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Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kilian

Kilian Hennessy

February 10 marks several good things, including an extra year to your humble correspondant's age, but slightly more crucially, it is Chinese New Year. This celebration of the zodiac calendar is one of the most important festivals in the East, and is honoured by many banquets, parties, and rituals, for weeks proceeding and following the day itself. Out of all the twelve creatures, 2013 welcomes the snake as the symbol.

People born within snake years are traditionally known as being smart, manipulative, seductive, refined and sensual. As 'snakes' partake in the tradition of displaying red lanterns, wearing red clothes and giving red envelopes filled with money to unmarried youngsters, they will be wishing for wealth and luck in their love lives.

Every 12 years, when the snake is dominant, there is a cycle of five years to match the serpent with its element. This year, it will be the water 'yin' snake, and who better to express the personality of this creature than snake and water expert, Kilian Hennessy?

Hennessy is the brains behind luxury perfume brand, Kilian. He has been influenced by the Orient in the past, with his Asian Tales collection, but has recently released an 'In The Garden of Good and Evil' range, where the perfume comes presented in a beautiful white clutch bag, complete with a gold and crystal snake as embellishment. Although Hennessy takes a more Judeo-Christian view of 'the serpent in Eden' as his inspiration, the duality of the snake's attributes can be seen in both cultures. It is a noxious and infamous creature, despite being prosperous and enticing.

We decided to find out a bit more about Kilian's intriguing symbolism, and get a little help with what to wear for Chinese New Year this Sunday. Enjoy, and Kung Kei Fat Choy!

Kilian case
The amazing clutch bag you receive with your Kilian perfume: In The City of Sin, Good Girl Gone Bad or Forbidden Games

This Chinese New Year is the year of the snake. What serpent-like qualities made it a good symbol for the new Kilian 'In The Garden of Good and Evil' range?

I wanted to use a snake that would resemble the one you see in all art representations. But as I am not looking to die just yet, I opted for the Python. For the color of the Python, I wanted a skin that would look 'expensive' and 'luxury', meaning as dark as possible.

What are three words to describe the Kilian brand identity?

Art. Erotic. Ecolux.

Gold is a very Oriental colour, explain why it's an integral part of your presentation and design?

The immaculate whiteness, symbol of innocence and purity, is held out against the brilliance and opulence of gold - the mark of riches, but also of vanity. For me, gold expresses the sin of pride, carnal sin, the unanticipated scrutiny of our most unconfessed and shameful desires - all manifest in the hidden and not-so-hidden corners of this new collection.

Kilian Chinese New Year
Stuck for what to wear at Chinese New Year? It's lucky to wear red trousers, and a floral kaftan will give it that delicate Oriental look. A dash of red lipstick, lots of gold accessories and a flick of eyeliner will help set off your Kilian scent.

Describe a scent that evokes a strong memory for you.

The scent of Tuberose will always bring strong memories to me… All the women in my life (my grandmother, my mother, my aunt and today my fiancée) wear Tuberose based scents. I remember when my mother used to go out to a ball in Paris; she was so elegant, dressed in such a glamorous fashion, and always wearing Tuberose. To me, Tuberose is the scent of elegance.

Tell us about the notes and fragrances used in your Asian Tales collection (Water Calligraphy and Bamboo Harmony) and why they compliment each other?

WATER CALLIGRAPHY is the olfactive impression of an aquatic flower sitting next to a pond of water lilies… a moment of delicacy!

BAMBOO HARMONY is the olfactive impression of a subtle sip of white tea taken in the heart of a bamboo… a moment of spirituality!

How do you get inspired for the theme behind your collections?

It is a very long process. It can start with an idea or an image or a sentence, anything actually. But then at one point, I have to be able to translate that emotion into the world of perfume. If I can't, then I drop the idea.

What's the perfect outfit to wear with your Garden of Good and Evil scents?

Actually, the perfect outfit would be to wear them naked. But as they both come in a clutch bag, they are perfect to wear at night if you are dressed chic yet casual. Maybe a black jacket, a tank top underneath, a pair of skinny jeans and very high heeled shoes.

Kilian Forbidden GamesKilian, Forbidden Games Eau de Parfum; £160,

Why did you choose to do what you do?

I honestly think that perfume chose me more than I chose perfume…

Any ideas on your next project and the story it will tell? If not, have you any aspirations for something you'd one day like to work on?

Oh, I am working on so many ideas right now. The next project will be launched in October. It will be very dark, very sexy, very elegant: expressing men's pleasures of life!

How will you be celebrating Chinese New Year?

In Los Angeles with a Chinese friend!

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