Friday, October 3, 2008

An Evening With Kilian Henessy

I just have to suspend today’s scheduled review of She Wood until Monday, in favor of recounting the events of last night while they are still so fresh in my mind. When it comes to skincare and perfume shopping, there are three stores I would name as favorites here in the Netherlands: My local Douglas, which might not offer too much in the way of niche products but remains the place I feel most at home in due to the absolutely wonderful staff who I have become friends with over the years, Lianne Tio’s beautiful boutique in Rotterdam which sells the entire Goutal line and many, many more goodies you simply can’t find anywhere else in the Netherlands and Skins in Amsterdam which is my absolutely favorite place to be. While I might not be able to find everything I want under one roof, at Skins I can look for hours without being bothered unless I solicit advice (oh, how important this is! How tiresome to be chased around by “friendly” sales associates) and the stuff are extremely knowledgeable, helpful, polite and most importantly, extremely generous. Their wonderful attitude inspires loyalty in customers and fills every customer with a sense of well-being while in the shop. I am very happy to report that after having flirted with the By Kilian line for some months already, Skins has managed to seal the deal and the exclusive perfume collection finally launched yesterday.

To celebrate the launch, Skins organized a VIP evening which I have been eagerly looking forward to ever since I received the invitation. After being stuck in an atrocious traffic jam for about 45 minutes yesterday, I managed to arrive at the shop feeling harassed and completely stressed out thinking I had probably missed Kilian Henessy’s entrance. A quick glanced assured me however that I was on time and I managed to relax in the beautiful atmosphere. The weather outside was wet and cold, but the atmosphere in the shop was as serene and warm as always, and further enhanced by the exuberance of the guests: the beautifully displayed fragrances were being well received to say the least. The drink of the evening was Absinthe, flowing and constantly refilled, but I decided to favor a glass of fizzy Prosecco to avoid getting completely smashed: I hadn’t yet eaten and I almost never drink alcohol so I figured it’d be safer (No such luck, I was rather merry and tipsy by the end of the evening).

We were all busy exploring the perfumes when the gorgeous Mr. Henessy arrived with his lovely wife but their presence was instantly felt. I wish I could be blasé about it, but I simply can’t help myself: this is one of the most charming men I have ever met! The staff of Skins introduced the man of the evening and explained to my surprise that Mr. Henessy is quite shy and prefers to not give speeches, but that he would love to talk to us all in person. His amazingly gracious, beautiful wife blended in the background making conversation with the guests while Kilian himself engaged every willing party in conversation answering questions in detail and with such a warm, friendly and passionate manner that I found absolutely winning. Most importantly, it is the man’s extreme graciousness and openness that will stay with me: he made himself available and approachable in the most warmly polite manner and he seemed genuinely interested in everyone he met. There simply was no barrier, no distance. It was like getting introduced to a potential new friend at a cocktail party. Meeting him personally was extremely pleasurable: he is a man with a disarming smile and a strong handshake. He spoke to us about his perfumes, going into detailed descriptions about the ingredients and his inspiration behind each scent. I found it rather humorous when he started openly talking about certain perfumers whose style he did not appreciate(these will of course remain unnamed) so I had to ask him with a laugh to tell me who he loved instead. His answer was of course Calice Becker which resulted in an inward “D’oh!” moment for me, since she is the nose behind five of the seven scents of the line. I was also interested in whether he is the only one briefing the noses working for him, something I consider quite important. The more marketing execs behind a brief, the more faceless the perfume, in my opinion. Yes, not only is he the only person behind each brief, but this question in fact provided a most passionate response: Kilian views the process much as the making of a movie, and sees himself not only as the storyteller but most importantly as the director. Often, he told me, it all starts out with a name, it being the story. My last question was whether he gives complete freedom to the noses working on his scents or whether they are limited by a budget. The answer, most reassuringly, was that there is no budget limit behind any of the By Kilian perfumes.

I would have really liked to stay and chat a little longer, but mindful of the fact that there were many more people there craving to have a moment with Mr. Henessy I decided to try and be as gracious as he and not monopolize him. Once again, I approached the beautiful display of perfumes to try and make a choice. The staff of Skins have all been very obviously well trained to assist in getting to know the line better and their enthusiasm is nothing if not contagious. They all took an interest in what my final choice would be with very genuine excitement, each sharing their favorites and wondering what mine would be. It was a hard choice between Love and A Taste of Heaven, but I ended up with a bottle of the latter, a fragrance that is officially marketed as a masculine but whose animalic warmth I simply could not resist, even as I was perversely attracted to the toothsome, childlike, yet bizarrely sexy qualities of the former. Kilian was kind enough to sign my bottle and to personalize it with a message written in silver on the back. I almost sprung for Love as well while at the register, but the previous customer’s bill (a whopping 600-something euro slip) brought me back to reality faster than anything else possibly could. I was handed my bottle and complimentary goodie bag of the evening in a cute By Kilian bag that promptly lost its shape in the pouring rain outside, but I was too happy to care. I still am. Buzzing, in love with the line. Look forward to reviews of all the By Kilian perfumes in the next couple of weeks!


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this experience--it sounds enchanting! And I have to say, I've been a frequent lurker on your blog and had no idea you were in the Nethertherlands. Looking forward to hearing your other reviews of this line.
SMY

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Divina- what a delightful evening... loved reading it and look forward to the reviews!

Qwendy said...

Hello from Los Angeles! I, too, am a hugt A Taste of Heaven fan, I did a blog about it recently, maybe you'd like to take a peek. How nice to hear that Kilian H is as wonderful as he would seem to be - I love it that he's styled himself as a romantic figure from times past, what was he wearing????

maisqueperfume said...

Dear Div, wow you are in the Netherlands....
I have a close relation to this country because I worked for Fortis Bank, when it was solvent....
Anyways WOW again....
I am jealous, no, super jealous!!!
But in a good way, meaning I wish I was there with you!!
Loved to here that you finally got one of these boxes... :-) and a signed one!!!!
amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Simone

Divina said...

SMY, I'm so glad you've decided to de-lurk! :) I look very much forward to writing about the line - I am very excited about it and I have been composing posts in my head already!

Divina said...

Daily, it was indeed wonderful! I went back to the shop the next day because I couldn't keep away, lol!

Divina said...

qwendy, I LOVED reading about your passion for chemistry and I definitely look forward to reading about the results! Thank you for bringing my attention to your most interesting blog. You have been linked and you have gained a new fan :) I hope to see you here on Fragrance Bouquet more often!

Divina said...

Simone, how WONDERFUL it would have been if you were there with me, we would have had SO much fun! I do hope you get to visit the Netherlands sometime. Wouldn't it be fun to go sniffing and exploring together?
Hugs to you!

Ines said...

Dear Divina

I am so jealous you got to meet Killian H. :) Not only does he look perfect, now he sounds perfect as well. :) Too bad he'a already married. ;)
Aftre reading about the line on other blogs, I really want to try it and now I'll get the chance soon (although I don0t believe I'll meet the mastermind behind them)... :(
Looking forward to your reviews of the line. :)

Jenavira13 said...

Damn girl! Sounds like you had quite the celebrity fragrance night :-). Good thing you skipped the absinthe; had a friend who drank it while in Italy and couldn't believe how it knocked her out. Besides a nice glass of bubbly is always merrier.

sakecat22 said...

Sounds like a fantastic evening. And you inspired me to try the rest of my By Kilian samples. Can't wait to hear your impressions of the line.

AromaX said...

Taste of Heaven - it's a nice choice indeed - a very good lavender accord combining two sorts of lavender oil, absolute and concrete with a bitter tannic oak moss base. As green as Fleur du Male absinth that was served at the presentation.
I am glad that you didn't miss the presentation. As I heard later - Kilian and the Skins owners had the same problem - the traffic jam - they were half-hour later.
Indeed it was a nice evening.

TMH256 said...

My dearest Divina! I'm slowly but surely peeking my head out from my pregnancy induced fragrance slumber and I couldn't help but notice this fantastic piece! Isn't Mr. Henessy a wonderful man? I also found him extremely charming when I met him in NYC just one year ago. The packaging of his fragrances is to die for and I'm so glad you found one to call your own! How special that he was able to sign it for you! I hope life is treating you well these days. I miss you! Hugs and kisses!

Divina said...

Oh Ines yes, I almost forgot, you're going to Paris soon, right? Now I'M the one who's jealous! Wish I could come with!

Divina said...

Jen, I also happen to have bad memories of Absinthe, so I didn't really feel like touching it... A friend had brought a bottle back from Slovakia just as I had broken up with a boyfriend and was very heartbroken. I got quite badly drunk on the stuff one night and never touched it again since! It feels like liquid fire plunging into one's stomach!

Divina said...

Aromax! You were there too? Too bad we didn't get to meet!

Divina said...

Sakecat, and I would love to read your impressions too! Your blog is utterly unique and provides readers with a very fresh perspective on perfume reviews. I love reading your thoughts and the notes that 'pop out' with each testing. So glad to see you here :)

Divina said...

DARLING! Tamara!!! You're back! How are you? I miss you too sweetheart! I am mailing you RIGHT NOW!

AromaX said...

Dear Divina,

Well - we didn't met. But it's the presentation that made me to google "Kilian presentation Amsterdam" to find out if anyone has made a post about it. So I found you. And that's good ;-) It would be also nice to meet or make a joint sniffing trip in the shops of Netherlands ;-)