In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume

Ever since I met Killian Hennessy and fell under his spell, I tried to find a perfume in his line that I’d like to add to my collection.

Thanks to the brand’s generosity to their FB fans, I got a chance to test the complete L’Oeuvre Noire collection without any pressure from SAs. I really wanted to love one of the perfumes: I liked Mr. Hennessy’s passion for his perfumes; I liked perfumes names and their packaging. After a thorough testing I found two perfumes I thought I wanted to wear – Prelude to Love and Love & Tears. I’ve got decants and after wearing both realized that I didn’t love any of them enough to go for a bottle.

Later I liked Bamboo Harmony and Water Calligraphy, which I also got from the brand’s FB fans club, but those light and cologne-like perfumes just didn’t feel substantial enough to warrant the price of the bottle.

With In the Garden of Good and Evil I came extremely close to splurging for a bottle but I had to stop myself when I realized that I was talking myself into buying it because of the serpent-adorned clutch while liking but not loving any of the perfumes in the line. And while I occasionally pay $200+ for perfume, I’m yet to pay that much for a clutch. I still haven’t tried Voulez-vous coucher avec Moi (and that clutch looks even more appealing!) but for now these two series stay on my “watch list”: I might eventually get a clutch partial bottle if I find one.

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Amber Oud wasn’t love at first sniff most likely because of the name: I’ve never been an agarwood fan so I was very cautious approaching this perfume. But on the second or third approach I fell in love with it.

Amber Oud isn’t about oud at all – and that’s probably why I like it so much. It’s soft and creamy and amber-y. I don’t get a harsh opening as some other wearers do. For me it goes from very pleasant to simply amazing. And whatever stays on my clothes after I wear this perfume makes me want to wear it again the next day, which doesn’t happen to me too often.

So, has it become a bottle in my collection? Well… First I went through a sample, then used up a decant generously gifted to me by Birgit (read her extremely sensuous review for Amber Oud). And finally last December I decided to reward myself for the hard year I had.

As I had previously confessed, I do care about perfume bottles and even bought a couple of perfumes mostly for the bottle and one actually for its bottle. Also, even though I can’t find it now, I remember Birgit’s comment to the effect that she regretted not getting a real bottle (I think) of this perfume and going for a more economical refill option.

Taking all that into the consideration, I browsed around for the best possible deal for Amber Oud until a combination of cash back and GWP brought me to Everything seemed to be coming together perfectly… but I just couldn’t. So while my answer to the Portia’s question from her recent review for Amber Oud is “Yes, for me this amber is much better than many other ambers I tried, liked and use” (and its place on “Perfumes I love and don’t ever want to be without” list of My Perfume Portrait speaks to it), I still couldn’t justify paying extra $200 (!) for the real bottle and beautiful box. So the official refill bottle it was! It’s still expensive but a more reasonably priced than the “full presentation.” Plus, “the refill bottles of Kilian perfumes are not exactly ugly, they are better than many regular bottles of other lines” (©Olfactoria).

By Kilian Amber Oud

What are your relationships with this brand? Do you like any of their perfumes? Do you own any?


29 thoughts on “In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume

  1. Nothing about this line appeals to me. I do like the clutches a lot though. 😀
    However, never say never. I have not tried the Amber Oud. Great post. xxx


  2. I liked Kilian a lot when he came to London but don’t own any of the perfumes. Birgit also kindly gifted me a decant of Rose Oud and that’s still my favourite. Mind you, I think Amber Oud is really good though wears more like Vanilla Oud on me.

    I’m pleased you also rewarded yourself for last year.

    Have you seen the clutch in real life? I don’t think it’s classy enough for you :)


    • I saw it in real life (the white one) and liked it though I’m not sure I would use it as such even if I had it: I think I’d feel like I’m using one of those GWP bags and everybody around me knows what it is.
      In Rose Oud the “oud” part is too strong to me but I enjoy the development of the perfume on my skin. I’ll try it again soon.


  3. Funny, I read your title and ( apart from being happy that you were doing another “in search of” post) immediately thought how I like many By Kilians and find them well crafted, but there aren’t really any loves, except wasn’t there one of the ouds? Which was it? And of course, like you I fell for Amber Oud. I haven’t investigated further though, since as much as I love a good Amber, it isn’t something I wear very often, and obviously there’s the price too. I want to go and find my sample now.
    The clutches are rather nice though.
    Not as nice as Rusty would have been next to your new bottle of course ;-)


  4. Maybe I need to meet the man himself, as I have yet to fall under the spell of this brand unaided. ;) I do also like Love and Tears and a few others – and I like Beyond Love a lot – but only enough to splurge about £17 on a purse spray of it. Amber Oud sounds like my kind of thing if it is more about the amber and not the oud. I doubt I will ever fall in love with a perfume where the oud is prominent. Even Rose Oud doesn’t really reel me in. So yes, I am happy that you found a bottle to bond with and agree that the refill presentation is far from functional and basic looking. I don’t care for snakes, so would avoid anything with one on it, which knocks the clutches out of the equation.


    • You need to meet him! Not that I wish to inflict such an expensive infatuation on you but so that you could experience first hand such an amazing marketing professionalism :)

      While I do not like live snakes, stylized ones are OK in my book (I even dressed up like one for Halloween ~10 years ago). But I’m not sure I’ll have too many occasions to use such a clutch… So unless that perfume that comes with a black one is beyond any expectations… We’ll see :)


  5. Never been a fan of Kilian perfumes. There are a couple I like, Prelude to Love and Rose Oud but a sample was enough for me. Maybe I was drawn back because of the high price and the coffret (come on, I don’t need such coffret, even those three manly ones – Intoxicated, etc don’t appeal to me)
    But I’m glad you found one that you like.
    PS. I didn’t know refill bottle comes with an empty travel sprayer


    • It’s a really nice refill set with everything one might need for decanting and wearing perfume.
      One of the reasons against the “full presentation” was that I don’t have any space on my perfume shelves for that huge box – and I’d feel bad hiding it somewhere in a drawer.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t tried a lot from By Kilian so far… I guess because most of the scents don’t appeal to my taste. I like some contrast in my perfumes and By Kilian doesn’t seem to be into that. I do have a travel spray refill of Love, which I like but not love. I also have a set of samples of the Addictive State of Mind series. Of those I enjoy Intoxicated the most. It’s possibly the best coffee scent that I have tried! Not quite a love though… though maybe a decant of it in the future when/if I feel like some coffee. Smoke for the Soul is really nice, but not my thing. I was expecting to really enjoy Light My Fire since the honey/tobacco/hay combo had me drooling, but on me it just fails. Same with Back To Black… I love a good honey/tobacco but Back To Black fails to strike the right balance between the notes… it’s just a mess on my skin.

    So yeah, so far my favorite is Intoxicated. And my general impression is of a brand that doesn’t push the limits enough for my tastes… I want a bit more creativity. Something unexpected would be nice… And what’s up with the lovey dovey perfume names? That’s just too much for an aromantic asexual like me… If asked what I was wearing I would never admit to wearing something named Love, Beyond Love… or Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi for f***s sake! And those that aren’t named something cutesy/sexual are either Oud something or other, or just too fresh and/or simplistic for me.

    Lol, I didn’t know I had a By Kilian rant in me, but apparently so! ;) Don’t think I’m going to sample anymore from the line any time soon. They kind of fall into the same category as Atelier Cologne, Diptyque, Profumum Roma, Annick Goutal, Perfumerie Generale, Acqua di Parma… Nice quality, but generally a bit safe, generic or just plain boring.


    • I enjoyed your rant :)

      I have mixed feelings for this brand’s perfume naming: I rather like than not names for the first collection – they kind of make sense as a set (though I have to work on persuading myself that Cruel Intentions should be considered as some kind of logical continuation of Liaisons Dangereuses ;) ). Asian-inspired names do not bother me – though don’t inspire either. “Good Girl Gone Bad” annoys me because I think there’s something demeaning for women in that name. I refuse even to test their Russian collection because I dislike its aesthetics. All the ouds are boring as names but do not offend me – so I can concentrate on perfumes themselves.


      • ;) There is so much blatant innuendo to some of the names that it makes me see some other names in a similar light… Lemon in Zest, I’ll say no more. I’m generally fine with perfumes that have romanitc names, but I do prefer subtlety (like Shalimar). And a hint of raunch is fine (Tabu and My Sin are fine names), but keep it classy yeah? Humorous innuendo is fine too, like several Smell Bent names that I can think of, I don’t mind them at all…

        Flower of Immortality annoys me to no end because I can’t count the times I’ve seen the name and though “yay, an immortelle perfume” and then been horribly disappointed, again. I’m of a like mind with you about the asian names, I neither like them or dislike them, but they don’t make me want to try any of the perfumes. The only name I really like is Smoke for the Soul, that is a very good name!

        I didn’t think I was that bothered about perfume names, but now that I think about it I guess they really matter to me. All of my favorite perfumes have names that I like too, Mamluk, Tropic of Capricorn, Sova, Rume, Zahd, Norne, Sables, Lys Epona… I am a big Slumberhouse fan and what first drew me to that house were the mysterious names. On the other hand I remember being really bothered when I fell in love with Kiss Me Tender, because I really hated the name…


  7. Funny, I love the Incense Oud (I completely drained my bottle about a year ago) and Rose Oud, but for some reason Amber Oud left me a little cold. Glad it works for you and that you got yourself a bottle. I’m with you…no reason to pay the extra for the packaging when all you really need is the fantastic juice!


    • I’m not sure if I actually tested Incense Oud on skin and I don’t remember my thoughts from the paper strip testing. I’ll revisit it when I get a chance.

      I’m very pleased with the packaging of the refill bottle. And that travel spray is exactly what I need to be able to take perfume with me – not that this one actually requires re-application. But if I travel… I should travel more to places where amber perfume will wear nicely! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The By Killians are interesting. Actually, I don’t own any but do like Straight to Heaven and the classic Back to Black. The SA at Bergdorfs gave me a generous sample of BtB after he heard how long I’d been married, “Honey, you need this!” He was right, the Hub loved it.


  9. I’ve only tried maybe 1 By Kilian, Good Girl Gone Bad? And I have zero recollection about it, so I guess that means I wasn’t that infatuated with it? Hehe. I haven’t met this man, so fortunately I have no personal connections that convince me that I want to love his perfumes. But, I definitely understand that feeling – and it’s so hard when you don’t feel like you can find that one thing that absolutely tickles your pickle!


    • With this brand’s prices it might be for the best if you don’t find any perfume to love :) But I think you should try at least several, just for educational purposes: in my opinion, by Kilian is a significant enough brand in the niche perfume space to completely ignore it. But definitely do not pay for samples, try to get them in a friendly exchange.


  10. Haven’t tried that many By Kilian but I rather like Back to Black, it works pretty good on me and received some compliments. :) It’s nothing like its name but I quite like Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi too and I really really want the clutch. I’m not sure if I want to pay that much though. Sweet Redemption and Love didn’t work… Haven’t tried any of Arabian Nights series. I’m just a bit worried about trying them. What would happen if I really like any of them…?
    As usual, the photo of Rusty above really melted my heart. Seriously, how can he be so photogenic all the time?


    • Yeah, it’s always risk with trying expensive perfumes: you almost hope for the verdict “nah, it’s not worth the money” :)

      I want to take at least partial credit for Rusty’s success as a model: I take dozens of pictures with him and perfumes to get several good shots. But he’s a very handsome cat – and that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Looks like you have a 6th sense given today’s announcement of Estée Lauder buying By Kilian. Congratulations on Amber Oud. I don’t recall what it smells like and will have to try it again! The refill presentation is pretty nice. I do have several By Kilians in my collection:
    1. Prelude to Love travel spray set
    2. Snake travel atomizer with Good Girl Gone Bad refills
    3. Apple Brandy (NYC exclusive) in presentation box
    4. The black double snake clutch that happened to come with Voulez Vous Coucher Alec moi

    Read between the lines :-)


    • I’m upset :( Not only I do not completely trust big companies’ acquisitions of niche brands in general but I’m very concerned about “over-consolidation”: EL keeps buying niche brands! And I’m surprised that Kilian decided to sell – in general and to EL in particular. Though… I would have probably felt even sadder had he sold it to LVMH, I think :)

      I need to test VVCAM quickly before EL reformulates those snakes ;)


  12. I tried several of the originals years ago when they first came out and I don’t remember whether or not I liked them…I guess they really did not make much of an impression on me! I don’t seek them out as they are a bit pricey and I think there are other brands that I like a whole lot better that will put less of a dent in my perfume budget :)


    • I agree with your assessment. I’m trying this brand only when I see it at a store (not too often). But Amber Oud just captured me, and I’m glad that a more economical “refill” option was available.


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