I've had mixed feelings so far about the By Kilian line. All 6 of the original scents that debuted in 2007 are nicely done, if perhaps no match for the swollen rhetoric of the ad copy, but as I've said before, ultra-luxe trappings don't endear me to a brand. When the prices range from $225 for a refillable 50 ml bottle* nestled in a lacquered box complete with lock and key to $2500 for a 1 liter perfume fountain, I'm prone to roll my eyes. My perfume cabinet is chock-full of masterpieces (and many of them in far handsomer bottles than this one), and I've yet to top $200 for a single bottle purchase.
The latest By Kilian fragrance, Prelude to Love, is a unisex, and like the others in the line, is introduced with great fanfare: "As a splash of crimson blossoms across the cheeks and hearts beat wildly, a refined yet bold bouquet of the noblest citrus soothes and refreshes mounting sensations of exhilaration". That might actually be more action than I'd like from my perfume, thank you, so I was almost sorry that Prelude to Love captured my heart so very easily. The opening is perfect: juicy citrus, root-y iris and lots of orange blossom, very like a softer, rounder, earthier version of Acqua di Parma's Iris Nobile Eau de Toilette (the notes for Prelude to Love are listed as orange, bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom, ginger, pepper, iris and musk; if you nose around on the By Kilian website, you can see what is supposedly perfumer Calice Becker's formula, which does not include ginger but adds cardamom, freesia, rose, cypriol and Russian leather).
The citrus and orange blossom notes linger for a good long time — it isn't quite linear, but if you didn't like it after 5 minutes, I shouldn't think you'd like it after 30. It's done with a light touch, and has a refreshing, summer-y feel in the early stages. The heart adds transparent floral notes; farther into the dry down, the iris gets earthier still, and spicier, and drier, but it never quite reaches the buried-underground, dirt-caked-roots style of some iris-focused scents.
For my part, I like Prelude to Love very much, but the price is a deterrent. It is hard to talk about "value" in perfumery, given that the prices have so very little to do with the cost of the materials, but to get me to shell out $225 for a perfume, it would have to be one for the history books. This is really nice, but it's not quite that nice. On the other hand, I know many people adore the By Kilian packaging, and for that matter, loved the other fragrances in the line more than I did. So if you're not so cranky as I am, do give it a try.
By Kilian Prelude To Love is in Eau de Parfum concentration, and the lasting power is good but not fantastic. For buying information, see the listing for By Kilian under Perfume Houses.
*Refills are available for $115, but apparently
you can't buy one unless you already own the original bottle (this is no longer true). That you're forced to blow over $100 on the extraneous packaging (what do I want with a box with a lock and key?) irks me even more.