A new luxury.
As the beauty world grows and expands, there are a handful of brands that focus on a bespoke service and personalisation, creating something truly unique that can proudly sit on your bathroom shelf.
By Kilian offers something niche and special, a form of wearable art if you will, and this curated approach to fragrance design has been fully embraced by the Middle Eastern customer.
As Kilian Hennessy celebrates his new and first boutique opening in The Dubai Mall (all marble, gold, black and white with a dedicated fragrance bar) we chat with the master perfumer about the regional exclusives, his venture into makeup and what might inspire his next scent.
What prompted you to open a store in Dubai?
I’ve been looking to open a store in The Dubai Mall for six or seven years. It’s been hard to find the right location, but we have a few stores already in the region with Abu Dhabi opening later on in the year.
Describe the design aesthetic of the space.
The core element is the bar, it’s where you receive a personalised consultation through a menu of services. If you choose the ‘tasting’ we go through all the scents to find the scent for you, the ‘mixology’ is one step further where you already have your scent but maybe someone else has it too so we can make it more unique by finding another scent that combines with it. Then the ‘art of gifting’ is something we have been working on that allows you to personlise the product itself so the customer can choose the perfume and the clutch.
What was the thought process behind the Middle Eastern fragrances?
We have a scent that’s very successful in the region which is called ‘Love, Don’t Be Shy’. It’s a perfume which is one of my original collections that I launched in 2007 and it’s a unique accord of neroli, bouquet of flowers of orange blossom, iris and rose on a marshmallow base. Now we are launching a special blend for 2019 which is ‘Love, Don’t Be Shy Rose Oud’. We increased absolute rose from Grasse in the formula and added oud from South East Asia which blends so well. Another scent I have was exclusive to my boutique in Doha called ‘Pearl Oud’ and it’s doing so well so we’ve decided to expand the distribution.
So oud does well here?
Oud is so integrated into the culture, it’s easy to wear. For us as Westerners it’s not easy to wear because it’s a strong ingredient, very unique and we don’t have the culture of it. It adds such a tremendous impact and long lasting effect, that it’s very difficult to have the same long-lasting effect without this ingredient. And in the region that gets so hot, if you don’t have that long-lasting ingredient, the scent vanishes very quickly.
What have you noticed about the way women in region use fragrance?
They can add seven different layers of scent so that’s why we offer soaps, shower gels, body lotions, bakhoor. One thing we don’t have is hair perfume, but we are working on it because it’s very big in the region.
How do you see the world of perfume evolving?
When I launched 12 years ago, we were a handful of brands and now there are 200 brands. It must very hard for the customer to navigate among all those brands. But I always say that the customer comes back to quality, so we have to stay very strong about the quality of products that we use.
What are your tips for a woman who is looking for a new fragrance?
The most important thing is to have a sit at the bar as we have 40 perfumes. We will take the customer by the hand and walk them through our world.
You have branched out into makeup. Why?
We wanted to expand the brand into another category but still keeping with something I know how to do. The creation process to create a scented lipstick is not very different to creating a scent. It is complex as a lipstick base has a smell so you need to cover the smell and have a scent that plays well with the scent of the lipstick. But no more complex than when I work with a candle, the wax has a smell too.
Are you happy with the response?
It’s been a trial to see what the reaction of women would be and we have been overwhelmed. We are out of stock in Paris and we are trying to reproduce, but that’s not going to happen for a while. Now that it’s doing so well, we are expanding and I have already approved the next 10 or 12 shades of red. I love to see red on a woman, I’m not crazy about pink lips but we might do a shade that is more of a pigment. We are trying to expand into other products as well but I don’t want to go too technical into makeup because there are many brands that offer great products, but as long as it can be fun and something that doesn’t exist in the market, I’m in.
Scent evokes emotions and memories. What is your most memorable scent and why?
I have many memorable scents. One of the scents that will always stay with me is the scent of my grandfather. He used to wear eau Sauvage from Dior but when I would meet him in the morning he would be smoking his pipe. So there is a unique combination of eau Sauvage and pipe tobacco and I loved this combination and one day I would really need to dive into it.
If you could bottle your personality into a fragrance, which key notes would you incorporate.
You always put a bit of yourself into the creation, so every scent has a bit of me in them. I think I would try to redo this combination of eau Sauvage and pipe tobacco, but done in a modern way. I think that’s going to be my next scent.
By Kilian boutique is located in The Dubai Mall.