Back to Black (By Kilian)

The year she saved my life, her voice was the only straw I could clutch.

Every morning, day in, day out, I cued up "Rehab" as I put my car in reverse. The final chorus of "He Can Only Hold Her" would sound the moment I pulled into the parking lot at work. As the echoes of her voice grew faint, I sat silent behind the steering wheel, inwardly psyching my lead-heavy self to wade through another eight sad hours.

it's OK in the day, I'm staying busy
tied up enough so I don't have to wonder
Where is he?
Got so sick of crying, so just lately
when I catch myself I do a one-eighty

At five o'clock I'd reverse the process, with one difference: a stop at the liquor store for a large bottle of wine, which by bedtime would be drained to the dregs.

For months and months and months, this was my routine. Without it, I wouldn't be here now. It sounds stupid, I know-- who thanks the quicksand for a lovely time? But there was solid ground waiting at the other side, and one voice leading me to shore. It took everything I had to fight my way there... and hers was one of the hands that pulled me up and out.

Four years later, one year ago today; same quicksand, but no helping hands; she herself went below--

over futile odds
and laughed at by the gods
and now the final frame:
love is a losing game.

Posthumous honors tend to reek of kitsch-- but a tribute received during life somehow rings more true and sincere. Commissioned of perfumer Calice Becker by Kilian Hennessey after he'd listened to a certain album "a lot", 2009's Back to Black is a better trophy for Amy than any that came after the sad fact. I can easily imagine her wearing it with a little, secret smirk-- and refusing to hand it back.

In its marriage of pain d'épices with black-cherry-scented tobacco, BTB at first suggests a tenuous kinship with Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant. It certainly is as potent, as plangent, as ripe... but was L'Elephant ever this unabashedly carnal? A totally disarming musky sweetness, animalic and divine, flows from the heart of this fragrance. If it doesn't direct your thoughts south, nothing else will-- but you might want to keep your eyes up here, mister.

She stares you down from across the tiny hotel room. The air smells of cigarettes and sex-- her sex. She does not care what you think of it or whether you approve. A sketch of lush femininity begins to take shape in your mind-- but then she slings one slender leg over the armrest of her chair and kills your story with a deadly machine-gun quip. (You didn't forget, did you, that she has a brain to go with everything else?)

This interview is over, she says. Then smiles.

Intoxicating and unapologetically dark, BTB paints a portrait of femininity more edgy than you might be prepared for. Like Amy, it's a beautiful, nervy, powerful thing. Wearing it today does not feel in the least bit maudlin. On the contrary: it's a perfect day to leave off mourning, to turn our backs on black for good.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, raspberry, cherry stones, blue chamomile, geranium, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, saffron, honey, cedar, tobacco, patchouli, olibanum, benzoin, cistus labdanum, tonka bean, ambergris, vanilla