Marc Chaya, CEO and co-founder of luxury perfumery Maison Francis Kurkdjian, talks about being committed to authenticity, celebrating creativity and the brand’s vision.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian CEO and co-founder Marc Chaya is between interviews when he invites passers-by to sample the perfumes at the new boutique in Pavilion KL, answering their questions about the scents as he does. It's their way of ensuring they know what’s happening on the ground, says Chaya. Then he goes back to talking to us about his passion for MFK and the true meaning of luxury.
Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, the Nose that breathed life into more than 40 fragrances for Lanvin, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier, had worked in the scene for decades before creating Maison Francis Kurkdjian in 2009 with Chaya. The two have since then travelled internationally as messengers of a perfume house, something that hadn't been done for a hundred years.
“More than a century ago, perfume was only supplied at perfume houses,” says Chaya, who met Kurkdjian in 2003 and then fell in love with the fragrance industry. “We are not inventing anything new. We are simply going back to the roots of perfumery which had past perfumers with eponymous brands."
“MFK is a luxury fragrance house that carries the name of one of the most celebrated perfumers of our time, in the same way the big perfumeries of the past used to. It started with Coco Chanel meeting a perfumer, Ernest Beaux, who created Chanel No. 5 as a gift (to her customers). But then it started to be sold and the whole industry changed.”
After that, fragrances were supplied to fashion design brands instead of going to perfumers. So although Kurkdjian and other Noses created the scents that lingered on millions of people all over the world, credit and recognition were rarely given.
“For the past 80 to 100 years, it has been based on a model whereby perfumers work based on a marketing brief; they interpret the brand’s DNA and create scents for them,” Chaya says. “This will continue, but the premium segment of the industry is becoming like the fashion world which has creative minds, who instead of working for marketing, get marketing to work for them."
“Our brand story is about being genuine, craftsmanship and the beauty of essential oils. We use them in quantities that no other brands can afford. Jasmine, for example, in this industry you can claim to have jasmine but put only 0.0001%. Francis has no limit, and having no boundaries or constraint lets him unleash his creativity.”