Composed for the "Temptations" theme of Kilian Hennessy's L’Oeuvre Noire series of 10 fragrances, Sweet Redemption Eau de Parfum ($225) is the end of the last chapter of Kilian's olfactory odyssey to "open a thousand doors in the memory," composed with the most expensive and rare essential oils. My lovely By Kilian representative at Saks Fifth Avenue, Ban Aljazrawi, had sent me a sample of Sweet Redemption many weeks ago. That's when I succumbed to the temptation. I eagerly awaited its introduction and was able to reward myself last week with my own bottle.
What if redemption was the ultimate temptation? The temptation to be redeemed after one has succumbed to the addictions of love and its prohibitions and the artificial paradises, discovered previously in Kilian's universe.
Inspired on one hand by Baudelaire's hommage to sweet and deep fragrances, yet on the other hand by the dark and mysterious poetry of Jim Morrison as he seemingly forebode his own demise, Sweet Redemption is a final bow to these cursed poets - a final commentary on the irresistible charm of the forbidden fruit that tempts us throughout the L'Oeuvre Noire series.
This redemption, this liberation, is intoxicating with its intensity - the innocence of orange blossom, the roughness of the sour orange leaf absolute, the sweetness of the vanilla absolute. The dry-down is composed with a strong balsamic - almost religious - accord built around myrrh, incense, and benzoin. This combination is meant to remind us that redemption is not a choice, but rather, a reward. Unless it becomes our last addiction?
Sweet Redemption has been something of an enigma for me. I find the orange notes incredibly evocative. I feel like a whole grove has been bottled: blossoms, fruit, bitter peel, the woody tree trunks, and the earth. The fragrance opens with all of those scents, wrapped into a rapturous symphony. Quickly, though, the edgy myrrh and incense make an appearance, taking me back to those "unfortunate" days of high mass, when priests waved burning incense toward the pews, leaving me desperately trying to suppress a cough. That's probably why I find incense an unwelcome note in fragrance, even when the "sophisticated noses" adore it.
As Sweet Redemption dries down, usually about an hour later on me, it totally loses the myrrh and incense, and reduces to a sweet memory of the orange grove. Even before I read its description on LuckyScent, I had written in my notes that the grove lingered, like a breeze might carry the scent to surrounding properties. Six to eight hours later, the scent remains, but is characterized by soft vanilla (not the scent that mall crawlers seem to enjoy, but a pleasant one).
The notes at the By Kilian counter are listed in groups, rather than as opening, heart, and dry-down notes.
Italian Bergamot Orpur Oil
Bitter Orange Leaf Absolute
Orange Blossom Absolute
Fresh Orange Blossom Absolute
Italia Cytisus Absolute
Myrrh Resinoide Orpur
Benzoin Laos Orpur
Sweet Redemption is a mysterious fragrance to me. I think Greta Garbo might have worn it if she were alive. Known for her irresistible allure and beauty, but also for shunning publicity, Garbo personified a mystery that continues to capture our imaginations. Sweet Redemption does the same over an eight-hour period, leaving me wondering what secrets it has yet to reveal.
Sweet Redemption is gorgeously packaged. The box is nestled in a velvet sleeve with the K logo. The lacquered box with a lock (to its secret?) comes with a key attached by a black ribbon to the L’Oeuvre Noire story, printed elegantly as a loose-leaf memento. The black bottle is nestled into a silk bed, redolent of luxurious black silk sheets. It would make an elegant gift - for yourself or someone you love.
The L’Oeuvre Noire story ends with Sweet Redemption, the scent of liberation. Sweet Redemption is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, LuckyScent, and ByKilian.com.
Photos courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue and allposters.com