The poetic prowess runs deep within Kilian Hennessy. Almost as deep as his business savvy. The enigmatic Kilian Asian Tales collection of Water Calligraphy, Bamboo Calligraphy and Flower of Immortality are soon to be added to by the glorious Sacred Wood and Imperial Tea releases (respecting the cultures of India and China respectively), launching April 2014.
Sacred Wood called me immediately with its promise of rich, luxurious sandalwood imbued with Kilian’s refined touch and the creative conscience of perfumer, Calice Becker. Promising to pay homage to old Indian mystical beliefs and the lovers tale of Savitri and Satyavan, where the former begged for a reprieve from the God of Death for Satyavan’s doomed life, Sacred Wood seems to be the embodiment of Mysore, albeit a Mysore that’s cleaned, honed and refined as much as the prettily shod feet of the women who will wear it. On first spray, it’s subtlety but noticeably beautiful; a swoop of scent bestowed on the wearer like a colourful bindi. It feels like breathing in comfort. Like a perfumed Yogi calming the senses, Sacred Wood’s rounded tones of polished woods, milk accents and hot spices is akin to wearing fluid amber with the deeply relaxing, pure soul of expensive incense.
This attempt to recreate the essence of the (now prohibited) scent of Santalum Album coupled with the high-brow literary name*, (*Sacred Wood is a collection of 20 essays by T.S Eliot first published in 1920 covering subjects such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Dante and William Blake, no less), romanticism and mysticism appears to run deep in Hennessy’s veins. Sacred Wood does well to capture a feeling of centred mystical Myoho – the mysterious nature of life from moment to moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or words express. As calming and appealing as a Buddhist chant. Nam-Myho-Renge-Kyo.
If Sacred Wood calms, Imperial Tea lifts with a piquant, watery, floral jolt. Again based on an Asian tale, Imperial Tea’s story is of a son who searched to find a cure for his sick mother, one of the Emperor’s concubines. Inspired by cool water flowing from a hidden tree (hey, I’m only relaying the story, not making it up…), the mother made tea from the leaves of the tree and hey presto, cured concubine and eternally grateful Emperor. Nice story that kinda’ masks the loveliness of this high-in-the-nose, jasmine shot of energy. Like a cross between sharp green tea and fresh buds of jasmine, its a restorative pretty treat that’s seemingly simple but grows in depth with wear. That’s the thing with Kilian’s dark-clad perfumes, just as you think you’ve got them, they seem to morph into more complex creatures with wear. Not unlike Kilian, their maestro.
Sacred Wood and Imperial Tea are available from the By Kilian range at Harvey Nichols from April 2014. Retail prices are £155 for a 1.7fl oz refillable spray, £75 for a 1.7fl oz refill and £50 for a 1fl.oz refillable travel spray.