For Kilian, an olfactive harmony always begins with a story. In this new collection, it is the myth of original sin, which is found at the heart of the narrative - a classical theme with interpretations punctuate art in all of its forms.
Here, the world of perfume enters into the Garden of Eden and shows us another side of the story, leading us away from the well-known representations and allowing us to understand it by breathing in its delights. Instantaneously, we traverse the ages from genesis to the 21st century. We have only to close our eyes and all of the symbols of original sin rush in, attacking our senses. One by one, the coiled serpent appears, the apple is revealed, and the garden materializes before our very eyes.
Kilian as creator - but also as narrator, producer, and director. This is without a doubt one of his most surprising collections, but one that nevertheless remains faithful to the codes that typify the Kilian scents, reinforcing the integrity of the brand. We recognize a profound ambiguity as the leitmotiv of this collection - seemingly “angelic” at first blush and then revealing itself to be quite the opposite. Once more, Kilian leads us somewhere we didn’t expect. Rather than taking us again into the icy blackness of the preceding collections, we discover a garden, one in which the air is perfumed with unspeakable dangers. An immaculate whiteness, the symbol of innocence and purity, is held out against the brilliance and opulence of gold - the mark of riches, but also of vanity. The sin of pride, carnal sin, the unanticipated scrutiny of our most unconfessed and shameful desires - all manifest themselves in the hidden and not-so-hidden corners of this new collection.
A collection as a promise of forbidden pleasure, a collection that invites us to succumb to our most secret desires, breaking through time back to the entrance in the Garden of Eden. An entrance that begins by a rendezvous in the City of Sin, the beginning of a forbidden passage, the place of shadowy sensory delights that tantalizes and seduces us in the Kilian collections.
GOOD GIRL GONE BAD typifies a special sort of woman. A perfume that represents a kind of voluptuousness beloved by Kilian: sensual and unrestrained. A woman who is game for anything in the world of love, of desire, of naughtiness. GOOD GIRL GONE BAD is a composition of fruits and flowers, a perfume as bewitching as bursts of laughter, a barrier moved beyond, a forgotten prohibition. GOOD GIRL GONE BAD opens with the fresh innocence of the petals of jasmin sambac and the apricot sweetness of Chinese osmanthus. That feminine ideal does not continue to fool anyone for long. Letting go of their demure appearances, the flowers toss off their inhibitions and reveal the other, decadent side of themselves. The Rose of May gives off its honeyed heat. The Indian tuberose nakedly exhibits its milky roundness, while the narcotic sensuality of Egyptian narcissus surges forth, uncontrollable and deliciously haunting. Notes of Virginia cedar and amber open up and try to assert their dominant character in order to contain that outpouring of opulence, but they never succeed in taming it completely. The tension is palpable; the addiction exacerbated; the pleasure consummated. GOOD GIRL GONE BAD, when the woman becomes a temptress, a sinner - when she dares and when she proves her audacity. The perfumer was Alberto Morillas. [After reading the notes, I am so there. Maybe not quite as daring as the actual good girl gone bad, but it sounds luscious.]
FORBIDDEN GAMES, literally. FORBIDDEN GAMES embodies the spirit of a temptation that leads to total abandon. FORBIDDEN GAMES is a composition of fruits and spices, flowers and amber, a nectar of fruits prohibited to mortals. FORBIDDEN GAMES opens on a potpourri of fruits: apple, peach, and plum, spiced by cinnamon bark from Laos. Then the perfume advances into a lush, exuberant floral heart with notes of Bulgarian rose orpur, geranium bourbon, and midnight jasmine before disappearing slowly into a sweet confection of Madagascar vanilla, Laotian honey, and the spellbinding resinous oil of opoponax. FORBIDDEN GAMES: when going beyond the boundaries has never been so exciting. The perfumer was Calice Becker. [Steady my heart!]
The unique Kilian touch is found in the play of opposition between white and gold, between straight and curved lines, between the excess and yet the sobriety of the whole. The white as a symbol of purity and innocence, of paradise and infinity, which emphasizes the contrast with the gold, an aristocratic material that signifies opulence and riches. In the symbolism, the struggle of contending values between naiveté on the one side and transgression on the other. The door is opened into Eden, humanity’s original paradise, but without the possibility of resisting temptation. According to the myth, that temptation is incarnated in the serpent which makes its appearance on the Kilian coffret, luxurious and sensual like a precious jewel.
We hold the jewel case in our hands as though holding a mirror of ourselves and our phantasmal illusions. But are they only illusions? A flacon of eternity, the flacon “In the Garden of Good and Evil” is exceptional for its representation of the spirit of the collection. Engraved on its various sides is a fresco that blends at once, with precision and audacity, the actors found in the collection: the twosome intermingled with the serpent, the door, the apple, and the grapevine. With its symbolism and the marriage of white against the gold, the flacon has been transformed into a precious object, one that possesses and lays claim to an aura of the eternal divine.
The duo with serpent - the intertwining represents the embodiment of the naïve couple in their fall. The symbol of a temptation assumed and shared by two consenting beings. The door - the door of paradise, which in the By Kilian universe, opens the way toward infinite possibilities. The apple - associated directly for many centuries with the original sin that occurred when Adam and Eve shared a bite of this forbidden fruit. What constituted that sin remains ambiguous - sometimes described as simply prohibited knowledge, sometimes decried as the consummation of the sexual act. The apple as symbolic fruit that undergirds the olfactive web of this collection, woven more widely around the theme of prohibited fruits of all kinds. The grapevine - divine plant of the same genre as the olive tree and the oak, it embodies all of the symbols of life. In ancient mythology, it was also the attribute of the god Dionysius, god of excess and of intoxication. It was the tree that provided the Dionysian gift of vine - offering refreshment, ecstasy, and truth. A gift which is revealed as even more precious in the quest of forbidden games.
Fragrance lovers, rejoice! This collection will expand Kilian's range and vision, which is already remarkable in its elegance. You know what I'll be purchasing in November! You can find By Kilian fragrances at Saks Fifth Avenue. I will publish a full list of sources when I review these new eau de parfums. They will be priced at $245 each.
Photos courtesy of Kilian Hennessy/By Kilian