A Truly ‘Noir’ Fragrance – By Kilian Back to Black (Aphrodisiac) Perfume Review

Dita Von Teese

I have started a love affair with By Killian, the line of perfumes that is, not the man himself (although he is rather dashing). Having been introduced to the line only a few weeks ago, I have found myself spending lots of time pouring over my samples, oohing and ahhing each time I spray one on my skin.

So far I’ve only had very limited exposure to the line (a total of five) and out of the ones I have tried, Back to Black is by far my favourite. Back to Black is everything a perfume should be; complex, high quality, long lasting and most of all – dramatic.

The Notes

Top: Bergamot, Cardamom, Coriander Seed, Raspberry and Blue Chamomile
Heart: Honey, Oilban, Atlas Cedar, Vetiver, Patchouli and Moss
Base: Tobacco, Ambry, Cistus Labdanum, Almond and Vanilla [1]

How Does it Smell?

Back to Black starts out jammy and fruity with lots of tart raspberry and bright bergamot. The overall effect is quite gourmand and is reminiscent of a delicious raspberry compote. I also find that there is a strong note of toasted almonds, with a very strong cherried facet. This cherried facet reminds me of another ‘Black’ fragrance; La Petite Robe Noire by Guerlain, but the cherry in Back to Black is much darker and slightly more liqueur like.

The fruitiness of the opening is followed quickly by warm, syrupy honey. The honey is slightly bitter and it adds a richness that compliments the cherried, boozy aspect of the opening. Back to Black is an unusual perfume, it’s quite dense and the notes develop slowly but it’s neither loud nor cloying. Unlike a lot of the fragrances with ‘Black’ or ‘Noir’ within their name, Back to Black is one of the few that actually feels like it suits the colour.

The tobacco comes through in the base and it is suitably dark, sweet and honeyed. Tobacco is a note that I’m not entirely familiar with, I used to think that I didn’t like it until I tried Sonoma Scent Studio’s fantastic Tabac Aurea, but that’s a review for another day. What I like about the tobacco here is that it’s not allowed to take over, it also isn’t over sweet, which is a trap most tobacco fragrances fall into. As Back to Black finally settles you are left with a warm, sweet and boozy vanilla with a touch of fuzzy labdanum.

I’m not entirely sure whether Back to Black is inspired by the Amy Winehouse song/album, but it would make sense, there are lots of tobacco and pipe references within the song/album and the perfume contains a wonderful note of cherried pipe tobacco.

To me, Back to Black is a vampish perfume, it reminds me of burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese. Like Dita, Back to Black is sexy, mysterious, tasteful yet smoking hot and she’s not afraid of being risqué.


Back to Black is available in 30ml and 50ml refillable Eau de Parfum and prices range from £82-£145. In the UK, the By Kilian line can be purchased from Harvey Nichols.


This review is based on a sample of Back to Black blagged from the By Kilian counter in Harvey Nichols.

[1] osmoz.com

Image 1 thenonblonde.blogspot.com


16 thoughts on “A Truly ‘Noir’ Fragrance – By Kilian Back to Black (Aphrodisiac) Perfume Review

  1. Love it! B2B is such a beautiful fragrance, and SO long-lasting! I love the honey and tobacco—for those notes, I don’t think there is anything to beat it. And, since you can get a refill spray of this particular fragrance, it doesn’t even break the bank (much).


  2. Luckyscent sell 4 x 7.5ml refill bottles sans atomizer for just £45 + postage. I enquired yesterday at Harvey Nichols about the availability of these over here and was told to expect a call from the manager sometime. Kilian Hennessy himself is due into the store on Sept 27th (I think) which I’ll try to get down for.

    Back to Black is an absolutely amazing scent and so much more than the sum of it’s parts. I think this is a misunderstood scent that is way before it’s time and judging from other reviews I’ve read where they just think it’s “like honey mixed with tobacco”, a lot of people aren’t ready for. Hennessy said he classed this as an “aphrodisiac” not for it’s sexual quality, but for the sense of euphoria at reaching an “artificial paradise” which you can’t argue against.

    • The refill sprays are definitely well priced compared to the rest of the line. They sell most of them on the Harvey Nichols website I believe.

      You are right, Back to Black is part of the “Artificial paradises” which also include A Taste of Heaven and Straight to Heaven. You definitely cannot argue against that euphoric feeling, I agree there!

      It would be cool to meet Kilian, do let me know if you manage to!

  3. I loved Back to Black too! I have a bottle of Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (I found it for a good price, $130, it’s going for $265 now) which smells great, but it doesn’t have that attractive darkness that Back to Black does. It seems especially poignant in light of Amy’s death.

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  7. Another lover of B2B here. I was lucky enough yesterday to be given a sample of every scent in the different ranges including the new Garden series which is launched tomorrow.

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