Elisa on a surprising marriage of rose and coconut.
By Kilian, founded in 2007 by cognac heir Kilian Hennessey, is a luxury brand whose perfumes are organized into several concept collections: L’Oeuvre Noire, or Black Masterpiece, with 11 fragrances including gorgeous florals like Beyond Love and Sweet Redemption; Arabian Nights, with five variations on oud; Asian Tales, featuring lighter, more aquatic scents; and In the Garden of Good and Evil, a more feminine collection bottled in white flacons.
Both Victoria and I have found several scents to love in these collections. But for all its attractive qualities, By Kilian could perhaps be accused of playing it safe. Without exception, the line is thoughtfully composed (by perfumer Calice Becker) of high-quality materials. What they are not, for the most part, is weird. The goal of these fragrances is to provide a very beautiful, well-made rendition of a familiar idea – the rose oud, the lavender vanilla – not to shock or surprise. (See Etat Libre d’Orange for an example of a line that sometimes favors shock value over beauty.)
But Liaisons Dangereuses (part of the L’Oeuvre Noire collection) breaks the pattern, and “dangerous liaison,” or dangerous affair, is a useful metaphor, as it combines two notes that in theory could be disastrous: rose and coconut. It’s surprising because it’s so unexpected, and even more surprising because it works.
The top notes are deliciously fruity and aromatic – this isn’t the buttery coconut of suntan oil, but a cool, creamy, greenish coconut, similar to the coconut note in Diptyque Philosykos. Also in the mix are sweet peach, tart plum, and pungent blackcurrant, but the effect isn’t standard-issue fruity-floral. Instead, the coconut and spice make it slightly savory, like a Thai salad. (I’m reminded of the funky, milky/herbal opening of Balenciaga Rosabotanica, which unfortunately doesn’t last.) The drydown smells like really nice shampoo: a rose and geranium accord on a base of clean musk, with a lingering note of coconut sorbet.
Liaisons Dangereuses is like the ideal dinner party guest: sparkling, vivacious, a little flirty, pleasantly irreverent. If you like arresting, tropical fruity-florals like Prescriptives Calyx or sweet-and-sour roses like Annick Goutal Rose Splendide, I suspect you will love Liaisons Dangereuses. By Kilian perfumes are on the pricey side, but the travel spray refill vials are an affordable (and swappable*!) option.
Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses includes notes of coconut, prune, plum, blackcurrant buds, peach, cinnamon, ambrette seeds, rose, geranium bourbon, sandalwood, oakmoss, vetiver, woods, vanilla, and white musks. It’s available from Aedes, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks 5th Avenue, Lucky Scent for $245/50 ml or $155 for a travel spray with 4 .25-ounce vials.
*If you don’t know what “swappable” is, please ask us in the comments!