Love, Don’t Be Shy By Kilian

Okay, this is a bit of a meander.

I was on some beauty website recently– nobody could accuse me of neglecting my trashy reading during the pandemic– when I discovered word had gotten out last summer about which fragrance Rihanna wears.  (Note: it is not any of her RiRi house brand fruity-florals found dirt cheap online, in case you’re wondering why she hadn’t done a celebrity scent; she’s done five, I think, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to force herself to wear them.)  Anyway, apparently her signature scent had long been the source of speculation among her hardcore fans; the gospel among them was that anyone who’d had the good fortune to meet her (or, I guess, just stand nearby?) said she smelled amaaaaazing.  Clearly she had a signature fragrance, but what was it?

Rihanna doesn’t interest me that much — she’s pretty, I’m not sure I can name any of her songs, I don’t follow her on Instagram, etc.  I think her makeup line is fantastic, but that’s a different post.  The reason this caught my attention, at least initially, is because apparently the sleuthing revealed Rihanna’s signature is Love, Don’t Be Shy from By Kilian.  I thought, wait, By Kilian?  It struck me as an odd choice.

[pullquote]”I don’t want to pay $240 for fruity pebbles” – Sephora review[/pullquote]Then I embarked upon some hurried, extensive googling, because I was drawing a blank on that one.  When I could still visit the Saks near me, I knew By Kilian had a whole slew of scents now, was this among the newer ones?  Some flanker?  Eventually however I reached the conclusion that we were in fact talking about his original Calice Becker-crafted scent called (simply) Love from 2007, part of his first-crop L’Oeuvre Noire releases.

[pullquote]”This smells like something middle school girls wear” — Sephora review[/pullquote]I remembered Love, a parlor-trick colossus that smelled of fancy caramel and marshmallows, interesting and amusing in small doses but not something I wanted to wear or even live under the same roof with.  The more I thought about it, though, the more sense it made as Rihanna’s signature.  Love as I remember it is loud and soft, unapologetic, and an absolute sillage monster – you announce your presence simply by walking into a room wearing it.  The brand By Kilian is simultaneously exclusive ($240+ per bottle) yet easy to source – heck, some of it’s stocked at Sephora now.  Maybe that’s how RiRi ran across Love in the first place, although I’m guessing she’s spent plenty of time and money at Saks.  Speaking of which, Saks carries a Love travel set with a gorgeous atomizer and four small spray refills, perfect for someone like Rihanna who must spend a ton of time on the road.

[pullquote]”I was immediately not happy” – Sephora review[/pullquote]I’m not sure how and when the fragrance became called Love, Don’t Be Shy, although I did try to figure it out.  When your line has seven different fragrances with the word “love” in the name, I suppose we’re all going to have to make an effort to distinguish them.  My best guess is his little engraved musing under the name on the bottle label (“don’t be shy”) became incorporated into the name itself.  Sprinkled throughout this post are pull quotes from reviews on Sephora, written by the unsuspecting innocents who ordered this $240 behemoth online and unsniffed because of Rihanna.  I feel their pain, having bought plenty of things unsniffed myself with varying degrees of success.  Hey, at least Sephora takes returns. In the meantime it looks like they’ve thrown together an Eau Fraiche version that’s a little less of a punch in the face for those club kids who didn’t cut (rot?) their teeth like we did on intense, syrupy bombs like Poison or Addict.

[pullquote]”At first spritz it smells like artificial grape candy?” – Sephora review[/pullquote]It would have been amazing if Rihanna had chosen a classic as her signature, something like Shalimar.  But I’m guessing most of those scents would read as old-ladyish to her and her younger fan base.  She’d want something she’d discovered and could make her own, so to speak.  I think Fracas would have worked; in fact, Fracas fills kind of the same fragrance niche, with similar weight and sillage and outrageousness.  It’s the first (and only) classic that sprang to mind as plausible, right down to the elegant black bottle.

[pullquote] “let’s see if this will be an office/date/girls night out banger! I too want to be known as someone that just ALWAYS smells good.” – Sephora review[/pullquote]Why do people choose a signature fragrance?  Maybe they want to smell sexy.  Or sweet and edible.  They want something office-friendly, or something that projects competence, or something that comforts them.  Maybe they want to smell expensive, or different and edgy, or exotic and worldly.  Me?  I just want to smell—all the things, all the time, all over my hair and body and clothing. I keep thinking I’m going to make myself a tee shirt that reads, I’m not wearing this perfume for you.

Have you tried Love?  Do you own any By Kilians? (I have a couple decants but not a bottle).  If you won a bottle in a raffle, which would you want? (I’ll take the honey-spice Back to Black, thank you very much.) In the meantime I’ve been after Patty to get Love back in stock at Surrender to Chance so I can smell it again and laugh; heck, I’d probably love it now. Stranger things have happened.

  • Tara C says:

    I guess I’m a shameless ho, I love syrupy sweet stuff and own both Love and Sweet Redemption. 🙂 I also have the complete Oud series plus Back to Black, Black Phantom, Woman in Gold, Straight to Heaven, Moonlight in Heaven and Good Girl Gone Bad. So I guess you could say I like the line. But I do think the latest releases aren’t as interesting.

    • March says:

      WHOA you are a fan! Be a shameless ho, no problem with that here. Of the newer ones they have one that smells like a gin cocktail (?) that I thought was fun, but not something I need at that price point.

  • Dina C. says:

    By Kilian is one of those brands that has priced itself outside of my interest range. I’m turned off by stuff that’s that expensive. I’m too busy trying to play catch up and sniff all the good stuff I can afford! This particular one sounds too sweet for my taste.

    • March says:

      I count myself lucky that in normal times I can sniff with abandon at nearby places (saks, NM etc.) without it costing me anything. There is so much fragrance now it’s easy to find things you love that don’t break the bank!

  • Patty says:

    Or maybe it is prelude to love that is the iris one. Dang, I wish i had them here, this is always so frustrating!

  • Patty says:

    OMG, I don’t want to smell this again! I like Back to Black and some of the ouds – most of the ouds for sure. And the iris one, love and tears? That one is amazingly goregeous. Couple of others. This one? Nope, nope, nope, nope!

  • Maya says:

    I tried some By Kilian early on. They were too sweet and cloying for me, so I let this line go. Who knows though. I did not like any SL, then recently I tried Iris Silver Mist and fell hard! Rose de Nuit too.

    • March says:

      I thought they were interesting and super niche and had an interesting story etc., and they seemed like good quality. I’m surprised they haven’t wound up being more generally popular among perfumistas.

    • March says:

      I LOVE me some Serge. Mostly the earlier stuff before he started releasing things faster and they all smelled sorta like they started in the same vat.

  • OTA Mom says:

    I own the tacky Kilians with the long names that were done for Sephora, “Adults” and “Princess”. I love them and am not ashamed. 🙂 I once considered the purchase of “Love the Way You Taste” but the mint broke down too quickly into unpleasantness, as mints are often wont to do. I have tried many from the house over the years and like Lutens, just not my bag in general.

    • March says:

      Hey, I tried those just in passing and thought, not bad! When Sephora reopens I’m going to have to give them another go.

  • Brigitte says:

    For me the idea of a signature scent would be that everyone I love thinks of me fondly were they to sniff it on someone else out in the wild

    Kathleen sent me a decant of Love when the last of my three and my only boy headed to college this past fall. It was extraordinaryly comforting. I thunked it. She sent me another decant after. I thunked that one too. I guess I liked it. To me it was a vanillic orange blossom.

    • March says:

      I suppose this would be as good a time as any to admit I’ve ordered a squidge online, because I’ve developed a lot more affection for comfort scents like this. Vanillic orange blossom sounds pretty great (although maybe not midsummer here…)

      • Ariel says:

        Have you tried Profumum’s Vanitas? (Another orangey- vanilla) I’m wondering how it compares. I’m guessing Love is sweeter.

  • Musette says:

    I don’t think any of the Killians resonated with me – except for Back to Black. I’mo have to root around in the Messy Armoire to see if I have any of that to retry… xoxoxo

    • March says:

      I thought I had some samples here and can’t find any of them. Looking forward to the day I can pop over to Saks and refresh my memory!

  • Cinnamon says:

    Great read, March. I tried some By Killians a life-time ago, which is to say nothing made me go wow and they didn’t make much any lasting impression. So, no clue here. I do like aspect of RiRi. I think, post her awful period with weird abusive boyfriend, she’s come back as a strong woman (though I have no clue who current BF is, so what do I know). Every time I look at the makeup line I think ‘I want’.

    • AnnieA says:

      Sadly, I heard it’s the same horrible guy, but she’s keeping it quiet.

    • March says:

      I’ve tried a lot of her makeup and own some as well. The shade inclusiveness is astonishing and she tweaks and refines based on feedback. She manages to release products that offer something new, which is hard to do these days.

  • Carolyn says:

    Great post! The only celbuscents that I like are Adam Levine for Her and Indi by Katy Perry, primarily because neither are cloying or sweet. I have a decant of Love BK that, on first spritz, I did not like but the drydown was intriguing and it wore well throughout the day. Despite there being no mint in the formulation, I smell mint. Weird nose. I don’t own a bottle of BK but I would love to try Imperial Tea because Calice Becker, the nose behind Love, is also the creator of Imperial Tea. Also, big white flower with tea. What could possibly go wrong? Lol!

    • March says:

      I am almost sure I tried the Imperial Tea (because it sounds like something I would love) and was disappointed and for the life of me I can’t remember. Longevity? Not enough tea? I will have to circle back around and investigate when Saks reopens.

  • Portia says:

    I think some peoples, especially stars, natural scent is already ultra engaging. Add something fragrant that works for them on top and you get dynamite.
    In my collection is a bottle of Sweet Redemption and I wish for Back to Black.
    That first couple of series were so amazing and then it felt like the brand completely lost its way.
    Having said that, the much maligned Gold Knight smells excellent to and on me.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      I think you’re right about the natural scent aspect. Adding that I’m surprised more people here aren’t into the brand… they definitely have trended in a lighter direction, and there’s that Sephora exclusive BK as well…. trying to broaden his customer base, I guess?

    • Samantha L says:

      This whole thing is making me think that I may need to re-sniff Back to Black. I remember hating it and thinking it was baby powder overload..but that was 11 years ago so I may have been totally wrong!

  • Bee says:

    I was curious about this too when I read it and was disappointed to find it was a fragrance I personally found to be over sweet and quite boring. It made me wonder how much the perception is to do with the actual celebrity wearer. David Bowie was described by many people as always smelling amazing – ‘the best smelling human being I ever met’ etc. It seems to be agreed he wore Creed Silver Mountain Water which is nice but it’s not exactly mind blowing on a normal person. Maybe you have to be famous to smell that good in anything. And btw I would rather wear Rihanna’s Rogue (gorgeous peachy suede – like Daim Blond’s cool granddaughter) – than that Kilian.

    • March says:

      That is fascinating! Yeah, if I sniffed SMW looking for Bowie I’d be so …. let down. More important: how many of those RiRi’s have you tried? Having dissed them based on their descriptions I am totally up for trying them out. I can do a post where I eat some crow…. any others you recommend trying? Not gonna lie, peachy suede sounds pretty great.

      • Musette says:

        my heart skipped a beat over ‘peachy suede’ – and Daim Blond immediately sprang to mind.

        I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a celebuscent – not because I am a snob (though I am a snob) but because I’m lazy AF and can barely wear what I already have!


  • Ariel says:

    I haven’t tried anything By Kilian, but I’d wear the heck out of that t-shirt.

  • jen says:

    i have a lot of sweet redemption. only wear it in the winter as its big and heavy.

    • March says:

      I forgot about that one! Me, too. When we get around to re-opening I’m going to need to take a long retreat to the Kilian counter at Saks and do some re-sniffing. Poking around on the Kilian website is showing me how many things I missed.

      • Musette says:

        you are ACHING for ‘reopening’. Restaurants? Squoo that! BRING ON THE PERFUME!!! I need to get some new lippies. Girl, I know ALLLL your darkest desires – and they live at SFA!!! lol!!