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Back to Black – Into the pleasure dome – August 8, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Image - Wikimedia Commons - Amy Winehouse mural - Callejero - by Borinot

Listening to Amy Winehouse the other night, I got myself into a despondent funk. I love love LOVE her voice and her music, but when I actually focus and listen to her lyrics, sometimes she does get me downnnn….

Amy died just three years ago, July 23, 2011. Back to Black is one of the sadder songs on her second album, the 2007 chart-stopping Grammy-winning album of the same name, and it’s all about her troubled relationship with whats-his-name, her ex, Blake Fielder-Civil. He did her wrong in every possible way, but she still loved the bloke. Sad.

Back to Black, the perfume, is the eighth scent in the original L’Oeuvre Noire range which introduced the Kilian name to the niche world in 2007. See our posts on Beyond Love and A Taste of Heaven. After musing on the significance of the name and wondering if it was inspired by Amy’s song – it was launched in 2009 – I decide to give my bottle some serious sniffs. I can’t really remember how it smells. Does it smell like the song, dark and sad?

Into the pleasure dome I go, but I’m not expecting this “oriental woody” to smell like THIS! It starts with a dramatic gourmand accord, fruity with tart raspberry jam mixed lemons and limes, and then boozy with vanilla and black cherry, all swirled together with golden honeycomb. The bitter note of the beeswax makes a dense luscious mix that is extraordinary – sweet but not cloying, intriguing but not weird, slightly powdery and dreamy.

Back to Black seems like it may tip into vampy ultra-sweetness as it dries down into the heart, but it follows a different path as smoky notes develop. Aromatic Havana-cigar-cured tobacco leaves, mixed with cardamom and coriander spices, wrap around the honey-soaked amaretto-cherry and vanilla, taming the sweet fruits, but amping up the sweaty bitter facet of the honey and beeswax. Now this accord is totally intoxicating, and the transformation into olfactory aphrodisiac begins.

In the drydown, resinous cedarwood, patchouli, green vetiver, and oak moss create a distinctly animalic effect that shifts Back to Black into sensual territory. The honey note continues, blending with smooth ambery labdanum, and their accord lingers lovingly on my skin for a long time, throwing off hints of vanilla and tobacco.

Back to Black has a delectable gourmand quality, unusual and fascinating, but which never becomes too much. This gourmand opening draws me in with its promise of mouth-watering pleasure, but it’s the honey-beeswax-tobacco accord in the heart and dry-down, the deliciously animalic elixir, that does the bewitching.

Back to Black was created for men and women by Kilian Hennessy’s number one collaborator, Calice Becker, and I can tell you that this perfume is the polar opposite of sad. There is zero connection with drugs, hormonal imbalances, or psychotic episodes; instead, Back to Black, described as “aphrodisiac” on the Kilian website, is a kaleidoscope of pleasure, seductive and swoon-worthy.

Back to Black is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.