While recent collections from By Kilian have left me cold, I was still interested to try this set of addiction inspired scents because they seemed to mark a return to a darker mood.
The collection was released in October 2014 and comprises the following three fragrances which seem to be aimed at men.
Smoke for the Soul
Notes of eucalyptus, grapefruit, cardamom, mate tea, tagete, thyme, tobacco and birch.
Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin seems like a good choice for a smoky composition considering he did the tobacco infused Volutes for Diptyque. Unfortunately I have trouble with fragrances like this which are inspired by cannabis. To my nose, it is a deeply unpleasant aroma.
I have to say I like the pine cone aspect of the opening to Smoke for the Soul. It’s the scent of the forest; aromatic and invigorating.
However the question is; does it also smell like weed? Sadly for me, the answer is yes. It’s that same dank, pungent, sour fug. I can’t get past that negative association so I don’t have anything more to add apart from the fact that I had an urge to scrub it. Maybe those without my antipathy would get on better.
Notes of cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, mocha coffee, tobacco, vanilla and patchouli.
This is the one out of the three that I would say has the broadest appeal. Intoxicated was created by perfumer Calice Becker, who has done the majority of the brand’s perfumes so far. The addiction here is caffeine and the fragrance takes its lead from the aroma of Turkish coffee.
Essentially it’s the scent of a rich, spiced coffee with heaps of sugar. Intoxicated has a strong coffee accord but it’s mellowed out by sweet spices and a backbone of vanilla. It has depth but feels relatively simple. It could be a good fragrance to warm you up on a cold day, just like that steaming hot cup of coffee.
By all accounts it bears a striking resemblance to the original A*Men by Mugler. So if you fall in love with Intoxicated it may be worth doing a comparison, given the huge price difference.
Light My Fire
Notes of cumin, hay, patchouli, vetiver, honey, vanilla and tobacco.
Sidonie Lancesseur has done a few fragrances for By Kilian including Incense Oud, Cruel Intentions and Straight to Heaven. Nicotine is the vice in question here, so Light My Fire has a core of tobacco.
It’s hard not to compare this to Kilian’s Back to Black. Light My Fire starts out with a soft honey note but instead of pairing it with cherry tobacco as in Back to Black, it’s paired with cumin – a lot of it. It’s much more spice than sweat and comes across as almost nutty. However, I doubt cumin will ever be a enjoyable note for me.
While the cumin stays the course, the honey quickly recedes, being overtaken by musty patchouli and a great hay note. It’s smooth and mildly funky. Light My Fire makes me think of a horse’s stable to start with but dries down to a nicely realistic tobacco. Putting my aversion to cumin to one side, I’d say it’s the most original and interesting of the three.
How you feel about By Kilian? Which collection or fragrance are you most fond of?
I tried these at Bergdorf when I was in NYC back in October – and these were the first ever Kilians
i liked (somewhat). My favorite was Light my Fire.
Interesting that these are the first ones you’ve tried from By Kilian, LJG. I think you’d like the ouds a lot better.
No, no, they are not the first I tried – they are only the first I somewhat liked from Kilian
The ouds were too pale for me..
Oh right. Got it. Yes, you know your ouds so I can well imagine the Kilians being too tame for you.
I have not tried these yet Tara. They sound interesting but a bit heavy. I will see if they have them here.
Not sure what you’ll make of them Sandra, but see what you think.
I remember trying a few Kilian’s at the LesSenteurs event in December, and I think Light my Fire was amongst them and I liked it. I think….
For some reason it’s a brand that doesn’t speak to me…may be I see it as to masculine, or too much aiming at the luxury oriented end of the market, I’m not sure.
I think I remember you and Liam trying them.
I know what you mean. I don’t think they’re aimed at the likes of us, Sabine.
Intoxicated was the best of the bunch and that’s not saying much.
Ha ha! I hear you Poodle.
Hi Tara. Intoxicated and Light My Fire sound pretty good to me. Not sure about the pot one though and definitely not a good workplace fume! I suppose that depends where you work though. I haven’t tried all the Kilians and they seem to be a bit hit and miss. Although I LOVE Apple Brandy and Back to Black. I imagine the ouds would be up my alley but have only tried the rose. The series that were coloured white were a bit blah to me. I do like that they do the travel sizes which with prices these days now don’t seem so bad at all! Nice reviews.
Ha! Good point. Smoke for the Soul is definitely not advisable for office wear.
I really like Rose Oud and Amber Oud, though I am an oud wimp.
I understand Apple Brandy is exclusive to New York. I wonder if they will roll it out if it’s very popular.
The travel atomisers look attractive and the refills are good value.
I would have never tried Apple Brandy but I was a recipient of Bois de Jasmine’s travelling box of perfume samples and got to keep this one. I love it but also imagine a bottle is fairly bling on the pricing.
Oh that’s great. Such a fab idea.
I can well imagine that being a city exclusive bumps up the already aspirational pricing.
Thanks for the reviews, Tara. I have to say that I’ve started to ignore Kilian of late. They are doing way too many collections that turn out to be so dull. Still, I do like the sound of that coffee one. I ay just stick to my A*Men though 😉
That’s exactly how I feel Thomas. The first two collections were well done if pricey but now it takes a lot more for my interest to be piqued at all. Shame because I did like the guy when he came to Les Senteurs.
I think you’re covered with the Mugler!
I think they’ve reached that point where they can appeal simply to those who want a nice bottle with nothing particularly intriguing inside.
I agree that the first two collections were great.
Yes, they seem to be targeting/appealing to a very particular clientele who like bling and have a lot of spare cash. I guess that’s why they’ve branched out into jewellery and accessories.
Great descriptions, and I see I didn’t miss too much in having only tried Intoxication, since I really don’t like the scent of neither weed nor cumin 😉 funny how extremely different perfumes wear though, I think you must amplify certain sweet notes, where my skin makes them disappear, and so unfortunately intoxicated ends up rather meh on me. You make it sound like I would love the way it smells on you 🙂 Of course your right that these were targeted at a male audience, I hadn’t quite noticed before, and probably men in general will like these a lot better.
No, you were right to only go for Intoxicated! I wonder if my skin does amplify sweetness – I certainly have issues with it.
I agree the targeted audience are likely to get on much better with these. I know a couple of guys who really like Light My Fire.
I smelled these in passing in the USA. We were all over the Apple Brandy and the Vodka one because they were only available that night so I don’t think I gave this set the space it needed. I will retry next time and read your descriptions while I do.
Ity will be like you are right next to me.
I wish I were!
Lovely to “see” you twice in one day.
You were definitely right to concentrate on Apple Brandy and Vodka on the Rocks (cringy name!) as they are in limited distribution and are no doubt better than these three. It would be good to read your take once you’ve tried them though.
I take the Fifth Amendment.
Ha ha. You’re excused.
Tara, a lady after my own heart. For the life of me I cannot do cumin (it just turns into a huge BO fest on me, which I don’t particularly aspire to smell like – if I did, I could just stop showering, no?), and I don’t find the smell of weed appealing at all. It’s kind of skunkish and I can imagine that marijuana scents have a limited use factor (you certainly shouldn’t show up for certain/many workplaces smelling like you’re high!). Intoxicated sounds alright though. 🙂
We are as one on cumin/cannabis scents then, Sun Mi!
I’m not too keen on the smell of cumin as a spice so even when it doesn’t remind me of body odour, I’m still not keen in large doses. Cannabis fragrances seems to pop up now and again so there must be a market for them somewhere.
Like Thomas, I started to tune out to By Kilians not long after Sweet Redemption and Love and Tears, so…er…four years ago or so? I have even been in tiny perfumeries in Germany with a big wall of the things and still not given them the time of day. But if you locked me in a room with these three, I am imagining that Light My Fire might cause a small smoulder towards the latter stages. Coffee is not usually my cup of tea ;), and neither is skunk. I didn’t care for that Jardin d’Ecrivains one, Junky, for example, so maybe we have the same aversion. Thanks for doing the hard sniff work for us. Maybe if I liked coffee it would be a different story.
Asali is a coffee fan but she didn’t care for Intoxicated so it’s far from certain. I guess it would give you more of a chance though. It’s funny how you, B and I don’t drink coffee.
They’re far from bad but I wouldn’t tell anyone to seek them out unless Light My Fire really appealed.
Intoxicated was the only one that was kind of pleasant and I think that it’s much more nuanced than A*Man – but not enough to justify the price difference. The rest… Ok but not for me.
Thanks for sharing your comparison with A*Men, Undina. It would be hard to justify such a massive price difference.
Tara, it’s good to get your opinion on these, as I don’t think I’ll be seeking them out. I kind of feel guilty for saying that, though, because my early experience with the By Kilian line was disappointing, and then I found myself really craving a bottle of “In the City of Sin” this past summer, and this winter I dug out my decant of “Amber Oud” that Dee gave me and have been wearing it a lot!!
Never any need to feel guilty Suzanne! Nice to hear you’ve been getting some wear out of Amber Oud this winter. I can imagine it being really lovely and warming.
I don’t think you’re missing much with these.