How to find the perfect perfume – By Kilian in review

Posted by Atte Rytkönen on 17.4.2019 in General

The right perfume is the finishing touch for every attire. And every man needs to find the right perfume for himself. That can be done only by trying out and finding the one that matches your taste. In this post I take a look at the latest addition to my own rotation by Kilian perfumes.

Black tie suitsupply with Kilian perfumes

In addition to clothes there are few things that are extremely important in terms of self-care and creating the overall (personal) look. One of these things is skincare and another is fragrances. Especially the latter is something I have always been very fond of. That said, I was very pleased that last year Helsinki got the first real “perfume gallery”, a specialized shop for artisan fragrances – Harmonia. And I was even more pleased as they invited my for a visit and offered a chance to try out their selection as well as a detailed tour to the world of those niche perfumes.

Passion for perfumes

I still remember the first “real” fragrance I tried. It was the Aqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani that I borrowed from my big brother. A true classic if you ask me. It was around 20 years ago. At that time the designer perfumes were basically the best options you could get. At least if you were living in a small town in the middle of Finland. Armani, Dior, Hugo Boss and of course Tommy Hilfiger were the names on the bottles we carried home from the trips made to Sweden by cruise ships. I remember how I always used to have at least 5-10 different perfumes in my closet. Naturally you needed a different perfume to wear with different kind of clothes already at that time.

A lot has changed since those years. But some things hasn’t. One thing that has not changed is my interest for perfumes. But what has changed are the names on the bottles. Instead of those designer perfumes there are brands that are focused on making perfumes. And the reason for that is quite natural. At least I like to think so.

I believe that best products are made when they are done by the people who know how to make them. And who are passionate to make them. That’s why I want to buy my clothes from brands and tailors who are focused and specialized in making clothes. And I buy my watches from brands that are specialized in making watches. And that’s the reason I go to a barber who is focused on cutting men’s hair.

By Kilian Perfumes

To put it shortly, Kilian Perfumes was founded by Kilian Hennessy – Heir to a long line of cognac makers – in 2007. Before that Mr. Hennessy had worked for multiple other brands such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne and Giorgio Armani. In twelve years the selection has grown and includes now more than 35 scents that are divided into different fragrance collections including: “L’Oeuvre Noire”, “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”, “In the Garden of Good & Evil” and “Addictive State of Mind”. All perfumes are also divided into categories such as the “The Fresh”, “The Narcotics”, “The Cellars” and “The Smokes”.

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Quality should not be disposable

According to the founder Kilian Hennessy, one of the core core elements of Kilian fragrances is the belief that real luxury should not be disposable. Therefore for example every bottle they make is refillable. The idea is that quality products should be transmitted from generation to generation. The idea of sustainability and long-lasting quality is something I personally strongly believe in. And that is the base for every DLA product we want to develop. Another thing that I personally value is the appreciation for the true craftsmanship. This basically means hours and hours to create the perfect product. And as Mr. Hennessy has also said, a great perfume is like a great story. And you need to create and understand where the story is going before you can create the perfect product. Once again an idea that everyone should keep in mind.

And as a side note for those bespoke aficionados, Kilian offers a bespoke perfume. If you go this option, you will receive two 500ml flacons which are housed in the signature black lacquered wood box, complete with a working lock and key. The box includes 6 iconic Kilian 50ml bottles and 3 travel sprays of your choice. And naturally, a plaque on the bottle will be engraved with the name or wording of your choice.

Kilian – Straight to Heaven

As I visited the Harmonia they offered me a chance to try out one of the Kilian perfumes. And they in fact told that they had already chosen a scent for me. A perfume they thought would suit me. And I thought that maybe I should give it a try and see how their vision would work.

The perfume I got is the Straight to Heaven from the Cellars series. The package of the bottle could be described as luxurious. Which seems to be characteristic for Kilian. The black-lacquered flacon is engraved on its various sides with a ceramic fresco representing the Achille’s shield and decorated with a silver plate where the name of the fragrance has been carved and manually filled with black enamel. The fragrance itself reclines on a bed inside a black lacquered wood box. The coffret is also decorated with the Achilles shield and locked with a protective tasseled key. So if you want, you can make sure that nobody else uses your fragrance.

Rum, vanilla, patchouli and woods

“Smoldering with addictive sensuality, a burning splash of rich dark rum defines the opening, its sweet gourmand chord is softened by creamy vanilla and dried fruit. Spicy patchouli pairs with the fresh, woodsy scent of cedarwood to finish, finding animalic harmony at long last.”

I probably couldn’t describe the perfume like that after the first use if I would have been asked to. Probably not even after these six months I have now been wearing it. But after reading that text I can definitely form the image in my head. Maybe it is due a great copywriter. Or maybe because these are the elements included.

However when I first tried on the perfume, the most intensive and clearest scent for me was definitely the rum. I was in fact a little skeptical about it. But after the first few times I had it on, I started to like it. And after the first ten or fifteen minutes as the splash of rum disappears, the vanilla and patchouli as well as scent of cedarwood in fact creates a great pairing. At least for my taste.

Not for everyone’s taste

I had earlier tried out a couple different Kilian perfumes. Those small tester bottles. And one thing that I like is that the perfumes are quite distinctive. And that’s something I personally like. The ones I have tried have been quite masculine, which is actually a feature I don’t always prefer. But for some reason with these fragrances it works. Maybe it is also the overall aesthetics such as the black bottles and the idea of this masculine luxury and passion. But I can understand that the Straight to Heaven or the other Kilian fragrances I have tested are not for everyone’s taste. Therefore my personal recommendation is that go and try them out. Or start with some testers if you can find.

Perfect pair for the black tie

One of the big things for me regarding fragrances is pairing them with different kind of attires. And wearing the right perfume for the right occasion. I believe that every perfume creates kind of a story. And it can tell also a lot about the person wearing it. Naturally some perfumes are better for spring or summer and some are suitable to wear during the cold winter days.

But for me it is not just about the season. I like to choose my perfume based on the attire. And for me personally this one is a fragrance to wear with a suit. And especially with evening wear such as the black tie. Again, it might be partly because of the black bottle and aesthetics of the brand. But as you can see from the pictures in this post, I believe that this kind of masculine, full of the rum flavors, vanilla and patchouli is pretty much a perfect pair for the black tie and a glass (or a bottle) of champagne.

Conclusion – choosing the right fragrance

Then just a couple of words about how to find the right fragrance. In general there is no fragrance that would be suitable for everyone. So you must just try and figure out what’s best for you. To put it shortly, choosing a fragrance is quite simple. And you should do it by the same way you choose your clothes. Buy something you feel like you want to wear.

The difference however in terms of buying a new sweater and a new fragrance is that all fragrances react to one’s body and evolve over time.

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Whereas the sweater will look (pretty much) the same over you while wearing it later as it looked in the shop when trying it on, fragrances evolve. And therefore the scents of fragrance will change during time. Basically all fragrances are build by using three different sets of notes.

Notes of the fragrance

The notes are descriptors of scents that can be sensed upon the application of a perfume. Usually you can separate these into three classes; top (or head) notes, middle (heart) notes, and base notes.

Top notes are perceived immediately upon application of a fragrance. The compounds that contribute to top notes are strong in scent, very volatile, and evaporate quickly. The scents of this note class are usually described as “fresh”, “assertive” or “sharp” and for example citrus is a very common “top note” scent. Usually these notes last about 5 minutes from the application.

The middle notes are the scents of a perfume that emerge just prior to when the top notes dissipate and tend to appear from two minutes to around one hour after the application of a fragrance. Finally there comes the base notes. These are the scent of a perfume that appears close to the departure of the middle notes. Base notes usually start to appear around 30 minutes after the application and will last until the scent disappears. This can be anything from an hour to 24 hours. The base and middle notes together creates the main theme of a perfume.

So before buying a fragrance you might want to test and try. And when you try, spray the new fragrance for example on your wrist in the morning. Then “wear” the scent for a day and pay attention how it evolves. After that it is easier to you to make a decision whether a fragrance is suitable for you and for your needs.

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How to use a fragrance

What to do after you have acquired that scent you were looking for. First of all, keep you fragrances in some place that is dry and cool as all the fragrances are quite sensitive to light and heat. So at least try to avoid to storage them at places where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.

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Secondly there is the question about the use i.e applying the fragrance. When it comes to the amount, the question – as choosing the scent – is personal and depends on the perfume. Some fragrances require a bit bigger amount of application and some require less. In case you are not sure, I would recommend rather to apply a little too little than taking the risk of too vigorous use. If you feel that the fragrance is evaporating too quickly, change the scent and try to find something longer lasting instead of spraying recklessly the one you have.

Finally – how to apply the fragrance. Once again, up to yourself to find the way which works for you. However in general I would advise to spray the scent about 10cm from your body directly to those points – whether it is neck, upper chest or wrist for example – you want to apply it.

Always apply the scent so that it gets contact with your body – so do not apply any fragrances to your clothes. I usually spray the before putting on any clothes a little bit to my lower neck and maybe a one splash to my upper chest and then a little splash to my neck just before leaving the house.

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This post has been made in collaboration with the Harmonia Perfume Gallery in Helsinki.