The Dance of Life: Kiori Perfume Oil

Lisa Wallos.

by Guest Poster Marla

Robin’s perfume swaps at NST are popular with both novice and jaded perfumistas. I don’t buy perfume anymore; I have enough! But I do like to share and swap decants and partials, so Robin’s gig is exactly my thing. During the latest swap meet, I traded with Perfumista J, who added a tiny vial of something called Kiori to my package. I don’t often wear perfume oils, but, curious as always, I gave it a try. The first sniff led to this post.

Kiori is the creation of Lisa Wallos, a former classical ballet dancer, now a busy mom and teacher. It’s a lush, natural vanillic oriental with floral and patchouli accents. One drop lasts many hours, and that’s unusual for naturals. What I particularly enjoy about Kiori is its blooming presence that remains steadfast and comforting. It is much like ballet, where the delicate beauty of the dance is undergirded by the dancer’s tremendous strength and discipline.

I asked Lisa how the aesthetics of ballet informed her work as a perfumer. She answered,

“With ballet, aesthetics are everything. I’m not sure if there are any other art forms where so many dimensions of perfection are required at once. But what may separate one dancer from another, what makes people drawn to one dancer over another, is their unique abilities that extend beyond the standard expectations. Oftentimes it’s their spectacular gifts of turns for example.  But to me it’s just as important to see what the dancer reveals to the audience- their humanness, their inner beauty and personal expression ….  As a perfume lover and new perfumer, I think not only about how a scent makes me feel or what it conjures up, but what a given scent reveals about its creator.  Who is the being behind the scent and what part of themselves do they show us through their creation? “

KioriKiori reminds me quite a bit of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely, which also has the ballet connection (SJP is a massive fan), and also features vanilla, patch, and soft florals. They don’t smell at all alike, yet they share the same elegant, comforting aesthetic vibe. Lisa describes Kiori’s development: “It had to be appropriate when I’m out and about with my kids or at a gala event. The scent is quiet and contemplative, raw and passionate.” After wearing Kiori for a week, I agree with Lisa that Kiori’s contrasting facets, elegant yet raw, contemplative yet passionate, are what make it so wearable and compelling.

For those interested in trying Kiori, it’s available at Lisa’s website,

And for those who wish to comment on ballet and perfume, there will be a random draw for a sample of Kiori.


  • somethingsknitting says:

    This sounds intriguing, thank you for the review! I have a special fondness for perfume oils. I was in ballet school for most of my childhood. I was never very good, but I still remember how beautiful and elegant our instructors seemed to me. I would love to know which perfumes they wore. Probably something exquisite. Thank you for the draw!

  • Maureen says:

    I used to really like Lovely at one time….I think i would love this. My mother was a professional dancer, but she wore much more sulty perfumes when she wore it. I never even asked what she wore when she danced…probably nothing. She did tell me that she’d rush off stage and quickly get out of the costumes and wrap up in a terry robe…she said she wanted to get the costume off before she really started sweating…apparently there was a few minutes after extreme exertion of the dance before she’d start sweating profusely. Please enter me in draw…I’d love to try this.

  • Tiara says:

    I love that this was a lagniappe, thrown in with the swap. A few years ago, I was in on a traveling perfume box and what fun that was! There were so many different perfumes inside I’d never heard of but fell in love with a few (Penhaligon’s Zizonia is one that comes to mind). Of course there were a few I had been dying to try that I ended up disliking but working through that box was so enjoyable. Giselle by Carla Fracci, an Italian ballet dancer, was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about ballet and perfume. Patty and March reviewed it years ago and it was cheap enough for a blind buy. No regrets.

    • masha7 says:

      Tiara, thank you for your thoughtful comment on those perfume moments we don’t expect. Carla Fracci’s perfumes are indeed beautiful, and very reasonable. And you used one of my all-time favorite, underappreciated words, “lagniappe”!

  • Dance is so visual and attuned to sound, it fascinates me to extend that into the realm of another sense. Kiori is on my wishlist!

  • masha7 says:

    Eloquaint, most mammals, who rely on smell far more than humans do, would consider us perfumistas eminently sane! Bring on the smells. And Swan Lake was my favorite as a girl, too. Oh, and Giselle, which always made me cry.

  • Eloquaint says:

    I remember seeing Swan Lake on television when I was little and being absolutely riveted by the beauty and grace of the dancers, and also by the fact that you could tell a story without using any words. I’m a word person, absolutely, so it was very eye-opening. The city where I live doesn’t have a ballet, but someday I will see Swan Lake in person, no matter where I have to go to do it.

    Thanks for the draw. I love draws and swaps. I, too, have enough bottles of perfume to last a sane person a lifetime. But I want more smells. Possibly I am not a sane person.

  • Peppermoon says:

    I wish I were coordinated and graceful enough for ballet. Lovely post. The simplicity of the notes you listed for Kiori makes me curious about it. What makes it so special and lovely? I’d love to try it, please enter me.

  • Jackie b says:

    Much food for thought here today! As a vocational ballet teacher I can imagine the restraint that must have gone into Kiori.
    It’s always about what you leave out.
    In the old days ballet teachers used to wear lots of perfume, in fact Balanchine bought each of his ladies a signature scent, nowadays not so ‘correct’!
    Iris Prima smells exactly like new pointe shoes though!

    • masha7 says:

      Jackie b and Peppermoon, your ideas on simplicity and what goes to make a perfume remind me of what a famous perfumer told me– his best ones were not about what he put in, but what he left out! I think Kiori works because there’s nothing extraneous. It only contains the notes that make the basic contrasts come alive.

  • Victoria says:

    Oh my goodness, my heart fluttered a little bit reading the first few lines of the post. Ballet and perfume are two of my loves, and I love how in both of them, you have to making everything painstakingly flawless while making everything appear effortless. I loved this post so much! It made my day.

  • Connie says:

    What a great topic! As a ballroom dancer, I’m partial to the intersection of dance and perfume. I really should try Iris Prima, but when I go to the ballet I have a tendency to wear my classics- Coromandel, the old Guerlains, and Bal a Versailles.

  • bevfred says:

    I love ballet as well. Prada Iris Infusion and Kelly Caleche are my nominations because they’re soft but tenacious, in that you think you can’t really smell them and then something lovely wafts up and you realize, oh that’s it. To me they both have a bit of soft leather as well.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’m a sucker for ballet-inspired things because I was a ballet student for many years. My strengths as a dancer were my musicality and my limberness; my weaknesses were my pathetic upper body strength and lack of stamina. Last year I bought a sample of Penhaligon’s Iris Prima. It’s such a pretty iris & leather slippers combo. I’d love to sample this one, too. Thanks for entering me in the drawing Marla. 🙂

    • masha7 says:

      Dina, I was a ballet student, too. But my hyperextended knees, though considered aesthetically good for ballet, were too prone to injury. I continued with modern and jazz dance for years. My ballet lessons definitely gave me strong appreciation for that form of dance and the people who can do it!

  • masha7 says:

    Maya and Jeanne, I’ve had great luck with ballet-inspired perfumes. SJP Lovely, Kiori, Carla Fracci, and Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges are all favorites of mine! Ballet is obviously a great inspiration for perfume….

    • Maya says:

      Hi masha7. I have heard good things about Ballets Rouges and Lovely keeps popping into my radar. I may have to try Lovely too. BTW – years ago I worked with an older woman who told me I hyperextended my knees, something I had never heard of. She said it was BAD for dancers, but she was also very passive-aggressive. LOL

      • masha7 says:

        Hyperextension (what used to be called “double-jointed”) is considered to be very pretty and elegant, but without extra vigilance and some say a special exercise routine, injuries are a lot more likely. My instructor didn’t want to take that chance with me, so I did not get a chance to learn pointe work. Of course, now that I’m older, I’m very glad my teacher spared my knees all those years ago! And yes, do try Lovely and Ballets Rouges if you get a chance!

    • Jeanne says:

      Hi masha7, thank you for the suggestions)
      I also love the Repetto by Olivier Polge, which may be a bit overpowdery but still nice and delicate.

  • Jeanne says:

    Ballet and perfume, I don’t know much about either and at the same time eagerly love both. It seems to me that both of them, amongst other things are about evoking imagery, provoking emotions, about that elegance of balance of proportions. I loved the description of Kiori… « quiet and contemplative, raw and passionate »…hope to discover it for myself some time soon, thank you for a very inspirational review !

  • Maya says:

    Kiori sounds wonderful. I love the analogy with ballet. You’ve put some great images in my mind about this perfume. I would love to try some. Am going to visit Lisa’s site as soon as I send this.