New Perfume Review By Kilian L’Heure Verte- The Flip Side

Back in 2007 I remember meeting Kilian Hennessy at a personal appearance. He had traveled to Boston to launch his new fragrance collection, By Kilian. In those days the price tag and presentation staked out new ground in the rapidly expanding niche perfume market. As he introduced us to his line, I kept thinking how good it was. These were perfumes which were taking the idea of artistic perfumery to new places. The brand has become one of the most recognizable luxury perfume brands in the world.

Kilian Hennessy

Out of that first collection one which has always been one of my favorites was A Taste of Heaven. Calice Becker spliced absinthe into a traditional fougere architecture. It was an abstraction of absinthe taken for a crew cut. Fourteen years later absinthe takes center stage again in By Kilian L’Heure Verte.

Mathieu Nardin

L’Heure Verte is the newest addition to “The Liquors” collection. So far, the previous releases have been focused on not creating an abstract of alcoholic ingredients. It is closer to assembling a realistic version. Working with perfumer Mathieu Nardin they create a flip side to that earlier fragrance.

I drink my fair share of absinthe. What I enjoy is the herbal licorice-like bite as it flows over my tongue. M. Nardin uses that as a place to begin. The wormwood accord to represent absinthe has a boozy quality without getting syrupy. It has its nose pointed towards those licorice aspects. He amplifies them by adding licorice. To those who think of this as Twizzlers it is the European version. What that means is an edgy herbal-based candy. It finds the absinthe and forms the fragrance version of the bite on my tongue. To make sure it doesn’t go all dark some violet leaf revives the green pieces of the top accord.

One of the most important ingredients to be fractionated is patchouli. It has provided perfumers a broader vision when they want to use it. M. Nardin chooses one which has the dirty earthy part accentuated. It made me think of clandestine evenings drinking absinthe to distraction. Vetiver acts as the green anchor to keep things from becoming too strident. A dry sandalwood provides the foundation for this bottle of absinthe to rest upon.

L’Heure Verte has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you also like A Taste of Heaven, L’Heure Verte adds a more focused experience than that. I will want both because sometimes the flip side is preferred.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Neiman-Marcus.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme- Finding a New Beat

It is often a mystery why a brand chooses to start producing flankers. For the mass-market ones that I understand. That’s commercialism. I am more intrigued when an independent brand chooses to do it. I’ve hypothesized it is an opportunity to re-interpret a divisive ingredient or accord from the original. Like taking a second swing at the piñata. The creative director of By Kilian, Kilian Hennessy has seemingly been trying to find new ways to display the unique central accord in one of his first releases, By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme is the third try.

Kilian Hennessy

Love: Don’t Be Shy was part of the original set of releases in 2007. From a purely conceptual perspective it was also probably the most realized. Working with perfumer Calice Becker they created one of the first gourmands to push into new territory. Their focal point was to create a marshmallow accord as the keynote. This wasn’t just the sugary sweet puff. It was also the rose water laced syrup to go with it. That accord was a love it/hate it kind of experience. I was in the former category. Those in the latter found it too sweet and reminiscent of bubble gum in an unpleasant way. It was always a fun experiment to be with sniff groups at the Boston Saks and watch to see a first impression to it.

Calice Becker

In the last couple of years there were two attempts at flankers. All done by Mme Becker. One was Love: Don’t Be Shy Eau Fraiche which chose to make the entire thing more transparent. That left me wanting more. A more successful rendition was Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose and Oud. I still experience it as a mash-up of the original Love and another Kilian, Rose Oud. What I want to comment on is the rose in that gave the marshmallow accord a more sophisticated style. Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme seems to be driving down the middle between both previous flankers.

Extreme begins with the marshmallow water accord and neroli together. This is part of the way the original began, too. A rich jammy Bulgarian rose comes next. Just as I experienced in the Rose and Oud flanker the rose transforms the marshmallow accord. That accord has a rose water component. When this opulent rose shows up it supercharges that part of the confectionary accord. Instead of feeling childish it feels like the choice of an iconoclast. The marshmallow gets sweeter as time goes by, but the rose stands right next to it all the way to the end.

Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

It will always be hard for any flanker to seem better to me than the original. I think it is one of the great perfumes in the entire collection. What I like about Extreme is it chooses to ask the marshmallow accord to find a little more maturity. Not enough that the echoes of the childish giggle aren’t still noticeable. Just enough to allow you to wear it and walk to your own beat.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample supplied by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Roses on Ice- Eau de Hendrick’s

Regular readers of my Sunday Magazine column know my favorite spirit is gin. Much as my perfume habit accelerated after I discovered niche something similar happened with gin. It was when I tried Hendrick’s Gin. That is what is called a botanical gin, given the sobriquet “Old Tom”. Prior to that day I had been exposed to dry gin. After that I discovered a whole new world of gin replete with botanical ingredients distilled into it. There is a Venn Diagram overlap here with perfume as these gins are much more fragrant. Hendrick’s adds cucumber and rose to it. By Kilian Roses on Ice is the perfume version.

Kilian Hennessy

Roses on Ice is the partner to Angel’s Share as the debut releases in The Liquors collection. Founder and creative director Kilian Hennessy collaborates with perfumer Frank Voelkl on this. The brief is exactly what it seems, a gin on the rocks fragrance. Except it appears they were thinking about Hendrick’s and not the typical dry gin.

Frank Voelkl

That impression is immediately apparent as cucumber and juniper berry are what I first notice. The watery vegetal quality of the cucumber finds an austere platform in the acerbic juniper berry. To complete the Hendrick’s accord a dewy rose is infused into things. Mr. Voelkl finds just the right balance between the three ingredients. He then takes a dry sandalwood given some life through a few musks. As it all came together, I often thought I was drinking from an exotic wood tumbler.

Roses on Ice has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

It is a little early to be thinking of spring rose perfumes. I wanted to make sure to write about this now before I get deluged with the coming spring rose tsunami. Roses on Ice is the kind of fragrance I am talking about when I ask for an alternative to boring debutante rose styles. Mr. Voelkl uses that same rose but by floating it in gin it gives it a more adult spin. If you’re thinking about your spring perfume you should try Roses on Ice or as I call it Eau de Hendrick’s.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Angel’s Share- Kilian Returns To His Roots

One of the most successful niche perfume brands has been By Kilian. Ever since it debuted in 2007 creative director Kilian Hennessy has produced one of the best examples of what can be done in this area. In the early days when I wrote reviews, I always had a line in there about M. Hennessy being part of the famous cognac producing family. I don’t know exactly when I stopped thinking of him as a scion of a liquor empire and fully a perfume creative director, but it happened. He earned my respect such that I didn’t have to water it down as if he was spending his time in fragrance as a hobby, I think he kept from making a perfume based on cognac because he wanted to keep the two worlds apart. After thirteen years it seems they have come back together in By Kilian Angel’s Share.

Kilian Hennessy

Angel’s Share is one of two new releases comprising the new collection The Liquors. I say new but many of the city exclusives have already formed an olfactory liquor cabinet. I imagine M. Hennessy spent a lot of time in the aging cellars of the family estate. It is where the term angel’s share comes from. The amount of cognac which evaporates from the oak casks as it ages is given that name. Working with perfumer Benoist Lapouza he channels his family legacy into an excellent boozy gourmand.

Benoist Lapouza

When you enter the cellar of any aging spirit the scent of the angel’s share is a combination of the alcoholic liquid and the wood of the barrels. M. Lapouza begins the perfume in the same way. A strong oak combined with an equally potent cognac form the accord named on the bottle. What I especially enjoyed was both parts have a bite to them. This is the sting of cognac as it slides down your throat and the roughness of the staves making up the barrels. I would’ve enjoyed this, but M. Hennessy seemingly wanted the angel to have dessert. The second phase of Angel’s Share is a full gourmand accord which smells like a cinnamon bun. Vanilla, tonka bean, and cinnamon form a sticky bun accord that is delectable. Sandalwood completes this fragrance.

Angel’s Share has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This has arrived at the right part of the year for it. This is an Autumn/Holidays type of perfume. I wore this on two very chilly days, and it sang off my skin. M. Hennessy may have wanted to wait before he blurred the lines between family legacy and what he has built on his own. Angel’s Share makes me happy he did return to his roots.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Lemon in Zest- Limoncello Life

There is a trend in niche perfumery I find very irritating; the city exclusive. It is even more troublesome when I see a note list from a brand I like in a city I have no way of getting access to. Which was how I learned of By Kilian Lemon in Zest.

Kilian Hennessy

In 2014 creative director owner Kilian Hennessy began to open stand alone boutiques all over the world. For each opening there was a corresponding city exclusive to be sold only at that store. All of them were based on alcoholic beverages indigenous to the city the store was in. New York. Moscow, Paris, Doha, and London I had ways of getting a sample of those. As I managed to try all of them Lemon in Zest remained the stubborn outlier I couldn’t source. It was at the boutique in Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano is on the Swiss-Italian border and is not a large metropolis. I just couldn’t manage to pull the strings I needed to get a sample. Now it seems as if all the city exclusives have become available more widely. I got my sample of Lemon in Zest a little over a month ago.

Alberto Morillas

What had me interested from afar was that it was based on the Italian liqueur limoncello. It also had perfumer Alberto Morillas as the perfumer. I had liked the previous city exclusives for their booziness. I was thinking that M. Morillas could make a limoncello perfume with the bite it would need. I wasn’t wrong.

Limoncello is made from the rind of the lemon and not the pulpy fruit itself. Those rinds are marinated in alcohol for days before being combined with simple syrup. It is served ice cold from the freezer carrying the bite of cold matched to the alcohol and the tart lemon. Limoncello is best drunk as the sun sets on a summer day. M. Morillas makes his own limoncello.

It begins with that tartness of the rind of lemon. Besides the lemon there is a subtle green underneath which is very appealing. These early stages are photorealistic lemon perfume at its best. Then he takes it and adds it to the sweet alcohol. The note list calls it “orange liqueur”. There is a hint of orange, but it is there as a surrogate for the simple syrup adding in some sweet. The alcohol here has that kind of bite I was hoping for. This isn’t a warm comfy cognac or whisky accord. This is a bracing shock to the system full of lemon energy. The same experience a shot of cold limoncello makes in my mouth. It ends as it does for me in real life as I look out over my back yard in summer twilight. Vetiver gives an earthy feel through a judicious use of patchouli. It is an ideal base accord for this.

Lemon in Zest has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I admit that once I got my sample, I was motivated to make some limoncello. I also put my sample in the refrigerator. About a week ago I took both out to enjoy the fireflies and the comet visible overhead from my deck. It felt like I was living my best limoncello life inside and out.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad Eau Fraiche- The Good Place

There are perfumes I don’t care for where I walk away wondering how it would have been if one ingredient was added or removed. I’ve learned over the years that a perfume I am not crazy about is only one change away from being one I do like. There are rare occasions when it happens on the perfume shelf but By Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad Eau Fraiche shows it off.

Kilian Hennessy

The original Good Girl Gone Bad was released in 2012 as a collaboration between creative director Kilian Hennessy and perfumer Alberto Morillas. The idea was to create a sultry white floral with the added opulence of osmanthus. Regular readers know that should have been right in my wheelhouse. It was but the more I wore it the more crowded all the “bad girl” florals seemed. There were too many of them. I found myself craving a lighter version with the same aesthetic using less. Mssrs. Hennessy and Morillas provide me what I wanted with Good Girl Gone Bad Eau Fraiche. The biggest alteration is the removal of osmanthus and narcissus. What is left behind, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, and rose still manage to be “bad” while also being good.

Alberto Morillas

For the Eau Fraiche version orange blossom has a more pronounced presence. It is the lightest of the white florals, but it still has enough indoles to remind you it belongs. M. Morillas adds Rose de Mai, another lighter version of a flower which retains the sultry core. This is that “bad girl” on holiday walking in a sundress with a pop in her step. Jasmine and tuberose call back to the original without being quite as loud. It seems as if they are on holiday too. As the florals come together this is a summery white floral which exudes energy. It all glides along on a base of white musks providing a warm breeze to ruffle our “bad girls’” hair.

Good Girl Gone Bad Eau Fraiche has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you were not a fan of the original because you share my feel of it being overcrowded this version should be better. I know there are some who told me the original smelled like pickle juice on their skin. I think that was probably from the osmanthus. This version should also be more enjoyable if the other florals are to your taste. I like it very much especially on the spring days I tested it. It seems like the creative team found the good place for the “bad girls” to be Eau Fraiche.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Rolling in Love- Powdered Skin

One of the recurrent themes within perfumery are pairs of ingredients which seem tailor-made for each other. One of the pairs which has always evolved from the earliest days is iris and musk. The reason is the evolution of musks over the years.As the chemists have produced more and more of them perfumers are given the ability to take a different perspective on a classic pair. By Kilian Rolling in Love does this with iris and musk.

Kilian Hennessy

Creative director Kilian Hennessy’s vision was as a “skin musk” with textures of “white”. In the case of Rolling in Love that translates to a perfume of florals and musks by perfumer Pascal Gaurin.

Pascal Gaurin

That concept is where it opens. M. Gaurin uses a mixture of almond milk and ambrette seeds to nod to both. The almond milk has a creamy nuttiness which the botanical musk of ambrette is added like a flavor swirl. The heart is the powdery iris which M. Gaurin enhances with supporting florals; rose, orange blossom, and tuberose. Those three are kept at low doses such that they add a richness to the iris without the heart becoming a more varied bouquet. The skin musk returns with the synthetic musks that represent the scent of warm skin all together. In a reverse of the top accord M. Gaurin adds a sweet flavor swirl of tonka and vanilla. This all comes together as rapidly as it takes you to read this paragraph. What it means is there is a predominant duet of iris and musk given some depth and texture by the other ingredients.

Rolling in Love has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Iris and musk are not an original pairing. What is different in Rolling in Love is turning it into a deep powdered skin scent. It is a well-executed version of that.

Disclosure: this review is basedo n a sample provided by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose & Oud- Kilian Mash-Up

I am a fan of the musical form known as the mash-up. It is where they take two disparate songs and combine them into something entirely new. It turns pop songs I think banal into something I play over and over. When it comes to perfume those who layer their fragrances are essentially doing the same thing. I don’t think a brand has consciously done it until I received my sample of By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose & Oud.

Kilian Hennessy

When Kilian Hennessy made his entrance on the fragrance shelves in 2007 he was selling a unique luxurious version of perfume. Especially his first set of releases which were all memorable. One of those was Love: Don’t Be Shy which was a wonderful floral gourmand based around a fantastic accord of marshmallow water. I think of it as one of the forerunners of this style becoming the current trend. Three years later M. Hennessy would branch out with the first of his oud focused fragrances, Rose Oud. This is still one of my very favorite uses of oud in perfume. Both perfumes were composed by perfumer Calice Becker.

Calice Becker

Working with Mme Becker, M. Hennessy seemingly wanted the marshmallow water accord of the original Love and the titular notes of Rose Oud to come together in a perfume mash-up. It does give me new thoughts on these accords.

This perfume opens with the fabulous marshmallow accord Mme Becker thrilled me with twelve years ago. It has a sugary floral quality underpinned by a watery orange blossom. All that returns. In the original Love that became sweeter over time. In this case Mme Becker slowly brings the rose and oud into play. She has a careful balancing act here because the marshmallow accord is way opaquer than either rose or oud.  In the early moments of detecting the rose and oud is where this fragrance is at its most intriguing. Over time the rose and oud do take over but there is a decent amount of time where the three components are beautifully singing in harmony.

Love: Don’t be Shy Rose & Oud has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

One thing I thought, and proved to myself, you can’t get the same effect by layering the two scents which are brought together here. This is a purer attempt to find the places where these three things can co-exist. Especially in the middle as the marshmallow accord holds its own with the rose and oud, I find this to be a decadent floral gourmand. I would’ve like that to hold on for longer. But just as in musical mash-ups they have to give both songs the time to shine. Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose & Oud does this very well.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Dark Lord- Darth Kilian?

Names of things can be double edged swords. It can set your expectations higher than they maybe should be. They can also be an elegant intro to something surprising. As an avid Star Wars fan and reader of epic fantasy a perfume called Dark Lord conjures up Stygian depths swirling with portent from which Darth Vader strides with lightsaber glowing. Not sure any perfume can live up to that, but I found By Kilian Dark Lord to have some of that villain we love to hate lurking in it.

Kilian Hennessy

Kilian Hennessy has enjoyed making perfumes which tend to the darker side of the fragrance spectrum. It is one reason the brand is successful because he has created a brand identity around embracing those styles. There have been so many of those it becomes a bit difficult to not be self-reverential to a previous release when working on a new one. Working with perfumer Alberto Morillas common themes of the past like rum, leather, and vetiver are re-combined into Dark Lord.

Alberto Morillas

M. Morillas has had some of his most successful collaborations in the niche world working with M. Hennessy. He produced Musk Oud and Eternal Oud in the Arabian Nights collection along with one of the best perfumes in the line in Good Girl Gone Bad. They know how to make perfume in the darkness.

I think regular readers must be tired of my pointing out the versatility of Szechuan pepper in perfumery. I am going to do it again because M. Morillas marries it to bergamot which brings out the fruity grace note in the pepper while also providing a shimmering warm effect, too. A fantastic leather accord comes next. This is not biker jacket leather. This is the leather jacket of a James Bond villain; smelling of wealth and refinement. A background of jasmine adds a bit of Luciferian contrast. Next comes a rich burnt sugar-like rum accord. The Kilian line of perfume has had a number of rum accords this one is scorched with a bit of brimstone to differentiate it. It all ends in a field of vetiver and patchouli as you strike a deal at the crossroads.

Dark Lord has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I said at the beginning Dark Lord has a name to live up to. It might not actually make me think of Darth Kilian but it does smell of dubious deeds agreed to in the darkness.

Disclosure; This review is based on a sample supplied by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Kilian My Kind of Love Collection- Sympathy for The Kilian

Independent perfumery is made up of memorable characters. The more memorable the character the more likely you are to try their perfume. In 2008 I was introduced to one of the best at employing this principle; Kilian Hennessy. M. Hennessy was debuting a deluxe luxury brand called By Kilian. He was a spectacular spokesman for his fragrance brand. He would use that to go from the original six fragrance collection to becoming one of the largest niche brands in the world. Two years ago, this kind of success was noticed by the large cosmetics companies and Estee Lauder acquired Kilian.

This kind of acquisition is met within fragrance circles with suspicion. We worry that the big company will perform all kind of depredations upon the beloved brand. The funny thing is what it has really brought to the brand is more visibility. When I get e-mails from readers who don’t live near big cities it is difficult to tell them where to go see if they appreciate the difference in fragrance between niche and mass-market. Estee Lauder has been taking different approaches at broadening the availability of their recent niche brand acquisitions. A new initiative is exemplified by the four fragrance Kilian My Kind of Love collection.

The concept is simple broaden the distribution by releasing a Sephora collection. Have M. Hennessy add his trademark double entendre names. Then instead of creating a full-on mutli-faceted Kilian style of perfume; create a single multi-layered accord. The collection is clever enough at doing that if someone was to tell me they liked one of these four I could easily point them to one in the main collection.

The names are where the flirtatious puns exist and each perfume in the collection is a sentence unto itself. For example, Bad Boys Are No Good But Good Boys Are No Fun which is shortened to Boys. I am going to use the shortened names, but you can see the longer names in the header picture if you’re interested. Also, despite my best efforts I was unable to track down the perfumers but most of the perfumes in the Kilian collection have been composed by Calice Becker or Sidonie Lancesseur I am betting one or both were involved. A reason I think that, is each of these perfumes feel like the heart accord of a larger Kilian perfume.

Kilian Hennessy

Boys is meant to provide a cola accord and it does; a Diet Coke with a lime. Boys opens as you squeeze the lime into your drink and then the scent of the cola mixes with it. The accord is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel. It spends more time on the spicy citrus side than the gourmand sweet soda side.

Adults is a luxurious fig scent which starts with a ripe creamy version of that ingredient. Vanilla enhances the creaminess while cedar provides a clean woody contrast. All together it is a rich fig perfume.

Princess takes one of the most memorable pieces of one of the first By Kilian releases, Love, and weaves a simpler perfume around it. It starts with a springy duet of green tea and ginger before marshmallow rounds it out. The marshmallow is an example of bringing a niche style to a simpler construct which works well here.

Kissing is my favorite of these four because it is the most obviously gourmand. It starts with a green lily of the valley which is dropped upon a pool of sweet milk. The green floral threads of the lily of the valley cut through the vanilla and warm milk accord in a very pleasant way. This will find its way into my fall rotation when I want a nice milky gourmand.

All four perfumes have 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Those of us who have enjoyed Kilian perfumes for the past ten years know M. Hennessy’s persona very well. I am thinking when there are big pictures of his come-hither gaze and unbuttoned shirt you can almost hear him singing, “Please allow me to introduce myself; I’m a man of wealth and taste” We can call this Sympathy for The Kilian as it spreads out to every mall. I think the My Kind of Love collection is a good way to introduce the Kilian style to a wider audience.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke