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kilian

It is a man. I am sure of it. A tall man with integrity in corduroy. He has the fingers of a pianist and speaks of politics. It is a fragrance of an intellectual man, sharp and keeping the world at a distance. Not someone you hug. Someone you would really want to discuss the world with by a fireplace with some incredible cognac though.
Two hours later he is gone. He has left a veil of something that makes me think of Santa Maria Novella or a meeting between the clergy and herbs. But the man is replaced by a woman with strong attitudes and sharp features. She takes over a room. 
She stays for about an hour. Then enters a different person. Someone more subdued but confident. Much softer though. I envision a baroness from Veneto in masculine clothes and unruly hair. I like her. 
As day turns into evening the herbs are gone. Also the sharpness. What remains is a soft warm velvety vanilla. Where did they all go?

Despite there being a huge global online perfume community I have seen very few examples of perfume houses that really excel in social media. A few web sites have tests where you can get help in finding your fragrance type, some web sites are extremely well-designed (favorite: Le Labo), some are strikingly generous and informative (for example Mandy Aftel). But social media – general impression is that there is much work to do. The most interesting communication is created by the perfumistas rather than the perfumers, is my impression. If you have examples that contradict this statement – please share!

My favorite right now web-wise is By Kilian as this perfume house creates nice links between information, shop, customer care and exclusivity. Everything is also very well-designed and has a tonality that fits the feeling of the fragrances. By Kilian has a facebook-page that actually does stay active and a part of is it the Kilian Club which gives you access to aming others things – samples delivered straight to your home. A couple of months ago I received a very elegant whole kit of samples and it really felt like getting a treasure.

So today I would really like to compliment By Kilian on their way of staying in touch with fans and also their generosity. Really really nice.

My plan is to have a few re-occuring topics in the blog, for example perfume searching tips and tricks, famous houses/brands and common – or just interesting – ingredients.

This time – tonka bean.

Dipteryx odorata (known as cumaru) is a flowering tree in from northern South America. Today, the main producers of the seeds are Venezuela and Nigeria. Kumarú is the word for tree in Tupi, in the region of French Guiana. The tonka bean is the seed from this tree. The beans are black, wrinkled and brown on the inside. They smell like vanilla similar to vanilla with a touch of almond, clove or cinnamon. The seed contains coumarin, which gives the seeds the great smell. The taste however, is bitter and eating coumarin can damage the liver.


Tonka beans are banned or subject to restrictions in several countries (for example use in food is forbidden in the US – probably because it affects coagulation). In others (like France), they are used in desserts as a vanilla substitute or to enhance the flavor in nuts or poppy, and in South America it seems it is used to create a specific aphrodisiac beverage. A google session will indicate that there seem to be a lot of chefs around the world who do like to experiment with this bean. And then they also appear in pipe tobacco and…in perfume.

The tonka bean has been considered to have both magical and medicinal powers. It has been used to cure depression, to boost the immune system, to cure snake bites and to treat coughs and rheumatism. The bean has been used for a long time for medicinal purposes among tribes in the Amazon. In occult traditions ceremonies that involve tonka beans are believed to help wishes come true. I also found recommendations to carry a bean in your pocket or bag for courage.

You will usually find tonka bean in an oriental fragrance, for example legendary Shalimar and Tonka Impériale (plus generally Guerlain), but also in fougères like previously mentioned Houbigant Fougère Royale. In Ellenas Hermessence series you cand find the fragrance Vetiver Tonka. If you are looking for more contemporary brands try Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford or A Taste of Heaven from By Kilian. 

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Min plan är att ha några återkommande teman i bloggen, till exempel parfymletartips, berömda märken och intressanta ingredienser.

Den här gången – tonkaböna.

Dipteryx odorata (kallas också cumaru) är en blommande träd från norra Sydamerika. De största producenterna/odlarna är idag Venezuela och Nigeria. Kumarú är ordet för träd på Tupi, i området Franska Guyana. Tonkaböna är fröet från cumaru. Bönorna är svarta, skrynkliga och bruna på insidan. De luktar vanilj med inslag av mandel, kryddnejlika eller kanel. Fröet innehåller kumarin, som ger fröna den fina doften. Smaken är dock bitter och om man äter kumarin kan man skada levern.

Tonkabönor är förbjudna i flera länder (till exempel är användning i livsmedel förbjuden i USA – förmodligen eftersom kumarin påverkar koagulation). I andra länder (t.ex. Frankrike), används tonka böna i desserter som ett substitut för vanilj eller för att förstärka smaken i nötter eller vallmo. Det verkar finnas en hel del kockar runt om i världen som tycker om att experimentera med denna böna. Och så finns den också i piptobak och … i parfym.

Tonkabönan har ansetts ha både magiska och medicinska krafter. Den har använts för att bota depression, för att stärka immunförsvaret, för att bota ormbett och för att behandla hosta och reumatism. I ockulta traditioner finns ceremonier som involverar tonkabönor som tros hjälpa önskningar att gå i uppfyllelse. Jag har också hittat rekommendationer att bära en böna i fickan eller i väskan för mod.

Tonkaböna finns i nästan alla orientaliska dofter, till exempel legendariska Shalimar och Tonka Impériale (plus Guerlain generellt), men också i fougères t ex tidigare nämnda Houbigant Fougère Royale. I Ellenas Hermessence serie finns doften Vetiver Tonka. Om du söker bland mer moderna märken så testa t ex Tobacco Vanille av Tom Ford eller A Taste of Heaven från By Kilian.

There is no limit to my love for Skins in Runstraat (11) in Amsterdam. The combination of my most beloved city, this street AND this store is almost more than I can handle. Everyone in the store is charming, professional, skillful and assist you on your perfume quest with total knowledge and understanding. Last time I was there I bought a limited edition by Kilian and got so lost in fragrance conversations I almost (really…) missed my flight home. I have run across Schiphol many times, but never so happy and great smelling.

The selection of brands and products in the store is exquisite. You find your favorites, limited editions, suprises and new unique discoveries. I love love love Skins in Runstraat. Go there if you can. And if you can’t – enjoy their excellent web shop. Also love that they have Swedish Byredo which makes my nose proud of being from Sweden.