LONDON — Kilian Hennessy and jewelry designer Elie Top have given their first joint interview since forming a partnership earlier this year to create a scented jewelry collection, which will be launched next month.
The Paris-based designer, who created accessories with Alber Elbaz during his tenure at Lanvin for 15 years, continues to design for the house alongside his namesake fine jewelry collection. Top and Hennessy met at a mutual friend’s dinner party. Hennessy’s wife — a longtime fan of Top’s work for Lanvin — had donned a pair of heavy earrings, which became a conversation starter.
The two men discovered they each had a fondness for conceiving pieces focused on craftsmanship. Hennessy worked on prototypes of jewelry and enlisted the aid of Top. “[The scented jewelry is] something that existed in the 17th century, or 18th century but no one has really done it anymore,” said Hennessy. “So I needed to find the engineering to make it work — what would be the best rendering, we could work through micro-encapsulation, ceramic. There are many ways we could incorporate perfume into jewelry. What I really wanted from Elie was to conceive pieces that would become signature pieces of what Kilian is about. What Elie has done in such a fantastic way is to take all the codes of the brand and incorporate them into what I think are gorgeous pieces.”
The eight-piece Elie Top for Kilian jewelry collection is comprised of amulets, bracelets, earrings and rings. Hennessy said the brand is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, calling this period “the golden age,” and he’s infused pieces with gold, gilded ceramic stones and black lacquered wood.
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The duo wanted to “combine a woman’s two most personal signatures: her scent and her jewelry,” Hennessy said. Top played with elements such as the Achilles shield, black lacquered wood and tassels — with the latter, a signature for Kilian.
“The big challenge was to find a nice and smart way to insert the ceramic,” said Top. “How to smell it, how to keep it totally clean. You can’t imagine there is something inside. The weight — we tried to make it rather light but big at the same time because Kilian likes big bold pieces.”
“Ceramic is a porous stone — completely neutral,” added Hennessy. “So when you spray it, it absorbs the scent and because it’s neutral the rendering is even better than a blotter — because a blotter is paper, which does have a smell. Ceramic has absolutely no smell. It’s the ideal rendering in a way.”
A scented shield ring starts at 450 pounds and prices can go up to 1,500 pounds for a scented double tassel necklace. The collection will be sold at Harrods Salon de Parfums and the brand’s Burlington Arcade boutique beginning Oct. 15.
This is the third partnership for the fragrance brand and Top will join the likes of Loree Rodkin and Paige Novick, who have worked with the company in the past.
While Hennessy did not disclose figures, he said previous limited-edition scented jewelry collections have performed really well. “There are a lot of women [who] feel that they are allergic to perfume and that there is a reaction on their skin,” he said. “And when I released my scented jewelry they found a way to wear perfume without the contact of the skin. The other thing that they’re telling us is that what’s great about scented jewelry is that as a customer you get to enjoy your perfume again.”
Hennessy noted that the company plans to launch a collection of scents referencing the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. “This is a work on what could be the interpretation of the contrast you see in Klimt’s work on light and dark, between sinister and shimmering gold,” he said of the fragrances. “I was just thinking about what for me evokes gold. Like bergamot, honey, rose, and the materials that evoke something darker more obscure like patchouli, vanilla, pepper. I started playing on those to see how I could make a very masculine or feminine scent but using almost an identical base.”
In addition, the brand will unveil 10 evening clutches in November, with each bag etched with different sexy messages such as “Born to avenge my sex and dominate yours” or “Take my advice, get yourself another lover.” Elsewhere the company has experimented with scented lingerie, which will launch later this year. Working with New York-based Fleurs du Mal, the brand designed two ensembles of scented lingerie where the lace is micro-encapsulated with perfume. “We wanted to push the boundaries of how to wear perfume in a different way and challenge that,” said Hennessy. “When you think about scent and lingerie they go very well together.”