There is a meticulous craft when it comes to creating a fragrance. A formula, a recipe in which a unique blend of notes and undertones come together to carry out a harmony of scents. In a world where we are increasingly disconnected from our surroundings, an attractive fragrance has the power to drive us to attention. And if anyone understands the alchemy behind a signature scent, its Parisian perfumer and fragrance connoisseur, Kilian Hennessy.
Years before, when undertaking his thesis, ‘Semantics of odors, in the search for a common language between gods and mortals’, Hennessy became fascinated by fragrance and the world of perfumery. Thrust into a decade long venture, working under the likes of luxury houses as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani, the creative broke out on his own to establish luxury perfumery, By Kilian.
Dedicating his life to the niche art of fragrance, the master perfumer is redefining, or rather, restoring what true luxury is. Shaping body language and seduction, ICON was given a unique insight into his craft.
ICON: Do you want to tell me a little bit about the brand? Why it came about and what it stands to represent?
“I’ve been working in the perfume industry for the last 23 years. I worked for VMH for a couple years and I worked for the Coach family for three years. I work for the Gucci group for three years. And I worked for the L’Oreal group for three years. And at the end … you know, the issue for me was that perfume had become so far from what … when I got in this job or in this industry, I had a vision of what perfume was, you know?
And your vision is always shaped by the last decade or last two decades.
Because that’s what you learn. You know, you learn the history of your industry. The history of your craft. And the last two decades in perfume were just mind blowing. I mean, if you think about everything that will happen between ’75 and ’95.”
ICON: The bottle’s very important to you. Does that also link back … you call it perfume as art. Can you kind of explain what you mean by this?
“A perfume is like a movie. You know, there’s so many parts and pieces. The name and the bottle and the box and the scent and the advertising, the image, the movie, the model. I mean, the colours. There’s so many details.”
ICON: It’s got it’s own narrative. Each fragrance. It’s got it’s own story. There’s so many components.
“I needed to create a perfume that would be me.”
ICON: How have you seen the By Killian brand evolve in this ten year period?
“Well, I think you have to constantly evolve frankly because people who don’t evolve, they stay where they are when the world is moving so fast. So, you know what? [If] you don’t evolve [every] couple of years … suddenly … you’re left behind.”
ICON: You obviously come from one of the kind of most illustrious and esteem Cognac manufacturers … Can I ask, is there a link between Cognac and fragrance? Do you see a link at all?
“Yeah, absolutely. In the creative process itself, there is a connection because when you work … you’re kind of creating a formula in a way in a much more simple way than perfume, but still. It’s the same creative process in many ways. And obviously, the Cognac, you smell it and you learn how to understand the notes and decipher the notes…”
ICON: How do you think fragrance plays a part in the body language of today? In 2018, do you think it changes body language? In a time when we’re so disconnected but also connected, how do you see fragrance affecting body language?
“Well, I always believe that perfume was as much about seduction as it was about protection. Seduction, we all understand that, and we believe … you go on a date, you put perfume on, you hope that the scent will magically capture someone’s attention. But when you think about when you put perfume in the morning, you’re not into seduction mode unless there’s someone at work you have an eye on. For me, it really acts as a shield, as a bubble. You know, I feel protected in my scent. I feel bubbled.”
ICON: Do you have a signature scent or do you rotate fragrances, and what are they?
“Depending on the mood I am, depending on the way I’m dressed, depending on summer, winter. I have a whole wardrobe, you know, between I don’t know Amber Ude, Gold Knight, Straight to Heaven. Those are my warm, woodsy scents.”
By Kilian Dark Lord “Ex Tenebris Lux” / $295 USD SHOP NOW