Tuesday, April 24, 2012
My fabulous intern, Erica Rakowicz, recently interviewed Kilian Hennessy, the creator of Kilian Fragrance, during his personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Somerset Collection. Here, she shares the tale of the mastermind behind the captivating scents, his secret sanctuary and her top Kilian Fragrance picks. Take it away, Erica!
“I wanted to stray from the family a bit, but not too much,” Hennessy says. Stray he did, but in the right direction. His perfume collections do more than spruce up a natural scent; they embody pure emotion through elegant fragrances.
Hennessy wrote his thesis on the semantics of odors at Sorbonne University in France before graduating from a program in communication and language sciences. Each perfume collection is inspired by what sparked his studies: literature, love and poetry – either the chapters of a relationship or the moments reminiscent of a certain feeling. Hennessy likes to create his own type of literature through natural oil, scents of sugar and wood from the cellars in Cognac.
After graduating, Hennessy worked with noted designers and leading perfume houses, including Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Paco Rabanne and Alexander McQueen. He decided to branch out on his own to make scents smell euphoric, and not follow the same routines for production each time.
Hennessy introduces scents that exude a sense of royalty. “I want the client to walk in a room and smell different than anyone else,” he says.
Each unisex scent creates a visual image and takes you to a moment in time. From Hennessy’s L’oeuvre Noire Collection, the Love scent is perfectly airy and feminine, like a warm and breezy spring afternoon. For a pinch of sexy, from the same collection, the Back to Black fragrance evokes just enough power and smells like a memorable summer night out.
Each perfume bottle is refillable, because in Hennessy’s mind, disposable perfume bottles don’t represent luxury; they’re just an object to throw away when the bottle runs dry. When you buy a matte black bottle from any of his collections, you’re making a lifelong investment. The perfume bottles are beautifully packaged in an artful box, one that Hennessy suggests can be reused as a jewelry or gift box. He did also mention it’s better for the environment to recycle these precious bottles, so they appeal to the senses and the earth.
His Arabian Nights line is inspired by the Middle East. The newest line, Asian Tales, is comprised of oriental scents and different bamboo oils. Hennessy doesn’t have a favorite or a signature scent because he uses various fragrances depending on the occasion. “I use different scents for work days, days where I stay in a t-shirt and jeans, and a different scent for when I go out at night,” he says.
The fragrance connoisseur’s perfume lines are only available in 150 stores worldwide, while other brands are in thousands. Why? He notes that his perfumes are in select stores to put the luxury and specialty in the hands of the right people. Saks Fifth Avenue is the exclusive location in Michigan where Kilian Fragrance can be purchased.
Hennessy also has candles available in the L’oeuvre Noire Collection, and they’re soon to be available in the other two collections. The Parisian-based perfumer is constantly traveling, especially during his busiest times of the year: near Mother’s Day and before the winter holidays. He enjoys the experience, but says sometimes he misses out on exploring the towns he visits because of his fast-paced schedule.
“I’m in Michigan for today and I would love to make it to Detroit, but I don’t have time,” he says. He’s headed to Washington, back to Paris, then returning to Beverly Hills to show Asian Tales to the world.
How does a brilliant French perfume creator find time to relax, especially during his hectic seasons?
“Baths, baths are key. Just a soak in the tub for 20 minutes or so to relax the muscles,” he says. Of course, he admits to checking and writing e-mails during his post-day soak, but it keeps him rejuvenated nonetheless.
Hennessy’s perfume collections are just as refreshing as hearing him speak passionately (in a smooth, suave French accent, I might add) about his craft.
Prices are as follows:
50ml / 1.7 fl.oz Bottle (can be refilled), $225
50ml / 1.7 fl.oz refill, $125
30ml / 1 fl.oz. Travel Spray (can be refilled), $135
30ml / 1 fl.oz. refill, $70
280g / 9.9 oz Candle, $85
1 Litre / 34 fl. oz fountain, $2,500
L’oeuvre Noire Collection:
Back to Black- inspired by Tobacco
Love- inspired by the Marshmallow
Straight to Heaven- inspired by Rum
Arabian Nights Collection:
Asian Tales Collection:
Bamboo HarmonyThe Damsel in Detroit