By Kilian Playing With The Devil


I’ve been debating over reviewing this perfume since I got my sample back in August. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is definitely the safest route for an aspiring perfumer. But at the end of the day I feel okay about this review, because I’m not saying that Playing With The Devil is a bad perfume. In fact, I think it’s a very good fruity fragrance. But Playing With The Devil is boring, inexcusably boring for the price ($245 for 50 ml). Most perfume lines have a well-crafted-but-unremarkable fragrance or two, but By Kilian now has seven. (Bamboo Harmony, Water Calligraphy, Forbidden Games, Good Girl Gone Bad, In The City of Sin, and Flower of Immortality, all released over the past year.)

Playing With The Devil opens with a warm, sensual peach note (as opposed to the brighter, sharper peach note in PWTD’s immediate predecessor, Flower of Immortality). The peach is gradually joined by a very sweet lychee note. In Kilian’s defense, this fruit salad never feels thin, although it is too sweet for my personal tastes. The drydown is a creamy, pale sandalwood of the “We can’t use Mysore sandalwood anymore, what the hell do you want from us”* variety. The lasting power is very good.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m seriously so curious about By Kilian’s apparent new direction. The weirdest part is that Calice Becker, the perfumer behind the most recent Kilian fragrances, is also responsible for By Kilian’s first, highly acclaimed L’Ouevre Noire series! So what could have possibly changed?

*The use of Mysore sandalwood, as many perfumistas already know, has been severely restricted due to past over harvesting.

25 thoughts on “By Kilian Playing With The Devil

  1. I really wanted to like the Garden of Evil scents. I loved the bottles, I like fruity florals, and Calice Becker is one of my favorite perfumers. I even used up my samples trying to like them. But, honestly, the scents were boring and did not smell worth the money. I haven’t tried this one yet but it seems to be getting reamed everywhere.

    I felt the recent Oscar de la Renta niche collection Becker did was much better than this dreck. I feel like for these new By Kilian lines she was given a brief to be very, very commercial. I think it was Victoria at EauMG who suggested that the Garden of Evil collection was designed for Vegas tourists. That sort of made me LOL.

    1. I don’t understand why the ODLR exclusives aren’t getting more attention! Maybe it’s because unlike Chanel or Dior, the rest of the ODLR fragrance lineup isn’t particularly acclaimed.

  2. I wonder if they had a change in their administrative office (big wigs and accountants demanding boring commercial fragrances) that explains this current penchant for quantity over quality?

  3. Dearest Ari
    Might The Dandy confess that he just doesn’t get By Killian.
    The brand that is not merely the perfumes in this series.
    I have yet to fall in love with one, and at that price, I would hope for something more than a mere passing pleasantry.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Dandy,

      One wonders if you have yet had the chance to try Back to Black, which is, in my opinion, By Kilian’s true masterpiece. While some of the rest of the Black Works are well-done, Back to Black is truly gorgeous, the best honey tobacco I have yet smelled – clean and wearable, yet lush and luscious. I would be curious to know your impression of it.

      Most sincerely,
      the Unseen Censer

  4. Highly amusing sandalwood variety…;-) I haven’t tried any of these latest releases, and have a low success rate with By Kilian generally, but I do need to get stuck in and try a whole bunch of them some time to see where I stand on the brand these days!

  5. I think it is all about marketing (their “new direction”) to different tastes. Was discussing this recently with someone else (I won’t say who in case she would prefer I didn’t) and she opined that each of the lines targets a different geographic area, which seems accurate to me. Having never been a big fan of any of the Killian fragrances, I actually think one of the nicest things one can say is how well this line demonstrates Calice Becker’s range as a perfumer. 🙂

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