By Kilian – Imperial Tea

After the astoundingly uninspired and unoriginal duo of Bamboo Harmony and Water Calligraphy (insipid, watered-down, semi-floral nothingness – if you own a bottle you should pour away the juice and use the bottle as a flower vase instead) were released at the launch of By Kilian‘s Asian Tales line, and after the pleasant but still rather non-descript Flower of Immortality (Immortal? Really? The osmanthus-peach accord fades after an hour on skin), I had to steel myself before spraying on the latest release, Imperial Tea, while paying a visit to the By Kilian counter at Harvey Nichols London. You see, as someone who comes from Singapore, and who thus has lived in Asia for over twenty years, I take offence at the reductionistic view that Asia smells… boring, a view that is probably held by the messrs who create ‘Asian-inspired’ perfumes based on the to some extent true assumption that many East Asians prefer clean, fresh smells à la L’Eau d’Issey. Never mind that Asia consists of far more countries than China – I suppose By Kilian was trying to appeal to the burgeoning bourgeoisie in China, who have mountains of 元 to spare with nowhere else to spend it. However, despite China’s increasing importance in the global sphere, it is a mistake to think that the olfactory palette of, and consequently olfactory inspiration derived from an entire country can be reduced to a few bamboo sticks and water, for goodness’ sake! How would you like if I created a line called ‘Western Tales’ and proceeded to bottle the smell of a Big Mac from McDonalds, because, well, that’s what I think the West smells like? In fact, if one really wanted to capture the smell of China, the best representation of it would be the pollutive smog that blankets the whole of Beijing. Now that would be a work of art – pollution in a bottle!

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