Hip-hop culture is about living your best life as your authentic self. And while this past year and a half has gotten us a bit stir crazy and perhaps needing a couple of stiff drinks, we’re excited to fete the joys and blessings of the world with our friends and family again. We’re ready to partake in all the wanton joie-de-vivre that we’ve been missing these past few seasons, but with a bit more caution.
Luckily, renowned French perfumer Kilian Hennessy and Grammy-nominated rapper French Montana have got the answer for us. The rakish night owls have joined forces on a brilliant fragrance—Angels’ Share by KILIAN Paris featuring French Montana—to form a way to celebrate life without any of the headaches or after-party worries.
The fragrance collaboration is a new limited edition version of KILIAN Paris’ highly successful perfume Angels’ Share, which was an instant best seller when it launched late last year as one of two inaugural scents in the brand’s The Liquors collection, with Angels’ Share based on cognac while its counterpart Roses on Ice focused on gin.
The Moroccan-born hip hop artist first learned about KILIAN Paris fragrances from friends as well as his manager who wore the brand’s scents. And then instantly fell in love with the company as he began sampling its decadent potions.
If you’re a fan of hip-hop, you know the genre has had a long-running fondness for cognac. For decades, lyrical legends have referenced the drink. “Cognac goes hand-in-hand with the culture and the music,” acknowledges French Montana. “When I first started making music, you go to the studio, you bring a bottle and start talking crazy on the mike,” he says with a slight laugh.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that the duo’s limited edition fragrance collab features a genuine cognac essence–with notes of hazelnut, cinnamon, oak absolute and tonka bean. The scent’s name references the liquor’s partial evaporation—that lifts like a heavenly offering— inside the oak barrels while aging in cellars, which in the fragrance industry is referred to as an “angels’ share.”
Throughout the scent’s collaboration, you can feel the pair’s love for the caramel-colored intoxicant. For Kilian, who comes from a long line of legendary cognac makers—ahem, Hennessy is his family name, the rich, storied liquor is part of his DNA. While for French Montana, the aromatic, warm scent of the spirit brings him a sense of familiarity and comfort.
And naturally, the collaboration wouldn’t truly be representative of French and his luxe, hip-hop lifestyle if it didn’t go full throttle on the decadence. The perfume’s bottle is inspired by chiseled, art deco glasses found in the poshest bars around the world; while the limited-edition fragrance’s golden disc top pays homage to the rapper’s personal style, with its engraved chains.
Ahead of the official Angels’ Share by KILIAN Paris featuring French Montana launch—which is due to drop on November 1st, a week before November 9th—which happens to be French Montana’s birthday—EBONY chopped it up with the famed perfumer and the “FWMGAB” rapper while the pair took a break from filming the fragrance’s latest campaign lensed by the legendary photog Ellen von Unwerth, and discussed what drew the pair together, how their love for cognac played a role in the collab, and the celebratory vibes of the campaign spot.
EBONY: How did this collaboration come to existence?
Killian Hennessy: The team and I were looking for potential collaborators to create with, and during this search, they told me French not only knew the fragrances but was already wearing them. I instantly became thrilled because I asked for an authentic collaboration from my team.
French Montana: The collaboration is something that came to me at a time where I was thinking about doing something in the fragrance world. When God brought Kilian to the plate, it was like it was meant to happen. It was like the stars were aligned.
So French, what was your first fragrance memory?
FM: When I was young, I grew up smelling similar oud fragrances in North Africa. I remember my uncle and aunts wearing out fragrances. So even when I hadn’t seen them in a long time, I would always go back and hug them [so I could absorb their smell].
Kilian, how do you stay inspired to come up with new fragrances? I know you’re always working on perfecting them, but what keeps you inspired to create?
KH: Frankly, that’s the most challenging part of being a creative. You have to be very curious and be open to different cultures and always have your fingers on the pulse of what is happening in life. I think that the worst thing that can happen to a creative is for them to isolate themselves. I believe one should be in contact with people, especially with the new generation, because they are the ones that will be the future.
Can you walk us through the shoot and how it incorporates both of your worlds.
KH: We shot with Ellen von Unwerth, a photographer that French wanted to use and a photographer that I use for most of my campaigns. Again, the stars were aligned because I like her style and her shoots are very playful. And that’s my world, the night world—playfulness with a touch of sexiness. I like the night because everything is possible then. We decided to do it in a music recording studio for the photoshoot because this is a collaboration with French, and we felt like it should be done in his home.
Lastly, French, are there any new exciting projects dropping soon?
FM: Yes, I’m dropping my album next month, and I’m very excited about that. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years, and I finally narrowed it down during the lockdown and got all the energy I’ve been saving throughout the years.