By Kilian Straight to Heaven
The “By Kilian” line of fragrances tends to be an odd-duck for a variety of reasons. Kilian Hennessey is the heir to the LVMH empire, a vast expanse that also includes Dior, Guerlain and several other luxury brands. By Kilian purports to be a “green” perfume line, focusing on the recycling of its leather, glass and sculpted metal 50ml bottles, although the refills themselves are provided in glass (raising a question of what is really being saved or reduced). And pricing is near the upper reaches of the luxury spectrum with each 50ml bottle at around $400 (including the bottle). Refills are $235, the normal pricing for a high-end perfume with a bottle.
When I first encountered By Kilian some time ago, I was confused with the value proposition since the pricing for the Eau de Parfum is similar to pricing for a Clive Christian full Perfume concentration: Roughly half the concentration for the same price. Given that, any By Kilian fragrance should be an amazing experience to be worthwhile.
So in reviewing a fragrance such as Straight to Heaven, I considered the fragrance from a couple of points of view: One as just the fragrance, its overall qualities; the other on whether it presents that level of excellence that should be inherent in a fragrance at this level and price-point.
By Kilian Straight to Heaven (2007): Straight to Heaven begins an application with a very boozy and spicy opening note, based on the combination of dried fruits, nutmeg, and rum. While the spiciness lingers, jasmine, cedar accords and patchouli enter the picture several minutes in. In due course, the vanilla, amber and white musk finish out the creation.
Focal points attempted here — and that term is intentional — are a spiced rum concoction with a vision of capturing the Caribbean through perfume, similar only in goal to Creed’s Virgin Island Water. The execution and result are much different; where the Creed creation is a lighter, more tropical/citrus/floral creation, Straight to Heaven wends into a deeper, woody-spiced creation despite having a central rum-based focus. Creed also delivers the rum elements in the base versus earlier in the development. Two very different results.
This isn’t saying the creation is lacking. Far from it, there is a nice, spicy punch though it is a more robust and less-tropical outcome. As a goal of “Caribbean captured in scent”, it’s a less obvious association. It also misses the mark on being truly outstanding at this price-point. While nice, it fell far short of proving the value proposition even on its own merits. By Kilian has carved for itself a very high echelon as a niche scent, but Straight to Heaven lacks the performance caliber to meet that mark. This is perhaps a contrarian view since Straight to Heaven has been among By Kilian’s best sellers and most popular fragrances in the line.
Straight to Heaven delivers longevity nicely. Sillage and projection are average. The result is crisp, balanced and very well-executed.
While I normally don’t make price an issue for any fragrance –our view is to be impartial and objective and focus on the quality of a product — By Kilian presents a challenge since products at this level need to deliver a differentiator. I leave Straight to Heaven conflicted since it delivers a very solid performance but not one so extraordinary as to justify its retail.
Rating: 3.5/5. Straight to Heaven is a solid fragrance. That said, it isn’t exceptional and not the caliber reasonably expected from a $400 EDP. While Mr. Hennessey has focused on quality and creating a brand experience, Straight to Heaven lacks a uniqueness not found elsewhere, which begs the question: Why is this nearly $400? Nice bottle? Perhaps. Quality? Without a doubt? Green/sustainable/environmentally responsible? Debatable. Standout creation? No.
It’s nice. Not $400 nice, however.