I’ve always been fascinated by perfumists. They are artists who hold an invisible easel, and are guided by a gifted nose.
At the recent Sephora Middle East Spring 2019 Multi-Brand event, I was fascinated by the ‘By Kilian’ booth. Loud neon lit-up letters shot out a bold question, “What’s Your Kind Of Love?” This heady title is a teaser to a brand new range of eau de parfums entitled ‘My Kind Of Love’ by master perfumist Kilian Hennessy.
You may recognize him by the last name. Heir to a renowned 18th-century family business synonymous with the world-famous cognac makers, Jas Hennessy & Company from Cognac – France, Hennessy produces around 50 million bottles a year, constituting 40 percent of the world’s cognac. Kilian is a descendant of the famous French cognac empire that was established by Irishman Richard Hennessy in 1765. More recently, Kilian’s grandfather was the person responsible for the company’s merger with Louis Vuitton in 1987. As a result, one of the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerates was created, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy or LVMH.
Apart from his impressive Parisian old-world inheritance and charming good looks, Kilian Hennessy struck my interest for his bold career move into the world of perfume making, and I’ve been stalking his story online ever since!
“His childhood haunts included the family cellars in Cognac. Before graduating from CELSA, he wrote a thesis on the semantics of scent, in search of a ‘language’ common to gods and mortals. Remembering the «angels’ share» as part of his heritage, he was led into the world of perfumery. The «angels’ share» is what the House of Hennessy calls the percentage that – inexplicably – evaporates from cognac cellars, like an offering to the gods. Many of Kilian’s fragrances today carry this childhood memory as they are reminiscent of the sugar in the alcohol and the wood of the cognac barrels.” – ByKilian.com
As a perfumist, Kilian has a CV to die for. He’s worked under some of the most prolific noses in perfume history, honing his skill at luxury houses such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani.
However, a decade on, there came a turning point in his life. Kilian was on the verge of landing a prestigious job celebrating with a dinner at the Baccarat restaurant, and happened to pay a visit to the Little Museum next door. They was showcasing a very special collection of baccarat perfume bottles from a century ago, and Kilian was absolutely blown away. At that very moment he realized mass-production has murdered the essence of luxury in the perfume industry. After 12 years of working for others, Kilian signed his resignation letter from his prestigious role at L’Oreal and took the bold step to venture out on his own in September 2007.
In an interview with Grazia Australia, Kilian talks about the perfume industry of ’75 to ’95.
“Those are the times of Opium Paris, Angel, Gaultier, Miyake, Poison. I mean, it’s mind blowing. ’75 to ’95, who wouldn’t want to work then? You had amazing stories, names that were meaningful and decadent, and provocative, and perfumes and scents that were a statement. Dior would launch a new scent every five years. Chanel, one every ten. Every new scent was a statement. When a perfumer would miss the mark, would lose a new fragrance for Dior, for example, he would cry for a week.” – Kilian, as quoted by Grazia Australia.
Post ’95 Kilian feels these iconic scents have simply been duplicated and mass-produced with little imagination.
‘By Kilian’ is an attempt at bringing back luxury into a world of mass-produced scents, and reviving an ancient art whilst adding a modern day twist to ensure it is ‘in the now’.
For Kilian, the physical bottle or ‘flacon’ is just as important as the scent itself. In line with a belief that luxury is something to be prized for many years to come, all the bottles under the ‘By Kilian’ brand are refillable, and are actual collectible works of art.
“A perfume is like a movie. There’s so many parts and pieces. The name and the bottle and the box and the scent and the advertising, the image, the movie, the model, the colours. There’s so many details.” – Kilian, as quoted in an interview with Grazia Australia.
Whilst most of the ‘By Kilian’ range looks decadently rich and luxe with its bold black, gold and white packaging, the brand new ‘My Kind of Love’ was designed with millennials in mind. The names are naughty, ‘tongue in cheek’ provocative, and the bottles themselves are ‘little bombs of seduction’ inspired by contemporary art. Check out the bold and beautiful bottles on the brand’s website by clicking here.
Kilian also likens the creation of a scent to fashion. His masterpieces are conceptualized on mood-boards that sketch out a particular mood or emotion he is trying to bottle.
My bottle of ‘Madly in Love’ comes with a cheeky message that is so apt for the ‘young love’ it is targeted towards: “Yes I was madly in love, but that was yesterday.”
“I wanted to express the almost insane sensuality and sweetness of first love. MADLY IN LOVE starts with red raspberry, sweet to the senses like summertime love. Then a heart of blond tabacco and a black leather base make it very smoky and infinitely more complex.” – Kilian Hennessy, Sephora Middle East.
I love the blend of smoky with sweet in this scent. The spicy, woody notes makes it wearable by both genders and this bold, beautiful ‘bomb of seduction’ is an eye-catching work of art on my vanity shelf.
Kilian Hennessy, you’ve got me hooked! Will be stalking your range with a vengeance henceforth.
The ‘My Kind Of Love’ collection created ‘By Kilian’ is available at all Sephora stores across the Middle East, and can also be bought on sephora.ae A 50ml bottle retails for AED 465.