L'Oeuvre Noire Collection", created in 2007 by Kilian Hennessy.
Well, yes, Hennessy is the H in LVMH brand (where the other three letters stand for Louis Vuitton and Moet), the French giant of accessible luxury: travel bags, spirits and, for what we are concerned, perfumes (LVMH owns Guerlain, Kenzo, Dior, Givenchy etc.). As far as I'm entitled to understand by biographical notes I read in the web, Mr. Kilian’s family seems to be among the policy makers of the goup, i.e. among the creators of the brands' strategies which in recent years brought to launch fragrances of questionable taste, often inconsistent with prestigious names they bear.
Those who may have thought it was simply a matter of lack of a refinement in taste, with Kilian’s line will understand how wrong they were: perfumes in “by Kilian” line are nice, solid and well built by a huge artist as Calice Becker, they show good quality raw materials and possess satisfying radiance and persistence.
Therefore, bad taste is not the point. More probably, as I image it, after graduating and spending years in marketing department of several perfume brands (Dior and Armani among others) young Mr. Kilian, must have realized that if on one hand the quality of what the family brands offer to consumers at Sephora (again, owned by LVMH) is gradually lowering to ensure higher profits, on the other hand there’s the need to lift the group’s image up a little, with the creation of a superluxury niche brand. But may be things run in a different way ("evil-thinking about people is a bad sin... but often is simply the best guess”, used to say a famous Italian Premier of the past).
However that’s said only to make acquaintance with this brand’s background; what I'm really interested in, is scents, and to keep up my thread of reasoning above, I’ve left too many details behind. Here, spotlights focus mainly on packaging: gorgeous, stylishly black, extremely “visual” and sophisticated. The most beautiful and intriguing of all (and I adore it).
brilliant coupling of natural and synthetic materials, compositions are characterized by wealth and longevity, but the line as a whole seemed to me a very well executed, but soulless, style exercise.
The only two I’ve worn with pleasure so far are “Liaisons Dangereuses” and “A Taste of Heaven”.
The first is a fruity floral with an unusual green, dusty, rough opening, followed by a fruity heart of coconut, plum, blueberry and peach. The composer Calice Becker (J'Adore by Dior, Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger, E. Lauder’s Beyond Paradise and others) has masterfully avoided the "fruit basket" effect with her usual grace and originality, and scent takes a joyous yet refined evolution with rose and geranium bridging the fruits to flowers before and then to the woody base (sandalwood, vetiver, oak moss). Everything is sewn by ambrette seeds and bright white musk with a radiant light effect. A round, bodied fragrance yet delicate and sophisticated, offering some sizzling, unusual transformations between the opening and end.
And I appreciated also “A Taste of Heaven” (absinthe vert). It opens green, fresh, with a citrus bitterness supported by four different types of lavandin (a hybrid lavender characterized by pungent, bitter, green and metallic accents, even acid at times). Here it plays a starring role and it’s very well supported with a crystal absinth (or wormwood) of remarkable refinement and a hint of geranium keeping the overall feeling still on the green and bitter side. When the set is likely to take a sweet direction (vanilla and tonka bean in the base), woody/green notes like patchouli, oak moss and costus come in. Refined and polished, even severe, but perfect also on a woman (of great determination), it shows a little rétro style, which reminded me of something vintage of the “Origan” (Coty) kind.
Together with ethereal “La Biche dans l'Absinthe” by Victoire Gobin Daudè, and Nasomatto’s “Absinth” (which takes a rougher, smokier, darker direction), this is one of the best interpretation of absinth I've smelled so far.