By Kilian Noir Aphrodisiaque : Perfume Review

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Tonka bean, ginger, vanilla, Sichuan pepper, coriander, rose, mint… The flavors Jacques Génin uses in his confections might as well be taken straight from a perfumer’s palette. The Parisian chocolatier is known for his daring combinations of flavors and his impeccable craftsmanship. His caramels are legendary. His millefeuille is a towering delight of cream and shards of pastry. His pâtes de fruits look like jewels. He pairs chocolate with spices, roots and herbs, but the result is rarely predictable. Even an ingredient as ubiquitous as cinnamon becomes a surprising note in his hands, as it reveals its floral and woody nuances.  Not for nothing, the epithets used to describe Génin include “wizard,” “madman,” and “genius.”

Génin’s most recent collaboration is with by Kilian, an artisanal fragrance house led by Kilian Hennessy, and perfumer Calice Becker.  As an inspiration for a perfume, chocolate is a complicated note. It tastes sweet, but it smells animalic and pungent. Part of the flavor in most commercial chocolates is given by vanilla, which softens the animalic tang but also rounds out and simplifies the scent. So instead, Becker looked to Génin’s favorite ingredients such as Ceylon cinnamon and Calabrian bergamot to craft her perfume.

Noir Aphrodisiaque is chocolate wrapped in jasmine. While the choice might seem strange, given how rich this floral note can be, in this perfume jasmine feels airy and green, with a hint of apricot. The bergamot lifts up the top notes of the composition, making it feel effervescent and champagne-like.

The drydown, however, is where things begin to turn smoldering. The sandalwood gives a creamy, velvety effect, while the toasted almond accents recall Génin’s famous tonka bean ganaches. Just as Génin might blend chocolate with different flavors to enhance its depth and elegance, Becker uses equally surprising notes to give her chocolate accord an indulgent gourmand feel. One of the key players in Noir Aphrodisiaque is patchouli, a leaf from an Indonesian plant that smells woody, dark and spicy. Beckers gilds it with cinnamon and amber, tones down the patchouli’s earthy bite and highlights its sweetness. The result is mouthwatering.

In comparison to Arquiste Anima Dulcis or Serge Lutens Bornéo 1834, Noir Aphrodisique is more luminous. The main thread that ties these three excellent perfumes together is their treatment of a gourmand note as abstract. In other words, you won’t smell like Génin’s chocolate pièce montée, but rather like a perfumer’s chocolate fantasy.

Photography By Bois de Jasmin (top image).

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19 Comments

  • Richard Goller: Sounds absolutely delicious from your description of it. June 15, 2018 at 10:58am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s really well-done and original. I like chocolate nuances in fragrances, but there are few good perfumes where the chocolate note dominates. June 15, 2018 at 1:32pm Reply

  • behemot: I will have to try this. Love your review! June 15, 2018 at 11:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I’d love to hear what you think. June 18, 2018 at 7:36am Reply

  • Yuqi: I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be in Paris for the first time this year and I had read about this Paris exclusive! I was hoping you would review as I’d been on the fence about purchasing because of the price but now I’m definitely going to go test it! June 15, 2018 at 1:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I recommending trying it on skin first. It’s beautiful, but it has a strong character. June 18, 2018 at 7:36am Reply

  • Notturno7: I haven’t managed to try By Killian perfumes yet but this sounds amazing.
    And I like a Calice Becker. I love and have quite a few of her other perfumes.
    Talking about white flowers, I got Nicolai Number 1 Intense sample in the mail yesterday, and it’s divine. I kept thinking ‘what would Victoria detect?’- but I couldn’t peel my nose off my wrists.
    I read your lovely review of No 1 but is the No 1 Intense as good in your book? I think it’s the only one Lucky Scent offers so I can’t compare to the one you reviewed. It’s lovely 💕 June 15, 2018 at 3:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I do like No 1 Intense, but I like the regular more. The delicate balance between the different floral notes is less obvious in the Intense version. June 18, 2018 at 7:37am Reply

  • Qwendy: Hi V, great to read your review because normally I wouldn’t be attracted by a chocolate scent, but you have def piqued my curiosity! Looking forward to a sniff when next in
    Paris …. happy Summer to you! June 16, 2018 at 3:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I like that it’s an abstract gourmand perfume. Not overly sweet either. June 18, 2018 at 7:38am Reply

  • Aurora: I have a weakness for chocolate paired with cinnamon as in Courtesan which I use as a comfort scent, as you least these 2 in your lovely review I’m tempted, and find the idea of added bergamot so appealing as pairing chocolate and citrus is always a winner in my book. My issue with By Kilian is the price though. June 16, 2018 at 9:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s expensive. I like their sample sets and travel sprays though. June 18, 2018 at 7:39am Reply

  • Tara C: This sounds wonderful, pity it is a Paris exclusive. 🙁 June 16, 2018 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: It might be added to the main line. It’s too good to keep it only for Paris. June 16, 2018 at 11:20am Reply

  • Figuier: Anima Dulcis is the chocolate perfume I most admire, and a more luminous take on chocolate sounds heavenly. I also have a lot of time for Becker’s Kilian perfumes, despite the prices & packaging; will certainly test this if I get the chance. Great review! June 18, 2018 at 7:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Calice Becker is such a talented perfumer, and I found the way she interpreted chocolate to be memorable. Jasmine and chocolate, who could have imagined that it would make for such a great pairing. June 18, 2018 at 12:41pm Reply

  • Sandra: Wow!
    Will give this a try June 20, 2018 at 8:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what you think! June 21, 2018 at 6:39am Reply

  • Austenfan: I’ve become rather fond of BK in the past couple of years. Still a lot fragrances to be tried, but I will definitely add this one to the list.
    On paper this sounds like it could be a hot mess, but apparently Calice Becker has once more created something delightful. I wore Sweet Redemption this weekend and I always think of your review when I wear it. It’s spot on! June 26, 2018 at 5:26pm Reply

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