eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Monday, October 29, 2012

By Kilian: In the Garden of Good and Evil Collection

In the world of fragrance appreciation, I suppose I am somewhat of a purist. That means that, while of course, my eye can be caught by the aesthetic genius of really neat packaging, I first go straight for the juice, like a pig snuffling for truffles, I seek out what the bottle contains-- good, evil or baffling.

In the case of Kilian Hennessy's most recent collection (due to launch on November 1st), I was sent plain vials containing the three fragrances, and quickly went to town on them. I transferred a couple of their contents into atomizers, and proceeded to fall into various states of obsessive love and/or affinity for them. It's only after I've made notes on my initial impressions that I allow myself to pick through the press kit for images and stories, and I found that this collection has it all-- brains, heart and beauty.

Starting with the packaging- I think there's hardly a more luxurious combination than white lacquer and gold details, like the beautiful cigarette case style box with the gold snake that adorns the top. It's wildly attractive, and has the potential to make gift-giving the frenzied, slack-jawed event it should be.

The bottle itself is exquisite, and like many of Kilian's other creations, straddles the line between simplicity and excess with aplomb.

The three perfumes in this collection are In the City of Sin, Forbidden Games (both by Calice Becker), and Good Girl Gone Bad (by Alberto Morillas). Aficionados will recognize Becker's masterful, multi-layered amalgams of woods kissed with gourmand notes. In the City of Sin is my favorite out of the three. It's substantial, warm, and dangerously seductive with sillage that confounds and enchants without overpowering.The tart, rich, stewed fruits play against the medium-cool Turkish rose, and the spices, resins and woods are not so insistent that the more delicate aspects of the rose and the tart fruits are upstaged.  It plays some really good tricks on the skin; like initially showing its density and then spreading out like ball bearings scattering across the floor. If you like, you can even pick out its constituents. In the City of Sin's true charm lies in its diffusiveness, therefore it is best enjoyed sprayed from an atomizer. Fans of Serge Lutens Bois series will love this perfume.
[notes: bergamot, pink pepper, cardamom, apricot, caramelized plums, Turkish rose, Indonesian incense, atlas and Virginia cedars, Indonesian patchouli]

Forbidden Games, also by Becker, is one of the "white whales" of modern perfumery-- a sophisticated fruity-floral. It's more complex than it seems at first blush, so it requires a little time for it to unfold and divulge its secrets. This perfume's main focus is fruit- but not the cooked-down fruits of In the City of Sin-- these have fresh facets that really highlight the tempting, gourmand qualities of the fruit that proved to be the undoing of Adam and Eve. The apple, peach and pear elements feel innocent at the outset, but not juvenile. A very pretty wave of florals emerges, comprised of jasmine, rose and geranium which were used to great effect to push forward the blend's vitality. The drydown brings such a heartbreakingly sensual harmony of vanilla, honey, a little spice and incense, and it sticks around on the skin in this state. Gourmand-lovers will be left in a trance.
[notes: apple, peach, plum, Laotian cinnamon bark, Bulgarian rose orpur, geranium Bourbon, midnight jasmine, Madagascar vanilla, Laotian honey, opoponax]  

Good Girl Gone Bad (Alberto Morillas) takes very good care of those who prefer florals over all else. This fragrance brings with it an arresting combination of jasmine, tuberose and osmanthus, among others. The effect is impossibly chic and somewhat reserved. GGGB is not a man-eating, oversized neon floral, nor is it a wallflower. It's a perfume that behaves itself in public, keeps its mouth shut about what goes on after hours, and never, ever apologizes for itself. It's nuanced and highly wearable.
[notes: jasmine sambac, osmanthus, rose de mai, Indian tuberose, Egyptian narcissus, Virginia cedar, amber]

All in all, I think this collection is a very strong showing for By Kilian, and exactly the kind of thing I hope for during Autumn launch season. The bible may have laid out a cautionary tale for us all, warning against doing what comes naturally. This collection is Kilian's counter-spell against that dogma (the silliest of admonitions), and it also serves as a mantra for some of us Earth-bound pleasure-seekers.

[By Kilian In the Garden of Good and Evil collection  will be available starting November 1st. 1.7 oz bottles are $245 each at select retail and e-tail shops. Samples provided for my consideration]


  1. I was ready to dismiss these as the last ones By Kilian I wasn't overly enthused about - now where are my samples!?

    1. Hiya Carol! Ah, perfume blogs. How much money would we save in a year if our fragrant passions weren't constantly stoked by one another's writings? :)

  2. I can't wait either. The first two sound right up my alley.

    1. Hi Lexi! I pretty much went bonkers over In the City of Sin- it's exactly what I want to smell like in the aurtumn/winter. This is definitely a collection with many layers to explore.

  3. I'm sampling the two Calice Beckers and really enjoying them. She's just a genius at composing beautifully balanced perfumes - attractive, interesting and imminently wearable. I'm so glad that Kilian Hennessy has carved out this niche. In general, his bottles and travel sets are beautiful, and the new clutches don't look like they'd take up as much space as the boxes. You're right: ideal gifts! ~~nozknoz