Fragrance / Niche

An Ode to By Kilian*

*An ode in pictures because my writing is hardly ode-like.  So I suppose it’s not actually an ode, because I don’t think ‘ode’ goes with ‘pictures.’  You may also notice that I neglected to watermark said pictures, mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to slap text across these.  Plus, watermarking takes time, and time is something that keeps running away from me lately.

Where was I going with that?  Hmm, who knows?

Many of you have probably heard of By Kilian by now.  It’s a niche perfume brand founded by Kilian Hennessy (as in Hennessy cognac, I’m told).

The L’Oeuvre Noir collection…well, I don’t think I can top the press release.  Here it is:

“I conceived L’Oeuvre Noire collection with a quasi-Faustian ambience in mind. I wanted to cast a spell, like those that darkened Rimbaud’s spirit or conjured the witches in Macbeth. But it also recalls contemporary R&B lyrics like those of 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg or Pharell Williams, all about temptation in the face of urban violence, like Baudelaire before them, as expressed in his prose poetry.”

-Kilian Hennessy

One thing I will say about the ad copy is that it does get inflated at times, to the point where even I shake my head in bewilderment.  But it’s also true that sometimes you can’t get to where you want to be unless you go overboard.  I applaud them (politely) for creating a little prose piece for each scent and (thunderously) for working 50 Cent into the same paragraph as Baudelaire.

Now, I’m no perfume expert, but as far as I could tell, this line was all about quality.  The 9 scents I sniffed seemed very well put-together, even if some weren’t necessarily my cup of tea.  Rather than going over all 9, I think I’ll focus on my favorites today.

I’ve always had a thing for flowery compositions, so it was no surprise when I immediately gravitated toward the floral blends.  While 4 of them stood out to me (Liaisons Dangereuses, Love and Tears, Love, Prelude to Love), I narrowed it down to 2 favorites.  The first is Prelude to Love.

It’s a fruity-floral (well, it has fruit and floral notes, but it somehow feels wrong to be calling this perfume a fruity-floral) with iris, citrus, and light, peppery spices.  On me, the citrus smells like an under-ripe orange, very delicate and clean.  The iris note is combined with ginger and pepper, as well as neroli and orange blossom.  The result is a perfume that is at once floral, clean, earthy, and ever-so-slightly spicy.  While I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is groundbreaking, I certainly don’t own anything else like it.  It’s the type of scent I’ll spray on my wrist, just so I can sniff it at leisure throughout the day (maybe that’s why I get so many weird looks).

Favorite number two is Love and Tears, which is a beautiful Jasmine scent.  While it lacks the overwhelming notes I sometimes associate with Jasmine scents, it contains enough complexity to hold my interest.  On my skin, it has low sillage (a word I finally learned the definition of today, thanks to Bella Sugar).  It smells a little bit like lilies to me at first, then blooms (heh heh, see what I did there?) into a gorgeous Jasmine.  I’m pretty hopeless at attempting to describe this, so the best I can do is to tell you to imagine it as a sheet of white fabric that keeps shifting shades and textures.

Pricing…well, I might as well get this over with now.  Scents from the L’oeuvre Noir lineup will cost you anywhere from $135 for a 30 mL refillable bottle to $225 for a 50 mL refillable bottle (refills are sold at $70 for 30 mL and $125 for 50 mL, but I believe you can’t purchase a refill unless you’ve already purchased the bottled scent.  There are a couple of other pricing options, see Now Smell This for details).  I’ve seen my fair share of niche pricing, but this one did make me gulp and wince.

Do I think these scents are worth the price tag?  Really, only if you find one that you absolutely love to death, or if you have a pile of cash, and find yourself wondering what to do with it.

I’m not questioning the quality, because these perfumes are most definitely very well-made.  However, while they are solid examples of scent within their respective categories, they aren’t magical (the best word I could find for something at that price point).

By Kilian makes the type of perfume I wear for myself, the type I can slowly savor as it develops on my skin.  I do not wear this type of thing for the enjoyment of the general public.  And I have to say, I did enjoy these very much, but unless I win the lottery anytime soon, I probably won’t be indulging in the full-size bottles.

Have you tried anything from By Kilian?  If so, which scents do you like?  If not, what sounds tempting to you?

(On another note, I think this is the longest review I’ve written in awhile).

~Makeup Morsels

Full Disclosure: The products in this post were submitted for review, either by a PR firm or directly from the manufacturer.  For more information, please see my disclaimer.

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10 thoughts on “An Ode to By Kilian*

  1. I got the same sampler set from joining the By Kilian Club on Facebook and honestly I didn’t love any of them, even though I do think it’s a beautiful line. There is apparently just something in the By Kilian base that doesn’t agree with my skin chemistry, much like every Parfums de Nicolai so far has morphed into a scrubber on my skin. (Many houses have a signature set of notes or base notes that they include in each perfume – Guerlain’s guerlainade is probably the most famous, but I think Chanel’s is pretty distinguishable as well as the L’Occitane orientals and many other houses as well) I wouldn’t go as far as to say the By Kilians were scrub-worthy… but I didn’t test a one that I wanted to try again lol……. and given the price of these ‘fumes it’s not really worth it to me to try to love one. Such is skin chemistry though. I know the By Kilian line gets a lot of raves around the perfume community, especially Love and Tears. 🙂

    • Hm, wonder if that’s still available. right now. And that’s too bad! So far, the only scent that’s been really really bad on me (and not nearly that bad when I’ve smelled it on others) is Angel.

  2. Prelude to Love sounds wonderful! but the price, ouch! I agree that you really have to fall completely in love with a scent to fork out that kind of money..

    • I know haha. Sometimes niche pricing just gets so expensive…I wish they would lower the price to around $60-70, like most luxury brands.
      If you do come across a sample, I highly encourage sniffing it though!

    • There’s a Kilian counter in California?? (See how I’m really on top of stuff? LOL). I like Love after the first 10 minutes, when the sweetness mellows out.
      I’m wishing the same thing 😛 I suppose I can just keep on wishing…hahahah

  3. Man, the SAs at Holt Renfrew guard the samples like their lives depend on it. Otherwise I’d know better about the whole line already. From what I’ve sniffed at the counter, the only one that I dislike is the one that’s super sweet and smells like peach. I used to love the smell of peach but overdid it in my adolescence and that’s what it reminds me of: being 13. Other than that, I think my response to the rest was favourable.

    Also I find the name Kilian to be just really hot. LOL

    • Gahh, I hate it when that happens! I think you’re talking about Love…maybe…that one’s actually a citrus+meringue composition, but it’s by far the sweetest of the entire line. Can’t remember anything that’s very peachy from this collection.

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