The haute perfumer visited the Abu Dhabi Film Festival to present two new scents.
Kilian Hennessy introduces new fragrances for the Middle East
The red carpet may long since have been rolled up and the celebrities have all jetted out of town, but in a corner of Suite 810 at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr - which functioned as the VIP lounge during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last month - the heady smell of luxury lingers on.
This is where the haute perfumer Kilian Hennessy, the grandson and namesake of the cognac producer who founded the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group, displayed a number of his luxury fragrances. According to Hennessy, one of the attractions of his perfumes is that they are designed to last. "These days, mass-produced perfumes have no staying power - you spray them on and within a few hours, the smell is lost," he says. "Because of the essential oils we use, and the way that they are blended, my fragrances have far greater longevity; you should still be able to detect them the next day, even after showering."
Hennessy's presence at the film festival saw him bring two new fragrances to the region - Back to Black and Straight to Heaven - both of which are part of his 10-strong L'Oeuvre Noire collection. He describes Back to Black as having a tobacco aroma, with hints of honey, while Straight to Heaven is "redolent of the heat of the Caribbean islands, thanks to ingredients such as nutmeg, hedione and Indonesian patchouli oil".
Hennessy is no stranger to the region and his Arabian Nights collection (Pure Oud, Incense Oud and Rose Oud) was specifically designed with the Middle Eastern market in mind. "When I visited the UAE, I was struck by the strong, almost unique culture for and appreciation of perfumery that exists over here," he says "The Arabian Nights fragrances are an attempt at fusion perfumery; a mingling of East and West, with eastern flavours and essential oils mixed in a classically French way."
Katherine Raso, the director of marketing and communications at Tactical Connections and the manager of the film festival's VIP lounge, says that this was part of the reason Hennessy was asked to exhibit in her suite. "Kilian fits all our criteria; our theme is the place where Middle Eastern culture meets western glamour. It's about showcasing and educating the celebrity visitors about the culture and traditions of the region," she explains. According to Raso, the fragrances were well received by celebrities and visitors to the lounge. "Many from the region already knew of the Kilian brand and were excited and impressed that we had him here. Some of the Hollywood crowd were also aware and the ones who weren't were happy to choose an Oud fragrance to take home."
Hennessy's perfumes are unashamedly expensive. The L'Oeuvre Noire fragrances cost Dh1,045 each, while the Arabian Nights range sells for Dh1,595 - well out of the price range of the average woman. One of the reasons for this is the ingredients used. The Arabian Nights perfumes are made from oud, the rare and hugely prized oil found in agarwood, which is known not only for its distinctive aroma, but also for being more expensive, weight for weight, than gold.
This sense of exclusivity and extravagance is also felt in the refillable square glass perfume bottles, which are coated with layers of black lacquer and bear a gleaming gold plate engraved with the name of the scent. The boxes, meanwhile, which have become something of a Hennessy signature, are jet black, embossed with a subtle blue pattern and can only be unlocked with a gleaming silver key, complete with black tassel.
The perfume boxes also proved to be the inspiration behind his range of handmade evening bags, each of which takes its name from one of the L'Oeuvre Noire fragrances. "One night in Paris, my partner realised that she had forgotten to pack a clutch bag; so she used the perfume container instead. It worked so well that the idea to design the evening bags was quickly born," he explains.
ŸThe clutches, which also made their UAE debut at the film festival, are available to purchase by private sale through Paris Gallery. By Kilian fragrances are sold at Paris Gallery in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi and at Harvey Nichols in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates
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