Out of the two new fragrances released so far in By Kilian's Asian Tales series, I expected to like Bamboo Harmony better than Water Calligraphy, based on the name and the idea of an aquatic floral. Surprisingly, this is not the case. In fact, while this style of perfumery is completely and utterly Not Me, and I could live the rest of my life happily without wearing Water Calligraphy ever again, I do see the point and the beauty in this one. Sort of.
The opening of this Calice Becker creation for By Kilian is the most difficult part for me (and gets the disgusted face from the husband). There's something like a metallic watery fruit in there, which I'd never have pegged as grapefruit (I swear, that's what the official notes say). Aquatic notes usually take a particular stinky direction on my skin, but in this case there's very little of that, and the "water" becomes more of a lemon water (so that's the promised citrus, I guess), and quite pleasant. It takes about five minutes before the composition turns decidedly floral, though very sheer, with the abstract modern brushstrokes that define many of today's jasmine fragrances.
Water Calligraphy is pretty and wearable for the hour that it lasts. The dry-down has hints of a classic floral over something green, but everything is so sheer, fragile and delicate that I'm just not comfortable around it. I do see the appeal and think that if it weren't for the price tag, this By Kilian would have been an excellent starter perfume for a young woman.
Notes: Grapefruit, Reseda blossom, Water Lily, Jasmine Sambac, magnolia, cardomom, vetiver
By Kilian Water Calligraphy ($225, 50ml) is available from MiN NY, Luckyscent and select department stores. The sample for this review was sent to me as a registered "fan" on By Kilian's Facebook page.
Art: Waterlily Landscape by Marcia Baldwin