Marc Chaya is a good friend and business partner of the famous perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Actually he is who convinced him to create perfumes for his own company. And thus the two established Maison Francis Kurkdjian in 2009, and since then they have put out many luxury perfumes. In his own words, Marc Chaya tells us the story of Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

FASHION&TRAVEL Can you tell us about Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the perfume house you have established with the well-known perfumer Francis Kurkdjian? How did you two meet and decide to establish a business together?
MARC CHAYA I met Francis Kurkdjian some 10 years ago at a dinner after a Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show. I was sitting next to him and asked him casually what he did in life. I learned he was a perfumer, and that he had created iconic scents for fashion houses such as Jean Paul Gautlier Le Male, the best selling Men’s perfume for more then 15 years, Narcisso Rodriguez for her, Armania Mania and tens of others for Saint Laurent, Dior, Ferraga- mo, Kenzo etc… My immediate reaction was: how come I don’t even know your name? With time we became close friends and I learned a lot about the fragrance industry and its specific model, the only in the world to hide talent behind the curtain and steel his legitimacy for the sake of marketing and story telling. I used to be a partner at Ernst & Young and over time I started supporting Francis and working with him on the roadmap to create a luxury fragrance.

F&T Were you very interested in perfumes before this collaboration?
MC I have always been a perfume lover and user but have never thought this will my work and my life. I am more a people’s person and it was more my passion for Francis’ talent than my passion for perfume that drew me in to it.

F&T Maison Francis Kurkdjian is fairly new but you have put out many perfumes in a five year period… What kind of perfumes do you produce? Can you give a few examples?
MC Our fragrance line is designed like an olfactive wardrobe with a spirit of French and Parisian elegance, glamour, chic and true sophistication. That “je ne sais quoi” as we say in France. Maison Francis Kurkdjian carries today a collection of 19 fragrances. Behind each of them there is a story and each of them sketches an invisible garment, an emotion. Aqua Universalis is all about being slik, addictivly fresh. I compare it to a white shirt, an essential piece in one’s wardrobe, as it can be worn buttons up with a bow tie ore rolled-up sleeve with a casual attire. It is simply perfect for any accasion, a fragrance to share as freshness is common to both men and women. APOM is an acronym that stands for A Part Of M e. It has been inspired from sensuality and beauty of men and women from the mediterranean shores. APOM would be a more couture sent, almost like a cocktail dress or a perfect fit suite. APOM is declined in an EDP for her and an EDT for him. That’s because Francis wanted to give it two different sensualities. They both share Cedar wood and Orange blossom. The women’s interpretation plays then on a floral note with ylang ylang while the men’s is more woody ambery with a dry down of amber. Lumiere Noire femme has been created as a tribute to French actress Catherine Deneuve. I see it as a glamorous sensual evening dress. Amyris pour femme and pour homme are more ready to wear scents reflecting the idea of effortless elegance…

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F&T You recently launched Masculin Pluriel and Feminin Pluriel here in Istanbul. Can you tell us about these perfumes?
MC Our new creations Feminin Pluriel and Masculin Pluriel are a tribute to timeless elegance. Francis wanted to create scents that would be contemporary but at the same time classical, that would resist to fashion. Feminin Pluriel is a grand floral bouquet with a burst of Jasmine, rose, violet, iris and orange blossom. It is sustained by a pure Chypre accord combining vetiver and patchoulo. Masculin Pluriel is a beautiful composition with notes of leather, woods and lavender absolute.

F&T Where will the perfumes be sold in Turkey?
MC Masculin Pluriel and Feminin Pluriel are already available at La Deesse store (Teşvikiye cd. N°3i/2 Nisantasi 34363 Istanbul).

F&T Are they the first perfumes of your perfume house in the Turkish market?
MC You can find all our perfumes at La Deesse store.

F&T Can you tell us how important the name of a perfume is? How do you (or who) decides on the names of your perfumes?
MC When Francis talks about his creation he says that inspiration is key. He first focuses on a general feeling. Then he tries to envision the final image for the fragrance. The name of the fragrance always comes first. It sums up what we want to say with the perfume. It gives a guideline, a creative path to follow.

F&T Maison Francis Kurkdjian also has perfumed bracelets and even a detergent.. As a luxury perfume house why did you choose to create these products and are they very popular?
MC Francis says that pushing the boundaries is part of his mission. That’s why he wanted to create new ways to let people discover and experiment scents such as the leather bracelet. It’s also the idea of a perfumed life 24/7.

F&T A lot of perfumers now create unisex perfumes. Does Maison Francis Kurkdjian have any unisex perfumes and what do you personally think of unisex perfumes?
MC Freshness being an emotion both men and women share, our Aqua collection with Aqua Universalis and Aqua Vitae is a unisex scent. APOM, Lumiere Noire, Amyris and Pluriel are however designed as couples with an interpretation that is adjusted to the shape of a women or the one of a men. I do not believe in Unisex only as men and women have different sensualities and different body shapes. That being said, women can easily afford to wear a men’s fragrance the same way a women can borrow her husband’s or boyfriend’s shirt and be very elegant wearing it. The other way around is a bit more diffcult.

F&T Do you have a favourite perfume or ingredient?
MC I enjoy wearing a perfume based on my mood, the sensuality I want to express or the weather. Fresh notes being my summer favorite with Aqua Universalis as an ideal summer scent and Amyris homme as a perfect everyday scent. I wear Aqua Vitae when I want to feel “cocooned” and Oud Cashmere mood, a sophisticated/into- xicating wood and leather blend with a black tie.

F&T Can you tell us how one chooses a perfume? Or should I ask it this way; do certain kind of people choose certain types of perfume?
MC Always go for a perfume that reflects your mood and it’s in harmony with your personality. Francis always says a perfume is not just a scent, it is an invisible body shape, a part of ourselves that we leave with others.

F&T Are there any trends in the perfume business like in the fashion world?
MC There are trends in every fashion field including perfume. However unlike fashion great scents can survive time and be worn from generation to generation.

F&T What are your future plans for Maison Francis Kurkdjian?
MC A lot to come with new launches and in Turkey new retail development in 2015.

F&T What would you be doing if you hadn’t started this business with Francis Kurkdjian?
MC Who knows! Before starting Maison Francis Kurkdjian I was a partner in consulting at Ernst & Young, where I worked for 13 years…