By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses : Fragrance Review


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!



  • Ari: I think I must have somehow missed this one! Thank you for the encouragement to try it. In retrospect, that original Kilian lineup was remarkably solid. July 8, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

    • Elisa: I’m a huge Calice Becker fan so of course I like most of the By Kilian line. You should definitely try this one! It’s got tons of personality. July 8, 2014 at 10:13am Reply

  • Heather H: Elisa,

    Liaisons Dangereuses is my favorite By Kilian perfume. I smell the fruit, but not the coconut. Anyway I hate Rose Splendid, but I love Liaisons Dangereuses. I wonder if something was wrong with the sample of Rose Splendide. I think I need to try this one again. Do you think Liaisons Dangereuses is a perfume to wear year round, as I know many people who just wear it in the fall? July 8, 2014 at 10:13am Reply

    • Elisa: Actually I think of LD as a summer perfume! For it’s probably not heavy enough for winter.

      I’m not surprised to hear from a Rose Splendide hater. I think it’s a very weird perfume with almost a vinegar note, but I love vinegar so I like it. July 8, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

      • Heather H: Well I am here in California, so I think I can wear DL year round. It’s one of my favorite perfumes, but I haven’t bought a bottle yet. I don’t know why I am stalling! Thank you for your review! July 8, 2014 at 10:28am Reply

        • Elisa: Buy it! You can’t mess around with your favorites. I bought the travel refills of Beyond Love and Sweet Redemption and they have served me well. July 8, 2014 at 10:30am Reply

      • melissa: I’ve tried several Annick Goutal roses that have smelled at least somewhat vinegary to me. I want to like them but I just can’t. July 8, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

        • Elisa: Rose soliflores can come off that way. I think it works in Splendide because it’s so bright and the vanilla in the drydown softens it. July 8, 2014 at 10:34am Reply

  • Patricia: I think I have a sample of this somewhere, and since reading your lovely review I can’t wait to get home to try it. Rose and coconut are both favorites of mine but I can’t imagine them together! July 8, 2014 at 10:39am Reply

    • Elisa: Do let me know what you think! I find it delightful. (You have a package coming from me soon, BTW!) July 8, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

  • Austenfan: You make this sound so interesting. My only true coconut perfume is Cococabana, which I love. It’s quite trashy for a PdN. Rose being one of my favourite notes I will have to try this.
    The By Kilian refills are actually quite a good deal these days when all perfume seems to be incredibly expensive. My favourites so far are Beyond Love and A Taste of Heaven. July 8, 2014 at 11:07am Reply

    • Elisa: Those are my favorites too, along with this one and Sweet Redemption. And I agree that the refill vials are actually a good deal!

      I love coconut but I’m picky about it. Can’t be too buttery or I think of popcorn. I still need to try that PdN! July 8, 2014 at 11:12am Reply

    • Helle: Yay for Cococabana!!! Summer fun in a bottle 🙂 July 10, 2014 at 9:06am Reply

  • Tijana: So glad to read a review on this one! This is one of my hubby’s favourites! July 8, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Elisa: Glad to hear it! July 8, 2014 at 1:21pm Reply

  • solanace: I get a little lost over l´Oeuvre Noire names, but I´ll try to keep this one in mind. 🙂 July 8, 2014 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Elisa: They are pretty silly and confusing 🙂 July 8, 2014 at 1:22pm Reply

      • solanace: Yeah, and the prices are not for the regular Baudelaire fan! But I like Kilian, he is no self made man, that´s for sure, but there is something charming about him and his ´perfumery as an art´panache. July 8, 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

        • Elisa: Luca Turin compared it to rose jam but I always think there is something chutney-like about it. July 8, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

          • Solanace: I like both references. Must try.
            Ouch, 7×1 to Germany. I heard the elderly neighbour crying out loud. July 8, 2014 at 6:41pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I’ve tested quite a lot of By Kilian perfumes but missed this one. Your mention of Rosabotanica opening caught my attention and I’m so curious to see how the combination of rose and coconut would actually work. I wish I could mix and match the travel spray bottles like the Hermessence coffret collection. July 8, 2014 at 2:40pm Reply

    • Elisa: Oh, me too! It would nice to be able to get a vial of this and a vial of A Taste of Heaven…come to think of it I want more Back to Black too! July 8, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I also love A Taste of Heaven! 🙂 Rose Oud is also magnificent. July 8, 2014 at 3:06pm Reply

        • Elisa: Rose Oud has such amazing sillage. July 8, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

  • spe: Love and Tears and Prelude to Love are my favorites. Dislike most of the others and find them very sweet or heavy, but the line is incredibly popular! July 8, 2014 at 4:52pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’ve actually heard a lot of perfume people say the line turns them off, possibly due to cost? Love and Tears is a lovely jasmine, love that it’s not too clean. July 8, 2014 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Sandra: I love the a Killian line- this one is one of my favorites as well as cruel intentions. I love the dry down in back to black.
    I recently fell in love with Good Girl Gone Bad and Playing with the devil. Rose Oud is also a great one.
    Out of all the one I tried I only purchased 2, travel size – the one your reviewed and Cruel Intentions.
    One thing I can say, is on me- a little goes a long long way. I literally have to scrub cruel intentions off me if I decide on something
    else to wear in that moment. July 8, 2014 at 7:33pm Reply

    • Elisa: I agree, they are generally made of really high-quality materials and are long-lasting, so at least you feel you are getting your money’s worth! Back to Black is really delicious when you’re in the mood for warm and sweet. July 8, 2014 at 7:37pm Reply

  • Kandice: I’ve somehow missed this one and would love to try it. The rose and coconut combination sounds wonderful. Sweet Redemption is one of my all-time favorite fragrances, but his latest series has left me a little flat. After your review, however, I can’t wait to try this one. July 8, 2014 at 8:06pm Reply

    • Elisa: Sweet Redemption is one of my very favorites too — I wore it the day I got married! July 8, 2014 at 8:36pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: For all the years I have bought and worn perfume and despite all the bottle I have purchased, I have never owned any perfume from By Killian. I have tried a few but somehow have never purchased one. I do like several and this is one of them. They are very pretty but lack mystery and the urge to keep spraying. But perhaps it is just me. To me they are like a beautiful woman who has no depth. July 8, 2014 at 9:57pm Reply

    • Elisa: Ha, I can understand that. As I mentioned above, they are not exactly strange, but sometimes they are so beautiful I just don’t care. July 9, 2014 at 8:55am Reply

  • rainboweyes: That’s my impression of the Kilian line too. Some of the scents (Prelude to Love, Water Calligraphy) even smelled cheap on me.
    But I like some of the notes listed here – plum, prune and ambrette seeds – so I might give LD a try. July 9, 2014 at 7:21am Reply

    • Elisa: The ones aimed at the Asian market were pretty sheer and light, those ones strike me as less likely to be worth the price tag. July 9, 2014 at 8:58am Reply

  • Ariadne: Thanks so much for this review! I am a HUGE rose perfume fan, I’ll take it pretty much served any manner, and I really enjoy LD. I do not ‘get’ much blatant coconut, it seems to conceal itself and augment rather than have a starring role which for me is really nice. Coconut forever reminds me of the beach in the 1960’s.
    My daughter and I do not have any mutual perfume likes except anything by Kilian so it is a lot of fun to try samples together. Sadly we do not currently have the $ bandwidth to buy anything Kilian. That said the Kilian SA’s at Saks on Canal Place in NOLA are THE BEST. Very polite, knowledgeable, and generous! July 9, 2014 at 11:54am Reply

    • Elisa: I am a huge rose fan too! And I have noticed that By Kilian counters tend to be pretty generous with samples, which is nice. July 9, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Nicola: Nice review of one of my favourites from this line. I’m not a rose lover generally, things that are obviously rosy turn me off but the fruity raspiness of this gets me every time. My theory is that the blackcurrant links the green aspects of coconut and rose. It makes me think of Diptyque’s L’Ombre – again the green aspect. Nicola July 10, 2014 at 9:49am Reply

    • Elisa: I think you are spot on about the blackcurrant, Nicola! I’m a big fan of L’Ombre dans L’Eau too. Maybe I’ll wear that today. July 10, 2014 at 10:05am Reply

  • Natalie: I never actually clocked that this was so heavy on coconut. I admit I haven’t given this line much attention, though. The problem, for me, is that you make everything sound good. 🙂 July 12, 2014 at 5:57pm Reply

    • Elisa: It sounds like a few people don’t smell as much coconut in this as I do? There are other fruits too, to be sure! And I will try to write something negative soon for balance. 🙂 July 12, 2014 at 5:59pm Reply

  • Erica: Hi…I don’t know what swappable means. Lol July 12, 2014 at 6:23pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’m glad somebody asked! I mean that you get a box with 4 vials of perfume, so they are begging to be “swapped” (traded) for other decants if you decide you have more than you need. Now Smell This and Perfume Posse occasionally organize big perfume swaps where people can trade small amounts or full bottles of perfume; you can also do it on your own if you have enough perfume friends and pen pals. July 12, 2014 at 6:29pm Reply

      • Erica: Oooh!I didn’t realize there were 4 separate vials. How amazing would it be if Killian offered the vials as an assortment? One can dream… July 12, 2014 at 9:16pm Reply

  • nozknoz: I love this plum-rose perfume in the fall, especially. Last year, a friend of mine had an early December wedding, and I gave her samples of 8 or 10 perfumes in advace to test. She chose Liaisons Dangereuses, and and the beautiful travel atomizer set made a great present. July 13, 2014 at 2:37pm Reply

    • Elisa: Glad to see another fan of this! The travel spray they do is crazy nice. July 13, 2014 at 9:41pm Reply

  • Gentiana: :)) :))
    Hello, you know, I lough, because 3 years ago when I first smelled Liaisons Dangereuses, I had high expectations (love the name, loved the movie) and I felt that this perfume needs more edge… it has to be more risquee, somehow… I love rose and I absolutely adore plum and peach in perfumes (I didn’t miss a single peachy chypre to wear and collect till now). So, I was slightly dissappointed concerning the fitting between smell and name, but I could not take my nose from my wrist all the evening. It really smelled better and better.
    And… you know what? A good friend of mine, a gentleman whom I met for a quasi- informal business dinner and asked him to smell the two fragrances I wore on my wrist (without telling him names or stories) told me about Fleurissimo that it is a very nice lady- like fragrance, playing the innocent, playing hide-and seek with a man’s nerves 🙂 And about Liaisons Dangereuses… He smelled, stare, smelled again… and said: this is a perfume that I advice you to wear only in the bedroom, with your lover, otherwise you can get big trouble with men !!! :)) :)) :)) November 13, 2014 at 10:27am Reply

  • Kelly: I just received a generous decant of this and Intoxicated after making a substantial perfume purchase last weekend at Saks 5th Ave ( Creed falcon and Guerlain )…. though I did not think it was for me, my sakes associate wanted me to give it a chance ….
    I love it! It’s juicy , succulent, somewhat simple (as is the line), but something about it has. Exwanting to spray and spray … another interesting note is that I find I layers well over Intoxicated! It’s like brunch on your skin..
    Jammy, mulled fruit and coffee! Lol! November 28, 2017 at 8:24am Reply

    • Kelly: Phone texting woes! I trust you can read beyond the typos! November 28, 2017 at 8:25am Reply

    • Elisa: Mmm, I like your brunch layering combo! November 28, 2017 at 10:26am Reply

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