Kudos to Kilian Hennessy. I may have been initially annoyed by the bombastic prose on his website (it has since been removed), and by the beautiful but costly packaging (he has since made purse atomizers and refills available without purchasing the fancy presentation), but I’ll say one thing for him: he knows how to pick the people he works with. Offering the gifted Calice Becker the opportunity of playing with lavish materials was a welcome move. And, at least in Paris, the people he’s put in charge of his counters are genuine connoisseurs. And none more so than Rebecca Veuillet-Gallot, whom some of you may have met in the Parfums de Nicolaï shop near Le Bon Marché, where the author of Le Guide du Parfum officiated, and who can now be found in the Scent Room of Le Printemps in Paris.
I’d say Rebecca’s the type of sales associate every brand should try to attract, if she wasn’t one of a kind. She’s clearly enthusiastic about the By Kilian line and has thought out each scent, as well as the whole of the collection, in such a way that she can adjust her pitch to the type of customer she’s dealing with. Me, for instance. The woman who comes in to sniff, chat, and practically never buys. Rebecca had pretty much already managed to turn me on to Beyond Love even before she worked for Kilian – but then, I’ve always been a pushover from tuberose – just by wearing it in my presence (I recognized its sillage instantly, and that’s saying something for the scent rather than the keenness of my nose). This time, just as I was preparing to skin-test something else, I caught a whiff of something rounded, jammy and quite wonderful emanating from her general direction.
“Why don’t you test this one instead?” she purred. She didn’t really have to insist: I was generously squirted in the chest, neck and arms with Liaisons Dangereuses.
The scent is sold as a Damascus plum but both Rebecca and I agreed it was much more of a jammy rose, leaning both towards Nahéma though in a darker, less ample tone, and the original Femme with its lactonic, coconut-plum-peach facets, sprinkle of cinnamon and mossy vetiver base. There is also a plum-rose-chypre ghost of Parure hovering around…
Rebecca said she envisioned it as the most delicate of rose confitures, complete with the green sepals of the blossoms (the gritty green touch of cassis bud) and bubbles of air trapped inside – though Calice Becker works with rich materials, she does manage to inject a very contemporary ease, a breathing space between the notes.
Though spraying on a plummy, winey, jammy rose in the midst of the season’s first heat wave sounded like a passport to migraine, it sat well on my skin, the lactonic facets welding generously with my flesh.
I am happy to say that Liaisons Dangereuses has now made it to my wish list, something I didn’t much expect a rose fragrance to do. I’m going to have to watch my step with Rebecca – that’s some serious voodoo she’s working…
On to you: who’s the best perfume S.A. you ever ran into, and how did he/she work his/her voodoo on you?
Picture by Sophia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello