One of the most successful niche perfume brands has been By Kilian. Ever since it debuted in 2007 creative director Kilian Hennessy has produced one of the best examples of what can be done in this area. In the early days when I wrote reviews, I always had a line in there about M. Hennessy being part of the famous cognac producing family. I don’t know exactly when I stopped thinking of him as a scion of a liquor empire and fully a perfume creative director, but it happened. He earned my respect such that I didn’t have to water it down as if he was spending his time in fragrance as a hobby, I think he kept from making a perfume based on cognac because he wanted to keep the two worlds apart. After thirteen years it seems they have come back together in By Kilian Angel’s Share.
Angel’s Share is one of two new releases comprising the new collection The Liquors. I say new but many of the city exclusives have already formed an olfactory liquor cabinet. I imagine M. Hennessy spent a lot of time in the aging cellars of the family estate. It is where the term angel’s share comes from. The amount of cognac which evaporates from the oak casks as it ages is given that name. Working with perfumer Benoist Lapouza he channels his family legacy into an excellent boozy gourmand.
When you enter the cellar of any aging spirit the scent of the angel’s share is a combination of the alcoholic liquid and the wood of the barrels. M. Lapouza begins the perfume in the same way. A strong oak combined with an equally potent cognac form the accord named on the bottle. What I especially enjoyed was both parts have a bite to them. This is the sting of cognac as it slides down your throat and the roughness of the staves making up the barrels. I would’ve enjoyed this, but M. Hennessy seemingly wanted the angel to have dessert. The second phase of Angel’s Share is a full gourmand accord which smells like a cinnamon bun. Vanilla, tonka bean, and cinnamon form a sticky bun accord that is delectable. Sandalwood completes this fragrance.
Angel’s Share has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
This has arrived at the right part of the year for it. This is an Autumn/Holidays type of perfume. I wore this on two very chilly days, and it sang off my skin. M. Hennessy may have wanted to wait before he blurred the lines between family legacy and what he has built on his own. Angel’s Share makes me happy he did return to his roots.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by By Kilian.
There are designer labels that just can’t seem to find their way in the fragrance world. One of those would be Fendi. As a brand they had two distinct eras of trying to become a successful perfume provider. The first era ended in 2004. That was despite producing one of the best perfumes of the last 25 years in Fendi Theorema. That it was a previous entry in this column shows the struggle Fendi had. After 2004 they pulled back and rethought their approach.
If the originality of something like Theorema was not going to draw consumers maybe there was a different tack. When the brand returned to making perfume in 2010, they put Francois Demachy in the position of fragrance creative director. Then they seemingly decided that originality was not going to be a priority. Instead they became a fragrance version of a greatest hits record. All the perfumes with Fendi on the label from 2010-2015 were made up of successful accords and tropes from other best-selling perfumes. The idea seemed to be if we can just take a little bit from the other perfumes on the perfume counter, we will find an audience. That I put a date up there to the end of this era is a giveaway to how successful it was.
Fendi is far from the only brand happy to mash-up the kind of accords which consumers desire. It is a too common way to produce perfume. The thing is if they pick the hits you like the most you will probably enjoy the tune even if it reminds you of other things. For me the right set of tunes showed up in Fan di Fendi pour Homme.
M. Demachy chose to work with a team of perfumers for all the Fendi releases in this second era; Benoist Lapouza and Delphine Lebeau-Krowiak. Usually this is my recipe for success with a consistent creative team. The strength here was they were all on the same page just figuring out how to balance the styles they were combining into something nice. For Fan di Fendi pour Homme they hit the right accords.
It opens on a mixture of herb and spice with basil and cardamom mixed with citrus. It is a sturdy opening; one which will remind you of many other perfumes. It switches to the men’s style of florals as geranium provides the heart. It picks up the green parts of the herb and the spice. It ends with a leather accord made deeper with patchouli before cedarwood provides the woodiness necessary in a “pour homme” perfume.
Fan di Fendi pour Homme has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I like Fan di Fendi because it fills in on a day when I don’t want to wear one of the many perfumes, of which I smell pieces of, within it. It has become a reliable weekend fall choice. It has just been recently discontinued so this, and any of the second era Fendi perfumes, are still out there to be found.
Fendi has now failed in two different approaches to fragrance. Will there be a third? Is there a path between originality and greatest hits? It will be interesting to see the answer if there is a return in a few years. The Dead Letter Office has two relics of the first two eras whether they are the final representatives of the Fendi fragrance output will only be seen with time.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.