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!