In the world of Perfume he is considered to be a Magician who creates scents with a strong semantic context. Irresistibly attractive, he combines noble looks with an intense sensuality. Ladies and Gentelmen, please, meet Mr. Kilian Hennessy!!
Do you think the name you attribute to your perfumes has a strong effect?
I have worked for many years for such big names as Giorgio Armani, Paco Rabanne and other “blockbuster” businesses that make millions of dollars in income. Their perfumes were usually called MAN, WOMAN, BLUE, WHITE. Quite a poor choice for a big crowd. Back in the day, though, all the perfumes had much stronger semantic meaning, like CARON “En avion”. Back in the day perfumes looked like mini scripts, mini scenarios, each telling its own story. And that’s exactly what I try to do with contemporary concepts. In other words, I write the scenarios of my own generation. The idea is to generate such a strong emotion, such a great impact, that our client will associate it with only us!
You seem to declare quite sensual, and even, why not, erotic meaning in your scents.
That’s what my Facebook follower once told me when I produced a perfume “The Asian Tales” and it was not about sensuality but rather about spirituality and inner balance. He was even scandalized and asked me why. You know what I have answered him? WAIT AND SEE- it’s just a calm break before the storm. The next step will be a story about real temptation.
In fact, there came a Garden of Sins and The Good Girls Gone Bad, a super sensual story with a golden snake!
Yes, we transformed my office into the Garden of Eden, and I myself tried on a Snake!
Was that part of the publicity campaign?
We do not advertise, nor produce advertising campaigns for several reasons: I want my clients to feel unique and exclusive, in the first place. I make communication a policy for myself as I strongly believe in personal interactive communication. Secondly, it makes quite an obvious opposition with other perfume brands. I also believe in personal involvement with a client!
I know you are very selective in your distribution too. Far from every store has a right to distribute your perfumes.
Yes, you are right, we are very selective, we have only 150 stores around the world, and in the perfume world that’s a very tiny number. When I choose the store it’s almost like a marriage, I want the beautiful store to choose me equally as much as I wish to say YES to this distribution point.
Your perfumes are considered to be so miraculous, that my next question is: Can you create a Magic Potion, that makes another person totally fall for you once they smell it?
That’s the Esperanto of all Perfumers! The perfume that Jean Battiste Grenouille invented in the homonymous book. I would love to, but it doesn’t exist. I mean, it’s a dream and I let it be just that!
Well, how do you then explain why your perfumes have such a strong effect on sophisticated women?I always wear Kilian perfume even when I have nothing else on…
And I am sure it suits you!!Everything I try to do is to bring the level of luxury of Perfume to the glorious period from the 1920’s up to the 1950’s. Chic women are sensitive to the level of luxury that I am living them. The other thing is that my brand is all about telling stories. Imagine Mozart starting to create his music without knowing the theme. That’s what happens now in the world of perfumes. My colleagues do not even know who they are creating for. Their scents are just kept in the bank until the right story pops up.
I try to create an emotionally attractive story and only then do I attach it to the scent. The emotions are timeless but the semantics quite contemporary. One of my perfumes is called: LOVE, DON’T BE SHY. You can’t imagine this appellation some 50 years ago. At the same time, when I go to my perfumer, I am telling him: Come on, give me a scent that when a woman wears it, her man just wants to eat her!
I believe that luxury should be very excessive and essential at the same time. It’s a very fine line between opulence and elegance. I want to keep the balance.
I know that you have grown up in a very famous family. Did you know that everything will be given to you or did you still have a desire to achieve something yourself despite the noted name?
I have grown up in a family where my Grandfather had to conquer the world. When he took Hennessy after the WW2, the were no factories, no plants, no production. He told me that in 1947 he went to Japan to try to sell some cognac and came back without having sold even one bottle. That was the way I felt when I started my business. But I got very lucky. Bergdorf&Goodman took me immediately and then the story went on and on.
Did you have any dreams as a child besides being famous and lucky?
When I was a child, the Hennessy was already partially sold and I knew it was not a family business anymore. My father is very young, just 20 years older than me, and there is only one Hennessy in the family. So I always knew I wanted to make the first name for myself.
I always wanted to look at the mirror and be proud of what I am and not for the name my Grandfather gave me!!!