9 posts tagged "Kilian Hennessy"
“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.
What: Meet Kilian Hennessy. The LVMH heir and founder of fragrance and candle line By Kilian is making a personal appearance, at which customers can have Kilian products they purchase that day personally engraved, gratis.
When: Friday, December 18, from 1 to 8 p.m. Complimentary engraving is offered on Saturday, December 19 from 12 to 7 p.m. To ensure face time with Kilian, book an appointment by calling (212) 872-2658.
Where: The By Kilian counter at Bergdorf Goodman.
Why: Besides the obvious fact that Mr. Hennessy is pretty easy on the eyes, the opportunity to talk top notes with a formidable perfumer doesn’t come around often. Neither does the offer of free engraving of any ridiculous sentiment you can dream up on a flacon of Rose Oud.
As far as I can tell, there’s no correlation between a fragrance’s ultimate popularity and how much its name sounds like that of a movie, although it’s very possible that I could be unfamiliar with the nuance of perfume nomenclature. CK One, for example, doesn’t sound like a movie; Obsession totally does; both were huge commercial successes. Kilian Hennessy, the man behind the luxe By Kilian line, has invited this train of thought by naming his new perfume Back to Black: Aphrodisiac, which has a certain cinematic ring to it, in that it smacks of a skin flick. Due out in September, the smoky scent is intended to be Eros-inducing, according to its creator. “Smell me, I’m wearing it,” Hennessy said at the fragrance’s launch party at the West Village boîte Charles this week, offering his neck and simultaneously conjuring images of a weekend tangled up in bed sheets at a fine hotel. “It’s the tobacco, supposedly, that’s the turn-on.” The perfume does indeed have a dark and sultry appeal, but a sweet honey note that surfaces after the lengthy dry down is what really hits you and made me think, yes, a film-caliber name does equal olfactory achievement. Or maybe it was the fact that the party was also a celebration for the launch of Hennessey BLACK, a cocktail cognac that was being liberally passed around the room, coupled with the mere presence of Kilian Hennessy, the (very handsome) scion of the Moët Hennessy clan, that skewed my opinion. Regardless, I left with a full bottle of the fantasy-laden elixir in hand, excited at the thought of any further testing that may be required.