Courtesy picture Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Luxury group LVMH is reported to have bought a majority share in Maison Francis Kurkdjian, est. 2009. This confirms a general shift in the luxury fragrance market, which has seen an interest on the part of large luxury and beauty corporations towards acquiring niche perfume labels with credentials...
The niche perfume sector is growing better than other sectors. The market competition between multinational groups such as Puig, L'Oréal, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., also means that it is difficult for a group not to react to news and trends of brand acquisitions in this once confidential sector. No more: Diptyque and Byredo are with Manzanita Capital; L'Artisan Parfumeur, Penhaligon's are with Puig; Frédéric Malle, Le Labo and ByKilian are with Estée Lauder; Atelier Cologne with L'Oréal; Annick Goutal with Amore Pacific.
While the shift is certain and highly noticeable, the phenomenon is not entirely new. Serge Lutens has been working under the umbrella of Shiseido - and so has IUNX; Jo Malone and Tom Ford have been with Estée Lauder for a long time. But the trend is solidifying.
"Motivated by a shared vision of French perfume making and the creativity that inspires it, LVMH and Maison Francis Kurkdjian have announced their association in order to jointly pursue the long-term development of the fragrance house," the companies said jointly in a statement, adding that growth will be pursued especially abroad.
"Their avant-garde spirit and the quality of their creations give this fragrance house great potential and a promising future," said Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH.
Perfumer and house founder Francis Kurkdjian, who will remain as creative director while partner Marc Chaya stays as CEO - both retaining minority stakes - said,
"I have always championed my personal conception of beauty and respect for the métier of perfumer-creator. Maison Francis Kurkdjian lets me freely express my inspirations. LVMH clearly understands the nature of our maison, and the group's approach to custom-crafted creativity guarantees that our distinctive identity will thrive for the long term."
LVMH so far has had a tendency to dilute some of the more interesting asperities of the so-called niche codes in perfumery. In the case of Guerlain, they have certainly pushed the brand towards more glaring luxury codes while discouraging any real creativity in fragrance, for a house, not officially niche, but creative, without, apparently bringing their weight to bear on the issue of disfiguring perfume regulations issued by the European Union.
They appear to be more at ease in the universe of polished perfumes - revamped Louis Vuitton perfumes being another such example. So, it will be interesting to see if a new synergy can be created where a sense of French patrimonial heritage can prevail. A few years ago, in 2013, Bernard Arnault was ready, reportedly, to relocate to Belgium for financial reasons - and even to adopt the Belgian nationality. The question of French luxury patrimony was raised then and the purported move seen as a disloyal one. He recanted his initial intention. Since then, his activities as a cultural mécène in France have developed but perfumery-wise, his group LVMH has privileged more often than not a high-luxury marketing approach rather than a niche one. Having said that, Kurkdjian had the following to say to the Business of Fashion: "Marc and I never thought we were niche," says Kurkdijan, a statement which might surprise his customers - because it looked like they were.