent, yet wonderfully so, the bottle is almost as fetching as its contents, a stout square flacon with the recognisable MFK gold stopper.

If you were wondering what the “540” in the name is all about, it’s the temperature required to create Baccarat’s signature ruby red crystal, and the label is suitably red to reflect this.

If you turn the bottle around you can glimpse a chandelier on the other side through the glass – a “dressing table dazzler” if ever there was one.

The verdict: Baccarat Rouge 540

Baccarat Rouge 540 is one of those niche luxury scents that manages to make it into the mainstream, with a complex, nuanced and ever so seductive bouquet – together with wearable staying power worthy of its £215 price tag. If you want to dial up the heat a few notches as the cold weather draws in, this sublime scent is the way to do it.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.