11 posts tagged "By Kilian"
It’s easy to understand why the nine distinct eaux in Kilian Hennessy’s By Kilian L’Oeuvre Noire collection were actually dubbed “temptations.” Just look at their alluring monikers: Prelude to Love, Love, Beyond Love, Love and Tears, Taste of Heaven, Straight to Heaven, Back to Black, Liaisons Dangereuses, and Cruel Intentions. How’s that for a little olfactory plot development? For his fragrance novel’s much-anticipated denouement, Hennessy has just release the final entry in his ten-chapter tome, aptly called Sweet Redemption. Its name is fitting, considering the delicate cloud of orange blossom that dominates the scent thanks to the sturdy base notes that anchor it, including vanilla absolute, myrrh, and sour orange leaf absolute. The result is powerful but soft at the same time, which, as it turns out, is a very seductive combination and totally par for the course. As far as Hennessy’s plans for a sequel, it’s in the works, he says. “I already have a box and a story.”
Fragrance can conjure up memories, places, people. In some cases, it can also call to mind something far more ephemeral, like, say, fictional characters. A whiff of perfumer extraordinaire Kilian Hennessy’s latest olfactory offering made me immediately think of one in particular: Scheherazade. The narrator of one of my very favorite childhood tomes, One Thousand and One Nights, she seduced the notoriously cranky—OK, maniacal—sultan King Shahryar with her enchanting storytelling ability. I always imagined her with long, glossy black hair, flowy harem pants, and piles of gold jewelry. A few dabs of By Kilian’s new Incense Oud behind each ear would complete the picture. The third scent in his Arabian Nights collection (Pure Oud and Rose Oud launched last year, and two more will follow in Spring 2012 and 2013), Incense Oud is based around the exotic oud note. Rare and prized, oud oil is found in the resinous wood of the aquilaria tree in Southeast Asia and has an intoxicating sensual aroma. Combined with smoky incense notes as well as Turkish rose oil, cardamom, and pink pepper essences, it takes on a distinctly mystical quality in the latest installment from Hennessy. Should you want to alternate your ouds, By Kilian will release mini versions of all three flacons in the collection in May as part of a travel set.
“You should never want to throw away anything beautiful,” says perfumer Kilian Hennessy, whose latest olfactory object of desire is meant as a keepsake—and a refillable one, at that. After launching an eponymous Art Deco-inspired handbag collection derived from the black lacquered wood boxes that encase his luxe fragrances, the Hennessy scion kept with the same early-twentieth-century artisan theme when designing a limited-edition collection of bedazzled flacons that debuted this month. Drawing inspiration from renowned jewelers of the era—specifically Jean Després, Gérard Sandox, and Jean Fouquet—Hennessy has fashioned four different heavy-weight glass bottles. Just 40 pieces have been created (ten of each design), and each can be filled with any one of Hennessy’s 11 scents. The first design (pictured above at far left) is already sold out and just four remain of each of the other three collectibles. With an equally heavy-weight price tag ($395 at Bergdorf Goodman), they likely won’t be seeing the inside of a recycling bin anytime soon.
Kilian Hennessy’s name precedes him. As the grandson of the famed cognac-producer Kilian Hennessy, he has the rare privilege of being part of the legacy that put the H in LVMH, the world’s foremost luxury conglomerate. The younger Hennessy has steered clear of the family business, though, and instead chosen perfume as his métier. “I found fragrance by luck,” the handsome Frenchman says of his chosen profession, which to date has yielded two fragrance collections (L’Oeuvre Noir and Arabian Nights) and a worldwide fan base that extends from New York to the UAE (he’s huge in Dubai). Putting in time at Firmenich and holding marketing jobs at Dior, PUIG, Gucci Group, and the L’Oréal-owned Armani Fragrances gave Hennessy the olfactory chops to go out on his own, which he did in 2007, when he began working on a collection of ten fragrances that tells a story in three parts: four fragrances correlate to “love and its prohibitions,” three to “the artificial paradises,” and three to “the temptations” category. Love, Tears, Surrender, his ninth offering and the conclusion of his love theme, bows this month. This time around, Kilian played with jasmine, pairing the floral essence with a combination of ylang-ylang and what he calls “beachy notes.” Here, Hennessy discusses the differences between fragrance and cognac, what real luxury is, and why he just may have a future in screenwriting.
How does a cognac heir come into fragrance?
I did a program in college at La Sorbonne that specialized in semantics and literature and I wrote my thesis on the semantics of perfume—I don’t know why. Because I really wanted to understand what I would be writing about, I enrolled at Cinquième Scents to take a nose course. This school educates people who don’t want to be perfumers but want to work in the perfume industry, so it teaches olfactive families, essential oils, synthetic molecules, etc. I did ten crash courses over the course of the year and when I started smelling, it just clicked. I knew instantly that that would be my craft.
Was it a big deal to leave the family business?
Well, Hennessy was no longer a family business—it was LVMH. My grandfather is 103 now, but when he took over Hennessy after WWII he had to open markets to sell product—so everything I’m doing now, he did 60 years ago. We have the same name so whenever I see him he says, “How am I doing?” asking about my business. His favorite fragrance is A Taste of Heaven.
By Kilian fans tend to be jet-setting types, so the only question about the Hennessy heir’s new limited-edition Gold Travel set, available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman, is what took so long? The brand’s classic black flacon has been lacquered in gold this time around to really give it that objet d’art feel. It comes with three refills in your choice of four, best-selling scents from BK’s L’Oeuvre Noire Collection—Love, Liaisons Dangereuses, Straight to Heaven, and Back to Black—or the new Rose Oud, a spicy floral from the Arabian Nights range. It’s a nice way to fly in style and could make a lovely gift for your mother come Sunday.