I thought By Killian’s ‘Black Phantom’ was a new release, until I looked it up and realized it was from around Spring of 2017. That’s how up to date I am now on these things. But anyway, i was walking through Nordstrom and casually spritzed it on my wrist. The Sales Associate actually said “Wow, you just go in and go directly to skin, don’t you?” Well, why, yes, I do, I am a renegade like that.
But seriously, I should have tried a testing strip first. This is a big perfume – with huge notes, and my initial thought was disgust – it’s a monstrous sweet concoction, and I told the SA, “too gourmand for me.”
And it is. Even its inspiration is all over the place – something about pirates, and rum spiced coffee, cyanide (!) and sweet caramel. I smell all of those in this perfume, and it’s a bog total mess. I can’t imagine wearing this on a scorching day because it will incite an immediate headache. There’s just too much going on here, and its potent. There’s Shin-Shin, which is Irish coffee and rum – this coffee has tons of sweet vanilla cream, and there’s sugar cane, and java, and I swear, one whiff of this and you will need a dose of Metformin. By Killian used to do these big heady perfumes (I am looking at the Love series) and on one end, it’s brave, but just too much. I like a little bit more subtlety nowadays. ‘Black Phantom’ is a hard NO for me.
I have been obsessed with coconut-smelling things lately, and perhaps because I now live where there’s more humidity. (my favorite line nowadays: ‘I lived in the desert for years I thought my body forgot how to sweat’) So I was so happy when I realized I had samples of By Killian’s Liaisons Dangereuses in my stash of samples. I remember trying this years ago when it first came out (I was still living in New York then) and loving it, but of course, By Killian prices.
But now that I have reunited with it, I love it more – the fruit jam opening (peaches, black currant, plum) mixed with the summery coconut – at this point of my life, it just makes more sense for me. I was walking under the summer sun and it just bloomed in my skin in the best possible way. And surely, this could have gone all wrong – sour, rotten-y – but it just agreed with my skin . Mixed with the florals, it just became a big fruity-floral bouquet. And it stayed that way for a long time, before the )admittedly) boring musky drydown. But I will take it as it is. Sometimes the chemistry is just right.
I love tobacco-based scents, and for me the best of that bunch is Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. But I am always game for something new, somethign different, and going through my samples (still living off them right now) I have been wearing By Kilian’s Light My Fire the past two days.
Well, there’s tobacco alright, and it is the nice ‘clean’ kind. There is patchouli as well but it never takes center stage, only providing edge. On the first blast, there is also a dirty surprise, with cumin mixing in, giving it a slight animalistic flavour. I don’t know if I liked that or not, but it certainly kept me awake and interested. (I am thinking that is a good thing) It all goes down to a nice spicy ending, and it’s not thoroughly unpleasant. But, it is very strong and I want to say only appropriate for winter. On this cold Spring day, it felt unnecessarily ‘sweaty.’
Do I like it? Yes, but probably not full bottle worthy.
I have heard, I thought as a joke, that By Kilian’s Intoxicated is a dupe of Mugler’s A Men. And I thought it was funny, and listen, I have been there before, and invariably a lot of perfumes do smell like each other, but there’s always something – a punch of a note, the quality of the material, that makes a perfume different from another.
I have to say this, though. ‘Intoxicated’ is as close to a ‘dupe’ of A Men as one gets. There’s that tenacious creamy coffee note by way of vanilla, the edge of patchouli, the cardamom, the cinnamon. I wouldn’t know the difference in a blind smell test. And I know A Men well – it has been in my wardrobe since it came out, and I even have some of the flankers (the tonka bean one is delicious) I was prepared to even say, well, Kilian’s version has better material, but I don’t even know if I would say that, The longevity and sillage is same (and they are both tenacious)
So I ask – does this perfume have an reason for existing?
I have always been ‘meh’ about By Kilian scents. I always say that for what they are, they are overpriced. Over the years, I have sampled a lot of them, and while I like them, I have not had the urge to run and buy one right away.
I think I have tried ‘Straight To Heaven’ before but I wore it today and got that ‘need to have’ heartbeat. ‘Straight to Heaven’ opens with a great mix of rum and dried fruit. It was not the coldest day today but somehow this worked. My first thought was that it smelled just like a Serge Lutens perfume, but this one is more refined, and certainly more accessible, but definitely prettier and more upscale smelling. I mean, there are a lot of great aspects about Lutens perfumes that make you smell like a souk, but what I get here is refinement and elegance. The patchouli here is pretty, the vanilla is nto cloying, the amber not overwhelming. And all those three put together is the heart of the perfume – it never overstays its welcome, and it doesn’t project like a prostitute on you. ‘Straight to Heaven’ is something you wear to a nice black tie event. It’s like a little black dress – subtle but people will notice. I want it.
Yes, the Orange Blossom. It’s a note I have truly grown to love – because on my skin it casts a wide range, from soapy (Penhaligon’s La Castille) to rich and pungent (Jo Malone Orange Blossom) In between hose two extremes, it still pleases. Francis Kurkdjian plays with it a lot, and does best with it – his Gaultier Fleur de Male is an Orange Blossom masterpiece, in my opinion. So when By Killian released Sweet Redemption, their tenth and last in the L’Oeuvre Noire collection, I gladly gave in to it. Calice Becker, its creator, is known for big bombastic creations, but here she is restrained in her use of orange blossom. It’s still there, front and center, and it is big and bright, but it is framed well by sweetness. This is an orange blossom that makes you happy, there’s no exploration of its dark side here. Today it was bright and sunny, and when I was doing my morning walk, the orange blossom not, um…blossomed. It was glorious, and while you could smell the sweetness, it did not cross that headache-inducing kind. I love this, this is one of those scents that would work well with a tuxedo: it creates a presence, and stays there, never overpowering, never disturbing.