Like Thierry Mugler’s Angel, CK One, and Le Labo’s Santal 33 before it, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 has become that scent—the one you smell everywhere, on everyone, every day. The intoxicating juice has TikTok (and the world) in a chokehold, with thousands upon thousands of videos about the ubiquitous fragrance: experiencing it for the first time, trying it out with a significant other, doing an in-depth review, you name it.
Chances are you’ve smelled the scent: in line at the grocery store, out for dinner at that fancy new restaurant, on your best friend or your boss or via a test strip at Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. Maybe you love it. Maybe you own it or are saving for a bottle. Maybe you hate it after being trapped in an elevator with someone wearing one spray too many. No matter how you feel about Baccarat Rouge 540, the scent has probably touched your life (and your nostrils) in one way or another this year.
Just in time for the holidays, Maison Francis Kurkdijan is launching a companion Shimmering Body Oil ($195), made with luxurious 24-carat gold flakes to cast a warm, candlelit glow on your skin while scenting it with the enveloping amber floral aroma. Is the oil as delicious and compelling as its sister scent? Let’s splash some on and see what happens.
Let’s get one thing straight: Maison Francis Kurkdijan makes luxury fragrances. These aren’t scents you’ll find in the drugstore or even at your local Macy’s or Sephora. These are jewels to glisten and glimmer on your dresser—and their price tag reflects that. Baccarat Rouge 540 eau de parfum starts at $195 for 1.2 ounces, with the 6.8 ounce size retailing for $625. The scent isn’t cheap, but if rich, woody floral ambers with a cashmere sweater coziness that lingers for hours are your thing, Rouge 540 may be worth every cent. After all, there’s a reason fans describe it as smelling like money.
The story goes that the scent was developed by Francis Kurkdijan in the 2010s as a gift to mark Baccarat crystal’s 250th anniversary, and was initially intended only for collectors—just 250 crystal bottles were made. Eventually, Kurkdijan brought the scent to the masses as Baccarat Rouge 540, and a star was born.
Rouge 540 isn’t your stereotypical sweet, cozy scent, though it does open with radiant jasmine and sunlit saffron before warming up on the skin with cedar and sage. It’s cut with ambergris to ground the scent and give it a metallic, mineral edge that makes it compelling, as though you have to take another sniff or you’ll never be satisfied. Oh, and did I mention that candied, jammy layer? Baccarat Rouge 540 is full of surprises, even to the most experienced noses. What also makes Rouge 540 unique is that, like its predecessor Angel before it, it’s fully balls-to-the-wall; instead of adding just a hint of this note and a drop of that, Kurkdijan went overboard on just a few elements.
Though Baccarat Rouge 540 hit counters in the mid-2010s, it was an insiders-only scent for a handful of years before exploding via word of mouth (or is it word of nose?). Much like Santal 33, you’d smell it on a stranger and have to know what they were wearing immediately so you could buy a bottle for yourself.
Like many of today’s cult beauty products, Rouge 540 has TikTok to thank in part for its extreme popularity. The platform brought the scent to the masses in another way, especially in 2020 and 2021 when many were at home on their phones looking for something to lift them out of pandemic doldrums.
It exploded from there and continues to be one of the most popular fragrances on the platform. There are videos that emphasize the otherworldly aroma while also poking fun at the price; application tips to get the most out of the scent; and even videos pranking parents. Perfume blogger Funmi Monet is a big Rouge 540 fan and even counts the bottle as one she’d take if her house was on fire. Dupe videos are also a surefire way to go viral in the Rouge 540 world, as the price tag isn’t the most accessible to all fragrance fans. (One of the most popular dupes is Ariana Grande’s Cloud ($45), which is like Rouge 540 dipped in marshmallow fluff; Zara’s Red Temptation ($29), with similar notes of saffron, orange and amber, is another popular pick.) If you’re at all interested in beauty and fragrance, chances are your FYP has served up something Rouge 540-related at some point in the past two years.
Does the Shimmering Body Oil retain the intrigue of its older sister? It’s extremely common for fragrance brands to release complementary body care products when a fragrance does well, like lotions, bath oils, body powders, hair mists and body oils. If you like to layer your scents so they last all day long and into the night, starting with a humectant moisturizer can essentially “suck in” the scent so it sticks around from AM to PM and you float along on a cloud of gorgeousness.
I held out a long time against Baccarat Rouge 540. That was stupid. Woody gourmand scents are a weakness of mine, including a brief dalliance with Aquolina’s burnt cotton candy Pink Sugar and a long-lasting, off-and-on love affair with the ultimate woody gourmand, Angel. (The girls that get it, get it.) I should have known that I’d immediately love Rouge 540; I’m a fan of the aforementioned Cloud, especially its mineral note that I think smells like skin after a 20-minute tanning bed session. (I was a teen in the early 2000s, it’s an evocative part of my past, OK?)
The oil is gorgeous, obviously. The heavy rectangular bottle feels luxurious in your hand and grabs the light beautifully. Usually scented oils linger on the skin for just a few minutes before fading away, but the Shimmering Body Oil continues to pulse with the heat of your body. The gold flecks are subtle; you won’t feel like you’re dipped in glitter but instead bedecked in a warm, easy radiance.
How does the oil compare to the eau de parfum? To my nose, the oil retains the essential heart of Rouge 540, making it perfect for layering with the fragrance for a night out. If you’re looking to give the most luxurious, over-the-top gift to yourself or someone you love this holiday season, the Baccarat Rouge 540 Shimmering Body Oil is definitely a top contender to unwrap pure, glamorous opulence.