One needs quite a bit of chutzpah to make a perfume that's inspired by pink marshmallow, bottle it as a hyper-luxury fragrance and charge accordingly. Kilian Hennessey and perfumer Calice Becker went there, and surprisingly or not, their 2008 Love from L’Oeuvre Noire Collection is actually pretty wonderful. As long as you're a fan of the genre, that is.
Love is fluffy. Love is pastel-colored. Love is sweet sweet sweet. On the wrong skin this perfume from By Kilian could go very wrong. I may have a skin that amplifies sweetness and everything vanilla, but my saving grace in the case of Love is the lack of actual fruit notes in the combination. So it's all sugar and vanilla all the time, with a certain powdery element, but not heavy one-- it's more like someone blew on the powder puff, releasing airy clouds of the sweet stuff into the air.
I'm thankful that the marshmallow in question is not the commercial junk food stuff from the corner store. We're talking about the real thing here, handmade and fluffy, not spongy. It's the stuff you find at Parisian confectionery stores, upscale Madison Avenue candy boutiques and often at Whole Foods. It's rich and sinful, a truly guilty pleasure. It's probably not meant for the sophisticated grownups who order the cheese plate at restaurants, but I never claimed to be one. Are you kidding? If there's a Pavlova on the menu I'll order just that.
So I wear By Kilian's Love and enjoy every minute of it. They have listed reconstituted civet oil as part of the notes/ingredients, but I don't smell any animalics in Love. Everything is as cheerful as Ludree's colorful macarons. Love even has a texture that feels like you've taken a careful bite into the macaron and tasted the softness of its filling. It's that kind of sensuality. The white musk is probably the one element that bothers me. It's a bit too expected and clean in this context, and very very detectable. It was probably done on purpose, as a dirtier musk would have changed the lightheartedness of the composition. After all, even I have yet to dare layer it with something more sinister. Somehow a dab of MKK sounds utterly wrong.
Notes: Bergamot calabria oil, Tunisian neroli oil, pink pepper berries oil, coriander seeds oil, honeysuckle, orange flower absolute, orange water absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, Bulgarian rose concrete, Bulgarian rose oil, iris butter absolute, reconstituted civet oil, caramelized sugar, vanilla absolute, cistus labdanum absolute, white musk.
By Kilian Love ($255 for the 50 ml bottle in it's box with the key and all the trimmings, but also $70 if you only buy the travel size refills that are 4x0.25 oz). Available from MiN NY, Luckyscent, Saks, Bergdorf and Neiman Marcus.
Photo of Ann-Margret in Bye Bye Birdie, 1960, from drmacro.com.