Perfume as Art
August 1, 2014
Kilian Hennessy, a grandson of the founder of the French-based multinational luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), visited Poland July 10 to conduct a workshop on luxurious fragrances under the motto “Perfume as an Art.”
An heir to the fortune of a line of famous cognac makers stretching back 12 generations, Kilian Hennessy chose a different career for himself. He has created a range of high-end perfumes worn by film stars such as Nicole Kidman and Benicio del Toro.
During his meeting with Polish customers at the Quality Perfumery shop in Warsaw, Hennessy talked about the history of his business and the philosophy of the brand.
“I knew I would never join the family business as I wanted to find my own path,” said Hennessy, who was in Poland for the first time. “When I was in my last year in college, I wrote a thesis on the semantics of scents, and I knew instantly it would be my craft, my way of freedom.” This was when he decided to study at a Paris perfumery school.
This education led him to work with prestigious designers such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani at L’Oreal. While each of them taught him different aspects of the perfumery business, this did not give the satisfaction he was looking for.
“I was not happy with the final product,” Hennessy said. “Perfume was no longer a luxury product, it was all about making the highest profit margin.”
For Hennessy, perfumery has always been closer to art than business. “It is about expressing emotion and that is what art is all about,” he said. One night in March 2006, after he had dinner at the Baccarat restaurant in Paris he visited the adjoining museum and saw an exhibition of Baccarat perfume bottles from the past century that were objects of art. The exhibition inspired him to launch his own line of perfumes that would “embody real luxury and creativity.”
“I realized I wanted to go back to that idea, with beautiful scents that came in bottles and packaging that were works of arts, but done in a modern way,” Hennessy said. He also liked the idea of creating a beautiful luxury product that could be kept forever.
At the same time, he undertook to create a “wardrobe of scents” that would suit every mood. “In today’s world, you should be able to switch your scent, to use it as an accessory,” he said.
What was also important for him was that his customers would not smell like millions of other men and women. “No one wants to arrive at a party wearing the same dress as another woman,” he said.
A year later he launched his first collection of six unisex scents under the name Kilian and opened his first point of sale in New York City.
Today Kilian Hennessy has 200 points of sale all over the world, including Warsaw.