Back To Black from the luxurious By Kilian line belongs in the same group of very sweet tobacco perfumes like Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Vanille and L'Artisan Havana Vanille. These are all rich, cuddly, snow day-friendly with several facets that appeal to both men and women. Back To Black with its Amy Winehouse connotations and promises of darkness might be trying to be more than that, but despite the lacquered black packaging, don't expect Darth Vader to give Kilian Hennessy a call about an endorsement deal.
Back To Black starts and ends with sweetness. The opening is full of honeyed fruit- the note list mentions raspberry, but thankfully this is more of an abstract idea of fruit rather than your average Sephora juice. The tobacco is there almost from the very beginning- first mixed with a very nice spicy veil: saffron and cardamom- the best thing to balance the cheery fruit. It doesn't become any less sweet, at least not on my skin, but the depth of the tobacco and its evolution from sweet hay to an almost smoky incense dry-down are setting this By Kilian perfume apart.
Back To Black is warm and cozy. I think of it as romantic night for an already-established couple on a winter getaway. Not that it wouldn't be perfect for a date of any kind- whoever chooses to wear the perfume will get his or her neck nuzzled. I admit that to make Back To Black a little darker and sexier I have layered it with a drop or two of Kilian's Pure Oud. They were meant for each other.
Back To Black and the rest of the By Kilian line ($135, 4x0.25ml travel case with refills. The refills alone are a very reasonable $70. Then there's the $225, 50ml EDP for a full bottle in the black box) can be found at MiN New York (minnewyork.com), Aedes, Luckyscent, Bergdorf and (very) select Saks locations.
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1949, life.com