|Source: Best Wallpapers|
But it is the upshot of the latest sampling session that is the subject of this post - with two friends at once! That took some fancy toggling footwork, to ensure that they each had a constant pipeline of things to try. Also, I had a much clearer idea of the taste of one friend (whom I shall call 'B') than the other, 'J'. B is a lifelong perfume wearer, whose earliest - and rather atypical - fragrance purchase was of Arpege by Lanvin, and who later gravitated towards floral / floriental scents such as Dior J'Adore and D & G The One. In recent years B has been troubled by the fact that The One in particular seemed a pale shadow of its former self due to (presumed) covert reformulation, and she was keen to see what else was out there. J, meanwhile, was a diehard Mitsouko wearer, who had recently smelt and liked Byredo Gypsy Water on her son's girlfriend, and decided to track down a sample for herself, as well as hunting further afield for a new scent she could call her own. J had also recently come across Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon, with which she was also very taken. I couldn't really detect much of a pattern emerging here!
So one evening in January, B and J came over to my house - they also know each other, as luck would have it - and over a few glasses of Chardonnay we explored 'sultry white/tropical florals' for B, and 'orientals and chypres of every stripe, plus a few leather perfumes for good measure' for J. I told you J's taste was more diffuse and hard to pin down...;)
After a couple of hours the dining room looked like a bomb site, and we had emptied several bowls of rather eclectic nibbles (beetroot and goat's cheese crisps and strange extruded, 'penne'-shaped pea snacks in a Thai curry flavour). And done the bottle of Chardonnay, obviously.
Both B and J put a cluster of bottles / decants in the middle of the carpet, representing their top picks from the night's testing. It took me a few days to make up samples for them - partly for them to keep, partly to return afterwards where I either had very little left of the scent in question or where there were practical issues making decanting tricky (eg rollerballs). Finally I duly presented them both with little organza bags containing the following:
Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur
Van Cleef & Arpels Gardenia Petale
Van Cleef & Arpels Lys Carmin
En Voyages Perfumes Zelda
By Kilian Beyond Love
By Kilian Love and Tears
Belinda Brown Blessings
Dior Grand Bal
Hiram Green Moonbloom
Illuminum White Gardenia Petals
The Party in Manhattan (surprise hit wild card)
Ormonde Jayne Ta'if
Chanel Cuir de Russie
Dior Ambre Nuit
L'Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant
Serge Lutens Boxeuses
Sarah Jessica Parker Stash
Guerlain Apres L'Ondee
Biehl Parfumkunstwerke Mb 03
Bright Earth Parfums Eau de Earth
J's favourite on the night was Ta'if, a big love of mine, and I have yet to hear how the others went down after her systematic testing. For her part, B was extremely quick off the mark, having instantly and heavily fallen for Beyond Love, which Luca Turin famously called 'the greatest tuberose soliflore on earth'. Link to my own review of it here. B is working abroad at the moment and has already had compliments from colleagues about it (of either gender!). So smitten is B with her new fragrant squeeze that she wanted to move quickly on a full bottle purchase, so I said I would check out relative prices on the Net and suggest the best stockist.
Now I have never bought a By Kilian myself, though I was aware that the perfumes come in a very luxurious presentation bottle with the option of a plain refill at half the price for future topping up. B really liked the look of the presentation bottle @ £205, and I was able to reassure her that future purchases would be a fraction of her initial investment.
|Source: Olfactoria's Travels ;)|
Not long afterwards, B texted me from Belgium to inquire whether the bottle she had bought was dab/splash only, which floored me rather. I knew it had to act like that in order to be refillable, but had assumed that there would be the option of a spray mechanism as well, especially at that price. My bottle of Un Lys from Serge Lutens came with a detachable spray mechanism, so I knew of at least one precedent for that type of dual system.
|By Kilian tassles in the Naegele store, Augsburg!|
To make sure, I rang one of the By Kilian boutiques in London, and spent the next ten minutes at complete cross purposes with the foreign lady in the store, possibly because I fatally used the word 'atomiser' to describe the nozzle-y bit at the top that does the actual spraying. So when I inquired: 'Does the bottle come with an atomiser?' I was told it didn't, and that the only way to get one was with the travel set, the cheapest version of which came in at £55. Which all seemed a bit steep and a bit mysterious. You spend £205, then you have to spend another £55 minimum to be able to squirt your new perfume directly on skin in the conventional way?? I kept reframing my question, but to no avail, so I rang Les Senteurs again and the lady I spoke to there - who was also foreign, but got what I meant immediately - assured me that there is a spray mechanism in the bottle already, but that it is unscrewable to permit refilling.
Phew! I was worried there for a moment...
Have you ever owned a By Kilian bottle - the full monty one, with tassle? (Undina...?)
If so, can you also confirm the presence of an integral spray mechanism? Just in case I misunderstood the lady in Les Senteurs...!
Editor's note: Not knowing at the time where it was all going to lead, namely to a significant purchase!, I completely failed to photograph any of our in-home sampling session, so am mostly improvising with a selection of photos from 'stock' of By Kilian and the esoteric pea snacks.